The following account is one man’s experience volunteering at our church booth at the very pagan “Fiesta Hermosa,” where we handed out over 15,000 million-dollar bill Gospel tracts and experienced blessings—and persecutions…
By Jerry Shamburg
This past weekend I was able to help with the booth at the Hermosa Beach Fiesta, a fun-in-the-sun fest with tens of thousands of people walking up and down the tightly placed aisles. For over forty-five years of my life, I was one of them, usually ending up in the beer garden or one of the packed bars along the beach. Today was different though. I had signed up to help and was ready to pass out million-dollar bills with a message of salvation on them. It was a strange experience for me, and one that I will not soon forget.
When I first got there, I was told that the day before, Fiesta Authorities had received complaints from neighboring merchants and as a result we had been asked not to stand in front of our booth. We were only allowed to give a million-dollar bill to anyone who came into the booth. Okay. No problem.
Realizing we had plenty of help, I decided to take a walk. I grabbed a thick stack of bills and set out into the crowded street. “Hi, did you get a million dollar bill yet?” I said as I reached out and offered one to whoever was in front of me. I was surprised at how easy and fun it was. “Gee thanks!” “Can I have one too?” “Cool, no one ever gave me a million bucks before!” Nearly everyone smiled and said “Thank you!”
In less than fifteen minutes, I gave out about 300 million dollars! I hadn’t even gotten to the end of the fair and I was out of bills! Wow, this is easy! I went back and grabbed a second stack and rushed right back out, picking up where I left off. The street was so crowded; I just kept moving forward slowly and smiling as I went along. In minutes, I was again penniless. I returned to the booth, triumphant and encouraged. Who said the masses didn’t want Jesus? By now there was only a couple of us working, so I stayed in the booth and tried the same technique I had just perfected. Then IT happened…
As I started to hand a bill to a young woman, her friend stopped in her tracks, spun around, and screamed, “Don’t take that from THEM, I know who they are!” The friend smiled and continued past, disappearing into the crowd with her very distraught friend. Over the next few minutes, I began to notice that some people didn’t smile, and certainly didn’t want a million dollar bill, and some even seemed perturbed. That’s when I realized the WWW.HOPECHAPEL.ORG banner was behind me, and these people KNEW WHO WE WERE! Another woman wearing a very bright, jeweled cross around her neck asked, “So what is this all about?” I smiled and asked if she was a nice person. “Of course,” she smiled back. “If you died today would you go to Heaven or Hell?” “I would like to think the good place” she answered. Then I began to ask if she had ever lied, or used God’s name in vain, or… “Stop, I know where you are going with this—,” she huffed as she stalked off into the crowd. A short time later, a very angry and upset man with a long gray ponytail and lots of tattoos came up to me. He was very excited as he shook two million-dollar bills in my face and exclaimed “I have been getting complaints from EVERYONE and these are getting thrown down everywhere! I AM NOT GOING TO PICK THEM UP ALL DAY! YOU REALLY HAVE TO STOP THIS!” Before I could say anything, he stormed off into the crowd.
I looked around and realized that the ground was littered. I saw free concert flyers, newspaper-type inserts for a furniture store, offers from the fitness spa next to our booth, free chiropractic exams, and even free tickets to the comedy club behind our booth. In the sea of debris and litter, I didn’t see a single million-dollar bill on the ground. In fact, I kept looking for them when my wife and I walked around the entire fair hours later. Not a one!
I realized that day that some people really feel threatened by God, Jesus, and His Word. I also realized that it is easy to stand firm and smile with the confidence that comes only from the Holy Spirit.
This confidence grew as the afternoon wore on. A man came up to the booth with his daughter, a cheerful little girl about five years old. “She wants to spend her million-dollar bill!” said the father, rather sarcastically. “She wants to buy a ring.” I helped the little girl find the smallest ring on the table and helped her pick out the one she liked most. Then I took out my wallet and paid the dollar for the ring. The father started to protest, “No I can pay for that!” I smiled and told him “No it’s a gift. Just as we have been given a gift through our faith. Read the message on the back of the bill.” They both said thank-you and walked into the crowd.
The rest of the day continued to be a blessing. Several strangers walked up to me and praised God. One young man of about twenty came up and told me he was really down the day before (Saturday) and someone gave him a million-dollar bill. He said he read it, and it helped him a lot. “That’s awesome!” I said, “Thanks for coming by to tell us.” He said he just wanted to say thanks and kept moving into the crowd of people. Seconds later, another group of faces came by… “Hey there, anyone ever give you a million-dollar bill before? You’re welcome! Enjoy your day in the Son!”
(How effective is a Gospel Tract? Read the next item below.)