Chinatown: When Things Go Wrong!


(Read part 1 by clicking here!)

Sometimes people will rain on your parade when you preach in the open air. Sometimes things will go from bad to worse to horrible.

It’s a rather strange feeling to preach to a crowd of strangers waiting for a parade to start because you never know who might be in the crowd and you certainly have no idea how they will respond when confronted with their sin. I certainly didn’t expect one angry man to do what he did to me. Fortunately, I don’t bruise easily.

This is the story of how things went wrong at the Golden Dragon Parade in Chinatown last Saturday….

It was a celebration of the Chinese New Year, The Year of the Ox, and forty two evangelists arrived to take Gospel advantage of the estimated 110,000 people lined up along the parade route. I for one get excited when I see so many people gathered who most likely have never heard the Gospel before. The best way to get the good news out en masse is either through wide distribution of Gospel tracts, of which we brought—and handed out—over 25,000, or through open air preaching.

But sometimes things will not go exactly as planned.

Wrong #1: I was excited to preach to a group of young Asian band members gathering before the parade, so I hopped on my portable stool and asked loudly, “If you were to die today where would you go, Heaven or Hell?” The kids dressed in their bright red marching outfits said nothing. “You must keep God’s 10 Commandments perfectly!” No reponse. The kids just stared at me like I was a freak. “Have you ever told a lie?” No hands went up. No one moved. “How many of you have ever told a lie? Anybody?” Then I noticed a lady holding a flag.
A Chinese flag. A few others had them, too. “Do you guys speak English?” No hands went up. Blank stares. Then it dawned on me: these guys are from China. More specifically, Beijing. They didn’t respond to my preaching because they couldn’t understand a word! I bowed sheepishly as I handed each band member a million dollar bill Gospel tract, and gave them high fives. See it here: (57 seconds)

Wrong #2: Our next location was in front of the bleachers where people paid $27 a seat to watch the parade that was scheduled to start in about an hour. One man didn’t like what I was saying and started complaining loudly from his seat. “Awwww! We didn’t pay to hear this! Go away!” he shouted.

I didn’t, and kept proclaiming my message.

“Why don’t you shut up?” he repeated, getting out of his seat to walk toward me. Now he was in my face. I continued to declare God’s standards as he tried earnestly to shut me up.

Then he pinched me. Fortunately I’ve lost a little weight so he couldn’t pinch as much as he would have a year ago. Then he pinched me again. “Why don’t you go away? We don’t want to hear it.” Pinch. “Shut up!” he demanded.

I preached, he pinched. I stepped back off my stool and then back up again regaining my composure. He whined, I winced—yet continued to preach. When he realized that I wasn’t going to stop, he backed off—and at this point, I thought I was going to take it on the chin. Instead, he gave up and walked back to his seat. See it here: (31 seconds)

Wrong #3: After the parade had ended, I climbed on a grassy knoll and started preaching again to a crowd that was gathering for the grand finale of the parade. I explained why Christ is the reason for the new year 2009, and why he had to die for our… BANG! POP! BANG! POP! POP! BANG! BANG! BANG! Ten million firecrackers went off! Ten million!

That was the finale, and that finished my sermon.

Wrong #4: With the crowds dispersing and heading to the festival after the parade, I had the bright idea to stand atop some empty bleachers and preach down to the crowd.

It was going just fine… except no one could hear me.

The battery in our portable speaker was dying.

Things are bound to go wrong at times, but I’ll keep on trying, I won’t give up.

Still, it would be kinda nice to relax, stroll along the parade route without a worry in the world, keep my big mouth shut, throw in the towel and… just join the sign guys. Life would be so much easier.

Hey! Stranger things have happened…

Watch the most awesome, ultimate “Sign Guys” ever by clicking here!


  1. That is a lot to good wrong in one day. I like when it went well. However, when you think things aren’t going well is when God takes over. For when I’m weak… He is strong.

    Great job my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

  2. 02.07.09

    While it was exciting to go with 42 evangelists to Chinatown, Los Angeles, it was equally fine to be with the group today. Nick, John, Valdi, Carol, Tom, Richard and I had an equally fun time at the Ports-O- Call today.

    We passed out lots of tracts and had conversations. I was fortunate to have a conversation with Ed (a fisherman who said he’s almost died two times) and five teenage girls (no I did not ask for their phone numbers to follow-up). In each case we preached the Law and Gospel. And in each case, there were visible signs of concern.

    Praise the Lord.

  3. I’m not laughing at you. I’m hopefully laughing with you. I laughed til I hurt reading about and then seeing you preach to a young band of Chinese musicians quietly staring at you, not having a clue what you were saying and probably wondering what planet you were from.

    I could just see the Lord orchestrating this whole scene from Heaven and telling certain onlookers saying “Watch this!”.

    Good on you, Steve, in showing a lighter side of open air preaching. 🙂

  4. Thanks, Paul. What a privelege to be laughed at/with.

  5. Hey, we got to witness to a group from Beijing last summer–but they DID speak English! I tracted and interviewed one on my podcast, then found TIm Crawford who came and open-aired in front of all of them. They were grateful for the tracts and gave me a free shirt from Beijing and some little glass paperweights.

  6. Hi, if you regularly encountered non-English speaking Chinese, I suggest you sign up with and order their Chinese Gospel of Johns (the simplified Chinese version). It has both Chinese and English Gospel of John in one booklet. Good to give out.

    By the way, I think when we present the Gospel (either one-on-one or open air) or even just giving out tracts, we need to be sensitive and respect non-Christians or even Christians who do not share our views. If someone paid money to watch a parade, is it okay for us to stand there and preach? By the way, before anyone starts attacking me, I want all to know that I believe in preaching the gospel biblically. I know and have used Living Waters and Mark Cahills materials also. We must be careful that our actions are not-offensive (though the Gospel itself is “offensive”).

  7. Good reminder, Bernie. Thanks.

    In the case of the bleachers, there was nothing going on, fortunately. The parade was still a good 90 minutes away and there was no entertainment except for us. BTW, we only preach for about 6 minutes then move on so we aren’t a bother. When the parade starts, we stop preaching and enjoy the parade like everyone else.

    Thanks again!

  8. Thanks for the encouragement & warnings, Steve! Perhaps this installment could have been subtitled, “Pinch the Preacher”! 😉

    God bless!

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