Last Tuesday was Canada Day, and I was invited to go out evangelizing downtown. It was a scorcher outside, but I had lots of water and a big hat I borrowed from a friend.
That day seemed intimidating initially, as there were floods of people everywhere. We are used to the business of the downtown region, but this was a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd.
During tracting, it was tricky to get people’s attention, because people were walking swiftly in both directions. So the leader advised me to get right into the crowds.
Since this only improved things slightly, and I really wanted people to get to read the good news inside the tracts, I started speaking louder. First it was merely wishing people a ‘happy Canada Day’, but doing so felt dishonest, as the purpose of the tract was not national pride, but the gospel message. I was also greeting people this way, because of timidity.
But then, I reminded myself that I should not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). So I then spoke the name of Jesus Christ aloud and asked people if they wanted to know about Him, and what He did for them? This seemed to increase the number of people who would stop to talk to me, and take and read the tracts. Periodically I would wonder if I looked like a crazy fool to others, but these thoughts were cast away by the overwhelming boldness that was inside.
When I took a break, I spent time at the resource table filled with Bibles, CDS, and DVDs, and spoke to people who came to the table. One person spoke to me about the pain they went through in the Catholic church, when their child was molested. They also explained how that led them to reject the church, and explore other religions. I listened to them so that they could release some of their pain, empathized, then shared with them the gospel message. They responded by taking some literature, including the Case-For-Christ book, and thanked me for taking the time to help them.
Another person came to me and told me how they were kicked out of many churches. I asked them how that happened, and they replied that they were informing the pastor, about how close minded and intolerant they were for not validating other religious beliefs. I told them that preachers generally will proclaim Jesus Christ exclusively, because they know it to be the ultimate truth that He is the (only) way, the truth and the life, and no one can come to the Father except through Him. I asked them if they expected churches to promote a different message.
They responded by telling me that Christians should just adapt to their cultures or get rid of their narrow-minded beliefs altogether. They even went so far as to say that Christians should be eradicated from countries that don’t want them. They concluded by promoting the Baha’i religion because it was more universal and ‘tolerant.’ I ended the conversation shortly because they had no desire to hear the gospel, as all my attempts were cut off.
One stand out moment was during one of our visual gospel presentations. I saw a person stand to my left looking intently. When the presentation was done, I asked them whether they’ve heard this message before. They told me that they’ve never heard anything like it, and they had the most powerful look in their eyes, which was a mixture of awe, tearful joy, and amazement. I spoke with her briefly, but she quickly disappeared into the crowd.
Another stand out moment was when some of the street campaigners continued on preaching in the pouring rain. It added an intensity to their message! And there were many people nearby huddling under the eaves who got to hear the message – though unwillingly! We would also periodically get huge gusts of wind that would make all the garbage on the streets fly violently in the air, sweeping past us, and often circling around people. It was all very interesting.
By the end of the evening, most of us were drenched, and looking pretty icky. Before we headed off, we prayed, and wished each other well. When I was saying goodbye to the evangelist who joined us from another province, he shared with me some wisdom, which was very similar to what another evangelist said to me a few weeks prior.
“I can see that you’re on fire for God, but I need to warn you: the devil may really try to attack you. He will try to make you stop witnessing, for any reason -so be on guard for that. You need to get closer and closer to God.”
That night, when I got home, I was filled with joy. I was able to worship God completely undistracted and wholeheartedly!