Street Preachers and Answered Prayer

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Well that was interesting. A group of street preachers came to CNU today. Apparently they had been preaching since 11, although I only hear of their presence until just before noon. Nico called me while I was watching a youtube video. Instantly I closed my laptop, grabbed my wallet and sunglasses, and ran to the Trible Plaza in sweatpants and bare feet. Of course as soon as I get there, they stop preaching and the crowd breaks up. I was about to leave with Nico when all of a sudden, one of the men starts yelling at a student. “Coward!” he cries. “Come and defend your beliefs, don’t walk away! Coward!”

That fired me right up. I call out to him, asking what he’s yelling about. He tells me someone had just thrown trash at the one who had been preaching. Naturally, I was disgusted. What kind of person throws garbage at another human? I start talking to the man. His name was Robert. His friends were Mike, Mary, and Christian. Long story short, I spoke to Robert for nearly two hours. Nico was there too, though he had to leave for class. Our conversation was open and calm. Robert was a sane, intelligent, calm man. He was without a doubt a Christian. He and his friends were proclaiming provocative, unadulterated truth. He was kind. He was humble. He was following God’s calling. Who am I to rebuke him?

He said one thing in particular that resonated with me. Robert brought up how easy it is to see the ‘christians’ in the crowd. They stand in the back with their arms crossed rolling their eyes, huffing and puffing. They feel they have to ‘repair the damage’ of what he and his friends had done. They deny their brothers to maintain the culture’s status quo. Their chief goal is to ensure no one gets offended. As long as no one gets hurt, the Christians don’t have to deal with any one.

Let me be completely honest. Half of my heart wanted me to be that guy, that ‘christian’ on damage control. The other half was trying to keep my cool and give the preacher the benefit of the doubt. This is CNU, so of course there was a lot of Christians with folded arms. Luke Taylor was hurt by their approach. So were others. They felt that these street preachers weren’t showing the love of God. As Luke said, “Everything they were saying was true, but I sure didn’t feel loved.” In a subtle sort of defiance or response, a group of kids brought guitars out and started singing ‘Oh How He Loves Us’.

It was strange. Luke disagreed with Robert’s methods, and Robert disagreed with Luke’s methods. Is anyone considering what God wants? Yes, as a matter of fact. They both are. Luke and Robert serve and worship the same Christ Jesus. They are completely different people with wholly different approaches in proclaiming the Gospel. Now, I’m not God. I will never claim to be God. I certainly don’t want to put words in God’s mouth or assume His will, but I firmly believe both men are receiving clear affirmation from God. I might be wrong, but is there any obvious, biblical refutation to my thoughts?

If Luke and Robert are Christians, they are a part of the body of Christ. All parts of the body serve their purpose and contribute to the overall functionality of the organism. Additionally, no part of the body works to the ill or harm of any other part of the body; in other words, the body of Christ doesn’t have an auto immune disorder. Luke and Robert, then, are parts of this body and serve completely different roles. Yet, they are compatible.

Like I said, I was inclined to look down on Robert and his crew. His ministry looked crude and ineffective, and possibly even harmful, to me. Some of that harm has been worked out in my head now that I’ve had time to consider the methods of street preachers. Look at the ministry of Peter. Look at Paul’s sermons to compete strangers in foreign towns. Look at the greatest evangelists of the last three hundred years, like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. They were brash. They preached of hell and sin and eternal torment! They spoke (or spake, if you will) fondly of God’s grace, but always preceded the Good News of Christ Jesus with the bad news of sin and death. C.S. Lewis nods at the merits of shock-value preaching in ‘The Great Divorce.’ I might be reading too far into it, but Lewis depicts an angel terrifying a woman to animate her. As he writes, strong emotion, whether hatred or love, is far better and closer to Christ than bland indifference. If people were angered to the point of throwing trash at a human being, perhaps they were reawakened to consider Christ.

Who knows what will come out of all this. One positive observation: I have overheard more discussions about the character of Jesus in the last three days (it is currently Sunday, three days after the preachers stirred the pot) than I heard my whole first year at CNU. That’s encouraging, and don’t try to tell me the Lord’s not in that. For we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes.

……

A new street preacher (or at least the coming of one) and another night stonewalled by internal turmoil. I seriously can’t get any work done. I can’t even think straight. Who knows why. I feel like I’m the one who’s going to stand in front of a hateful crowd and preach tomorrow. My forehead burns. My breaths are short. My heart is beating unnecessarily fast and my fingers are clumsy. Why am I in such a state of panic? Not 100% sure.

I have yet to start on a paper that’s due tomorrow at 4. That’s not helping anything. I don’t think I’m gonna be able to work on it tonight though. I’m real caught up in worrying about this preacher guy coming. I just feel like there’s this overwhelming disdain for this man and his message, while I haven’t found any great fault in him. After looking up his bio and listening to several sermons he preached, I can’t find any reason not to support him outright. The things he’s saying aren’t any more controversial than what any other Christian professes. In the 20 min of street preaching I heard from him, not once did he even mention homosexuality.

I don’t know. I’m just worried about all the hate and bitterness that might come out of this tomorrow. I’ve been praying about all this stuff for the last couple hours. I’ve been praying for focus so that I might finish this paper, or at least give me enough understanding to start (I honestly don’t even know where to begin). I’ve been praying for peace tomorrow and for the Gospel to be heard. I’ve been praying for a peace within me to calm my nerves. So far, it seems I’ve only received silence.

I’ve felt pretty ashamed of myself recently. God and His will seem to be my last concern these days. I’m far more inclined to amuse myself with video games or YouTube clips for hours on end than I am to spend time with the Lord. I’ve had no victory over the sin of lust. A constant feeling that I’m wasting my life and resources hangs over my head. Street preachers only compound my fracturing spirit. Recently, I’ve felt incredibly compelled by their ministry. Take Robert for example: he has no income, nor does he have a permanent home. Yet, all his needs are met through donation and charity. How can the Lord not be in that? And what is their work? To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that exactly what we’re supposed to do? That’s what the Apostles did, and no Christian calls them lunatics or embarrassments or false representatives. My point is this, I guess: I’m really sucking at living for God, and I’m being made vividly aware of my suckiness, and I desire deeply to stop sucking and live more like the heroes of faith, and yet I still suck.

Oh yeah, and Kevin has been so swamped with work we haven’t been able to meet in the last two weeks, which sucks because I would really like to hear what he has to say about all of this.

And hatred continues to grow on Yik Yak. I won’t be sleeping very well tonight. When will Jesus come back and bring eternal peace? I could really go for that right now. If half the people on Yik Yak read this entry, they’d cry bloody murder in the streets and call me an idiot (with a few expletives added in).

I’m seriously torn up about this right now. Like I can’t think about anything else. Writing usually calms my nerves, but tonight I find no solace. My heart is truly distressed.

Here is Psalm 120:5-7.

5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech,

that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!

6 Too long have I had my dwelling

among those who hate peace.

7 I am for peace,

but when I speak, they are for war!

All I desire is peace. I want people to be reasonable and respectful. Above all, I want people to know Christ. Alas, when anyone speaks on Christ’s behalf, crowds stir up for war. Why must it be this way? Even here at “Christian” Newport University, students wish to make this school into a (post)modern day Gomorrah. Okay, maybe that’s a tad strong. But still. The cosmic, spiritual war seems to be physically manifesting itself pretty overtly here at CNU. It’s stressful.

I have a grim feeling that anti-Christian sentiment will rise to its highest levels in centuries within my life time. Sure, there’s probably no basis for this ominous weight on my conscious. I’m most likely overreacting. But is my prediction even slightly believable? Yes. I think that’s concerning enough. What I find most concerning is the accelerating rate at which divisions are growing within the Body of Christ.  I am greatly discouraged when I see my brothers in Christ here at CNU declaring these street preachers as frauds without so much as listening to what they have to say. “They’re not real Christian!” they call. “They don’t make me feel loved!” But what is your idea of love? Is it a greater love like C.S. Lewis describes in ‘The Problem With Pain’?

Christians are eager to maintain the status quo where nobody talks about their beliefs and everyone can mind their own business. How can any Bible believing Christian possibly operate on that line of thought!? Read John 3:16-18 and Romans 10! People are dying in their sin without ever having the opportunity to consider the Gospel! How can any Christian live with that thought!?

Ugh, the things that burden me at 2 in the morning. I’ve been rambling and worrying for nearly seven hours now. My paper is due in 14 hours and I have yet to start. My heart cares far less about completing assignments than my mind does. Unfortunately, my heart has been winning my attention tonight.

God, I don’t really know where you are in all of this. I just pray that your Word be shared to open ears tomorrow. Have mercy on your messenger tomorrow. If he is a false teacher who defaces you, his time will come. But if he truly is a part of the Body of Christ, I pray you strengthen him and use his brothers and sisters here at CNU to support him. Remove hate from the hearts of those who hear the Gospel preached, Lord. Please give me rest.

……
Well, let me fill you in on how wonderful the last two days have been. Remember all the concerns I had about the street preacher coming? Those melted away. Remember the anxiety I had about the two papers looming over my head that I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around? Both completed and submitted on time. Remember me worrying about my mother’s back pain? No? Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that in my panicked rant… So my mom was in such great pain that she could barely move from Sunday to Tuesday. Anyway, I was upset about that too. She’s almost fully recovered from that.
Isn’t is incredible what prayer can do? And by prayer, I mean what the Lord can do. Actually, I’m pretty confused as to what prayer does. Mostly because I’m still unsure if all of our actions are predetermined, and to what extent God’s plan is secure. If His entire sovereign plan was established before time began, how can prayer (or anything else for that matter) effect the events and movements of God?
Hmm. Well, that’s something else to think about. The fact that I’m thinking about stuff like that just goes to show I’m out of my funk. Here’s what I know. I was feeling pretty frazzled to say the least, and I had a lot of things weighing me down and discouraging me, and I prayed a crap ton about all the stuff burdening me on Tuesday, and the Lord met all of those things. Awesome. Praise be to Him.

1 comments on “Street Preachers and Answered Prayer”

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