You’d think that I was part of Al Queda the way Security swooped down on me.
Out of nowhere, right in the middle of a purchase—a gift for my wife—they got me. “You’re trespassing!” the over-zealous guard charged. “And you must leave right now!”
“What about my purchase?” I protested, putting the gift down. I hung my head and walked out of the mall as the guards watched every move I made, every step I took.
My crime? Elevator preaching.
It was Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving,the busiest shopping day of the year, and all we wanted to do was hand out a few Gospel tracts, and give an “inner-air” sermon or two.
It was quite an uplifting experience.
A crowd of people get on, then we hand everyone a million dollar bill Gospel tract. I push the button to hold the doors open a few seconds longer, to make sure all the people are in.
Then I preach a 20-second sermon: “Hi everybody. You just got a million dollar bill and I want to ask you the million dollar question: If you were to die today, would you go to Heaven or Hell? Here’s a quick test. Have you kept the 10 Commandments?
“The bible says that if you break just one, that’s called sin, and if you’ve sinned just one time, you will be found guilty and end up in Hell.
“Let’s see how you do. If you’ve ever lied one time, or stolen one thing, God will see you as a lying thief, and on Judgment Day you will be found guilty and end up in Hell. But that’s not God’s will…
“If you repent and trust in Jesus, God will forgive you and grant you everlasting life.” I finish in one floor, about 25 seconds.
WHOOSH!! They clear out in a hurry, some saying “Amen!” others, “Thank you!” and still others, “That’s right!” If we go down two floors, I add John 3:16 and encourage them to repent soon. Or I’ll say with a smile, “That’s elevator sermon #252!”
People smile and actually appreciate the little talk. I don’t shout. I’m not overbearing. I speak in a conversational tone, just rather quickly.
Then voila! Another concregation appears!
And I preach yet another 25 second sermon.
Over and over and over again.
After about half an hour and 150 people, I told my partner Ray that it was time to leave because the chances were good that someone has complained. I was right. As we walked out of the elevator, I noticed a lady gesticulating wildly to two Security guards. We beat a hasty retreat through Macy’s department store.
After ten minutes, we thought it safe to buy my wife’s gift. Wrong! The guards nabbed us without warning, no gentle reminder of the rules; the man just plain accused me of handing out Gospel tracts and told me to leave. I had no choice but to snap his picture.
Ray was next. Six Security officers got him. Poor guy. Didn’t have a chance.
On the outside, I struck up a conversation with two parking attendants…
…and was truly thankful that I live in a country where we will always have the right to preach Christ freely without fear of persecution or loss of liberty.
“Oh, how they preached! No polished periods, no learned arguments, no labored paragraphs, chilled their appeals, or rendered their discourses unintelligible. No fear of man, no love of popular applause, no ever-scrupulous dread of strong expressions, no fear of excitement or enthusiasm, prevented them from pouring out the whole fervor of their hearts, that yearned with tenderness unutterable over dying souls.”
—Horatious Bonar (1808-1889), from his writing “Words to Winners of Souls”