Wednesday, March 31, 2010

CASE CLOSED - THE SEQUEL

I have just received comment (open letter) from Mike Dubue, manager of the Mayfair Theatre here in Ottawa, of which I have decided to post and respond to despite the fact I closed the case in my last post.

It is the very kind of letter I wished I had received from the very start. It would have saved both sides much in the way of grief. I still do not agree with everything he says in it, nor do I have to, just as he does not have to agree with me.

But I, surely, now have a much better understanding of where he is coming from regarding his security issues and better understand his intial reaction and for his concern and place in all this.

I hold a higher degree of respect for Mr Dubue as a result of the approach and friendlier tone in which he wrote this letter to help clear this issue up.  And for that, I am very grateful to him.

Here is his letter followed by my response:
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mike dubue here - manager of the mayfair theatre.



nobody has asked me yet... so... i am a christian and have been for my whole life. end of story.


my position is this: my staff and myself have undergone quite a bit of abuse outside the mayfair theatre - from vandalism to being shot with paint balls to being attacked verbally and physically.


my dialogue with the police started a year ago. part of my dialogue is the kind of abuse we receive from protesters. concerning a small protest, large protest, abuse or whatever else, the police instructed me to call them right away! i was not working the front that night and my staff are not aware of this procedure. i was busy playing and directing this show.


now, it is illegal to stand within five feet of our building to solicit or protest. fine - paul wasn't protesting... but he was soliciting: he video taped himself doing it.


what if some angry patron of ours didn't like what he was hearing from paul and assaulted him? that's one of a million examples. we are liable on our insurance for every single person lined up for our shows. all i care about is my staff and my patrons when i'm at work.


where paul offends me is here: he called Night Of The Living Dead a Hollywood production. this couldn't be further from the truth. this film paved the way for independent film making. it invented technique. it has a tragic story, as it immediately became public domain on it's theatrical release. it's a story about the end. the only thing that this movie glorifies is how we can't figure it all out as human beings - which i think we can all agree is the truth.


what paul is doing is "judging a book by it's cover" instead of investigating what the film is actually about. i challenge this as being christian. as far as not educating himself on the subject that he is speaking out against - i challenge this as being sad and pathetic.


anyway, there you go.


peace. 
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Dear Mike,

It was good to have received your last comment. There was so much information in there that has helped me understand why you reacted so angrily when you learned of my presence at your theatre and how you could have easily come to conclude that my motives were devious in nature.

I am sorry to hear that you have had so much trouble in the past with your staff and establishment coming under attack in various ways, obviously by persons with a completely different agenda than mine. I can fully understand your reason for concern and your need for police protection.

I came in a spirit of peace, with a message of peace. The same gospel message of peace with God and salvation that I preach at all venues and events we attend or happen to come by. 

I am pleased to read that you have come to understand that I did not go to your theatre with a purpose of defaming your good name (I don't even know you), your theatre or even the movie, for that matter. I came for one purpose and one purpose alone: to preach to a crowd of people.

In this case, I purposely went there because the theme of the movie had to do with "death" and the gospel message I preach has to do with the same. Only this one has definitive answers - from a biblical Christian perspective that is.

It is my hope, as well, that you will be able to see that I was not there to solicit anything from anybody. On the contrary, I was there to give not take. I gave a message and I gave out gospel tracts. That's it.

Now, had I of known about your security issues, I would have gone in to ask your permission first. Or, while I was preaching, if you had come out to confront me about the security issues you have had and had asked me to move for the reasons you stated in your letter, I would have gladly obliged with no questions asked.

I would have understood and moved across the street or further away from your building or something. I would have complied because I was not there to cause you or anyone grief. I hope you believe me when I say that.

As far as the "made in Hollywood" comment, I stand corrected. But that being said I would still have things to say about the actual movie and it's contents from a Christian perspective regardless of who made it.  

But that was, again, not the main reason why I was there. It was simply to preach the gospel at a place that was, to my understanding at the time, public property...a free speech zone. There was no mean spirited intent at all.

I hope this concludes this episode with no hard feelings from either side. I have and hold nothing against you, Mike and if you were serious about wanting to meet me sometime in the future the invite is still open. You have my e-mail address.

May God bless you,

Paul  

CASE CLOSED

To Mike and all "Anonymous" commentators:

Re: the Mayfair affair -

I continue to receive a plethora of comments laced with demands, threats, false accusations, name calling, lies, ludicrous statements, twisted arguments and blasphemy - mostly from the invisible group of commentators named "Anonymous".

It's over.

My blog. My rules.

If you were to read the sidebar on the right hand column, you will see that this blog is NOT a forum for debate or discussion on what I do and how I do it. It is a venue where Christians who share their faith can be encouraged and where those who do not can be motivated to do so.

Like it or not, I, along with every other Christian, have been commissioned by my Lord and my Savior, the master of my life, Jesus Christ, to "Go out into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15)

I, therefore, preach the gospel in the public square wherever I go. I take advantage of every opportunity to do so. It is done in a spirit of compassion,  love and concern for others. If it is taken as hatred and harrassment by some, then they are not hearing what I am trying to say.

My letter addressed to Mike yesterday gives an honest detailed account of my purpose for showing up at the theatre Saturday night. And yet, it is still believed my motives were devious towards the movie and the theatre itself.

Going in verbal circles with you in the comments section will be an exercise in futility. I am more than pleased to dialogue, but not in theway and tone that you insist on keeping it in.

I answer to God, not to man - especially those who hide under the guise of anonymity.

I will continue to preach the gospel wherever God leads me to do so and within the boundaries of the laws that protect us all.

May God bless you all in the richness of His mercies and grace through the shed blood of Christ on the cross for the sins of the world, as He has done so for a wretch like ME.

Case closed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A RESPONSE TO MIKE AT THE MAYFAIR

If you read the comment section from today's earlier post "Night of the Living Word", you will see that the manager of the theatre at which I preached in front of wrote me three comments in complaint of my presence at the Mayfair theatre last Saturday night when I preached the gospel there.


My response to him is too long to post in the comment section, so I decided to post it here. For context, please read his comments at the bottom of the last post and come back here so you could follow along.
---------------------------------------------

Here is my response:

Dear Mike,

Please accept my apologies for not being able to respond sooner. It has been less than three hours since you sent me your first of three comments and I am juggling family stuff and my full time job at the same time.

Thank you for writing to me with your concerns. Please note that I take what you have to say seriously and it is my hope you read my response to you in kind and in a spirit of friendly dialogue.

My wife and I are Christians with a ministry of street evangelism - proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ in the public square via open air preaching, handing out gospel tracts and having one to one discussions with anyone on the street who has interest to do so with us.

As Canadians, the Charter of Rights allows us to practice our right to freedom of speech and freedom of religion within the context of the laws provided. We take our message of hope to the streets of Ottawa on a regular basis.

If you review the video, you should be able to conclude that in no way, at any time, did I ever say anything against the movie itself, nor did I say anything against the Mayfair theatre. As a matter of fact, out of consideration for your patrons and the Mayfair, the very first thing I said was that I did not represent the Mayfair theatre.

Therefore, contrary to what you have accused me of, my presence there and what I did was NOT a "protest". I did not protest the screening of the movie nor the theatre. And at no time did I try to discourage any of your patrons to see the movie or boycott your theatre.

All I did was use the theme of the movie - 'death' - as a springboard into the same gospel message I preach everywhere else in Ottawa. If I am guilty of anything, it is preaching the Chrisian gospel. And the video is the clear evidence to that truth.

The space I took up on the sidewalk was no more than the space of one human being. The video clearly shows that some people walked around me, as they would have done had I just been standing there without my stepstool, and they did so with ease. At no point did I ever "block" pedestrian traffic from being able to move, as you claim that I did.

As far as where I can preach, I am free to do so anywhere on public property. I safely assume that the area on which I was standing is public property. So because of the freedoms allowed to me by the Charter of Rights, I broke no law.

The same goes for taking photographs and videos, the law is on my side. The laws stipulate that so long as subjects are on public property, a photographer has the right to photograph or video anybody, and freely publish such images for any law-abiding purpose.

Your patrons were not inside the theatre. They were outside lined up on the public sidewalk. I do not need your permission, that of the police, nor the people themselves. Nor can my photo gear be confiscated by police or anybody. Such is the law as it stands.

The goal of our ministry is to give free people free food for free thought from a biblical Christian perspective. So far, there are no laws against that. People are free to listen or not listen, agree or not agree. But they are not free to try and shut me down just because they may disagree with what I have to say.

I think it safe to assume that you would not have written me a letter of complaint had I got up to proclaim the good of the movie and the good of your theatre. Not at all. If I had stood up to herald all passersby to come to your production, you would have been pleased to have me do so. You would have not felt the need to call the police.

But again, I did not knock the movie or the theatre. Therefore, I submit to you that your issue is about the gospel message I preached and not about someone standing in front of your theatre addressing the public, who happen to be your patrons.

And speaking of your patrons, I know there were those who disagreed with me - be it by my presence there and/or what I had to say - but there were four of them who personally expressed their gratitude for me being there and what they heard.

On top of that, as evidenced and mentioned in my video, almost 60 gospel tracts were willingly received by them (not forced on them) as they made their way to the entrance of the Mayfair. I was congenial with all as I offered them out. Nobody said anything negative to me.

As far as the movie itself is concerned, well, that's for another day as the movie is not the real issue at hand here.

To reiterate, my presence there was not a protest and I would highly doubt it would be regarded as one by law as the video clearly would testify that is was not. I have nothing against you, Mike, nor your theatre and the only thing I am sorry about is that you view what I did as "harrassment", especially when nobody else complained. That charge would not stand up in court.

I hope this gives you a better picture of my motives for being there Saturday night. For us, what we did was no different than being anywhere else where the public gather. I would be more than pleased to meet with you, Mike, should you desire further discussion over a cup of coffee. It would be my pleasure and the tab's on me.

May God bless you in the richness of His mercies and grace,

Paul Latour

thewordstreetjournal@gmail.com



NIGHT OF THE LIVING WORD

It was too good to pass up. The line up that is, not the movie.

There are only two movie theatres in Ottawa where patrons must line up outside the theatre to wait for the doors to open. Both feature independant films, old films and so-called "cult films".

Saturday night's "cult classic" horror film at the Mayfair Theatre was 'Night of the Living Dead', produced in 1968. Murder, gore, bloodshed and cannibalism only begins to describe the kind of "entertainment" that was being offered. And, of course, people are still lining up to pay and view horrific merriment on the screen.

Kim and I thought this would be a good opportunity to preach the gospel to an organic congregation and hand out some tracts. It was an opportunity to tell people the truth as to what happens after people die and what Jesus did so that they may be granted eternal life in Heaven.

There wasn't much time. We took off from home and got there just minutes before the doors opened.



Now, I'd like to say a word about the preaching. Looking back at this evening's offering from the box, I wasn't too pleased with my presentation. Hindsight is always 20/20 and there is so much I know I could have said had I had the time to prepare. I had a goldmine of a theme to work with and I just feel I could have been better. 

I was in a rush because I knew the doors were about to open. I, therefore, missed out on some key points, flubbed some of my sentences, suffered a brain derailment halfway through, didn't quote Scripture enough and I goofed on my closing line.

And the reason why I am telling you this is to encourage you who may be new to open air preaching and/or are praying about doing it. I'm here to say: don't worry about making mistakes. It happens. What I have experienced in the past is that when I feel I didn't preach up to par, God still uses the effort for His purposes.

If you think you need to be or are waiting to be like a professional public speaker, you will never get on the box. Always pray before you step up. We are broken vessels that God uses for His good "as is".

The apostle Paul was fully aware of that:

"I came to you in weakness and fear, and in much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on man's wisdom, but on God's power."  (1 Cor 2:3-5)

So even though I know I could have done better, it was still effective enough to grab the attention of some and well enough to be told that they appreciated what they heard. And, as you saw in the video, about 60 people still took gospel tracts and we had two meaningful gospel conversations with patrons.

God is still amazing, even when we are not.

Friday, March 26, 2010

GO, STAND, SPEAK - LATEST PROMOS

We know the one and only way to eternal life through the saving work of Jesus on the cross! What are we doing keeping it to ourselves? Let's get out there and tell people the Good News!!

Please pray for Go,Stand,Speak Ministries and their work with The Apologetics Group as they piece together their documentary on the history, importance and relevance of the unpopular, yet, ages old and God ordained practice of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ outside of church buildings and in the public square.

Here are their two latest promo videos of the film to be released in June:



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

TAKES ONE TO SHOW SOME

Just a one minute demonstration for Christians to see how little effort it can take to share the gospel with people in public and show them the way to eternal salvation.

If you are not ready to talk with others quite yet, there is always another way to get the gospel message out, as shown here.

I hope this is a bit of an encouragement to those who are seriously praying about their call to bring the gospel of Jesus to their local world.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

INBETWEEN SHIFTS

One of the great benefits of being a city bus driver is that I get to choose my shift from a variety of options made available for drivers.

I choose to work split shift as it works best for our lifestyle and, sometimes, our evangelism schedule. I work the morning rush hour and then the evening rush hour. That gives me 5 and a half hours everyday to do whatever I choose. (Or Kim chooses...right, dear?) :)

Wednesday was an absolutely beautiful, unusually warm March day. So at 11:30, Kim and I decided to break away from our normal daily errands and chores to head down to the Market where we knew it was going to be crowded at the noon hour, especially since it was St Patrick's Day.




After we had arrived in the Market, we came to a large area where there are some picnic tables and, of course, people sitting at them eating and chatting in the "winter" sunshine.

I got up on my box and wished everyone a Happy St Patrick's Day and , as a spring board, I launched into the history of the day, who St Patrick was and what it was that he did that made him so famous.

 Following that, I told the congregation that I was going to deliver them the same message St Patrick used to "rid the snakes of Ireland" and convert the people to Christianity...the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, the Law and the Gospel.

The message seemed to be appreciated as many sat quietly and listened intently. There were two who approached us individually following my discourse and spoke with us for about ten minutes each.

"Jim", an older gentleman, shared with us that he was deeply concerned about the status of his soul and his impending death, knowing he had to face God, but was greatly encouraged to hear the promise of forgiveness and eternal life through repentance and faith in Jesus.

He professed that he believed it must have been God who sent him to hear the gospel in the Market as he had no other reason to be there that day. He was deeply grateful and walked away with a "Why Christianity" booklet, a promise to be prayed for and a spring in his step.

"June", an older lady, said she was also pleased to hear the gospel. She is Roman Catholic and we spent time talking about the difference between grace and works and how only one can bring a person into Heaven. She also gladly received a booklet and left with something new to consider.

We, then, decided to use up the rest of our time handing out gospel tracts to people before heading home and me back to work.

Kim has a wonderful way of walking into peoples' circles without offending anybody in order to give them tracts.

 Here's her secret: she walks into peoples' circles, smiles, greets and offers them tracts. Yes, it may seem like rocket science to some, but not for her. Though it has taken ages for me to master, I've copied her technique and it really works!!! I highly recommend it!


Above is a group of guys who had been given tracts by Kim a few minutes before I caught up with her. Not knowing I was with her, I hovered around them for a few minutes and was enjoying listening to them give each other the Good Person Test from the tracts they had received. And they were being serious about it.

In the hour and a half that the Lord graciously gave us laborers to work His harvest field, the gospel was preached to an attentive crowd, we had two gospel conversations with people who were concerned for themselves in response to what they heard and we handed out a variety of three different gospel tracts to over 150 people.

We went home, had lunch and I was back at work on the bus at 3 o'clock. It's amazing how much can be done for the building of the Kingdom in such short order...when you don't take the time, but rather MAKE the time to do so.

If you are not doing anything in the area of sharing your Christian faith with the lost, wherever you or they may be, you should be seriously praying about that. It is such a privilege and joy that you are missing out on.

If you do commit yourself to evangelism, you might be surprised at how easy it can be and you will be asking yourself "Why didn't I start doing this a long time ago?"

Souls are waiting for you to give them an answer for the hope that you have.

Monday, March 15, 2010

OF SNAKES AND GOOD NEWS

Nowhere in the rules and guidelines of street evangelism does it say that you cannot go out to talk with people, hand out gospel tracts and have a lot of fun at the same time. 

Saturday's Ottawa St Patrick's Day Parade, and events like it, offer that opportunity. That being said, however, serving the Lord at any event in any capacity is always a joy.

Have fun!

Friday, March 12, 2010

GOD'S HANDIWORK - A BIRD'S EYE VIEW

I stand on a box on a street corner from time to time and, along with proclaiming the gospel, I sometimes engage people in discussion of the existence and the infinitely supreme intellect, sovereignty and power of God in creation.

Next time, I think I'll just show them this.

Warning: prepare to catch thy jaw.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

ANOTHER GREAT DAY - SAME GREAT GOSPEL

Sunday's glorious weather gave us another glorious opportunity to share the glorious gospel in the unglorious (God-lacking) public square.

With cross and gear in tow, Kim and I headed down to our favorite fishing pond, the Byward Market, where we were not surprised to find the place abuzz with a great number of people out enjoying the unusually warm March weather.

Kim started things off by standing up on the box and reading chapter 3 of the Book of John. 

There is something to be said about reading from the Bible in public. It is so out of the norm and it catches peoples' attention whether some hear a few verses as they pass by or, as some did here, they actually stop to listen.

Soon after Kim was done, it was my turn to take to the stand and preach the Law and the Gospel. The dolly that I use to cart our gear around operates as a perfect stand for the "Are You Ready" cross which is placed in front of us while we are on the box reading or preaching.


The cross is an ever present symbol and indicator to the public of what is behind our purpose for being there. It easily catches the eye and curiosity of many. We cannot say enough of its effect and usefulness in various ways as we evangelize on the street.



Not long into the gospel presentation, people started to take notice of, and an interest in, what was being said from the street pulpit. For a few, what was being preached was of enough interest to cause them to stop and listen.

But it wasn't until this young, pleasant, professing atheist showed up and started asking really good questions that a larger crowd started to gather.

 I am convinced that the young man was asking questions many in the crowd were wanting to ask but were too shy to do so. It was like he was their representative.

In our very public discussion, I happened to stump him on a point as he tried to argue that the universe came from nothing. What I found amusing was, at that point, he politely asked if he could stand aside for awhile to think about what I had countered his argument with and come back - which he did!

Meanwhile, another fellow from the crowd spoke up with questions about what he had heard in the gospel preaching which allowed me to reiterate in detail what I had said. New arrivals got a chance to hear what they had missed.

I preached the Law and the Gospel which took about 15 minutes. I focused on the gospel portion for a while after that. But thanks to couple of courteous hecklers and the larger crowd God provided for me through them, I didn't step down from the box for another 40 minutes.

And, as always near the end of our session in the Market, Kim and I spent the rest of our time speaking one to one with some who came to us after our presentation. Following that, we later took time to hand out a boatload of gospel tracts before going home.

Many people heard word of God being read and the gospel being preached in the Market this past Sunday. We are so grateful to the Lord for giving us this wonderful privilege of serving Him this way and we look forward to many more gospel giving opportunities as the even warmer weather makes its way in.

Wherever you may be, Christian, if you are not out sharing your faith in any way, would you prayerfully consider joining us on the street to bring the same great gospel that brings the message of eternal salvation to the likes of what we once were?  

"...devote yourself to the public reading of  Scripture, to preaching and to teaching." 
(1 Timothy 4:13)

Friday, March 5, 2010

DOCUMENTARY FILM ON OPEN AIR PREACHING

Aahhh...TV worth watching! Rare air.

There is a new documentary film to be released in June by Go.Stand.Speak Ministries and The Apologetics Group regarding the not-so-easy, but very necessary task of open air preaching. It promises to be a revealing and encouraging look at the biblically age old method of preaching the gospel to the lost in the public square.

Here from the Go.Stand.Speak. website:

"With 'preaching to the lost' being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seems to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?






Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

What does the Bible say about public preaching? And does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?



The film 'Go. Stand. Speak' delves into the doctrine of public preaching with experts such as Dr. George Grant, Paul Washer, Greg Gordon, Pastor John Reuther, Rusty Lee Thomas, David Legge, Ray Comfort, Stuart Migdon, Michael Marcavage, Jeff Rose, Shawn Holes, Sean Morris and other Christian leaders… and uncovers the big question…




...is this quiet, new move of public preaching something that is simply a trend, or is it again the beginning of a move of God where He is simply doing what He always has done…calling His ministers to go and preach His message of repentance and faith where the people gather in the public, regardless of culture, current trends, or the popularity of the message and method?"
 


I highly recommend anyone who has any interest in the field of street evangelism to support this worthwhile project by going to the above link, order the DVD and view it in hope that it would educate, edify, and encourage those who sense a calling to step out of their comfort zones and boldly go out to proclaim the Good News in the public square. 

WHY? Well, one reason is because:  "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." (Matthew 9:37)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

It was Sunday. There were all kinds of worship going on this past Lord's Day, just not all to the Lord.

One of the biggies all over Canada and the United States was the gold medal hockey game between our two countries at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Not surprisingly, this gets the attention of millions and unites sports minded patriots, if but for a moment in time.

I am a Canadian. Kim is an American. We thought we would join in the fray, but in a different kind of way.











For many people, the CanAm showdown was a golden opportunity to flock to the downtown bar and restaurant districts to watch the big game on big TVs. For Kim and me, it was a golden opportunity to bring the gospel to those making their way there. 

I stood on a corner with my cross for the better part of the first 40 minutes as streams of people passed by. Many glanced but were seemingly in a rush to get to the bars and capture a seat for the game.

One older fellow obliged me with an "Are you ready for what?" question that opened up a door for a ten minute discussion. He professed to be an atheist but something in our chat told me he had a conscience that bugged him, though he would not admit it.

At one point a car pulled up by the curb and I heard the driver speaking French on his cell phone. There were three others in the car with him. When he finished his call I leaned into his open window and handed him four French gospel tracts. He took them and asked me what they were for. I was able to converse with him about the gospel for a minute and he listened intently. Grateful, he asked if he could have a couple more tracts to give to some friends he had in mind.

 In between hockey periods, smokers would step out of the bars and onto the street for a few puffs before the game resumed. We took that opportunity to hand out gospel tracts as they puffed away. (Gasp!) 

Kim got into a gospel discussion with one hockey fan draped in a Canadian flag having a smoke before he went back inside to watch the game with his buddies.

 In one way or another, many Olympic hockey revelers received the gospel on Sunday afternoon.

The Lord also blessed us with an opportunity to speak with at length and encourage two young fellows who are professing Christians but have both claimed to have backslidden due to habitual sin. They left us admitting deep conviction and expressed their gratefulness for having spoken with them. Please pray for them.

Kim and I are so grateful to the Lord for giving us this golden opportunity via the Olympic hockey event to serve Him on what would have otherwise been a quiet day. I had opportunity to display the questioning cross; we spoke with many, encouraged a few and dispensed of a load of gospel tracts.

It is so good to be back on the street doing what we most love to do for Him. All glory to God! 

Monday, March 1, 2010

SPOT THE FOOL


Somewhere in this myriad of people, signs, lines and shapes, is a fool.

If you can't spot him, let me give you a couple of hints so you might find him:

1) You may have seen him before but not recently as he has been out of great commission recovering from an 8 week bout of sciatica.

2) He is back on the street and carrying a rather large heathen magnet.

First one to spot the fool wins a crisp genuine million dollar gospel tract. More about this picture in the next post. Have fun!