On Sunday morning I got up, packed my bag and walked downtown to work among the Guatemalans. First I talked to two men sitting on the front porch steps. Then I hung out with a large group of men sitting on a retaining wall on the street corner. Next, I went into a local family shop and talked to a young mother working the front counter while her whole family- husband, father, children, cousins- listened. All these people heard the gospel and got Spanish bibles to read.
Then as I was walking up the avenue, I approached a group of people hanging out on the corner. When I saw that they were all holding bibles and passing out the same Spanish tracts I was giving out, I rejoiced! “Preach the Gospel to me!”, I requested as I approached them. They were also out ministering among the Guatemalans. We all rejoiced and had a wonderful time of fellowship and encouragement there on the street corner. We talked about the Lord Jesus, the Gospel, and the unreached people our community. It was a joyful time of street church with my Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters in Christ.
Let me try to describe the picture that was the scene on the street corner yesterday afternoon. I was standing there talking with four men from Guatemala outside the 7-11. Conversation about their situation at home (family is there), and their situation here (looking for work) turned to the spiritual as they considered the question, “What is the most important thing of all” (besides finding a wife, a job, and partying on the weekends)?
“God”, one correctly said. So began a 45 minute conversation about breaking God’s Commandments, lawlessness, sin, self (works)-righteousness, false worship, God the righteous Judge, and the good news of the Gospel of grace, and mercy and forgiveness through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, the only righteous One!
I went home to stuff my bag with Spanish Bibles. When I got back to them, there were five men waiting for me. As I handed out the Bibles and Spanish Gospel tracts, they all opened them up and began reading, (some out loud), John chapter one, right there on the street corner, in view of all the traffic (including a police car of course). The main man I was talking to (he was translating for the other four men) was tearing up and rejoicing with me and praising God, as the Word of God was working it’s freeing, bondage breaking Truth in his soul. I looked again at them, and thanked God for this memory He would give me, of five men standing on the street corner, holding open Bibles, intently reading the Gospel in their own language.
It was a beautiful thing.
Today I had a long conversation with “Dennis” on the street corner downtown. He was on his bicycle waiting to turn the corner as I was crossing the street in front of him. I started up a chat with him which quickly became a conversation about his readiness to enter eternity and stand before God.
As I was inquiring as to his relationship to the Lord , he said with great discouragement in his voice, “Oh I haven’t kept all the rules.” He then told me all about how he was disqualified because of all his sins and his failure at “keeping the rules”. He was humble, confessing his sins to me as well as his fear of God and his belief in Jesus Christ. Apparently, this man was quite aware of his sins. He told me he had repented of his sins to God. This man was feeling condemnation and was quite discouraged because he thought it was religious “rule keeping” that made a person right with God. So this was a blessed opportunity to tell the wonderfully good news of the the atonement made for our sins by Christ on the cross, and the righteousness of Christ that is a gift of God by His grace through trusting faith in Jesus.
Then we talked about confession and repentance in the life of a believer (1John1:9, Psalm51), developing a close friendship-relationship with the Lord through prayer and the Word of God, and I encouraged him to read through the New Testament in that Bible he says he has at home. He greatly misses the wife of his youth, to whom he was faithfully married almost 40 years before she died. I told him of the sweet promise of God in scripture that if he is (like his wife who was a believer) in Christ by faith, he will see her again at the Resurrection of the Just.
Project Ezra is an outreach ministry dedicated to the public reading of the Bible. Believers simply present the Word of God by reading it aloud in a public place where there are people gathered or walking by. This is a wonderful ministry because it gives glory to God through the public exaltation of Christ and the proclamation of God’s Word. This Bible reading often provides the reader with an opportunity to then preach the Gospel to groups (crowds) in the public venue, or to share the Gospel one on one with people who stop to listen and then ask questions.
On Saturday God gave me the opportunity to read Isaiah 53 to ten teens and homeless older people hanging out downtown, which led to opportunity to share the attributes of God, the Law and the Gospel of Grace, and also answer questions regarding the Gospel, the Deity of Christ and the Atonement. One teen asked me, “What is sin?” Others asked about doing “religion”, such as “being a good Catholic”, in order to be justified. Later five more teens joined the group and asked what we were talking about. “We’re talking about how we can have our sins forgiven.” They listened and asked questions for almost an hour. I was overjoyed to see their humble attitude as realization of sin appeared on their faces, and as they heard of the hope of the Grace of God in Christ.
Here is a video of a sister reading a Psalm in public, which was followed by Gospel preaching by another believer. This is an evangelism ministry that can be done alone or with other brothers and sisters. Pray first for His power and courage before you go and ask the Lord to lead you to the people He wants to hear the Word of God. May God be glorified as His Word accomplishes what He desires.
Wow what a great weekend. Not only was worship, communion and fellowship so sweet on Sunday, but on Friday night I got to be a witness to prayers answered for more laborers to be raised up here on the Peninsula.
The pastor of my local biblical youth group decided he was going to take the plunge and go out on the streets with a selection of the kids he is training and discipling: high school seniors, college students and recent college graduates. Not only is he training them in doctrine and Christian life, but he also wants to train them to be ambassadors of Christ, to bring the gospel message to their world. He is passing the baton to the next generation of believers. I was so excited to join them on their first go at ministering to people out on the streets.
We ended up downtown where we divided up into groups of two. There were hundreds of people walking quickly, on their way to the movie, bar or restaurant. Dave and I decided we would look for someone sitting down to start a conversation with. (I gently challenged him with a smile that eventually he’ll be working himself up to going right up to a large group of teen boys to talk with them, or getting up and open air preaching!) We walked past a man sitting at an outdoor table. As we passed we said “hi” and he called out to us, so we went over and started to chat with him, and he invited us to sit down at the table with him. His name was B. and pretty soon his friend P. came out from ordering their pizza, and joined us at the table. B. and P. are both homeless. P. said to us that she is the “mother” (figure) of B. and a few other homeless guys. We had a great conversation! They were both friendly and very open to talking about spiritual things.
We talked about where he’s from and about his kids. We asked him what his plans are for the future. When he said, “I’ll be dead”, we asked him what his plans are on judgment day. Then we got into a conversation about sin & being a good person, and about God’s justice & holiness. It was interesting because he went back and forth saying he’d be guilty and then saying he was a good person. P. knew what we meant by sin and agreed with us, and she was telling him about sin! He was not sure, so we went through some of the moral Law with him, and then he started to understand. We then shared grace and mercy: the cross & atonement; telling him the good news of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ. We spoke of faith in Christ and repentance towards God. P. was in agreement with what we were saying and was encouraging B. to believe. We encouraged them and chatted with them a while more, and Dave gave B. his card and told him to call if he needed anything, or wanted to talk. We gave them a gospel booklet and P. said she would read it to B., who can’t read.
The best part of the evening for me was walking back to meet the group and hearing Dave tell me how excited he was to do street ministry for the first time. “It’s a whole other world out here.” he said. Amen. May God continue to raise up gospel laborers of every age, to reach out to this ripe mission field: the San Francisco mid-Peninsula.