I have a little memento from the NBA Finals on my face. It was a little gift graciously offered from a drunken fan waiting to cross at a traffic signal. He gave me this precious present because of my preaching.
I never got one of these before—you might say it was for the man who has everything—and I certainly could never return it. Now that it’s healed, I will always cherish the memory….
Our team was positioned on the northwest corner of Figueroa, directly across from the Staples Center where the Lakers were playing the first game of the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic. Hundreds were gathering, some a little inebriated, others anxious to see the game after a long day of work.
And there I was, preaching simple, 30-second Stop Light sermonettes, giving little Gospel encouragements before the big game. I even lightened it up a little, starting the messages with, “If you were to choke on a popcorn kernel, or fall out of your loge seat onto the floor below and die, where would you go, Heaven or Hell?”
One man wasn’t laughing.
I don’t remember his exact words, but they were something like: “SHUT-UP!”
Then a flagrant foul was perpetrated upon my person. I got slapped—half-punched, rather—on the side of my face. Fortunately for me, I kept my wits, pointed to our video man and politely stated to the ruffian that he was being filmed.
End of assault.
The light turned green, then the crowd and my nemesis were swept away into the cavernous bowels of the sports complex.
Not the equivalent of being boiled in oil, flayed, or having my eyes poked out for my faith; no, this was persecution Southern California style.
It was my little Red Badge of Courage: a slight, ever-so-slight, cut under my nose.
And here’s the video: