16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth….” Romans 1:16
11 “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men….” 1 Corinthians 5:11a
I was never planning on writing about my street evangelism for fear of coming across as boastful, but both my pastor and wife thought that I should share about my recent two day excursion to and through the Florida keys. The Keys have been on my heart for a long time, and I especially longed to go to Key West, where I could gently but directly pierce the darkness with the truth of God’s great mercy, love…and judgement. So, last weekend (July 2018), I headed south….
In April of 2014, I felt a strong desire in my spirit to spend my days studying the scriptures intensely, so I began reading and taking voluminous notes on every passage that addressed a doctrine I questioned, doctrines that were emphasized, and the scriptures that deal with false teaching and false teachers. I have many friends lost in the blinding white light of Bethel, Hillsong, IHOP, Catholicism and the ecumenical movement. In April of 2015, after one year of studying the word, all day every day, I felt an overwhelming urge to go to the streets daily with the simple message of sin, repentance and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. If someone had told me to go evangelize in the streets a day earlier, I would have told them they were insane. If they had told me not to preach on the streets one day later, I would have said the exact same thing. I knew that this call was from the Lord, and I knew that He would give me the confidence, gentleness and strength to do it…so the next morning I got in my car and headed to Wal Mart.
What I quickly discovered was that America, and especially church goers, needed to understand that biblical Christianity is not about money or any type of temporal success. It is about our sin and His blood. While God does care about our needs, Jesus didn’t come in the flesh in order to bless our businesses or to find us the perfect spouse. He came to earth to pay for our sin, and that He did with blood, sweat and pain. May I preach that message boldly til the day I die.
My general methodology for evangelizing is to go where people are – Wal Marts, Home Depots, grocery stores, gas stations, fast food restaurants, and my favorite: DMV’s. My personal approach is to walk the line at the DMV (or inside/outside the stores listed above), looking each person in the eye, and with a smile, telling them (in Spanish or English) that Jesus Christ loves them and paid the full price for their for their sin with His blood. I then offer them an excellent tract (Called “Why Did Jesus Die?” published by MWTB). I also offer free Spanish and English Bibles, and I have a special tract for Catholics and Jews, which are carefully targeted to address their beliefs with scripture. I run into Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pagans, Satanists, Hindus, Mormons, crackheads, prostitutes, Bikers, homosexuals, Transgenders, Druids, prosperity preachers, Pentecostals, Atheists, the rich, the poor, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Whites. I talk to people with stab wounds and bullet holes in their bodies from life on the streets and I talk to people in Ferraris and Lamborghinis. My message to all is the exact same. The only way to have your sins washed away when you stand before God in judgement, is by having faith in the blood of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:20-28). Our deeds aren’t good enough to save us-not now and not ever. Our sins are far too great. So Jesus came to earth, fully God and fully man, to pay the debt that we could never, ever pay – and He paid that debt in blood (Hebrews 9:22; Revelation 1:5-6).
The Florida Keys
My first stop was Florida City, the last town north of the northern most key. I went to the local Wal Mart, shared the gospel inside the store, and was escorted out by security after about 10 minutes. I then headed over to the Home Depot around the corner, and walked the aisles with no problems. I was able to give a Bible to a man who lived in his car. My usual practice when giving out Bibles is to put a bookmark at the gospel of John, chapter 1. I explain verse #1 and tell them to keep reading until they finish the New Testament. In my view, John explains who Jesus is and why we need him, in the clearest of terms, especially for a non-believer/recent convert.
After witnessing to a few precious souls pumping gas, I headed to the islands.
The first major town is Key Largo, and it felt dark to me. That doesn’t really mean anything other than I felt a heaviness in my spirit as I was driving through. There aren’t many big stores there, so I went into a Starbucks (where I witnessed to an angry, proud pagan), and several fast food restaurants, gently moving from table to table. I had some takers, some rejectors, and I met a wonderful Christian family from Norway. That was mutually encouraging, since I consider Europe essentially godless, and it blessed them to see someone preaching the true gospel.
I don’t mind opposition. I get it all the time. Some rebukes are harsher than others. People tell me to get the F out of their face and F Jesus, or they smugly state that they don’t believe in Santa (or the tooth fairy). I also am frequently told that the idea of “sin” is a myth. I am hearing that one more frequently, and I happily reel off: greed, pride, lust, anger, selfishness, unforgiveness, and jealousy as they quickly slip away, hoping that perhaps a small seed of truth is planted.
Even if people don’t take a tract, I want them to have heard the gospel message. The Holy Spirit can work with that, no matter how they treat me (Rom 3: 17; 1 Cor. 3:5-7). I don’t take it personally. The problem is sin. They love it, and hate the fact that they just might have to deal with it one day at the foot of God’s throne. My prayer is that, even if I don’t see evidence of it, they will deal with their sin via repentance and faith in His blood, before they die.
That being said…I went into a Wendy’s and gave out some tracts, and explained to a very tan man in a muscle shirt what is unique about Christianity and why we have to repent and believe in the blood of Jesus Christ with all of our hearts. He received it with a knowing smile, so I headed to the next table where a lady with her little daughter wouldn’t look up but shouted at me to get away from her because she was a Druid. I have met some Druids on the streets before, and they are a unique brand of darkness. Surprising to many, just as freemasonry is covertly prevalent in political,corporate and religious leadership, so is Druidism(at least in the corporate and political spheres), and it, and it’s hidden practices, are beyond vile.
I typically tell Satanists, Druids and other occultists, that I know that satan (Lucifer to them, since they believe that he has given them enlightenment) is real, and I am aware of the fact that he gives them money, sex and power – but he truly hates them, and that they are going into eternal fire with him lest they repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). The Druid lady gave me what, sadly, is a typical response from these types: “I know, and I’m gonna love every minute of it!” That hurts my heart, and I feel the hate…but the seed is planted and I move on.
Next, I ventured into a Denny’s and move from table to table, with generally positive responses. As I was leaving, I stopped by the manager at the hostess stand, and I quickly shared the gospel and offered him a tract. Rather than being angry at me for prosthelitizing in his busy restaurant, he looked me in the eye, said “praise God,” and took a tract.
As I moved south, I stopped and ministered at gas stations and grocery stores, with fairly standard results. One thing I find is that, just by being out there preaching the simple gospel, true believers are encouraged – and encourage me. I often have to add on to the end of my little speech that I am a Christian, because many assume that I must be a Jehovah’s Witness. That I am not, and I am glad to explain why (Exodus 3:13-15, in conjunction with John 8:58 are unanswerable).
As I arrive in Key West, I am actually excited…looking forward to the darkness, but I am also nervous because it is unfamiliar. Will I get arrested? Will some drunk guy punch me, bringing my journey to an abrupt end? Will I be accused of harassing gays? Will I be able to find large groups of people? So I hit a grocery store and Home Depot with the gospel, and then attempt to leave a tract with an astrologist but her door is locked. So I head straight to my hotel, which is right in the heart of this beautifully tropical but spiritually dark town.
I already had a long day of witnessing, and my plan was to rest and go out first thing Sunday morning, but, after an hour, a desire to go to the streets returned, along with my strength. So I headed to the bus stop around the corner. As I was leaving, I noticed a large Catholic church across the street, with a life-size statue of Mary. A few people were touching it and bowing before it in awe. I was able to catch a few of them (including a lady with an overtly satanic goat horn necklace), with a smile and a brilliant Catholic tract that has a drawing of Mary on the cover, looking solemn but with open arms. Inside the tract, scripture resolves, with extreme prejudice, any controversy about who is and isn’t worthy of our adoration and prayers.
I then caught a bus to the old seaport area, which was full of sun baked tourists, and I began to hit it as hard as I could, speaking to individuals and couples, and walking through crowds with my tract in the air and the gospel on my tongue.
I talked to a group of Hindus, and after explaining that we ALL need to have our sins removed (because they are many), our good deeds aren’t enough, and that the only God who paid for the sins of mankind was Jesus…a few of them took a tract (I also make the point, when necessary, that Jesus isn’t a white man’s God. He is brown, from the near east, and Christianity originated there, not in the USA. It can help at times).
I then ran into a Bethel-ized hippie-surfer type (and his scantily clad lady friend) who said that he was a Christian and loved Jesus, but was offended that I was preaching about the blood. He angrily, and semi-drunkenly stated that I should only talk about His love. I explained that the blood he shed on the cross is THE highest form of love, and that without the blood there is no remission of sin (Heb. 9:22). He didn’t even remotely comprehend what I was saying and told me he had been a believer for 37 years and knew more than me (he looked to be about 25 years old…alcohol). I moved on to witness at a small beach and along the perimeter of several waterfront restaurants.
I met a young Swiss couple who were strong believers and were encouraged by what I was doing in the midst of all that revelry. We had a nice talk. I also ran into several groups of intoxicated couples who said that they were Christians but didn’t want to hear about it while they were partying. I also ran into a jovial Christian man who said that he knew Jesus was coming, but wasn’t quite ready to go, along with a few of the typical American “Christians” who rudely tell me that they are already saved, so please – get the heck away from us! Again, that is fairly standard, and I let it roll off my back. However, I will note that I much prefer talking to atheists, homosexuals, crackheads and even gangster types smoking blunts, then to lukewarm “Christians.”
I ended up catching several lines of people preparing to board boats for sunset cruises. I walked the lines, gently speaking the gospel, and had a few people take tracts. I also was the recipient of several F bombs, but really, I ran into far fewer of those than I anticipated in such a crazy town.
I then came across a grizzled old man, scorched-red by decades in the sun, who said that God hated him and didn’t answer his prayers. He was tired of working and was tired of life. I explained to him that we can’t use God whenever we want something and then party the rest of the time. He proceeded to tell me a story about how two pastors told him that they, and by implication, God, had given up on him. I was of course, furious by this outrageous lie. I informed him that they were not true ministers of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus had not given up on him and never would. I then explained how sin entered the world, and with sin came satan’s reign (John 16:11), therefore, this world will always be difficult. But, if we believe the gospel (which I explained) with our hearts, no matter how much we struggle and fail in this life, we have the next one, and that one is without sin, without tears and without pain. He listened…and then I prayed for him and kept moving.
I continued to run into groups of true European, born-again Christians, joking with some that since there are so few in Europe, they must all be in the keys this weekend. One lady from Scotland told me how a Christian man from her town was on the Titanic. He gave his seat on a rescue boat to another man, and that man got saved years later and started the church she and her husband attend today. Talk about bearing fruit even unto death!
After bouncing around Mallory Square, where the multitudes were gathered to watch street performers and the setting sun, I headed to famed Duval Street, home of countless bars and unceasing debauchery. By the mercy of God, I felt strong – full of His confidence, His gentleness, His joy…and most importantly, His word. I walked up and down the street, speaking the gospel gently but clearly, and offering tracts to all. I gave out a few in an art gallery, and then walked past a man who stated that he was gay and hated God. He didn’t want to discuss it. I then spotted a group of four gay guys across the street, and went over to talk with them. I gently and clearly shared the message of sin and repentance, and one man said softly that he thought maybe God loved him. I told him that He did, but that he, just like me, must repent of sin and turn to Jesus Christ with his heart. We have to choose – the temporary pleasures of this short life or the eternal glory of the next one. The men were friendly, and we discussed true Christianity for a bit, with one of them joking gleefully that he sinned all the time…and then I moved on.
I came across a group of three scraggily young men, one of whom took a tract. He opened it as if he was going to read it, then dropped it on the sidewalk where he and one of his friends trampled on it over and over again. I noticed that they were in a deep state of intoxication…so I backed off until they were finished. I then grabbed the tract, which didn’t look any flatter than it had been before they stomped on it, put back in my stack, and headed on up Duval Street.
A few blocks later I heard someone yelling at me, “hey, hey!” I stopped and turned around to see a 19 year old boy who said he was a Christian, heard me preaching and wanted to talk. His grandparents had some kind of church, but I got the impression that he hadn’t met many other real believers. We had a nice chat. I made sure he understood sin, salvation and the cross, and encouraged him to consider reading a King James Bible, as difficult as it might seem, due to all of the doctrinal deletions in the newer versions. He gave me his phone number and asked me to text him my article on the subject, which I did. The Bible Version Controversy: A Brief History It was a huge blessing to see a young guy willing to chase me down to hear what I had to say, and then to receive the message that was already floating around in his heart, with joy.
I continued my long journey up Duval Street, spreading the message of the cross to all who would hear, until about 8:30pm, when it started getting dark, and the percentage of sober people dropped into the low single digits. I will not preach to drunk people, and I will not buy them food or clothes, since they chose to spend their meager resources on alcohol rather than on food. I don’t mind giving them a tract to read when they sober up, but generally, they, in their drunkeness, want a buddy to ramble on and on with. It’s kind of like drunk dialing, but without a phone.
I got back to the hotel, fell asleep for a few hours, and woke up at 2:30AM. I laid around for an hour, then moved my car at 3:30AM, in order to have a good, free parking spot the next day. I then pretty much tossed and turned in bed listening to some old Christian radio podcasts until I fell asleep from 6-7:30AM.
After eating the free, low-quality breakfast offered by the small, quaint hotel, which was really like a classic old Key West style house, with extra rooms spread along the perimeter of the property, forming a rectangle, I sat in the courtyard reading my Bible. It was beautiful and quiet. The sun was slipping through a tall Canary Island date palm, and the surrounding foliage was thick and deep-green, with a few splashes of brilliant color scattered throughout the property’s landscape. I could see that some of the guests were watching me to see what I was reading, and it was a blessing to be able to proudly and publicly read the words of the living God as I prepared to start my day.
Just before I checked out, I walked the breakfast area, offering tracts to all. One young couple commented that they saw me reading my Bible, and they both took tracts. Another lady, who I was fairly certain would reject a tract, said with a smile that she had already taken one of the ones I had left by the bagels. I then headed to the streets.
At the bus stop, I met a nice, long-time Key West resident who told me about how she weathered the hurricanes of 2017, and mentioned that she was a Christian too. I didn’t get the sense that she truly understood the biblical Jesus, so we talked and I gave her a tract. We boarded the bus, where I offered the driver a tract and was promptly told not to solicit. My standard response is that I am not technically soliciting, since I am not selling anything. I am giving free stuff to anyone who wants it and won’t take anything in return. That doesn’t seem to resonate with anyone but me.
When I arrived at the old seaport, I ran into several lines of people waiting to board small boats for snorkeling excursions, etc. I always tell tract-taking wafflers that they should take one just to have something to read later. They can always throw it away. That actually works sometimes. I also ran into a guy who told me that he was “really, really” gay – but the gospel is the same for him as it is for anyone. I came across an unhappy satanist I had spoken to the night before, along with a few early morning drunks, and your average squad of young families getting a head start on the day. Then I saw it. El Dorado. A cruise ship, disgorging thousands of unsuspecting passengers at a narrow choke point.
I headed over to a spot just outside of the opening, so as not to be an annoyance, and started preaching to the flood of people from all over the world. I had many passing believers tell me that they were saved, and thank me for doing what I was doing, and I had a few…very few, tract takers. One inquisitive man watched me for about 20 minutes, and I laughingly told him during a break in the flow of people, that I was glad that I wasn’t in a results-oriented business. He smiled and nodded. Really, my goal is to get the truth of God out there – in the air, so people hear it whether or not they take a tract. God does the rest:
5 “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-7
Besides the fact that I was able to get the message of the cross out to cruise ship passengers, the only other significant event that morning involved an elderly female tour guide, who literally screamed at me, as loud as she could, not to dare preach to her tour group. I was standing in, what the law describes as a “public forum,” therefore, I had the legal right to be there. I did tell her that if I was in North Korea (or Canada, sadly), I wouldn’t be able to share my views, but here, in the USA, I can – at least for now. I don’t say that to be smug. I say that to emphasize that she has the right to share what I’m certain are her views on the joys of witchcraft, while I have the freedom to share the message of the God who stepped off the throne of heaven to pay for the sins of mankind.
After the ship had emptied, I headed back to Duval Street, hot, sweaty and exhausted. As I headed towards the “southernmost point” of the USA on foot, I continued talking to people and passing out tracts. There was more mid-morning partying going on than usual, because people were preparing to watch the world cup final, which started at 10AM EDT.
Probably the saddest moment for me came as I was strolling down Duval, while speaking to a middle-aged lesbian couple. After sharing the gospel, one of the ladies looked at me, smiled broadly, and announced that she was going to die in her sin. That hurt because she wasn’t ignorant of eternity, and the reality of God’s judgment. She was willingly, and even gleefully, exchanging the short term pleasures of this dying world for an eternity of unrelenting fire. I pray with all of my heart that she will turn to the One who made her, loves her and longs to save her.
After walking Duval, and realizing that most of the people out and about were those I had already preached to either at the cruise port or on the street, I packed my car and was preparing to hit Big Pine Key, Marathon, etc., when I noticed that the Catholic church across the street had just finished its service, and there was a large group out front talking and laughing. I grabbed a stack of my “Mary” tracts and headed over. I gave them to the two priests, the nuns, and whoever else would take one. I offered them with a nod, and a knowing smile. One lady in the parking lot asked me if the tract was Catholic, and I told her to open it up and see what Mary actually said (in the Bible). I told her she will love it if she loves Mary.
In the tract, Mary, at the wedding feast, tells the host to obey…her son, and she also says that SHE needs a savior. The tract then goes on to present the gospel of grace through faith vs. the gospel of grace plus works plus the sacraments plus religion, followed by an indefinite roasting in purgatory. God’s word does not return void. I trust that promise with these precious souls.
As I headed north, I stopped at my usual places, and seemed to run into more Christians than normal – especially at the Winn Dixie on Big Pine Key, an island almost destroyed by Hurricane Irma. That was a timely blessing to me after the intensity and darkness of Key West because I received friendly affirmation along with firm, joyful handshakes. As I mentioned earlier, I truly believe that a large part of my evangelism ministry exists to encourage and exhort the believers I come across on the streets – that they might be reminded of the true gospel message, and that, by the grace of God, there are people out there who don’t mind sharing it publicly, middle fingers and all.
The remainder of my journey home was not particularly noteworthy, other than the fact that from the Winn Dixie in Big Pine, to the Home Depot on Marathon, to the Home Depot and Wal Mart (I stayed outside this time) back in Florida City, the gospel was proclaimed, clearly, directly, and with a gentle smile. I did meet a nice young African American couple at a 7-11 in Florida City, and I asked their daughter if she had a Bible. She said no, and her parents let me give her a nice new King James Bible I had packed for the trip. In her parent’s earshot, I was able to explain to her that this book is truth, and that truth can be found no where else. Therefore, she should fill up on it and test every preacher with it. She gave me a big, happy, precious smile, graciously receiving the word of life.
14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6:14
I most certainly do not think I am some great evangelist or bear even a passing resemblance to the apostles. I can hop in my air conditioned truck and head home, go to the beach or stop by Chipotle at any time. I am simply a man who almost destroyed his life nearly 11 years ago. I am a man who understands that I am nothing and that God is everything. I understand that I am a sinner in desperate need of the blood of Jesus Christ. I go to the streets knowing that the Lord lifted me up out of the pit I had dug for myself, out of the miry clay where I was stuck. He set my feet upon a rock and made my footsteps firm…and that rock is Jesus Christ. May He be your rock as well.
I remember, perhaps 13 or 14 years ago, contemplating the parable of the sower and wondering – where are these people who bear fruit? I didn’t know any, and I certainly wasn’t one of them. I am simply grateful, that after 47 years on earth, and 29 years as a believer, I was finally equipped(in 2015), through my intense, year-long study of the word, to go out into the field. I don’t see much actual fruit in my line of work, yet I press on, sowing seed which only the Lord can grow into eternal life. I love Him and I trust Him, and it is truly a joy to have the ability and opportunity to preach His blood freely shed for our sin, to all who will hear. To Him be glory, honor and dominion, now and forever…Amen.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:18,20-21
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