In our last episode, the pastor of a small church in the ‘burbs of Sacramento, Mark Dahlin of Living Hope Christian Church, was exposed to the reality of witnessing in modern day America: He found out first hand that evangelists are not always welcome in the neighborhood. (You must click here to start at part 1)
Because most people in authority don’t understand that those who share their faith have certain rights guaranteed by the Constitution, they will try to stop you from sharing the Gospel. When that happens, a Christian has two choices: lay down their rights as Christ commanded, or fight, by taking your persecutors to court.
We, as an evangelism team, have always chosen the former. Fighting authority figures ignorant in First Amendment Law takes up too much time and energy; we’d rather move to a new place and continue to preach. There will come a time, however, for us to take a legal stand.
Not this time.
That’s why I kept preaching to the crowd standing in front of the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium even as I was being led away by the arm of a (very courteous) Sacramento police officer. (In fact, she whispered to me, “C’mon guy, you’re making me look bad.”) I didn’t resist. That’s why another member of the team, “Righteous Richard” kept preaching on the other side of the crowd. That’s why Pastor Mark Dahlin kept handing out Gospel tracts to all passersby.
And that’s why, when we were accosted by burly, antagonistic, aggressive and scary 20-something security guards in front of the mall (along with a retiree), we just moved on out of the area.
But then something really strange happened in the evening after the mall incident. It’s when we were walking along the boardwalk sharing our faith in Old Sacramento. Pastor Mark tapped me on the shoulder with a look of panic mixed with terror, muttering something in my ear. I looked up and my face turned ashen. Just up ahead, standing on a box in the corner of the boardwalk was a… Sign Guy! (Strike up the “Psycho” score.)
It’s no secret that I have issues with Sign Guys. The majority of those I have encountered have bad attitudes and are not held accountable by any church, so they do whatever they please. There is usually not a lot of grace in their messages, focusing primarily on judgment and Hell, without giving a reason why people should repent. (Read a previous article about them here.)
But not all of them are like that. There are a few who balance their pronouncements of doom and condemnation with grace and love. As I looked closer at the Sign Guy, I recognized that he was one of the good ones. We served together at Way of the Master’s evangelism boot camp, The Ambassador’s Academy. Not only that, he has good, solid, correct theology, participating in a blog called The Reformed Evangelist. His name: Paul Kaiser.
But he tricked me.
Knowing I couldn’t resist an empty preaching box, he invited me to step aboard. I did, not really noticing the signs next to the box. He took a picture. Then another. Then another. Then he posted them on Facebook, alerting all the other sign guys—and the world— that yes, I too, was one of them! No! No! No!
To make matters worse, adding salt to the wound, and forever humiliating me on the Internet, unbeknownst to me—he filmed it, too. The Sign Guy filmed it and posted it on YouTube!!! The shame! The horror!
Worst of all. Or maybe it was the best, I just don’t know anymore, I’m so confused…. Remember our pastor from the small church in the ‘burbs of Sacramento? After all this, do you know what he did? Did he throw up his hands in disgust and quit? In shock, did he renounce the faith and become a Mormon? No… it was much worse than that: He jumped up on the box after me—his very first time—bellowed out a powerful message…
…and became indelibly linked and identified with—the Sign Guys! Forever.
It’s just a sign of the times.
Will wonders (and signs) never cease?!!?!
(There’s more! Click here for part 3.)