The great benefit of open-air preaching is that we get so many newcomers to hear the gospel who otherwise would never hear it.
We rented a booth at the county fair in Helena this year. The purpose was not to promote our church or a denomination(all of us are from different churches and denominations), nor to give something away so the world would be attracted to us, nor to promote ourselves in any way. The purpose of the booth was to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the roof tops so that God may be pleased to use our efforts and His Word to save some.
We were at our booth from Wednesday to Saturday and spent 10 or more hours a day sharing the gospel one to one. The fair board did not put our booth in the best spot outside but God providentially brought hundreds of people to us to hear the gospel. We were kept constantly busy with little down time.
Tim Killillay (aka Killroy) and I were at the booth the whole time. TJ and Swider were also helping most of the days. Peters and his church had a booth in one of the buildings but Peters couldn't resist being outside sharing the gospel with us. It was such a joy having this group of evangelists working together for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
There is no possible way to write about everyone we talked to so I will give a few highlights. We had a sound system and microphones, even a hecklers microphone, for open-air preaching. Swider brought his guitars that he played on occasion. We even rented an ape suit and dressed swider in it with a sign on the front that said "uncle charlie" (after Charles Darwin) and on the back it said "evolution, a fairytale for grownups". We did this to attract a crown and demonstrate the silliness of evolution. It was quite a hit, except for when a girl jumped on the back of our ape and started doing things to him that I can't talk about here. Other than that and a group of kids chasing him around trying to wrestle him, it went well.
We tried to open-air preach but because of our location there was never large groups of people around, just consistent small groups of 3 or 4 throughout the day. I started to gather a crowd through a trivia game for money and gathered about 25 people but a group of about 10 kids ran all the adults off because they were being obnoxious.
So even though we never got to open-air preach we did get to share the gospel with a lost of people. In the four days we were there we sat down and shared the biblical gospel with around 300 people one-on-one and gave out well over 1000 gospel tracts, bibles, and books.We all had our own personal memorable people we talked with but I will just share a few of mine because the guys will be better at telling of theirs.
After the ape ran around for a while everyone was curious. The national guard was across from us and they could take it no longer. A woman finally walked over to our booth and asked, "what's with the monkey". I told her and she said she believed in evolution. We got in a good talk about science and the fairytale of evolution and then into the law and gospel. She was convicted but was trying to hide it. She finally walked off and never came back.
On Thursday morning before the fair officially opened I talked to a disturbed young man in his 20's. He justified his wickedness and proclaimed his own righteousness. He told me, dead serious, about his plan to open a strip club in a 3rd world country to help women feed their families by providing them jobs. Wow. He said he actually believed in God and thought God would be pleased by this. He heard the gospel and I made the holiness of God very clear by the end of our talk.
At the end of Thursday night we were packing up the booth and the game wardens from FWP stopped us. We were very tired but shared the gospel with them and debated them about their ignorance into the night. This seemed providential. Seeds planted.
The first thing on Friday morning we got hammered by people. The first group was a group of Catholic kids. The chief speaker was the alter boy at the Cathedral under O’neil. I took them through the law and they admitted breaking them but said they would be in Purgatory. I told them that Purgatory did not exist. The 12 year old disagreed and the argument began. He actually was well informed and knew much about the Catholic heresy, I mean doctrine. We argued about all kinds of things related to the Catholic church for a while. I told him if he or anyone he could find at the fair could prove Purgatory existed using the Bible then I would give them $10,000. He did all he could to find it but of course couldn’t. He left to find his mom or a priest but they wouldn’t come over. The kid came back to argue some more. Now Swider was getting fired up and chiming in on the conversation so I let Swider have at the kid so it would stir some zeal up in Swider. It worked. I left to witness to someone else but was distracted by their argument. It ended by the kid and Swider yelling across the fairgrounds. Swider challenged the kid to bring back his Catholic army and then ended the conversation by yelling, “I will see you in Purgatory.” Well, it never ended as well as it should have but it gave Swider a zeal for the lost and study. We also had a good time throughout the day as we laughed at Swiders reactions and then we made a song up about the foolishness of Purgatory.
I talked to a man next that God was working in. He actually died twice and was brought back to life by God. Once the doctors removed all life support to let him die. He went flat-lined but, to the surprise of the doctors, came back to life. He knew there was some reason he was alive. I shared the Law and gospel. He was convicted and the gospel made sense to him. I shared my testimony. A light came on and he understood for the first time in His life. He expressed the desire to look into the things of God. He never had a Bible, so I gave him one and encouraged him to start in John. He actually left the fair so he could go home and read the Bible right away.
I was exhausted at the end of the night and then came the Mormon. My flesh was dead so I only could rely on the Spirit (which is great and how it should always be). We argued over all the typical Mormon arguments that I have heard many times. I hear almost nothing new from Mormons any more. We debated into the night for an hour until I finally told him that Christianity and Mormonism were so contradictory that either all the Mormons would be in Heaven or all the Christians would be in Heaven but that we would never see each other after death. This angered him but it is the truth. He kept on insisting that Mormons were Christians. This is the new program for the Mormon church. They are trying to convince the world that Mormonism is just another branch of Christianity instead of the cult that it actually is.
On Saturday Morning they had a parade for the fair and there were thousands of people there. We gave out 400 gospel tracts in 45 minutes. I tried to witness to a guy playing a guitar on the street but he rejected the gospel and then started singing at the top of his lung some song about hating preachers and the Bible. I considered it an honor.
I did get to witness to two Peruvians and the Peruvian guy’s wife, who believed all kinds of weird Indian stuff and hated the Bible.
God providentially brought a man to me with a question. I took him through the Law and gospel but he said he couldn’t accept it because he had struggled with a question for 20 years. He said 20 years ago he took a religious class which confused his thinking about God. He asked me if God was good. I said yes. He then asked me what evil was. I told him that evil was the absence of good in the same way darkness was the absence of light. He then told me the question that he said no one could answer for 20 years. It was a question I have actually heard countless times. He asked, “If God is good then why did He create us knowing that we would be evil and why does He allow evil on the earth?” I explained sin and God’s desire to show His attribute of un-conditional love by sending His Son to save lost, wretched, God-hating sinners. I explained it over and over until all of a sudden a light came on. The spirit of God had opened his eyes. He said that he now understood and that his 20 year old question had been answered. He fought to hold back tears and said he understood finally and wanted to seek God. I told him to start in the gospel of John and told him about Hyatt’s church. Praise God!!!
I talked with 3 rugby players I assumed would never listen but to my surprise two of them were brought under heavy conviction and we talked for a while.
I talked with a cowboy who went to church at Journey church in Bozeman. He got all of his theology from the book “the Shack”. Wow was he messed up. He said what he loved about his church and the book was that they say that all religions go to heaven in their own way. He said he goes to his church because they believe what suits him. He said he just likes to believe what makes him feel good and discount the rest.
I talked with a Catholic Sheriff that was on duty. We got into a big debate over Catholic heresy, I mean doctrine. He said that if a person never heard of Jesus then they could get to heaven and that repenting and confessing Christ as Lord is only one small part in salvation. He said you had to do many works after that to gain salvation. Our argument got heated. He got in my face and was very angry. I encouraged him to actually study instead of believing every lie from the Catholic church. He got very offended because he said I offended his religion and that I was supposed to accept his views as equal. What a pagan. I thought I might get arrested for some made up reason but God delivered.
At the end of our last night God brought a demonic kid who said he was a druggy and had contact with demons. I talked with him for a long time and shared the law and gospel with him. He said he liked Buddhism better because it felt good. I told him He would be in Hell without Christ one second after he died. He left. Someone said they saw him screaming at himself for a long time. He talked to his pagan uncle and came back to the booth with a letter. He told me his uncle had a question for me. He gave the typical illogical question I have heard before. It is an un-answerable question that skeptics always use and can be applied to anything. Similar to the question, “can God create a rock he can’t lift”. It is an illogical question and I explained this to him. He left angry. We saw him come back to our booth several times that night carrying his paper. Something demonic was going on with him. He was having a war with something that was in him.
What a great, exhausting, God-glorifying, satisfying, exciting, privilege of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ this week. We praise God for everything He did and what He will do behind the scenes that we will never know until heaven. All the glory goes to God.