It was horrible. Awful. Stomach-churning. I wanted to turn my head to avoid the tragedy that was destined to happen. I didn’t. But what I witnessed, no man should ever see…
The persecution took place at Huntington Beach during the last day of training at the Ambassadors’ Academy, a new evangelism bootcamp of Living Waters, while one member of the team I was leading, Neil Collins, got on the “soapbox” to preach.
Launching into a powerful sermon, the two or three gathered to hear him preach were almost moved to tears.
The audience then doubled to three or four… but on the outskirts of the crowd, evil was plotting its dastardly course.
Two rent-a-rickshaw bicyclists circled around the perimeter of the preacher. They were vehemently opposed to this orator on a box. “It’s bad for business!” spat the baldheaded rickshaw driver. He was determined to put an end to this foolishness. He sat in the back of his rickshaw punching the keypad of his cellphone. Was he dialing “M” for Murder?
The plan was hatched. I overheard the baldheaded guy, probably the ringleader say, “Drive through the crowd. Drive through the crowd!” to his ponytailed partner of perdition. Then the son of Belial whispered conspiratorially, “And when you do…” (here’s where it gets ugly) “…ring your bell!”
I had no time to warn Neil. Old baldhead went first, sin in his eye…
That awful sound, that echoing, tingling, chiming tune of the little girly bell on his handlebars rang out… ever so wimpily, Ting-Ching! He broke through the throng of five listeners! Ting-Ching!
Undeterred, Neil continued to preach on as Old Baldhead went up and consulted with his ponytailed partner.
The ponytailed guy made his move. Would there be victory for this spawn of Satan? Ting-Ching! He, too, crashed through the crowd. Actually, they stepped aside politely. Ting-Ching!
Unable to remove the man-of-God from his rightful place, the two ruffian rickshaw rebels rode off into the sunset. But there was no sunset. It was High Noon. The fight was over at the OK corral.
Neil continued to preach on. And on. And on… And on… oblivious to the works of darkness that met their defeat at the foot of the… soapbox. The crowd, the masses, inclined their ears to the words of salvation.
All five of them.
Charles Spurgeon (1834 – 1892) wrote:
Once recommenced, the fruitful agency of field-preaching was not allowed to cease. Amid jeering crowds and showers of rotten eggs and filth, the immediate followers of the two great [preachers] continued to storm village after village and town after town. Very varied were their adventures, but their success was generally great. One smiles often when reading incidents in their labors. A string of pack horses is so driven as to break up a congregation, and a fire engine is brought out and played over the throng to achieve the same purpose. Hand-bells, old kettles, marrowbones and cleavers, trumpets, drums, and entire bands of music were engaged to drown the preachers’ voices.
In one case the parish bull was let loose, and in others dogs were set to fight. The preachers needed to have faces set like flints, and so indeed they had. John Furz says: “As soon as I began to preach, a man came straight forward, and presented a gun at my face; swearing that he would blow my brains out, if I spake another word. However, I continued speaking, and he continued swearing, sometimes putting the muzzle of the gun to my mouth, sometimes against my ear. While we were singing the last hymn, he got behind me, fired the gun, and burned off part of my hair.
After this, my brethren, we ought never to speak of petty interruptions or annoyances.
—From Spurgeon’s sermon, OPEN-AIR PREACHING – A SKETCH OF ITS HISTORY AND REMARKS THEREON