I can barely contain myself… yesterday was one of the most exciting outreaches I’ve witnessed. I know now that this is what the Lord means when He speaks of living the abundant life. Bob, Sharon, Tom and I went to Acacia park yesterday. For Bob and I this was over our lunch hour.
I have heard other Open Air preachers, such as Stephen Johnson, say that they’d much rather have hecklers or people reacting to the message than people just ignoring the message. Reactions indicate that at least people are listening. We definitely got a taste of that yesterday.
After Sharon and I got up. I preached a short WOTM message, Sharon preached from Galatians and Romans on what it is to be adopted into the family of God and be able to call God Abba Father. I thought that it was a good one two punch, though there weren’t many folks around at this time.
Bob got up and preached, he was winding down when an angry boy came up to ask questions. He wasn’t really asking because He wanted to know, He was trying to goad Bob, raise his ire, put him off balance. Bob calmly answered his questions and then a girl who was watching wanted to know why Bob trusted the Bible… because wasn’t it written 2,000 years ago? Her question was more inquisitive, she was actually searching. There were several girls around, I think that they were with her. Before I knew it, while Bob was answering their questions, the boy and the girl, the group of girls were sitting down and talking with Sharon. She had a great conversation with them about homosexuality and God’s best for them.
I distinctly remember the boy that was heckling Bob asking God to come down and fight him (or wrestle with him or something like that). At the end of the outreach we prayed for God to answer his prayer.
Meanwhile there were two men who came along, sat down a small distance away and were listening and watching what was happening. I strolled over and started talking to one of them. He was a believer who wondered if we were being effective, his questions were for reasons other than the normal “Christian” Open Air heckler so I spent some time talking with him. The other man was definitely a non-believer who later ended up talking with Bob after he got down.
Sharon got up on the box again and began preaching from the Bible. Things had calmed down a bit, Bob was talking with that unbeliever and I was having a good discussion with the believer when all of a sudden a high school-er stood up beside Sharon and started citing poetry and lines from movies. He was of course mocking her. I quickly got up and stood between them, provided security for Sharon. I kept telling myself over and over, he’s got just as much a right to free speech as we do so I just maintained, as they say in sports, body position. I told Sharon to just keep proclaiming the Gospel as we shouldn’t let distractions keep us from proclaiming the Gospel. He wasn’t there to ask questions or heckle, he was simply there to mock her as he had nothing of interest to say. I prayed and prayed for the Lord to remove him, as our battle is not physical. A short time later he stepped down, walk away laughing with his friends as if he accomplished some great deed and the Gospel continued to go forth.
Meanwhile while this was going on, our friend Tom Bateman had some great conversations, nearly ran out of Bibles and was able to witness a basketball player tear up and react, maybe even repent (I don’t think Tom knew for sure) from his sins.
We were all very excited and were glad to be used by the Lord to further His Kingdom.
Open Air preaching fulfills three functions (at least)
- For the believer it is an exercise in obedience to the command in Mark 6:15, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (NKJ), the NIV says to “all creation.”
- For the non-believer it allows the Holy Spirit to work through the preacher by bringing those HE is working on to hear the Gospel. God in His infinite wisdom wants to work through us. But God in His omniscient power can draw someone that HE’s working on to the one that carries His ordained message. Open Air preaching, because of its visilibity is a good way for Him to do this. That’s probably why He uses the words; preach and proclaim so much through scripture.
- Again for the believer it affirms the faith we have in the pure power of the Word.
I believe we saw these three function fulfilled yesterday. I was just so happy that the Lord allowed me to witness this first hand and to be a part of it. I think that we all were. Amen.