If you have been following Tony Miano, of The Lawman Chronicles blogsite lately, you will already be familiar with his newest (ad)venture in evangelism: a four foot tall cross he carries on the street with the question "Are You Ready" emblazoned on the cross beam.
After reading Tony's first installment regarding the AYR cross on July 12, I was immediately taken in. It was all I thought about for two days and nights.
I thought of the possibilities, the opportunities and the many different places where it could be utilized. I thought of how it could stand on its own as a thought provoking tool to hundreds, if not thousands, who pass by in traffic and on nearby sidewalks.
I thought of how it could draw people to the carrier to respond to the question with the obvious question: "Ready for what?". I thought of how it could open the door to gospel conversations with curious souls.
The more I read of Tony's cross experiences on his blog, the more I realized that everything I thought about regarding how effective this could be was coming true.
Then it struck me that the reason why I thought about this more than anything else in the last while was because the Lord was calling me do the same. I was convinced that's why the concept was stuck in my head like a bad song.
Gulp! I prayed and asked the Lord if this was something He wanted me to do. It seemed like I opened my eyes and found myself standing in the lumber aisle at The Home Depot. I guess I got my answer.
I bought a 7 foot plank of red cedar for a whopping 7 bucks. I had it cut to measure. I went home, got out some white paint and a brush and spent a whopping 7 minutes painting the big question "ARE YOU READY" on the cross beam.
Yesterday, I spent another few minutes giving the boards a light sanding and rounded the edges in the process. And, of course, I couldn't help but think that the Romans who lumbered the cross that Jesus was to hang on didn't go to any length to make it comfortable for Him. His already beaten and torn body was nailed to a cross of sharp edges, coarse surface, needle sharp slivers and all.
Oh, how our Savior suffered for us!
My wife, Kim, has since applied a couple of coats of clear matte varnish on the boards and I hope to bolt them together today. As I plan to transport this cross to various locations in our car, on the bus, on my bike, I came up with an idea to bolt the cross in such a way that it would be collapsible for easier portability.
The fact that I thought of that is a miracle in itself as I am the farthest thing from a "handyman" as any man can get. Kim was impressed. Well, maybe more like astounded.
I hope to begin my cross witness adventures this weekend if all goes according to plan. And, of course, I plan to document my experience in The Word Street Journal.
I am praying this will be, as it has been for Tony, an effective and worthwhile evangelistic excercise (albeit looking like a fool to most, but who cares?) that will cause people to think of their stance before God and cause others to approach to ask: "Ready for what?"
And I hope this might be a source of encouragement and inspiration for others in harvest field of street evangelism, as Tony's example has been to me.
Am I ready? For eternity? By the grace of God, I am. Hallelujah!
Am I ready? To stand in public as a fool for Christ with a questioning cross that will make people think and that could lead others to hear how they, too, can be ready for eternity? Give me a couple of days and I will be.
In the meantime, if you are a Christian, I would covet your prayers in this added venture of street evangelism ministry.
With praise to God, I give thanks for Tony, his humble obedience to the Lord in ministry and for sharing his stories. He got me thinking. The Lord got me going.
As previously introduced, Katherine Parr was the 6th and surviving wife of King Henry VIII who almost lost her head in her attempt to influence her husband toward Reform doctrine. She was a humble and forthright woman who saw herself first as a subject and slave of a Heavenly King before a subject and wife of an earthly king.
In a segment of her book she published, following the death of King Henry in 1547, called "The Lamentation or Complaint of a Sinner", she made reference to false teachers of her day, heretic doctrines, hypocrisy in the church, man's love of himself over God, man's propensity to twist the gospel to suit himself, etc.
I could not help but notice that her text reads as a typical post from Ingrid's Slice of Laodicea blogsite, albeit in Old English.
I find that interesting and important as it reveals that the ages old battle for truth under the banner of "Christianity" is still being fought even 500 years later.
The enemy: same goals, same tactics, different time, different warlords.
We have much to be thankful for in the physical and virtual blood, sweat and tears poured out by fearless, godly men and women of the past who exposed and fought against heresies in the church since it's inception over 2000 years ago.
But Christians should not feel ready to lay down their double-edged sword to rest, yet. The battle rages on in the pulpits, the media, the internet, the streets, the jungles, etc. Today's valiant soldiers, humble Christian men and women inspired by the Lord and warriors of the past, continue to fight on the frontlines in defense of the gospel truth.
They are no different than those of years gone by who would not, could not, remain silent and by whatever medium, bravely made their defense for truth public for the benefit of all and the glory of God, at whatever cost.
One of them being Katherine Parr who, as Ingrid Schlueter could have likely posted today, wrote:
"God desireth nothing but the heart, and saith he will be worshiped in spirit and truth. Christ condemned all hypocrisy and feigned holiness, and taught sincere, pure and true godliness: but we, worse than frantic, or blind, will not follow Christ's doctrine, but trust to men's doctrines, judgments, and sayings, which dimmeth our eyes, and so the blind lead the blind, and both fall into the ditch. Truly in my simple and unlearned judgment, no man's doctrine is to be esteemed or preferred like unto Christ's and the apostles', nor to be taught as a perfect and true doctrine but even as it doth accord and agree with the doctrine of the gospel. But yet those that are called spiritual pastors, although they are most carnal, as it doth very evidently and plainly appear by their fruits, are so blinded with the love of themselves, and the world, that they extol men's inventions and doctrines before the doctrine of the gospel. And when they are not able to maintain their own inventions and doctrine with any jot of the scripture, then they most cruelly persecute them that are contrary to the same. Are they the lovers of Christ? Nay, nay they are the lovers of the wicked mamon, neither regarding God nor his honour."
Katherine Parr almost lost her head, literally, in her attempt to encourage her husband toward Protestant Reform doctrine. Why the near loss of her head? Well, to give you a clue, her husband's name was Henry.
I just finished reading a wonderful book I had ordered from Monergism Books. If you have an interest in (British) Protestant Reformation history, then this book is a must read!
Below is an excerpt taken from one of her two published works called "The Lamentation or Complaint of a Sinner". This humble confession alone speaks volumes of the convicting work of God in this woman's heart during the early stages of the Reformation.
It encourages me to go out on the street and make people aware of their total depravity compared to the total perfection of Christ, which purchased redemption for those who repent and believe.
Read and see if you can relate at any point. I most certainly can.
"Christ was innocent and void of all sin, and I wallowed in filthy sin, and was free from no sin. Christ was obedient unto his Father, even to the death of the cross, and I disobedient, and most stubborn, even to the confusion of truth.
Christ was meek and humble in heart, and I most proud of vainglorious.
Christ despised the world with all the vanities thereof, and I made it my god because of the vanities.
Christ came to serve his brethren, and I coveted to rule over them.
Christ despised worldly honour, and I much delighted to attain the same.
Christ loved the base and simple things of the world and I esteemed the most fair and pleasant things.
Christ loved poverty, and I wealth.
Christ was gentle and merciful to the poor, and I hard hearted and ungentle.
Christ prayed for his enemies, and I hated mine.
Christ rejoiced in the conversion of sinners, and I was not grieved to see their reversion to sin.
By this declaration all creatures may perceive how far I was from Christ, and without Christ, yea, how contrary to Christ, although I bare the name of a Christian.
Insomuch that if any man had said I had been without Christ, I would have stiffly withstood the same. And yet I neither knew Christ, nor wherefore he came.
As concerning the effect and purpose of his coming, I had a certain vain blind knowledge, both cold and dead, which may be had with all sin, as doth plainly appear by this my confession and open delcaration."
Mark Kielar of CrossTV explains the reason why the person who's supposedly "REALLY seeking hard after God" may just be seeking the benefits he can get from God without actually seeking the righteousness of God which comes by faith.
All the more reason that we Christians must be out there letting people know right at the onset, through effective evangelism, just how depraved we are as humans in order that they might understand how holy God is and the infinite measure of His grace He sovereignly dispenses on those He calls to true repentance and faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life in Heaven.
When Kim and I looked around at the number of people in attendance at our church this past Sunday, we realized there were roughly 5,287 people missing.
We figured that, on such a beautiful summer day, the missing thousands were probably downtown at the Byward Market wandering about the trendy outdoor shops, eating at the trendy outdoor bistros, enjoying an outdoor concert or two, etc.
So, out we went to the Market area after church and, sure enough, there they all were. These were the very people who missed out being at church to hear the most important thing they could ever hear in their lives: the gospel of Jesus Christ!
By sheer coincidence (well, not really) we just happened to have with us a few hundred gospel tracts and a portable stand for me to preach on.
We arrived at the Market near the end of an outdoor concert where a certain gospel choir was performing. They ended their concert with a tribute to Michael Jackson by singing his song "We Are The World". (At this point, I will spare you my diatribe about that.)
We immediately started handing out tracts to the parting crowd. As many were there having enjoyed "gospel" songs, many seemed eager to receive gospel tracts. You know, the ones with the truth on them.
Finding a spot to preach the gospel in the open air was easy. We came across a section of the market where all kinds of people were strolling by and many were seated at open tables enjoying an ice cream cone in the sunshine.
Following a time of prayer, on the stand I stood and began to preach. I introduced myself and assured them I was going to speak for only a few minutes and give them a message of hope that might be of benefit to them.With many there fresh from the gospel concert, I defined the word "gospel" and proceeded to give them the "good news" of God's saving grace.
Of course, I preceded that with the bad news in order to help make the good news make sense. I would say most of the people within hearing distance stopped what they were doing and listened to the whole message, some intently. That was very encouraging, especially while I was giving the good news portion of the message.
All was well until the Byward Market by-law people showed up, stood nearby and radioed the SWAT team (actually just another guy in a yellow shirt who happened to be their boss) to find out what they should do with this preacher guy.
These are the same people who approached me last May and informed me that I was free to do what I was doing but not with a loudspeaker. Complying with that rule ever since, I was not using a loudspeaker on Sunday. But, as I was preaching, they informed my wife that there are now designated spots in the Market for "buskers and entertainers" and this wasn't one of them.
They were very cordial in their approach and Kim told them we were there to comply even though we weren't busking or entertaining anybody. They kindly gave her a map with the dedicated spots and, after my 1st open air of the day, we moved on.
Whilst moving on, we continued to hand out gospel tracts. As I mentioned in a earlier post, President Obama is still a hot commodity here so the Obamabuck tract is an easy give. Kim found one fellow wearing an Obama t-shirt and Obama sunglasses. He almost did a backflip when Kim handed him a million dollar Obama bill.
We always make sure to tell people after handing them an MDB that there is a gospel message on the back of the bill and we encourage them to read it when they can.
With that, we find that many people stop right in their tracks with their tracts and start reading them right away.From a distance, we often see people talking to each other about the content of the message. At times, we have even witnessed groups of people giving each other the "good person test" on their own. Tracts are such an amazing tool!
Moving on to the designated area where I would be allowed to busk, entertain or preach, I plunked my stuff down and launched into my second open air sermon. Many were passing by, many slowing down to listen for a bit, but there were a few on the outskirts to my left, front and center, who came to a full stop, stood where they were and heard my gospel offering.
No doubt there were those who listened out of mere curiosity, but it was not the presence of ME and what I was doing that stopped them. Rather, it is the Holy Spirit who had caused them to stop and listen to the gospel being preached. It is God's Spirit who leads people to stop and listen, for His sovereign purpose, whatever that may be.
After two and a half hours, two open air sessions and 300 delivered gospel tracts later, Kim and I headed for home. The joy we experience following a full day of worshipping and serving the Lord is a kind of joy that is almost impossible to describe.
Kim and I sense of great responsibility, as Christians, in giving the gospel to a lost and dying world and are rewarded with that great sense of joy in doing so. It is the very least we can do for Jesus who gave His life for us on the cross that we may be saved and has commanded us to "Go out into all the world and preach the good news to all creation". (Mark 16:15)
That being said, we also don't mind having to go out and find the roughly 5,287 people who don't show up at our church on Sundays to give them the gospel. Our church actually seats only about 75 people comfortably. Having them there would be nice but it would be a tad crowded.
My American friends are probably already way ahead of me on this one but, as a Christian in Canada, I was astounded to view this address to the US Congress by Congressman Randy Forbes, 4th District of Virginia, a couple of months ago, as he made a strong case for the historicial Judeo-Christian foundation of America which is under continuous attack these days by Psalm 14:1 'fools' and other God-denying groups and individuals.
And that with the help of the current President.
Somebody would have to literally pick my jaw up off the floor if EVER a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons here in Ottawa was so bold enough to stand up and take such a courageous stance in the same regard.
This may or may not be so big a deal for my neighbors south of the Great White North, but it sure stands out front and center for this Canadian Christian.
Here is Forbes' 4 minute presentation, in case you have not seen it yet:
BTW: I happened to be downtown just over 2 months ago handing out gospel tracts to passersby when my eyes fell on a couple walking towards me. With a greeting and a smile, I extended my hand with 2 tracts toward this couple and engaged them in conversation only to discover they were born again believers from Arizona touring Ottawa.
We had a wonderful chat over matters of faith both on a personal level and overall in the US and Canada. We exchanged virtual addresses and parted cheerfully.
I love how the Lord brings His people together from all over like that. The shared bond in Christ is immediate and encouraging.
My thanks to Loraine Marlow, of Arizona, for sending me the above clip from Congressman Forbe's address.
In my humble and unbiased opinion, the greatest import of all time to Canada from the USA has to be my lovely wife, Kim.
She was born and raised in a town in mid-state Illinois called Normal. Yes, "Normal."
I once had a custom T-shirt made for her that says "Far from Normal". That's true on two counts: first, her hometown is 1000 miles from Ottawa. That's far from Normal! Secondly, she is far from what most people would call "normal." And that's why I married her.
To this day she maintains her American citizenship and never misses out on celebrating Independence Day in a variety of ways. But this year she spent the Fourth of July in a way that was, well, like the T-shirt says, far from normal.
Ottawa, being the capital of Canada, is home to dignitaries from all over the world. Every Fourth of July, the residing US Ambassador to Canada hosts a huge outdoor garden party for Canadian officials, neighboring dignitaries, American citizens living in Canada, media personalities and other invited guests. It is a popular annual event held at the Ambassador's mansion residence nestled in a ritzy part of town called Rockcliffe Park.
Kim thought it would be timely and good to get as close as possible to the "by invitation only" event to hand out some fresh-off-the-press Obamabuck gospel tracts to attendees walking to the US Ambassador's gate from their cars. So that's exactly what we did.
The line-up of parked cars surrounding the residence grounds was long and those that were not being dropped off at the gate by limos had a long walk to endure to the heavily secured entry gate. So, as people made their trek to the gate, Kim and I walked the road toward them handing out Obamabucks and tagging cars along the way.
Unfortunately, we only had just under 200 Obama MDB's in our inventory. We dished out about 170 tracts in Rockcliffe before leaving for the Byward Market, not far away, as our Fourth of July Obamabuck Tract Trek was not quite over.
There we would hand out our remaining tracts in and outside a food establishment where Obama made a surprise appearance during his visit to Ottawa last March and bought some cookies. The place is now an Obama shrine advertising "Obama Cookies" as a drawing card for customers.
The reaction of people receiving the Obama MDB tracts is always amusing as President Obama is still a novelty to many. But we always tell receivers that the message on the back is worth more than all the millions in the world and we encourage them to read it. One lady (pictured above) howled with laughter when she saw Obama's caricature on the million dollar bill. She was from Kentucky and our meeting led to a gospel conversation with her and her friend from Bosnia whom with she was touring Ottawa.
When we ran out of our Obama tracts, we got out our Canadian MDB's and started handing those out to tourists from all over.
After dispensing about 250 tracts Saturday afternoon, we were driving home when Kim noted with a smile that this day was the most unusual way she had ever spent the Fourth of July.
I told her that it was just like her: far from normal.
July 1st was Canada's 142nd birthday. My, what a young country we live in! Just a kid in comparison to the old man to the south of us. And further in years compared to the ancient countries overseas.
July 1st is always a reason for Canadians to celebrate from coast to coast. No more so than right here in Ottawa, the nation's capital. Hundreds of thousands flock to the downtown core, including Parliament Hill to celebrate confederation.
My (American) wife, Kim, and I always enjoy joining in some of the fun and, of course, to share the gospel with whomever we might bump into...by the hundreds. Our day's schedule allowed us to spend a few hours doing what we love to do most when out in public. We started out handing gospel tracts to those who were willing to accept them. Thankfully, four hundred of the people we bumped into were pleased to accept and went home with gospel tracts in their pockets.
I, later, took an opportunity, amidst all the amplified mix of sounds that was everywhere (mostly loud rock music) and preached an open air sermon at the historic post office across the street from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Unknown Soldier was the springboard I used to lead into the gospel. I made a comparison of the temporal freedom he purchased for us with his life's blood and that of the shed blood of Jesus which purchased eternal freedom for those who would put their trust in Him as Lord and Savior. After the lead in, I preached the Law and the Gospel and finished off by reminding people that, 1) we should never take for granted that our freedom as Canadians did not come free but that they were purchased through the sacrificial deaths of thousands of Canadian soldiers, 2) that the benefits we enjoy because of their sacrifice have an expiry date for us individually...the day we die and 3) we can take advantage of eternal freedom from our well deserved condemnation by repenting and putting our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.
When I finished, various people who sat, stood and listened came up to me and a long discussion ensued from there. It was most interesting to say the least. From there we continued walking, talking and tracting.
For the rest of the time, I had lengthy gospel discussions with a couple from Mexico, a Jew, a Roman Catholic and a Muslim, among others. The Muslim was quite taken by what I had to offer him. He listened intently. There was no debate. He asked pertinent questions. When our 20 minute encounter was coming to a close, he confessed that he does not have the peace that I have in knowing where I am going for sure after I die. I encouraged him towards Christ. He thanked me for talking to him and actually asked that I would pray for him. He asked twice. After a hearty handshake and a couple of gospel tracts in his hand, he left with a promise that I would do so.
I am proud to be a Canadian and am grateful to God for where He has me physically in regard to my locale here on earth in this beautiful country and where He has me spiritually, safeguarded in the palm of His mighty hand, forever, thanks to the utlimate sacrifice made on my behalf through the shed blood of Christ my Savior.
An everyday Christian's effort dedicated to encourage fellow believers who regularly share their faith with others and to hopefully motivate those who do not.
There is nothing more important for people to know than where they are going to spend eternity, for certain. There is no other truth that must be offered to others than the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
But the same good news for us is bad news for others if we but keep it to ourselves. And that would be wrong.
Christians are called by Jesus Himself to get busy telling others about Him and what He has done to secure eternal salvation for those who hear and believe.
"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15)
My name is Paul Latour. My gospel giving partner on the street happens to also be my wife and best friend, Kim.
It is our prayer that our gospel giving efforts seen here and other content viewed on this blog, would be of encouragement to fellow Christians everywhere whose hearts' desire is to herald the Good News of eternal salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to a lost and dying world by various means of street evangelism.
If we can be of help to you in any way, then this blog will have served its purpose for your benefit and for the glory of God.