I got the call from our church administrator who was doing business in downtown L.A.: “Steve! You’ve gotta come down to the Nokia Theater. There’s 15,000 people in line waiting to get into the American Idol finals. What a great chance to preach! But hurry, the line’s starting to move!”
I didn’t need to be told twice. Picking up my friend Umberto we jumped in the car, anxious to help pass some Idol time.
“Umberto, we know that it is God’s general will to go everywhere and preach the Gospel,” I explained. “I just don’t know if it’s God’s specific will to preach there. This is how we will know: If I find the right exit, if I find a parking spot, and if the line of thousands is still there.” I found the right exit, paid for a $12.00 parking spot, and BINGO!
The line was still there!
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the end of a one-third of a mile queue that wrapped and wended itself around four city blocks. Now, where do I preach? It’s never a good idea to preach loudly to people if you are standing right next to them; a ten foot buffer is preferable. But where? Should I stand in the street? No, that would be crazy—and stupid! We walked down the line biding our time handing out Gospel tracts, lots of Gospel tracts. Always hand out literature before preaching in the open air. People are curious and will take the strange leaflets. Afterward? No way!
BINGO! An empty driveway. Perfect!
People were amused, bemused, but certainly not confused about where they would go if they should die of heat stroke after standing six hours under the hot sun.
Eight minutes later, we moved on. More tracts were handed out farther down the line. We walked fast, not knowing how much time we had till Showtime. Dawdling would allow the crowd to disappear into the Nokia.
Umberto was perfectly happy handing out tracts, despite my proddings to give his first open air sermon.
Where could I preach next?
We must have had favor on this day (since God is fully against idolatry), because the Security guard praised God when he heard the preaching.
We kept moving…
The line didn’t.
There were no more places to preach so… BINGO! I stood in the street.
It wasn’t crazy or stupid because Umberto stood on the traffic side readyto take a bumper for the Lord if the preaching was interupted by a semi or Suburu.
Where to go now for sermon #4? BINGO! I was in the the thicket of things…
I wasn’t worried in the least; there was a hedge of protection about me.
We were getting closer to the Nokia Theater. What would we find? Would we see any wanna-be stars? Cry-baby losers? One thing for sure, we didn’t see any other Christians out there sharing their faith, so BINGO! I preached in front of a gate for sermon #5.
BINGO! #6 found me atop another set of steps. Moms, Dads, and teenage daughters were all caught by surprise! Is that guy a contestant? Wasn’t he eliminated on the first show?
This was the simplest thing to do in the world! All these people, all this opportunity… what a great way to have “church”; and right in the middle of the City of Idols, er, Angels. It was a breeze. No trouble at all. Next stop: The Nokia Theater. I couldn’t wait to preach #7 to all the well-heeled, nattily-dressed, upper crust, getting their reserved tickets at Will-Call… That’s when the LAPD arrived!