If your answer is the number of people hearing the gospel being preached on the street, you're right.
Now, which scenario seems more of an excercise of futility over the other? My hope is that your answer would be "neither".
Yes, for those of us who have stood up on a box to preach the gospel in the public square, there are times we may have prayed, beforehand, for a large crowd to gather as we preached. And the intention is always a good one: so that many may have an opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus. Right? Who wouldn't want that?
Well, maybe at times, God.
The second photo above was taken last Sunday when Kim and I went downtown to evangelize after church. It seemed busy enough as I stood up to preach. Some people stopped long enough to get the gist of what I was talking about but didn't hang around for long...except for one young man, about 20 years old, whom I later found out was named Skyler.
Skyler appeared about half way through my gospel presentation, stopped, rested himself on a post and politely listened and waited until I was finished before asking questions. He claimed to be an atheist which sparked a lengthy and very cordial open discussion. I was still miked up and our interaction drew a bit of a crowd.
Some interjected here and there but the main discussion was between Skyler and me. (One thing I did not do was allow our discourse to steer far from the cross. In other words, everything we talked about I made sure it pointed back to the gospel.)
The crowd eventually dwindled but Skyler stayed and something was telling me he wasn't staying just for the sake of an argument. He was asking good questions and I answered them the best I could. He seemed to be thinking about my answers and processing them as we went along.
As we continued, a young lady (I didn't get her name) caught wind of our topic and stood a few feet from us, listened intently and then started to chime in, as well. She seemed to be caught off guard with the forthright, yet, simplicity of the gospel and related topics as they were being explained.
The things she heard, she later admitted, were things she had heard of before but in not so clear a fashion. It's as though God was opening up her heart and mind to understand these things. The three of us bantered back and forth for the better part of half an hour.
Though I think Skyler might have been too proud to admit he had been given some things to seriously consider, he did shake my hand upon leaving and expressed his gratitude for my time with him.
The young lady was more openly appreciative of what she heard. She expressed she had been given much to think about and was very grateful for what she had learned in the short time she was there.
I asked if she had a Bible at home to which she responded "Yes". I encouraged her to read the Book of John and she said she would as though she were making a promise as she shook my hand. I promised both her (and Skyler) that I would be praying for them.
So much for the huge crowd we had prayed for. Our God, God of all wisdom, obviously had other plans and they came to fruition.
We harbingers of the Good News must always remember two things:
1) our first and foremost motive in the offering of the gospel to others should always be this: to glorify God, and God alone
2) the number of those who hear the gospel at any one time should never be of concern. God is sovereign in that detail as in any other.
Be it many, be it some, be it one, or seemingly none.
We should never be discouraged when the number of those under our street pulpit is low. It is always the God the Holy Spirit who has already predetermined who and how many will hear and respond to the gospel, in His way and time, as He works through us to preach it.
Our duty is to be obedient. That's it! And our Lord is always faithful and good to bless us when we are.
Regarding His word, the LORD says:
"It shall not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)
It was a full weekend of witnessing and what a joy it was to find ourselves not on our own but assisting other brothers and sisters in the spreading of the gospel on the streets for a change.
Two major events took place last weekend that drew thousands of people, one secular and one religious (and idolatrous) in nature.
Westfest is a popular weekend long annual festival held in Ottawa's trendy Westboro district with various attractions that draw many.
Then there was the Feast of St Anthony held at St Anthony's Roman Catholic Church in 'Little Italy' district of Ottawa. It usually draws about 10,000 people annually to its outdoor Mass and procession through the streets carrying a statue of their patron saint.
On Saturday, Kim and I joined the ranks in front of Parkdale Baptist Church (Westboro Campus) led by Pastor Bob Doble as they had set up a water and gospel tract station for passersby. Members of the PBC youth group joined in as well to hand out bottles of water, gospel tracts and info pamphlets.
Layton Kerr, of Open Air Campaigners, was also there with his team as they presented the gospel all day long, handed out tracts and conducted many gospel conversations with people.
It was a joy to serve with our brothers and sisters from Parkdale Baptist and the Open Air crew in the public sharing of the gospel.
On Sunday, Kim and I attended the annual St Anthony's Feast Day celebrations where thousands gather to pay homage to (worship?) their patron saint. We went there to be a witness with the cross and to hand out as many gospel tracts as we could. I was set to open air preach but was drowned out by the high volumed music on loudspeakers all around. It would have been an excercise in futility.
We left there and headed back to Westfest for a while in the afternoon. There, I was able to open air and read from the Scriptures. We handed out gospel tracts and spoke with those who were curious about the information on the tracts they received.
May God bless those whom we found ourselves teamed up with this weekend in the giving of the gospel and may He also bless the efforts given. It is so encouraging to always know that God's word never returns to Him void and will serve a purpose He has already sovereignly ordained.
If anyone is out there and has a burden on their heart to bring the Good News to the lost of Ottawa, but are not sure how or where to start, know that you are welcome to join us at a large public event like the ones we attend.
Pray about that. You'll discover how easy it can be to even just hand out gospel tracts to the passing crowds and we'll be there to encourage you.
Take it from us, it is a joy to be of service in the building of the Kingdom this way. You won't be disappointed and the Lord will be pleased.
A few weeks ago, I received an invitation at my door inviting me to a Jehovah Witness Convention in a town about an hour and a half drive from Ottawa in Cornwall, Ontario.
My usual response would have been to rip up and chuck the thing but something came over me and I, somehow unreluctantly, accepted the invitation. It had to have been the work of the Holy Spirit.
Had those who dropped off the invitation at my door known the real reasons why I was eager to show up at their convention, they probably would have just kept right on walking without dropping by. But I'm glad they knocked.
Knowing Kim was not able to make this trip, I called a brother, Phil, and invited him to join me in bringing the gospel truth and warnings to the JW convention attendees. He jumped at the opportunity.
Phil has a great love for the Lord and I was looking forward to our day together as brothers in Christ on a mission. The added bonus was that Phil has family in Cornwall, knows the city well and knows a faithful pastor of a church where we could go and worship before going for lunch at Phil's parents' home and then to the convention, which we did.
It was a pleasure to meet Pastor Tom, who I discovered is a dedicated street evangelist as well and, as at past JW conventions, had spent the day before witnessing to the lost of the JW attendees, namely, all of them.
He will be back there again next weekend as the conference continues. Gratefully, he gave us some logistical tips based on his experiences of preaching at these conventions.
I had met Phil's parents only once before and it was good to see them again. And they were very kind to have a spread of food waiting for us when we got there.
Our plan was to set up as close as we possibly could to the main doors of the convention center and following the closing event (Sunday, June 6) I would preach, with mike and speaker, to the multitudes as they made their way to their cars or buses that would take them home.
I had prayed all week in preparation for this and the Lord was faithful in answering prayer as I was able to open air preach without hinderance for an hour an fifteen minutes as member upon member of Jehovah Witness attendees walked right by where we set up.
The video posted below, shot by Phil, are snippets of 10 minutes of the hour and fifteen we were there. (Apologies for the background noise as the two buses parked in front of the main doors were idling.)
As the throngs of JWs continued to pour out, along with the rain, I continued to preach, warn and read from the Scriptures.
Phil was of great help. He was my main prayer support, (along with others back in Ottawa praying for us as well, as I found out later). For the most part, while I was on the box, Phil stood beside me holding the cross.
Not only that, as I was reading Scripture, Phil, being the walking concordance that he is, would flip through another Bible for continued Scripture for me to broadcast.
When I was done with what he assigned me before, we would trade Bibles. I would read what he found for me and he would continue searching for more until I finished and we would trade again. There was no shortage of the TRUE word of God being preached here.
I did not expect any passersby to stop and listen, nor did any do such a thing. These people are directed (programmed?) not to accept any word or any literature from anyone from outside their cult. But, I know they could not help but hear. Some even mocked me as they walked by.
What gives me comfort is knowing that whenever the true word of God is preached, none of it will return to Him void, even if preached from the heart of a broken vessel like me. God will use whatever was said for His purposes which will, in the end, give Him glory.
This was my first time knocking on the doors of thousands of Jehovah Witnesses in one shot. God willing, I know it won't be my last.
If you are an open air preacher and have not ever preached at such an event, I highly recommend you pray for such an opportunity and ask God to give you all you need to do so. Especially at one where you are can also spend time preaching in "defense and confirmation" of the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ.
This year's annual Ottawa Race Weekend marathon event, held this past weekend, drew a record number of 39,000 registered runners to partake in various marathon runs through the streets of the Nation's Capital.
Never wanting to miss out on big ticket events where thousands flock to, Kim and I decided to attend the event in attempt to get at least some people thinking about turning around to run a different kind of race where, beyond the finish line, there is a crown that lasts for all eternity awaiting them should they go that way. (1 Cor 9:24-25)
I had been waiting for this. It was an appropriate opportunity to try and distribute a case of gospel based booklets I had ordered last year titled "Running Beyond Inspiration",written a few years ago by Tony Miano when he was the chaplain for the Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs Department.
The booklet is a moving account of Miano's emotional and spiritual experience while participating in a 120 mile relay race through the California and Nevada deserts in honor of, and what turned into " in memory of ", fellow police officer and brother in Christ, Deputy Andy Vaughan, who had just died of Lou Gehrig's Disease shortly before the race began.
Miano's story blends into and ends with an straightforward and uncompromising presentation of the saving gospel of Jesus.
At the event, I stood up on a riser just outside the athletes' village facility, made an announcement detailing the booklet to runners and supporters and started handing them out. In just less than a half hour, all 125 booklets I had were in the hands of those willing to receive them. I wished I had ordered more.
We headed for a corner spot along the route just down from the Parliament Buildings where Kim took hold of the questioning cross and held it high as thousands of runners ran by on their journey. It would have been hard for anybody to miss the question on the cross.
From Kim's vantage point, she was able to see how many glances she and the cross received. She was waved at, smiled at, smirked at, mocked at, given thumbs up at and given strange looks whilst she stood with the cross. Some even yelled, "Yes, I'm ready!" as they whisked by.
We leave it, of course, in God's hand to know who of these thousands were left pondering during their run, and thereafter, in regard to the true meaning of the question and the cross, causing them to think of their stance before Him and what that will mean for them on Judgment Day and eternity.
A marathon. Yet another one of the many, many ways in which God provides Christians the privilege of seizing an opportunity and give witness to His loving offer of forgiveness and eternal salvation through Jesus Christ to a multitude of people, even in a short amount of time.
God is so very faithful. In turn, we should be as well.
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.