I arrived early Saturday morning to set up our “Hope Chapel” booth in the “Free Speech” area of the Hermosa Pier. The reason we were located there was because we were’nt wanted in the fair proper. We created such a disturbance among the other vendors at the Memorial Day Fair with our “religious literature,” that we were relegated to this outpost in the sun—right behind the main stage where bands played too loudly to have any significant conversations.
By 10AM we were set up. Our plan was to hand out free Gospel water; that is, we bought 3,000 bottles of Kirkland purified, ripped off the labels and put our own on by glue gun. In addition, we handed out free million-dollar bills! We looked great with our American flag proudly displayed above the banner with our web-site. Joggers and walkers of every stripe came up to the booth, gave a curious “Is this really free?” look, grabbed the bottles, double-checked that it was okay, then looked at our banner and smiled as they went on their way. This was working! This was really working! Lots of people came by and thanked us. We just wanted to be a blessing to the community. That was all fine and dandy until the fair organizer, Carla, came by and told us we couldn’t hand out our free water because “The Rotary Club is selling theirs’, and we would cut into their profits. Besides, you are a rich church…” I tried to protest but she was very insistent that we couldn’t do it, even though legally, we could really do it. I told our volunteers to load all the water on a cart and haul it down to First Street in Manhattan Beach; we would hand it to everyone walking and jogging on the Strand there. So they did.
Until the cart broke.
I brought another cart, they wheeled it all down, set it up… then I met two Jehovah’s Witnesses “pioneering” in our area… “Is Jesus really Michael the Archangel?” I asked. “Can you prove it to me through Scripture?” We talked a little bit and I warned them of Judgment Day and Hell, then told them that we were at their conference a few weeks back.
“Really? Did you learn anything?”
“No,” I replied. “We went there to hand out tracts that tell about salvation. We’re Born-Again Christians.” They left quickly to knock on some more doors.
I was then threatened by some drunk guys downing pitchers of beers at an outdoor cafe when I interviewed them on camera about what they believed. “I am saved because Jesus is my Lord and Saviour,” the bigger guy slurred as he poured himself another cold one. “And what right do you have to judge me?” I backed away because I thought I was going to get hit if I kept talking, then the next guy started in.
“If you use any of this #!%&*!# footage anywhere, and I find out about it, I’ll sue your @#!!$%&#!” He turned the million dollar bill over in his hand. “Hmmm… Hope Chapel. This is forgery. I work for the I.R.S. and you will be hearing from me.” Since God gave me the gift of wisdom, I thought it best to leave.
There was no business at First Street in Manhattan Beach, so I asked my volunteers to pack up the water—again—and “let’s give it out anyway at the Pier!” They did. And we did. We ran out of our allotment for the day—1,000 bottles. And no more hassles. The next day we handed out 1,000 more, and ran out by 3PM. No hassles.
But on Monday, I was seriously scared about what might happen to me and my two little girls when Fair Security called the Hermosa Police to stop me from handing out the million- dollar bills…