Cross Purposes

We received delivery of our new wooden cross last week. Emblazoned with the words “Are you ready” (we forgot the question mark), this prop elicits all types of responses. The purpose of this cross is to just hold it and engage whoever is interested in talking with us about it. 

I encouraged 17-year-old Peter Johnson (our youngest teenage open air preacher) to try it out on the campus of El Camino College the day after we got it. Here’s his report:

I got out of my first class at 10 ’till nine on Friday morning.  I have my cross folded up so I can carry it.  I decide to start with prayer.  God always seems to do more after I pray, but of course that’s just a coincidence. 

I took the cross out into the center of campus and held it up so that passersby could read the words “Are you ready” with my right hand while passing out gospel tracts with the left. A construction worker saw the cross and scoffed, “Are you ready? I’m ready to break that cross over that guy’s head.” 

Next, a Catholic girl walked up and asked what the words “Are you ready” meant.  I explained how we need to be ready for eternity and was able to convince her that religion does not save; only through humble trust in the blood of Christ are we saved. 

After her, a “Christian” guy who had never heard of the term “born-again” was encouraged to examine himself and get back in the Word.

Another student walked past and mocked, “I’m converted. I used to be pagan, but now I’m a Satanist.”  “Are you ready?” I replied. 

I was privileged to have a few short conversations with more students and was even offered some brief words of encouragement by fellow Christians as well as a few others who blessed me with more curses.  Even three atheists came by to argue! It was truly amazing how the cross elicited so many different reactions.

The highlight of that day was when a guy came up from behind me, wanting to talk. I took him through the law, Judgment Day, God’s justice and holiness, Hell, then the Gospel. He seemed very humble and open, asking me if he could repent anytime. “Yes,” I answered.

He bowed his head to pray. 

“Wait, wait,” I said, “do you even understand what repentance is?” After I was assured he knew what he was doing, he prayed and then I prayed for him. By that time there were seven other Christians gathered around to observe.

I was very excited to hear Peter’s report on his first successful experience with the cross; so much so, that I couldn’t wait to try it out this very afternoon at El Camino College. Knowing from past experience that whatever bad things can happen—will happen when I try something out—I braced myself, and picked up the cross. (Click to see all the horrible things that happened to me at the Chinatown parade earlier this year.) 

I stood straight-laced and straight-faced setting my face like flint toward the oncoming students. I prayed silently, ready for anything.

This is what happened: