It’s always a frustrating, humbling thing to be prevented from preaching the Gospel by police, but that’s what happened to me in front of the USC campus last week.
I had positioned myself between a construction zone in the center of the street in front of the campus.
Trojan fans excited to see their team whip Cal Berkley on this day stopped at a traffic light before crossing over to the Los Angeles Coliseum. Before they could cross, however, they had to listen to a sixty second sermonette reminding them of their eternal destinies.
As game time draws closer, more and more people gather at the traffic signal—it’s a great opportunity to spread the seed of the Word to many. And that’s what I did, over and over again, until the LAPD showed up.
“I’ll make a deal with you,” one of the officers kindly offered. He pointed to a corner far off in the distance next to a tree. “You can go over there and talk if you’d like, or…” He showed me another unappealing option. “Or, you can go over there, but you can’t stay here.”
“What is the reason that I can’t stay here, sir?”
“We are afraid that you might get hit by a car.”
“But,” I reasoned, “this is a construction zone. There are no cars coming through here.”
“You are blocking the pedestrian traffic,” he explained.
“Officer, there is no one walking near me!”
“It’s a public safety issue. We don’t want anyone getting hurt by you crowding them.”
“Sir! There are hundreds of people drinking alcohol and walking around with open containers. Is it even legal for all those people to be walkng in public and crossing the street with alcohol in their hands?”
The officer at this point was getting a little irritated. “I don’t want to go there. If we had 90,000 officers we could enforce it. Here’s the deal. You move or I will issue you a citation for blocking the flow of traffic.”
Throughout the conversation I was weighing my options: I could continue to reason with the officer and even call for the his Watch Commander, where he would probably side with his juniors, then I would have wasted about an hour’s time when I could be preaching elsewhere. I could get a citation, or I could move. Of course this wasn’t fair. Of course it was because the Gospel was being preached. But it’s always best to remember that the guys with the guns always win. I packed up and left, trusting that God would open up another door. He did.
I ran into a crowd of about 1500 fans waiting for the marching band to officially open the stadium. God had them waiting for something even better!
Thank you LAPD.