Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Five Points Friday and the Holy-palooza

Here it is, Wednesday and I am just getting to post the events of the weekend. I almost feel like it’s taken me this long to process all the fun! This is going to be the condensed version.

Chapter 1

A total of 24 students went to Five Points for evangelism Friday night. While we met for training and worship, a nice thunderstorm rolled in, threatening our evangelistic outing. As much as we’ve needed the rain, (we’ve been in an extended drought season) I had mixed emotions about making the announcement concerning the rain then joining in prayer that God would stop the rain when we got downtown. As Nick led our prayer, I could not help but think of Elijah.

Once downtown, the rain stopped. We joyfully and with thanksgiving divided up into teams and made our way down the street to the fountain and on to what the Lord had for us.

All traffic (foot and otherwise) was minimal and that was expected with the rain; but, understanding that where Satan builds bars, clubs and whatnot, his children would come. We spent some time wandering about or sitting enjoying the cool of the evening. Finally, our team crossed paths with three guys on the far end of Five Points.

I thought I would try the same approach I used on the girls in the Vista, so we got them talking about what their expectations concerning dating and girls (they like girls who don’t spend all their money). I asked what they thought of girls that lied, stole, cursed and cheated. Lying did not bother the guys, and neither did cursing or stealing. Cheating seemed to be more of an issue, but spending their money was the hottest item.

I turned the test around and asked if they’d ever lied, stolen, blasphemed, committed adultery, etc. Two of the three guys answered quite truthfully, but the third guy was disturbed that we were asking these questions. The only thing I could think to tell him was that Jesus commanded us to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” so we were there on His authority. They just stared at us, incredulous.

The guys tried to either rationalize their sin, or appeal to God’s forgiveness apart from the cross. One fellow even told us he was a Bible College student, I think as an attempt to let me know he understood what we were saying, but did not feel the need to repent. At this point it started to rain again, but I persisted that Satan did not want them to hear about how God displayed His Son on the cross as the payment for sin. We took them down the Romans Road. I tried to press the law of God upon him and the need to repent. They would not on the spot, so we encouraged them to go, read their Bibles and listen to what the Holy Spirit was telling their consciences. We shook hands and left, looking for a dry spot.

We found refuge under an awning with a well-dressed couple in their late 40’s. One team member showed them some slight-of-hand tricks and we shared some small talk. I took out a sheet of paper and “tore the gospel” for them, and they were very attentive, listening and watching. They said they attended church, but I felt the need to make certain they understood that church attendance does not equal salvation. We shared some scripture and took them to the cross and they politely said they understood. The rain abated, we shook hands, and left. A few minutes later they found us by driving around and expressed gratitude for talking with them.

Much more could be said about the evening, but suffice it to say that about 12:15, we finally reconnoitered for debriefing—24 of us standing in a circle in the parking lot. This got the attention of the Columbia Police Department—who stands around in a large circle in the middle of the night talking in the middle of party-town? I broke off, gave them my business card and identified myself as being with the University . . . and the police expressed gratitude for what we were doing out there. Really surprised, I was! Then they left!

Not long after this, a car came through the parking lot and tried to run some of us over. The boisterous driver and his two passengers got out and made their way to us, spewing foul language and clearly under the influence, looking for a party scene. It puzzled them why all these people were standing around in the parking lot in a circle, so they came over to investigate “the Rally.” We told them we were sharing the gospel and were preparing to leave. One of the guests took it upon himself to step into the middle of the circle and share his life story, nearly in tears.

We broke off into small groups, a couple of others taking the other two guests and each heard the gospel one-on-one. The rest of us, prayed, sang, and waited patiently. Then another car pulls up, three more people get out, wondering what was going on. We let them in on the party.

Out of the whole evening, three people expressed their need for Christ, but would not bend the knee.

I finally got home about 2:30 a.m.

Chapter 2

Since we had a veritable slumber party after I got home, we slept in late. The older kids wanted to go to a concert downtown, so while Leslie went to work for a few hours, I took everyone else downtown about 3:00 Saturday afternoon. William and I played while the older kids enjoyed loud music.

This Holy-palooza was an interesting event. Scream-o Heavy Metal Christian bands and Skateboarding. Yum! This was a combined event: Christian outreach + fundraiser for building a new Skateboard park in Columbia. The whole park was awash with the grunge crowd. At times when I could understand the music, the message was clear, but the rest of the time, it was noise. I can’t think I ever liked this stuff in my day.

(music begins at 1:20, below)

Making a long story very short, I returned to the park about 7:00, because I thought the concert would be over. I arrived to hear one band literally preach about the curse of sin and God’s remedy in Christ Jesus. I just about welled up thinking of all the kids hearing this. The music continued. And the preaching continued. And the grunge continued.

Between sets, somebody presented the gospel message plainly (not in the way I would have preferred) and an invitation was extended. The music was confusing enough, but this whole setting with a gospel invitation was just weird! Apparently a number of people “went forward” to receive Christ. The speaker then made this strange request: he asked for any pastors or youth leaders present to come help at the prayer tent. I took this as my cue and jumped up from my spot and made my way over and took my place with one youth pastor and a few staff people working the event. I think in all, less than a dozen people came to the tent. But at least that many openly responded!

After a couple of counseling sessions, I armed a couple of staff people with tracts and we went back into the crowd as Flyleaf (see above video) played. I talked with small knots of people, taking them through the “Good Person” test, and got a few nods of consent, but no openly broken hearts before the Lord. It was exhilarating, regardless.

I thank God so much for the chance to be used by Him in this way. I can’t think I’ve ever felt more joyful in service to Him. Please keep praying for our impromptu evangelism team and especially, for the conversion of souls.

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