Monday, September 8, 2008
Downtown Orlando 9/5
As my regular readers know Downtown Orlando was a place that produced fear and anxiety in me. Not because its the wildest place on earth or anything, but because it was the place where I was my wildest in my former years. Well, this weekend would be my second attempt at evangelism in Downtown Orlando. The first was a bust because I was overwhelmed with the memories produced by all the clubs and bars I saw. I was in a spiritual battle the whole time and was only able to hand out a few tracts. So going back there was something I was battling with but Friday Shawn and I made the trip across town to take on this "giant" in my life.
Once we arrived at our destination I was a little nervous, but knew that I would not let this time defeat me as the last. So we sat in the parking lot, prayed and worshiped the Lord, and I knew after I lifted my head from praying this time was going to be different. Out of the car I handed a tract to the first people I came in contact with. The reaction was surprising, they were apparently "Christians". I was excited to run into some fellow believers so I asked excitedly, "Are you guys out here sharing your faith?" the answer of course was, "Well No we just live it" this always raises a red flag for me. They went on to tell me about how they, minister to the homeless, give food, clothes, and hold a service on the street corner every Sunday. I told them that it was great that they do all that and asked, "how do you share the gospel at your services?" They again said with a slight tone of aggravation, "We don't! we live it!" I thought about trying to untangle the knots in there idea of ministry and maybe to see if they were false converts, but as most evangelists know this is a task and usually ends in an argument with no change of position. So I gave them a tract and opted to move on.
From this conversation I walk directly across the street to a large bus stop where about 20 people were and began to hand out tracts. One of the newest ways I combat fear is to go up to the one person I am most fearful of and hand them a tract. So I walk right up to a rather muscular black guy that was dressed like a thug, I extended out my hand to give him a Million Dollar Bill Tract when all of the sudden he tried to snatch the whole stack from my other hand. In doing this he pulled me right into him and a bunch of other people and they all began to go crazy. Once he realized it was fake he pushed me away and threw the stack back at me and said, "Boy you lucky this is fake, you was fixen to have to call the O.P.D." then they all started saying things like, "boy this aint no game out here! You playin round with fake money!" I explained that they were gospel tracts and nervously tried to hand a few back, but they told me to leave. Thinking I just survived a possible beat down I gladly obliged and as I walked away I said, "God bless you!" But as I did the big black guy grabbed my arm, looked me in the eye and said with a tone that made my hair stand on end, "What you say boy?" At this point I thought I was going to have to profess my Lord unto death and had thought of a being a martyr. So I looked him in his eye and said firmly, "I said GOD BLESS YOU!" I think he was taken back by my boldness and replied, "Thats what I thought you said!" He then did something surprising, he grabbed my arm and pulled me to the side and said, "I wanna talk to you about this God thing". So I proceeded to talk with him.
Turns out he was a gangster from VA. He told me how he had done all sorts of things that God could not forgive (which of course I later showed him otherwise). He started to open up and told me that he was on life support just a few months ago and that the doctors almost unplugged him. I asked him what happened and he told me that he tried to hang himself but his girlfriend found him and cut him down. I used this to move to the gospel and asked where he would have gone had he died in that hospital. He pulled me in close and said somberly, "man I would have walked straight into hell." I wanted to make sure he knew why so I brought him through the commandments. When I got to the commandment to not murder, I for some reason assumed he did and said "you already told me that you committed murder so..." and with a surprised look on his face he stopped me and said, "I didn't tell you that! God must have told you that!" Now I'm not sure how all that works theologically but it sure was strange that I said that! I finished the commandments and gave him the gospel. We chatted for a few more minutes then I left him with, a gospel of John, a True Repentance booklet, and something to think about.
After the "smoke" cleared and I got my heart from inside my throat I realized Shawn was missing. turns out he was bringing a lady through the law and the gospel with great success and didnt even know what I just went through!
We had a few other conversations. one was with a homeless guy who was mad at us for handing out the Million Dollar tracts. He claimed that a few homeless people had been hit by cars while chasing them into the streets (never heard of such a thing). I told him I hoped they at least read the back before they got hit. Not sure if he thought it was very funny. Another guy had Gold Fanged teeth! He was interesting to talk with but nothing out of the ordinary.
There was another crazy incident that I will write about tomorrow.