Here are some bits from my journal from last summer at the San Francisco/Berkeley outreach. This is not all of what I wrote, just portions of each day’s entry. This is not an account of all the people I witnessed to that week, just some highlights.
June 24. We went to the Powell St. Bart/Cable car station and spent two hours there. I had conversations with many people and got to talk and share the gospel with a religious Jew, a Muslim (an American convert, non-Muslim background), and several other tourists. Later in the evening we went to the Metreon at 4th and Market for about three hours and spent the time encouraging each other, praying for the men who were preaching, and chatting and sharing the gospel with the people who were waiting at the bus stop. There was a lot of mocking, laughing and scoffing, but we had joy from the Lord, thankful to plant seeds of God’s Word. This was the first time I have done evangelism outreach in such an urban setting. I am encouraged by the love, passion, zeal and witness of the brothers and sisters; they are on fire. Tomorrow is the homosexual pride parade….we decided it would not be effective to work tomorrow…we are going to go to church instead and worship the Lord all day. We will continue on Monday. I have met some fine, dedicated Christians here. I pray that I will not be timid, but bold.
The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Heb.13:6.
June 25. What an awesome day we had today. It was an amazing blessing. We did not go into S.F. today, because of the parade. Instead, Bethany and Brandon and I went church hopping all day and got filled up with overflowing joy and encouragement from the Lord. First we went to Shiloh Christian center, a big, mostly black Pentecostal church. They had the most beautiful music and the preaching was wonderful. Then we went to New Life church, which was sort of like a Calvary Chapel. All the churches we went to had a missions emphasis. Shiloh talked about a bible college/seminary they are building and supporting in Ethiopia, and New Life had a follow up to the experience of the Berhami’s in the Philippines. Then we had lunch at a Mexican place and then we went to a small Vietnamese church. We sang in Vietnamese, and they talked about the church there in Vietnam, and how they are ministering to, and serving it. It is so fun to sing worship songs in a foreign language. A young man kindly translated the entire sermon and the announcements (in whispers) for us. Then we got frappuccino’s and went to church number four, for a 6:30 service at International Christian Center; a very diverse Assembly of God church, and they emphasised the Philippines, telling all about the culture and people there. A young man gave his testimony and then got baptized. The best thing was the Christ-centered, Christ exalting singing. It was amazing. There was more joy there in two hours than I’ve seen in 20 years in other places. It is hard to describe what it was like to worship in the Spirit with such joy.
June 26. We started the day with our meeting, and prayer. Then we went out to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. Bethany and I separated for a time and went walking down the street in opposite directions. I got to talk to about 9 people, and they all heard the gospel. All but one were tourists, on vacation in San Francisco. I talked to two young girls (high school age) from Ireland, here for the summer to work at Pier 39. We talked for a long time, sitting on a bench around a flower planter. They were Roman Catholic, as I was before, and they had never heard the gospel, in all their growing up years in Ireland. I told them my testimony, and went over the law with them, the holiness and judgment of God, and the gospel. They had never heard any of it before! I gave them some scripture and encouraged them to read the gospel of John when they get home.
I also sat down and talked with a young man sitting on the ground selling his jewelry. He was an American, who spends six months of the year in Thailand, diving for shells and making beautiful silver and shell jewelry, and the other six months in San Francisco selling it to tourists at Pier 39. We talked about the beautiful shells; the colors, the patterns. The Lord led me to use his jewelry to bring up a spiritual topic. I started mentioning how amazing that God made these beautiful colors, patterns, shapes, in the shells, and how looking at His creation makes you think of God, who created it. He said he never thought of that before, that is, where the shells came from, and how they came to be. Then the Lord opened the opportunity to casually tell about God starting with the creation, His holiness, our sin, and the law (going through it). Soon people came up and were looking at his jewelry, and I stopped, while they were there, so he would not feel like our conversation might hinder his business. When the people left, he asked me to continue on; he wanted to hear more. I told him the whole gospel, all about Christ and the cross, the sacrifice, repentance and faith. He was very open and I left him a gospel booklet to read on his own. It was amazing to see the conviction on his face and the interest he had in hearing the gospel.
Later after we got something to eat we went to Powell and Market again and I got to talk with and share the gospel with two women, one from Germany and one a Mexican lady. The rest of the time I prayed for the other believers who were witnessing to others, and I prayed while the men preached. I am overjoyed, blessed, challenged and encouraged to labor alongside these brothers and sisters.
June 27. This was the most challenging day so far. We went to Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley. Haven’t been there in 18-19 years. It has changed. It is by far, the most satanic, dark and spiritually wicked place I have seen anywhere(in America) so far. At the flower stand, I mentioned to the lady working there, who was wearing a pentagram on her shirt, that the beautiful flowers make me think of the God who created them. She walked away. I went up the street and stopped to hang out with the man doing Tarot cards. Answering my prayer for help, God filled me with His Spirit, because my flesh is tempted to be afraid of the occult. But in Christ we have nothing to fear. He led me as I spoke for 15-20 minutes the entire story to him: creation, sin, judgment, grace, mercy, the sacrifice of Christ, forgiveness. I focused again on the creation, since Tarot and other occult practices are earth based paganism, and that is where this man was at. The man heard the word and the truth proclaimed. My heart went out to him because he was so lost and deceived. At the end I started specifically naming the name of Jesus, and that is when he got nervous. He has been doing Tarot cards for 36 years. He then asked me if I wanted a reading, and I told him, no, I do not want to worship the stars, but the God who made the stars. He said he needed to go to the bathroom, and got up and left. I pray he will repent.
June 29. Yesterday was my last day on the outreach. We went to a place I have never seen before, the Haight-Ashbury. Between this place and Berkeley, I have never seen or imagined such spiritual wickedness and evil in all my life. It was profoundly evil, blasphemous and wicked spiritually. The mocking of the Lord Jesus was just astounding. I can not even try to describe it. There was not only occultic things displayed in every window, and on the walls, but Jesus Christ was literally mocked there, as well. Christian themes, bible verses, and things about Jesus were twisted, and made into a joke. I only remember one conversation. I went into a bookstore, and bought a book about Afghanistan, for one of my teammates who just came back from working there. At the counter I was telling the owner about what an amazing collection of books he had- thousands of books. I told him I was traveling light and only had room for one book, and I pulled the bible out of my backpack. His eyes grew huge when he saw it. With people standing around, (it was still my turn at the cash register) I told him that someday, all these books (in the bookstore) will be gone; they will go away, and this book alone will last forever, and I started quoting scripture about the Word of God being ever lasting, and about the triumph and return of Jesus Christ. He replied, “Well, that’s what they say…” I told him quietly and very gently, “That’s what God says”. That’s about all the witnessing I did on Haight.
That evening we were at Giants stadium and Bethany and I walked all around it, looking at the bay, the boats, the bridge and the rear game viewing area. The Lord gave us an opportunity to share the entire gospel with a 30 year old Hispanic man working there. He was Catholic so I shared my testimony and shared the entire gospel to him while he worked, checking bags at the entrance to the viewing area. Bethany prayed, while I talked. When people came up to him, I stopped, out of respect for his job, but he urged me to keep talking even when people were there getting their bags checked. So the fans were also catching some of the gospel, as they went in. He said he never heard this before. He did not want us to stop telling him, he kept asking us to go on and tell him more. I gave him my bible that I had brought with me on the trip, and showed him where the gospels were. He said he would read them at home. I pray for his salvation and thank God for everyone He let me share with about our Lord Jesus Christ. I noticed that the foreign tourists and recent immigrants were much more open to the gospel than the Americans. Unlike in other places I have witnessed at, I truly feel that here in S.F. I went forth sowing in tears, for it is very sad; the hatred, rejection, and mocking of our God. But He is faithful and will bring unto Himself, His chosen ones for redemption. Praise the name of the Lord God Almighty.
Those who sow in tears, shall reap with joyful shouting. He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Ps.126:5-6.