Friday, December 12, 2008

The Prescott Christmas Parade

Thank you to those who prayed for our time of evangelism in Prescott last Saturday. God blessed us with great weather and a large number of people showed up for the parade.

Due to my not taking into account the fact that the streets would be blocked off for the parade, we wound up missing the turn to join the rest of Karl Borman's evangelism team before the parade.

By the time I spotted Karl he was already engaged in a one on one conversation with an elderly woman. I chatted briefly with his wife and kids, then picked a section of the route that seemed to have no one else passing out tracts. I distributed about 200 copies of my favorite tract to adults and about 100 "Ten Commandment Coins" to kids. This took me about an hour.

Then I had to find Dad to "reload" (he had a bag with more tracts). Karl was just finishing talking with the same woman! He was really a good example to me of not overlooking the individual. I tend to concentrate more on reaching large numbers (quantity instead of quality).

On my way back to the crowds, I bumped into some more people from the evangelism team. Several of them were itinerant evangelists from Oregon. Two young families (related by marriage) have taken to the road in small RV's, traveling the US together to share the gospel. You can check out their ministry, Agents for Christ.

We also had the joy of bumping into Mike McLeod, a brother in Christ who lives near Prescott. We communicated with him via email and phone but never met in person before. Here he is, looking very serious as he studies a "big money" tract that he was preparing to use.

I then gave out about another 80 tracts and some more coins, but after a while I reached an area which I believed had already been "tracted" by other evangelists, so I started (nervously) looking around to see if I could find someone to talk with. Back behind the main lines of parade-watchers were some people less interested in the parade.

Praise God, I got to talk with 4 very different people.

The first one was a young man who seemed to have a genuine sense of his sinfulness before God. This is extremely rare to find. He comes from a Christian home but is struggling to find truth for himself. I attempted to point him to Christ as the cure for his sinfulness. I felt like the conversation was going well but after a while he abruptly told me he needed to leave. Richard Wurmbrand said he won more people to Christ by listening to them than by talking to them, and in hindsight I think perhaps I should have listened to this young man more.

Next, I spotted a nerdy looking young man (even nerdier than me!) wearing all black with a skull printed on his shirt. He was standing by himself. By the time I had gotten over to him he was climbing behind a railing and walking out on top of the men's restroom. (This was not quite as bizarre looking as it sounds, due to the layout of the courthouse building.) I did hand him a tract as he went. I handed out some more tracts and looked back at him periodically. He was reading the tract. When he finished, I asked him (from down below) what he thought of it. He said he basically agreed with it. Hmm, that's not good!... I chatted with him a bit more... he is still in school but hopes to work for a video game design company when he graduates.

Then I found a middle aged man standing by himself and struck up a conversation with him. I didn't find any clues to his spiritual condition so I finally just asked him "What kind of church background do you have?" He told me that he'd joined a Methodist church but then quit when they refused to help a needy family he was trying to assist. Just then he said, "Don't say anything more on this topic--here comes my wife!" Then he added, "Don't worry, everything is fine between me and the Heavenly Father." I left him with a tract.

Last, I found a native American with an "Operation Iraqi Freedom" hat. I asked him if he'd been a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and he said yes. Then he told me he'd been in the Navy from 1992 to 1998. I started scratching my head trying to figure out how he could have served in Iraq during those years. It turned out he was homeless, and surprisingly, he didn't ask me for a handout. He told me that there were plenty of agencies in Prescott helping the homeless, and that they even gave him food for his pet German shepherd puppy. After he shared with me about some of the hard knocks he had experienced in life, I asked him if he ever wondered why God had allowed these things to happen to him. He had. He told me he had tried praying to God / Jesus many times but that he'd never heard anything. He follows the Hopi religion more or less. He said, "I don't know why I've had such an unlucky life." I soon found why he felt this way. It turns out that he believes he has never sinned, not even told a lie! Another one of his homeless buddies walked up and showed me his "Operation Iraqi Freedom" flack jacket and told me he'd been in Iraq also. I am not the brightest person in the world and it wasn't until after the conversation was over that I realized the Iraq story was probably a lie. It might have been interesting to point this out to him. What I did tell him was that the reason God had never answered his prayer was because his sins were separating him from God (Isaiah 59:2; Psalm 66:18). I told him, "I don't know what your specific sins are, but you need to start reading God's book to find out. God's book says that we are all sinners. Without looking at God's book, it's easy for us to think we are OK, because we naturally draw the bullseye around our own arrow." I asked if I could pray for him and he agreed. The conversation ended amicably although I don't know if what I said penetrated very far.

Then the crowd evaporated because the parade had ended. The evangelists regrouped for a few minutes. Here's a picture of a few of us.

Then we headed home. I think the rest stayed to do more evangelism later in the evening at the courthouse lighting.

Karl's blog contains better pictures and reports here.

Thanks to my Dad for taking lots of pictures. You can see more of them (and even a few video clips) on my photo album.

And thanks to Jesus for making it all possible!

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