If you are a biblical Christian burdened with compassion for lost souls and have been found busy operating as a street evangelist sharing the saving gospel of Jesus Christ with them, have you ever considered what it would be like to be a witness for Christ at an outdoor gay pride event if you have not done so already?
In this post, I am proud to feature a written account of a dear friend and brother in Christ, Mark Murnan, of Lake Worth, Florida, who along with his gospel giving sidekick, Greg Pursell, attended their region's annual gay pride parade for their very first time earlier today.
Their humble approach to being a simple witness for Christ at this event is worth sharing and it is my hope that if you have not brought the gospel to a gay pride parade but were thinking and praying about it, read here as Mark takes you through their experience and see what it could be like for you if you went.
I give praise to God for these two dedicated followers and harbingers of Christ for granting them the grace and the courage to step of their comfort zones and into the unknown trusting the Lord to help them bring the Good News message to the those who desperately need it, as is for all sinners no matter their sexual persuasion.
For your encouragement, here is Mark's story:
This morning, I had the privilege of attending Lake Worth’s annual Pride Fest parade with my brother-in-Christ, Greg Pursell. We met for breakfast, Scripture reading and prayer beforehand, then drove down to Lake Avenue for the event, which was anticipated to draw about 15,000 people celebrating the homosexual lifestyle.
We both had our “Are You Ready?” crosses, and after a word of prayer together, took positions across the street from each other among the crowd.
The parade lasted about 45 minutes. In that time, and in the half hour before the parade began, I had four different types of encounters with the cross.
First, curiosity. Several people approached me and asked the natural question, “Ready for what?” I greeted them and then handed them an “Are You Ready?” tract from my good friend and brother, Paul Latour, in Ottawa, Canada. Two women standing next to me engaged me in conversation, asking if I was there to condemn homosexuality. I assured them that, as a thrice divorced man myself, I was by definition an adulterer, so no, I wasn’t there to condemn anyone.
But I did point out that I was guilty of many other things, too, such as lying, stealing, blaspheming and lust. All of these things, I shared with them, were violations of God’s commandments, and made me guilty before God, irrespective of sexual preference. Each of these ladies agreed that they, too, were guilty of these violations, so I was able to share the law and then the good news of the gospel with them, albeit briefly.
As the parade began, I noticed a second type of encounter: conviction. Several people in the parade, reacting to the cross, shouted out, “Ready for what?” and “I’m ready, are you ready?” Greg and I had already decided that we were not going to respond verbally, as this would likely be interpreted as provocative in an already energized crowd. The cross was provocative enough.
A couple of people approached me to offer me strings of rainbow colored beads, which I accepted with thanks, then handed them to a gentleman standing next to me who accepted them from me.
It was here also that I had my first physical confrontation, which was mercifully brief. A very angry young woman approached me and reached up to put a string of purple beads over my cross. I elevated the cross to prevent this, and she grabbed it, pulling it down.
She pointed to it and said, “That’s offensive!” Then she pointed at me and said, “You’re offensive!” (She didn’t even know me, and I couldn’t disagree with her!)
As I held onto the cross, I prayed briefly that no one would be injured by this 4’ by 3’ wooden object, especially the angry woman pulling at it. Fortunately, she let it go and released the beads, which I again handed to my neighbor. She walked away and rejoined the parade. As my heart rate dropped closer to normal, I received a “thumbs up,” a smile and a nod from a woman on a motorcycle riding a short distance behind the angry parader. I smiled back gratefully.
People are always trying to add things to the cross. Usually it’s their own efforts; they refuse to acknowledge the sufficiency of Christ’s death on the cross in their stead, that He bore the punishment each of us deserves, and by His death and resurrection, He purchased our eternal redemption. His sacrifice is sufficient and efficient; all our self-righteous deeds are merely cheap, worthless beads (Isaiah 64:6).
A third encounter was condemnation. This came from an elderly man named Rob who approached us after the parade had passed. He had been sitting across the street and made a beeline for us.
“What’s that mean?” he asked, pointing toward the cross. I gave him a tract, which he scanned briefly, then tore it up slowly as he told us, “You’re giving Jesus a bad name. You’re here to condemn all these people that Jesus loved. He loved everybody. I think you’re a disgrace to the faith.”
I thanked him for coming over, and asked him if he thought that God was holy and just. I asked him if he knew WHY Jesus died on the cross. I asked him what he was doing to reach the lost; those poor, stricken souls who might die in their sins and face the judgment of God without hearing from him the sacrifice that Christ, fully God and fully man, endured on that bloody cross for their sins so that they might inherit eternal life.
He scowled and walked away, ignoring my request to discuss the issue further.
Finally, we encountered encouragement. I have already mentioned the friendly affirmation I received from the lady on her motorcycle. I thanked God for her kindness to me. After the parade we were approached by a gentleman who had started a church in Lake Worth. His name is John Henry and his church is Common Ground (www.cgclw.com). He and other members of his church were going through the crowd handing out tracts and business cards, promoting Easter service at Common Ground, which had outgrown a local restaurant and was now drawing 150 people to a local elementary school.
We enjoyed a few minutes of fellowship and prayer. I thanked him for his labors in Lake Worth and told him we travel to Lake Avenue once or twice a month to proclaim the gospel in the evening. He was gracious and kind, and I am honored to labor with him in the harvest fields in one of my favorite towns.
“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me.” Truly the cross is an offense. It’s even an offense to me, a grisly reminder that my transgression against an infinite and holy God was so extreme that God Himself had to bear the punishment.
And yet, the cross is a glorious reminder that I am free; freed from my guilt, shame and condemnation. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation! The old has passed away, the new has come.”
Last week was the St Patrick's Day Parade in Ottawa which was held to kick off a week long celebration of a man nobody knows.
This past Saturday was the actual St Patrick's Day and four of us sensed the Lord's calling to hit the city's popular bar district in the Byward Market to try and get the gospel into the hands of the droves of people, mostly young green people, before they hit the green beer. Though we arrived early in the evening, in many cases we were too late as celebrations started early. For some, we are sure, very early.
Nonetheless, we stationed ourselves and despite the rain and thunder that evening we were able to dispense of hundreds more of our homemade St Patrick's Day gospel tracts to green revellers. And, despite the amount of alcohol consumed by many, we were able to handle a few relatively good gospel conversations with those who were willing to converse somewhat intelligently and respectfully.
There was some alcohol fuelled heckling by some which, due to my response, created a conversation with a group of students which was well heard by others standing in the wings as I was miked up while trying to give the gospel to these young men.
A somewhat challenging night but our work was done despite the rudeness of some. There were those that received the gospel clearly and we pray that for those who woke up Sunday morning in a fog - not knowing how a green card with the gospel printed on it got into their pockets - would read it over a cup of hot coffee and take into serious consideration what it says.
The Lord knows those who are His and He will call those whom He has died for. Maybe at least one of them we reached on Saturday night has since been brought to conviction, repentance and faith in Christ - or will some day soon.
We don't know but that's the Lord's business anyway. Our business was to obey the Lord and go out to be His ambassadors spreading the saving gospel of which we will do again as often as the He wants us to.
It's always a heartfelt privilege and joy to serve our King.
Well, it's that time of year again. That time of year when week long festivities take place in churches and drinking establishments alike. When people don their green apparel and raise a mug (many, many mugs) of green beer clinking and drinking to the memory and honour of a man they, for the most part, know nothing about.
Patrick (yes, a "saint", but not in the Roman Catholic sense of the word and I have my doubts about him being all robed up in silk and lace the way he's depicted in the photo below) was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. He was born a Roman citizen in 387AD (no, he was not Irish) in then Roman occupied Britannia (Scotland). He was kidnapped at 16 and sold as a slave to Ireland. It was during his years there when God convicted him as a sinner in need of a Saviour and he was graciously given the gifts of repentance and faith in Christ.
He later was able to escape from Ireland but back home he could not escape what God was calling him to do: go back to the land of his captivity to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole country. Against the wishes of his church, family and friends he obeyed and at great risk to his life, Patrick went back to Ireland and began a ministry of evangelism via, among other ways, open air preaching.
Christianity was nowhere to be found in Ireland at that time. But God granted Patrick 40 years of time to do this work and within that period he travelled throughout ALL Ireland and the Lord saw to it that the majority of these celtic people were converted from pagan worship to biblical Christianity. Patrick was successful in chasing the 'snakes' (false religions) out and bringing the truth in. Within his 40 years of evangelizing, it is estimated that he planted over 365 churches throughout the Isle of Green.
Patrick was a brave soldier of Christ, a Christian missionary, a dedicated gospel harbinger, a loving pastor, an avid church planter among other things. I can't help but wonder if those today who celebrate St Patrick would continue to celebrate St Patrick if they really knew who St Patrick was and what he did that made him so famous. He preached Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sin.
St Patrick's Day is celebrated today by the very kind of people St Patrick sought out to bring the gospel to, namely sinners, that they may be saved from the eternal wrath of God in hell and brought to a saving knowledge of Christ, the Lord, be granted forgiveness and eternal life in Heaven.
That being so, our intrepid team of street evangelists from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Ottawa, (minus yours truly as I was at home suffering through a cold) braved the below freezing temperatures to put into the hands of participants and viewers at the annual St Patrick's Day Parade, a tract containing the same gospel message St Patrick would have preached to the people of pagan Ireland 1500 years ago.
It's the same message. Nothing has changed. It holds the same power (God's) as it has had for the past 2000 years. And we pray that the gospel message on the 1400 tracts that were handed out along the parade route will take hold of the receivers' hearts to see that they, too, are sinners in need of a Saviour; that they would be moved to humbly present themselves before the Throne of Grace where Christ is seated, plea for forgiveness and receive Him as their Lord and Saviour, once and for all.
In three different places along the parade route was one of our team standing with an "Are You Ready" cross while the others handed out gospel tracts. The cross was effective again in gaining the attention of some curious enough to ask the holder the meaning behind the question from which gospel conversations ensued.
Our homemade gospel tracts were a breeze to hand out because all the team member had to do was smile and say "Happy St Patrick's Day" and so long as what was offered to them in their hand was green, it was snagged!
Civic events such as these are a no-brainer when it comes to sharing the gospel at. Of all events we go to this one carries the most irony because it is in honour of a biblical Christian without the partakers knowing what that can truly mean for them.
So we are there to inform them and, Lord willing, we'll be back again next year. One member of our team even came up with the idea of us actually being IN the parade. Why not? Ever see a green evangelist before?
Last Lord's Day saw two of our young ladies from Emmanuel Baptist Church go through the holy ordinance of baptism. One being Pastor Bob Doble's daughter, Genevieve, (an obvious honour for him to baptize his own daughter) and the other being Kim's daughter (my step-daughter), Grace.
As we are a new church renting space from a senior citizen's retirement home and, thus, without a place to hold baptisms, the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Ottawa kindly opened the doors for us to use the facilities including the baptistry for our special service. Hymns sung, the gospel preached and, of course, testimonies presented - all giving glory to God.
Kim and I would like to share in the joy we are delighting in from that day by presenting to you Grace's personal testimony she gave to just prior to her baptism. We hope it will be a source of delight in the Lord and encouragement for you, as well.
The love and grace of God is truly amazing!
Grace's Testimony of Faith:
Growing up I was always aware of God even if I never really went to church until I was 8. It was apparent to me that all the beautiful flowers I would play in every day, and the gorgeous fresh snow and piles of leaves were God standing in front of me showing me that He exists. But you don’t have to be a child with your face in a lilac bush to see that all of the things of the world were created by God, and that there is a God. Everyone at some point in their life has noticed something beautiful in nature whether it was duck feathers or a sunset. I took notice of these things.
Then I started going to church, and everything gradually made a little more sense to me as I learned about God, and I was saved a few years ago when I just understood everything together. At the time I was also sad from moving and was getting bullied at school. So it was comforting to know that God would listen to my prayers and help me and that if, for some reason I got killed in the situation or any time (because we're never sure when we’re going to go), I would go to heaven.
So for me my experience leading up to today hasn’t really had any particular, defining day with God after a complex rebellious or illegal saga or whatever, which seems to be what many Christians have to talk about when they get baptised after becoming a Christian. But what is important since I wasn’t in jail (or something like that) when I got saved, is that I still realized I am just as bad as a criminal to God because I am a sinner, even though I appeared to just be a sweet little girl. We are all sinners, and no amount of basic goodness will get us into heaven, so we have to repent and then live lives that are pleasing to God. I have recognized this and accepted the gift of eternal life in heaven because Jesus took away my sins when he died, and I trust in him.
So today after God has made all of this clear to me I am getting baptised to symbolize that I am going to live my life for God. In this decision I am not depriving myself and will never regret it, because I want to be on God’s side. “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways” Psalm 91:11.
Also, being a teenage student, I know all the stupid, bad things my classmates are getting involved in and I know I don’t want to be a part of that. I am thankful that God has made me strong to stand my ground and stay true to what I believe in. I realize that this may cause me to lose friends, because I already have, but I don’t want to have friends that can’t accept the importance of God in my life. I want to be successful for God, so I always try to do my school work and use my creative abilities as well as I possibly can because I have been given such talents.
As a person with a sometimes over active imagination, even just reading about the suffering Jesus went through for me, and all those who give their life to him, and about the torture of eternal Hell for those who reject him made me really aware that I did not want to end up there! I get nervous watching war videos in my history class, and since Hell is unimaginably worse, I knew I needed to make myself right with God. Instead, I am happy to say that I can attempt to imagine the gorgeous awesomeness of spending forever in Heaven in love, worship, and safety.
Even though I didn’t go to church my whole life, I have to say I kind of did, in a way. My church was on the cliffs of the Gatineau Hills and in the fields of daffodils at the Rockeries. God clearly made all of this intricate beauty and he captured my attention with it. And since he made us, too, just like he made the plants and animals, we are accountable to him. And since we are accountable to him but can never be perfect, we need to make ourselves in good terms with him. Since Jesus took my sins with him when he died on the cross, I see him as my Saviour and have asked to be forgiven. God forgave me because he promised to receive me, or anyone who calls on him. That is called grace, an undeserved favour, which ironically, is my first name.
So, today my baptism is symbolizing me being born again. I am still Grace as I have always been, but now, as being born again, I am considered free and clear of sin by God because I have asked to be forgiven, trusted in God, and am trying my best to live a godly life for the rest of my life.
And when I die, I know I will go to heaven. I am glad God originally caught my attention with the little plants and flowers, but I know that “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8
A very close and dear friend of ours, Nicole, a sister in Christ and street evangelist extraordinaire, was feeling a bit on the downside in recent days. We all have days like that. I certainly do.
Christians, despite the joy we have in Christ, are not immune from suffering "the blues" from time to time. We, like everybody else on the planet, have feelings and emotions that cannot be ignored but, at the same time, we must be careful not to allow them to overwhelm us to the point of desperation. The benefit we have over nonbelievers, of course, is Christ in our lives and we know we can depend on Him to see us through the tough times just as He sees us through the good.
I sent an e-mail to Nicole the other day to remind her that one of the best ways a Christian can have his or her heart lifted up and brought out of the duldrums is to go out and share his or her faith with people. I take it she welcomed the advice as I came home from work tonight and found this e-mail waiting for me:
Hi brother Paul, Thanks for your reply... you were right it would boost my spirit. I went out to the store tonight and prayed that God would give me the boldness to approach different people and have an opportunity to share with someone and He did, praise the Lord! It was a glorious time and am so thankful the Lord answered my prayer. Ever since I saw the video with the little old man from George street I've been wanting to approach people and ask them that question - "Are you saved? If you were to die tonight do you know where you would be going?". It was funny to see the reaction of the first two that I actually asked them directly like that.
I got to give one of your tracts to a young man who is catholic. He thinks that as long as he is at least in church that he would be fine. I ended speaking to him with such an urgency in my voice and explained to him that nothing we do can save us and that God sees all our "good works" as filthy rags and that only the perfect sacrifice of Jesus will He accept. Anyways I got the chance to share different things with him before someone came to interupt because they needed a taxi... I did tell him to get back into reading the Bible and to start with the Gospel of John and to put his trust in Christ alone and not in the catholic church or any works.
I did not think about asking his name to pray for him, but God knows who he is and he has your tract with the church website I wrote on it. It was soooo glorious. I pray the Lord gives me more boldness to keep doing this and more opportunity to share. Too many people dying around us and going to hell. I thank God for you and Kim and your website; you are both so encouraging and all the videos you put on there to me it is good for us to keep the fire burning to keep doing His work until He calls us home. I am so excited, I just had to share this glorious night the Lord blessed me with.
In His pleasure to answer prayer, the Lord blessed Nicole with a gift of desire in her heart to go out and share the Good News of salvation with people during a simple errand run and, in doing so, she ended up with a lift of her own spirit.
Is it not just like God to use broken vessels such as us for such a priceless life saving cause? And that for the glory of God and for the sake of the souls of fellow broken vessels who don't necessarily know they are broken and in need of a certain type of repair that will last for all eternity.
Feeling down in the dumps these days? Be encouraged. Go out and share your faith with others who are presently what you used to be: hopeless. Bless others with the gospel of Jesus Christ and don't be surprised to see that He will bless you, 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.