Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Five Points Friday: Night of the Million Dollar Bills

“We are not here to play, to dream, to drift; we have hard work to do, and loads to lift. Shun not the struggle; face it—’tis God’s gift.” (Maltbie D. Babcock)

“Followers of Christ are also His soldiers—called to do battle with the forces of Satan and evil. Victories are never won while resting in the barracks.”
[1]

Last Friday we had a Gideon’s Army go down to Five Points, 12 as opposed to the usual 20 or so. I want to highlight the fact that what I report here are primarily conversations and experiences I have with people. I cannot report for or on behalf of the entire group—I wish I could, but can’t. So you just get one set of stories out of a team’s worth.

This was a strange week. First, it was the last Friday before the end of the State Fair, so many people were there instead of at party-central. This includes those who normally go down evangelistic purposes. Some of our team had volunteered to work the WMHK booth, so they were at the Fair doing face-painting and sharing the gospel there instead of coming downtown.

Intro: Preparation

We prepared for our weekly foray by watching an interview with Leonard Ravenhill. It is over an hour long, but well worth the time as he discusses true and false conversion, the gospel, revival and the church. Highly recommended. Feel free to stop the video and pray about half-way through.

Chapter 1: The [
Million Dollar] Sub Pub and The [Million Dollar] Bushes.

The twelve of us made our way to Five Points and split up into 6 teams. Slow night. We had a hard time “getting settled” and walked about three blocks talking with each other. Jill said she wanted to go see if a certain fellow was working at the Sub Pub. We went in and found some other fellow was working as her target was out on delivery. Thanking the young man, we turned to leave and noticed a Million Dollar Bill taped to the wall at eye level with one of the tables. If you sat in the seat and looked at the wall you would get an eye-full of Million Dollar Bills. But then we noticed it was taped on backwards—the gospel message printed on the back was unmistakable to the reader! Talk about an eyeful! Taped on the wall over the next table was one of our “Big Money” tracts! Cool! Talk about “encouraged!”

Leaving the Sub Pub, Jill and I walked down the sloping sidewalk, passing another pub with walls nearly throbbing with music. Passing by, the revelers therein could not help but share their drunken joy by banging on the window, glasses raised in celebration for the sake of celebrating. Wet red-rimmed, glazed eyes bright with the sparkle of the fruit of the vine, shouts of barely intelligible “heeyyyyyyy!” as they banged on the window. We laughed (with sadness) and moved on, but suddenly I froze as an idea blossomed in my head. I took a few steps back and motioned for their attention. Everyone turned, smiling at me through the window, glasses poised in mid-air as the pub throbbed with the thump-thump of rock music. I pulled one of my street tricks out of my pocket and did a money-change trick, the revelers in awe of the “magic” that unfolded before their eyes. “Heeyyyyyy!” They celebrated as the two one-dollar bills became a Five Dollar Bill.

“You like that?” I asked the deaf ears behind the glass. Glasses went up again and cheers announced their approval and they called for more.

I pulled out my wallet and peeked out the edge of a Million-Dollar Bill. Their eyes bugged out as they looked down from the window. I inched another one out, just peeking the corner of the two bills from my wallet. They almost crawled over each other to see what I was going to do next. I inched a third one out and this time began to taunt from the safety of the sidewalk, “You want some of this?” The revelers did not know what to think. I could almost hear them, “this guy is pulling presidential flash cards out of his wallet! What’s he going to do?” I held them out, the partier’s mouths hanging open, staring at the bills. Jill and I took a few of these precious tracts and stuck them into the bushes . . . and walked off, waving and smiling. It was hard to resist the temptation to turn around and see how many came outside to reap the harvest of a crazy man. I pray they read the back!

Chapter 2: Silence, then a Good Conversation

Moving down the sidewalk, Jill and I were impressed that we should just wait on the Lord and not strike up conversations—sometimes those “open doors” are not so “open.” We came back to the fountain and talked for a while about how God was glorifying Himself through our testimonies. We sat, prayed, waited and sat.

I don’t know how much time passed, but I saw two young men sitting on the wall about 30 feet or so behind us. We got up and approached, and they were quick to know we were “up” to something. I did a couple of street tricks and we laughed and had a good time. I swung the conversation over to the spiritual realm by a “story trick” where I “tear the gospel.” I embellished the third man in the story to work in the “Good Person Test” from the perspective of the third person. They stayed with me the whole way, but one fellow started to give the impression he wanted to be somewhere else. It was not long he did abandon the conversation, leaving me to talk alone with Michael.

Michael said he had repented, but seemed to be very unclear as to what God expected of him, so he was living life as best he could. He thought he was going to heaven, but did not know why. I reviewed the Law with him and stressed the human predicament and what God did to provide salvation by taking a stroll down the Romans Road. He seemed to understand what was being said and his countenance changed from “carefree” (when we met him) to “cautionary” (when we went through the Law and he saw his guilt) to “careful” (as he examined his heart and confessed his need for Christ).

I finally asked him, “would you bow the knee tonight and repent of your sin and by faith accept the work God did for you in the cross in Christ Jesus?” He said he would lay on the sidewalk with his face to the heavens, but he was being deceived that he could not get his words right. I reminded him that if he were drowning, he would not worry so much about words, but would cry for help. We talked a few minutes more and he just wanted to make certain he got it right with God, really, really right. I gave him a Pocket Testament and told him to read Psalm 51 and make that his prayer. He was many-times grateful we talked and shook hands. I prayed for him, that God would continue His work in his life. I believe he left a changed man. I never saw what happened to his friend.

We found two other teams not far off deep in prayer. They finally ended and we agreed that we should finish out the evening on a prayer-walk.

Chapter 3: Visitors From Afar

We took our prayer walk down the street a couple of blocks and around the corner. About half-way down, three rather large and burley men stopped one of our students to ask him about his tee-shirt that merely read, “Columbia International University.” He told us he had just passed some of our other team a block or so over and was wondering about a CD he was given. We really did not know what it was, but the “talker” said his two friends were visiting from Bosnia and he was showing them the town. We welcomed them by giving them each a Pocket Testament and a gospel tract.

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“Talker” looked down and asked the significance of the book. I told him it was the life of the Lord Jesus Christ making certain to point out that, “these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31) Then he surprised me with some very good questions about the Gospel of John in contrast and comparison with John’s Letters and the Revelation. Obviously some religious background there. As much as I wanted to spring into the “Good Person Test,” we just did not have clear opening to do so, but I answered their questions to the best of my ability. Since we were able to give them tracts and the gospels, we simply trust the Lord to do His work in changing these men’s lives. They thanked us for talking with them and we all moved on.
Chapter 3: The “Drop”

As we were preparing to leave, a car pulled up behind us and the driver wanted directions to a restaurant in the Vista (opposite side of downtown—another party area). We gave him directions, but as I reached for my wallet to give him some Million Dollar bills, Nick was way ahead of me. He stuck his arm in the car with almost a whole package, maybe 75 or so bills and gave them to the guy. Nick told him when he got to the restaurant, ask for such-and-such a person who worked there. When that person came, he was to give him some bills and ask permission to distribute the rest to the patrons. Now, remember, the driver had no clue these were gospel tracts. All he saw was money with lots of zeros. Nick told the guy to take a few for himself, but he had to promise to read the back and pass the others out. The guy’s reaction? His eyes kept bugging out of his head (I’m sure his head was already swimming from alcohol) and he looks at us and says, “This all you going to give me?” We sent him on his merry way, armed with the good news of Jesus to a lost a dying world.



[1]Osbeck, Kenneth W. Amazing Grace : 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions. Includes indexes. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990.

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