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Tough Crowd at the Fiesta Hermosa

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The crowds that hovered around the Hope Chapel evangelism booth at our local street fair called the Fiesta Hermosa, which attracts 150,000 visitors over the Labor Day weekend, were happy and enthusiastic as they took our Intelligence Tests. (Print your own here, see the video of an atheist taking the test here.) After failing the test (nobody passes), they received a coupon for a free Chick Fillet sandwich and Coke, a stuffed animal, a trillion dollar bill and our church bulletin. The other booths around us were astonished at how many people gathered around our humble little Christian booth (the only Christian representation in the fair).

The Tough Crowd revealed itself only when I decided to start preaching in the open air to those waiting to be taken back to their cars in the shuttle bus line. See for yourself, then read my explanation below.

It does not surprise me when people are hostile to my open air message. From a purely pragmatic, earthly perspective, it can be grating to hear a guy shouting a message that most people do not want to hear. I totally understand that. Still…

I must preach the Word.

I try to do it with a sense of humor and a good attitude; I don’t get mad at hecklers (except for these times); I’m not offended at obscene gestures or curse words hurled in my direction—that’s to be expected. I’m there for the sole reason to get the message out that those who have not trusted in the Lord Jesus are condemned already (John 3:18). I inform them of their status before God, that His wrath abides on them because of their sin (John 3:36) and that a Day of Judgment is coming (Hebrew 9:27).

To many, my preaching seems like a waste of time. What purpose does this serve anyway?  Does anyone really care, does anyone ever really get saved?

I frequently like to recount this oft-told story from Charles Spurgeon. Maybe this will encourage you street preachers to keep on preaching:

You that preach in the streets, go on preaching Him. I saw a man preaching the other day with no creature but one dog to listen to him, and I really thought that he might as well have gone home. But I met with a story yesterday, which I know to be true, and it showed me that I was making a mistake. There was a woman who for years had been is such dreadful despair that she would not even hear the gospel.

She became very ill, and she said to one that called on her, “You sent a man to preach under my window 3 months ago, and I got a blessing.”

“No,” the friend said, “I never sent anyone to preach under your window.”

“Oh,” she said, “I think you did, for he came and preached, and my maid said that there was no one listening to him. I did not want to hear him; and as he made so much noise , my maid shut the window, and I lay down in bed; but the man shouted so that I was obliged to hear him; and I thank God he did, for I heard the gospel, and I found Christ. Did you not send him?”

“No,” said the good man, “I did not.”

“Well,” she said, “then God did. There was nobody in the street listening to him; but I heard the gospel, and I got out of my despair, and I found the Savior, and I am prepared to die.”

Fire away, brethren! You do not know where your shot will strike, but “there’s a billet for every bullet.” (That is, there’s a home for every sermon.)

Now read about what happened as I preached to people inside the shuttle bus by clicking here.

38 Comments

  1. Pastor Steve,

    That’s my favorite Spurgeon story! I often refer to it when someone doubts the efficacy of street preaching.

    Great job holding the crowd, too! I think your camera man has wings. 🙂

  2. From a purely pragmatic, earthly perspective, it can be grating to hear a guy shouting a message that most people do not want to hear.

    Like “God doesn’t exist”?

    • When you say “God doesn’t exist” I would have to ask how do you know? Because you are using an absolute statement means that you would have to know everything. Our God has revealed attributes about himself that we can know for certain. He has revealed himself in his word the Bible. He is omnipotent, he is omnipresent, and he is omniscient. Which of these attributes do you claim for yourself?

      Once you become a Christian (and I hope it’s soon) you can choose your own method of evangelizing the lost. Pastor Steve always teaches that you should follow the three C’s. That is to do only what your conscience, conviction and courage will allow you to do for the Kingdom.

      • When you say “God doesn’t exist” I would have to ask how do you know?
        The contradictory nature of theists’ beliefs and of scripture itself.

        Because you are using an absolute statement
        I made no such statement.

        I’m pretty sure everyone noticed that you’ve ignored my question, Richard. On the off-chance that you might still be willing to consider it, I’ll rephrase and ask again.

        Does it grate on your nerves when a critic of theology asks a question you don’t want to hear?

  3. Aww man that’ cool persecution,’ so tough man. Bet you earned yourself and extra crown in heaven for that!

  4. Steve:

    Thanks for sharing your video and your account of street preaching at the Fiesta Hermosa.

    Lots of people couldn’t get out on a street and talk to a group of strangers about anything let alone something as controversial as religion. Despite being heckled you maintained your cool and were pretty nice about it. I have to say that is impressive.

    Maybe one of these days people won’t be quoting Spurgeon, they will be quoting “The Sanchez.”

  5. it can be grating to hear a guy shouting

    That’s the issue, Steve; not whether or not anyone wants to hear it. It could be for something that people like, but people still don’t like to be shouted at.

  6. To many, my preaching seems like a waste of time.

    As always, it’s not your preaching that bothers me, but your method. And by “method” I’m not talking about the LW scripts, but in the shouting at people or using a megaphone/microphone when other people might just want to be having their own conversations.

    If someone blared loud music outside your house, you’d probably get pretty peeved, I would think.

    • But he is not outside someone’s house blaring loud music…plus he has permission to open-air at this location. People have just as much a right to ignore him as much as standing there and listening to him.

      Hello Nohm, btw, long time no talk.

      Dawg

      • Hi again, Wayne:

        So, I take it that you would have no problem if you were waiting in a long line and a Muslim Imam was shouting out the pillars of Islam while you were trying to have a conversation with your friend?

        Would you be completely fine with that? You have just as much a right to ignore him as much as standing there and listening to him, right? Even though you’re now hampered when trying to have a conversation with your friend.

        That’s my point.

        Remove the Imam, and make it a salesperson, yelling about his vacuum cleaners. Or maybe a 9/11 truther, yelling about the Bush administration.

      • Yes, Nohm, but not buying a vacuum doesn’t send you to Hell. If that were the case, I’d be shouting about vacuums, too.

      • In all of the possible ways to save people from Hell, Steve S., do you really think that shouting at them is the most effective?

      • And, just to clarify Steve S., is it your opinion that shouting at people waiting in line is rude for all issues *except for* saving them from Hell?

        Are there any other subjects, that have nothing to do with the peoples’ immediate safety, where you’d support someone shouting at them?

        How about the Imam, Steve? What would your reaction to that be? You’re trying to have a conversation with your daughters maybe, waiting patiently in line, and here comes an Imam with a megaphone shouting that by worshipping Jesus you are making Jesus a partner with Allah, which is a Hell-worthy sin, unless you repent to Allah.

        What would your reaction be? Every time you try to talk to him, he turns up the volume on his megaphone.

        At what point does this simply become, “I can shout because I’m right; they can’t shout because they’re wrong”?

      • A salesperson can show us the vacuum and demonstrate it’s cleaning abilities. That’s more than what you’ve got. Unless you can demonstrate the existence of Hell and an afterlife, you’ve got nothin’.

      • We have the Word of God; it’s powerful and effective.

        I addressed this issue in a previous post. Please re-read it, memorize it and then you’ll have a greater understanding of why we do what we do. Here ya go: Atheist Tuesday: The Most Powerful Christian Argument

      • Wait a second. If it isn’t the most effective, then why not use the most effective method instead?

      • Do you use a screwdriver on every home project?

      • Hi Steve S,

        You wrote: “We have the Word of God; it’s powerful and effective.

        Not to non-believers, it seems. At least, not here.

        Also, Muslims say that they have the Word of God; it’s powerful and effective. They point to how many people are leaving Christianity and embracing Islam. They even have numbers to support this claim. What do you think of that?

        I addressed this issue in a previous post. Please re-read it, memorize it and then you’ll have a greater understanding of why we do what we do. Here ya go: Atheist Tuesday: The Most Powerful Christian Argument

        That article does not address the issue. It explains why someone would preach. I get that. It doesn’t explain why someone has to use a shouting method.

        Can we agree that the article you linked to does not explain why you shout? Therefore, how is that article relevant, whether or not I memorize it?

      • Steve asks, “Do you use a screwdriver on every home project?

        No, because it’s not always the most effective tool.

        When is shouting the most effective tool?

        Do you use a lamp to make a phone call?

      • So Steve, if I came by one of your tents (for the IQ test), had a megaphone, and starting shouting into it at the people at and around the tent, how would you react?

      • We have the Word of God; it’s powerful and effective.

        Unfortunately, all you have is your opinion that you have the Word of God. You have nothing to demonstrate that you have the Word of God.

        Don’t feel so bad though, every other faith/religion has this problem, too.

  7. Nohm:
    Just think, this might be the only time an individual in this crowd well ever hear the “true” Gospel! Ever! And, as far as people wanting to “have their own conversation,” you might ask those who were hurling snide remarks to be more considerate of “those in conversation” and especially of “the man” who had the floor first!

    • To Steve

      Like there isn’t a million places these people could go to hear the “true” gospel. They are in line waiting for the shuttle. Who are “you” to decide when to yell at them, telling them that they are going to hell? Many of these people have their own beliefs already, the one lady was Jewish. I didn’t see in the video much of a heckler except for Steve himself.

      Yelling at people is not starting a conversation, it’s yelling at people. This was not a setting where there was a “floor” as you say and I definitely don’t see any reason why anyone has to be considerate of Steve, especially since he was not being so himself. Do onto others as you would have done onto you.

      • To Patrick:

        God has commanded His followers to go and preach The Gospel, that is exactly what Pastor Steve is doing. You point out that “many of these people have their own belief already”…well, how about the belief of Pastor Steve, Richard, myself and the many other Christians that believe what The Bible says about evangelism? In order to be consistent with “your belief”, you shouldn’t put down “our belief” of preaching The Gospel.

        Us Christians that are out there evangelising are “doing unto others, as we would have done unto us”, we are warning people about the Wrath coming, their guilt before God for breaking His commandments, the punishment for sin in Hell, yet the Good News of Christ becoming sin who knew no sin, bearing the Wrath of God the Father, the death of Jesus and His Resurrection. And, preaching repentance towards God and Faith in The Lord Jesus Christ.

        I thank God that another Christian loved me enough to witness to me, and I heard The Gospel through Open Air Preaching. That is love, that the Christian loved people enough to face ridicule and insults, yet God used that in my life to save me.

        Patrick, you are responsible to God for all your actions, thoughts, words, deeds, you yourself know you are guilty before Him. Before it’s too late, I implore you, plead with you, come unto Jesus.

      • @ Steve Pivovaroff.:You guys still don’t get it. Of course your book is going to tell you to go get more sheep. But other religions are doing the same. I find your method wrong and immoral. You are invading peoples personal space. Let them come to you if they want, but otherwise leave them be. That is one of the only reasons I am on this website. I am doing to you, what you are doing to others.

        Steve:”you are responsible to God for all your actions, thoughts, words, deeds, you yourself know you are guilty before Him.”

        You don’t know my actions, thoughts, etc. Don’t judge me and don’t tell me what I believe. Even if when I die and IF I find out that there is an afterlife, I won’t “come unto Jesus”.

    • Hi Steve,

      So, I take it that you would have no problem if you were waiting in a long line and a Muslim Imam was shouting out the pillars of Islam while you were trying to have a conversation with your friend?

      Would you be completely fine? I mean, he had the floor first, right? And you would keep your mouth shut the whole time, right? To be more considerate to “those in conversation” with the Imam, right?

      • Nohm:
        I would, at the appropriate time, tell the Imam the truth about his condition! That’s the kindest thing I could do for anyone who does not know “The Living God!”

        God bless you, Patrick too!

      • To Steve Sanchez:

        My reply that begins with “So, I take it that…” was a reply to Steve Pivovaroff, and not you.

        Also, I note that your “Did I say that?” sounds like someone who would be bothered by failed mind-reading (which, if it was a reply to you instead of to Steve P., you would be justified in being annoyed by).

        So, if I’m correct and you dislike people telling you what you think (again, to be clear, I didn’t do that since my reply was not to you), then maybe you’ll think of not doing it to other people next time.

      • You must understand, what you call “failed mind reading” we call a Biblical analysis of the unbeliever.

        This trumps all.

      • Ack, correction: I was replying to Steve L. Not Steve P. or Steve S.

        So many Steves!

      • Steve wrote: “You must understand, what you call “failed mind reading” we call a Biblical analysis of the unbeliever.

        Steve, are you honestly going to claim that every time I’ve called you on failed mind-reading that it was due to “a Biblical analysis of the unbeliever”? If so, pull the other one.

        Because I can start quoting you in a lot of places where you’ve engaged in failed mind-reading that has NO scriptural support. Just like Richard with his “you guys believe in the Illiad”.

        Unless you’re going to try to support the idea that Scripture says something about nonbelievers believing in the Illiad.

      • If you are going to try to claim that every instance of failed mind-reading was really just “a Biblical analysis of the unbeliever” then, for the their sakes, please get your daughters and wife away from you when you do it.

        Because I’m thinking that some lightning bolts will come crashing down.

  8. Steve Sanchez,

    Just for my own curiosity, and there’s no right or wrong answer to this:

    Is there ever a time when you try to view things from a point of view that is not yours?

    Is there ever a time when you try to view things from a non-believers point of view?

    (Please note that those are two different and distinct questions.)

  9. Steve Sanchez: “You must understand, what you call “failed mind reading” we call a Biblical analysis of the unbeliever.

    This trumps all.”

    Woa. This kind of mindset can lead into how others have used the Bible, like: the treatment of the Native Americans with “eminent domain”, the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the witch hunts to name a few. What other immoral acts will you derive from the Bible?

    “Can’t have an omelette without cracking some eggs” huh?

    • Scary things can happen when ideology and propaganda trump reason and evidence.

      (note: this is neither confined to religious beliefs nor intrinsic to religious beliefs. Religion is only one avenue where this can happen.)

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