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LA Anti-War Protest (Part 2): Against All Odds/(Also, “Evangelism Gone Wrong,” Part 8)

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It seemed that everybody had an axe to grind at the big LA anti-war rally that marched down Hollywood Blvd. on March 21st. Most were angry; all were against something. The evangelism team was there because we were for God and for people. Our message seemed to clash with the majority who had gathered for this flashback from the bad-trip ’60’s: We wanted everyone to hear the Words of Life that saved wretches like us. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with the very first people we met: The Sign Guys (and gals). (Please read Part 1 of the Anti-War protest by clicking here.)

I don’t know what it is about people carrying Jesus signs. Whenever we meet them—and they are at all the big events like we are—the majority of them seem so angry, so against people. The message they bring is one of anger, one of hate, none of love.

At the ’09 Academy Awards we were confronted by these wrath-filled “Christian” hordes on the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Highland. They positioned themselves with horribly obscene signs that protested people, proclaiming a God who hates everyone—except them. What effect did they have, positioned as they were so that the stars could see them as they drove to the Awards ceremony in their limos?

Sean Penn mentioned these “hater Christians” as he accepted his Oscar at the Academy Awards that evening saying, “For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight…”, then essentially said that Christians should be ashamed of themselves, lumping all Christians together into this hate group.

We cautioned our group to stay away from the “Sign Guys,” and not to speak to them.

At the Emmy Awards, the Sign Guys protested the “Idolatry” of an awards show. Someone please tell me what this has to do with the Gospel?

And at the anti-war protest, the “Christian” haters had this message for the protesters, with a mega-phone, no less: “All right you Commie-lovers. We’ve had enough of you creeps from the 60’s, and it seems we can’t get rid of you.” (This is my paraphrase.)

I tried to go over and caution this man that he had the wrong message; that his message was hateful, and that he needed to change it, but I was stopped by the police. They had formed an eight-man cordon around this loudmouth so he wouldn’t be killed by the protesters. Smart idea.

When I asked the “Who Would Jesus Bomb” man why he was standing in front of the protesters instead of among them, he answered, “I’m blocking them,” as he pointed to the hate group.

Can’t blame him.

The problem with “Sign Guys” is that there is no context for the Gospel of salvation. There are only Judgment pronouncements and not much grace. “Sinners” don’t know why they must turn from sin, why they are going to Hell—and why in the world do they need Jesus? Who wants to be a Christian if you turn into a person of hate?

That’s why we explain the 10 Commandments when we preach. We explain the “Whys” of Christianity: why a person will be judged, why God sent his Son to die, why we love people enough to tell them.

Our evangelism team must contend with the “Sign Guys” at nearly every big event we attend. That’s why we must distinguish ourselves from the haters—no easy job! But we’re still able to reach people—even at a protest march—by wearing a smile, by speaking the truth in love, by being very creative, and by loving the “Sign Guys”, too.

Click here for part 3 of the Anti War series and I’ll introduce you to the cast of characters that made up the protest—in verse, no less.

FOR PART 9 OF THE “EVANGELISM GONE WRONG” SERIES, CLICK HERE!

8 Comments

  1. Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!…What DISgrace! These sign people do more harm to the name and body of Christ than they would ever admit to. Such blindness. Such hatred. What a battle your evangelism team have down there. Glad to see you remaining on the frontlines! You are desperately needed!

  2. Yes, I’m not a fan of the sign guys – I don’t see HOW it’s beneficial – I understand your frustration completely. As you know, they are often on the entrance to the pier at Huntington Beach on Saturdays. I wonder how many people have steered clear of the sound law & gospel open air preaching because they were turned off by the “sign guys” by association ?

  3. I know a very small group of street evangelists who employ signs in an appropriate way.

    However, by and large, I want to affirm everything “The Pusher” said about “sign guys.” The signs often (if not always) lack context. They employ the Law as an angry hammer instead of a loving and concerned mirror.

    I also notice that “sign guys” rarely get to the gospel. Why? They seem to spend most of their time arguing with people. Arguing about what? The content of their signs!

    I, too, instruct evangelists under my care to avoid (to the extent it is practical) the “sign guys.” Just as I wouldn’t want those working with me to be lumped in with Benny Hinn, Rob Bell, and Joel Osteen; I don’t want my teams found guilty by association with most (not all) “sign guys.”

    The best response to the unbiblical “sign guys” is not to engage them in debate (which only serves to take street evangelists out of the real fight–the fight for lost souls); but rather speak the truth in love louder than those who profess to know Christ but deny Him by violating the Two Greatest Commandments through their faux evangelism efforts.

  4. Gentlemen,

    Obviously, there is nothing in this world more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity, but when the shallow understanding from people of good will become more frustrating than the absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Maybe we should refocus

    Just remember, the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral degeneration. So their being Hot or Cold is more beneficial than their being luke warm.

    “The best response to the unbiblical “sign guys” is not to engage them in debate…I don’t want my teams found “guilty by association” with most (not all) “sign guys.””

    Be careful of the patented easy way out attached to idealism. This kind of thinking shows nothing more than an impersonal concern. You should be finding a way to be the sign man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.

    The first question the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the good Samaritan turned the question around: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

    “I wonder how many people have steered clear of the sound law & gospel open air preaching because they were turned off by the “sign guys” by association?”

    Ask a better question. God is the only one who draws people to him (John 6:44) and he who has ears will hear.

    The reality that all progress is precarious by nature and the solution of one issue usually brings us face to face with another issue.

    Which would you consider as more tragic? the inconsistent messages of the sign guys or the silence of the good christians not evangelising at all? Or, which would you rather? Someone doing the wrong thing thinking their right or someone knowing right and doing nothing.

    “Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!…What DISgrace! These sign people do more harm to the name and body of Christ than they would ever admit to. Such blindness. Such hatred.”

    Can you tell us where they learn this behavior?

  5. Steve…aren’t you doing the same thing that Sean Penn did? Insted of lumping all Christians together you are lumping all ‘sign guys’ together…

  6. Nathan,

    No. This is what I wrote: …”the majority of them seem so angry, so against people. ”

    Not all, just the majority.

  7. These might some of Fred Phelps people. I am halfway convinced that they get funded by people with an agenda to portray christians as narrow minded, judgemental, bigots that serve a God long on wrath and short of love. The Phelps group has taken to prostesting at the funerals of our fallen heroes with their disgusting “God Hates Fags” signs and other equally nauseating sentiments. Before the Baptist church kicked out Phelps, he was an active supporter of the democratic party and their candidates. Remember, Steve, there is no word in ancient Hebrew that translates into “coincidence”.

  8. It is impossible to know how effective anyone’s witness is this side of eternity. God’s word will not return void! It is the Holy Spirit that convicts of sin, not you or anyone els’s presentation.

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