Almost every Friday night, you will find a few men on the corner of College and Clayton, in Athens, GA, preaching the Gospel. Since Thursday nights are usually just as crowded, with young college students, you will often find us there, as well. This particular night began a little odd…
Terrorizing a Fire Hydrant
Just as we were setting up to preach, a man walked over and asked if we were tampering with the fire hydrant. He was not a city worker, policeman, or any other type of official. After we inquired, as to what he meant, he proceeded to tell us that he wanted to make sure we were not trying to put something in the water. After we informed him, several times, that we were not, he walked away and sat on a nearby bench.
A few minutes later he came back, checking the fire hydrant with his hand to make sure all of the caps were tight. Then he asked us to move our backpacks, that were leaning on the hydrant. We told him that we were not going to move them, to which he replied, “I’ll get the cops”. We practically begged the guy to call the police, but for some reason, he did not. But do not fear, Athens residents! We had our backpacks there all night and were not even tempted to poison the city’s water supply.
The Irate G.I.
After the fire hydrant was secure, a drunken soldier, walked by saying he was going to fight one of the street vendors, to the death. After my friend informed him that the street vendor had back up, the G.I. turned his anger toward us. He yelled at my friend for having on a digital cammo heed thingy, while boasting about wearing digital cammo to kill people, in the two wars he had fought in.
He went on ranting, claiming to know more about the Bible than we did, etc.(typical on the street) When we asked him to show us something, in the Bible, that he was claiming to be there, he replied, “Do I look like I have a %#@$ Bible?” We told him we had one and he said.”Bust it out!” When I did, he said he did not want it. When I reminded him that he had in fact asked for it, he called me a liar. He turned on his best impression of a Drill Instructor, which was a pitiful display, and eventually he moved on.
On a personal note: It has been my experience that guys, who have served in combat, rarely go down the street boasting about their exploits. Most seem to keep that to themselves and if they talk about it, it is to other G.I.s, whom can relate to their experiences.
I’ll Friend You into Heaven!
We will usually have one or two people, who claim to be Christians, that want to swing by and let us know that we are going about this evangelism thing all wrong. This Thirsty Thursday was no different. A drunk young man, claiming to be a Christian, told me I should go to Africa and help those people, instead of standing on the street corner yelling at drunk college kids. After asking him if his friends were Christians, he said no. I asked him if he thought they were going to die, and burn in hell for eternity, bothered him. He just had a blank stare. I followed up with, “you mean that you do not care if your friends die and burn in hell forever?” He replied, “I guess I don’t”. I asked him why he was worried about the people in Africa, when he could care less about whether or not his own friends went to hell. He looked puzzled, said he was sorry and continued across the street. I’m not sure what he was sorry for. I pray that he was sorry for neglecting the Great Commission, but I hope he examines himself to see if he, in fact, is a Christian.
Salvation is a seat on the Bus
Finally, a young fellow came to inform us, you guessed it, that we were going about this evangelism thing all wrong. Unlike the previous young man, this guy claimed to share his faith. I was almost excited, until we asked him what the Gospel was. He told us that the Gospel was: Giving up your seat on a crowded bus for a little old lady. Huh? Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving up your seat, for a little old lady, but that isn’t the Gospel. Yep, my excitement quickly turned to sadness. I was hoping he just did not understand how to articulate the Gospel. After multiple attempts to get it out of him, and even explaining it to him, he didn’t get it. He then went off on a, CS Lewis is just as good as the Bible, salvation is just a great feeling, my friends have been teaching me the Bible for one and a half years but I do not know a single Bible verse, you’re Bible thumping Southern Baptist and don’t have Jesus, I have converted atheists to Christianity, tangent that would make your head spin.
At times this can be a frustrating and heart-breaking ministry, but God is gracious. In the midst of this, God sent a couple of brothers in Christ, to encourage us. As soon as the irate G.I. left, a man came over and told us he gives us two thumbs up for what we do and that he knows we go through a lot of stuff on the street. He repeated the encouragement several times before he walked away. A few moments later, as my friend was preaching, another young man walked over and asked me if our PA had a volume knob. I thought it was another one of those, you’re doing it wrong, guys, but he was not. After I told him that it did, he said we should turn it up so more people could hear us. He gave some encouraging words and went on his way. He actually came by later and encouraged my friend that had been preaching the first time he came by.
Serving God can be tough, whether you’re a pastor, deacon, Sunday school teacher, trying to live for God on the job or a street evangelist. Do not give in to the temptation to quit. Do not allow Satan to silence you!
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9 NKJV).
 Thirsty Thursday happens every Thursday. It is the night especially set aside for college kids to go out and waste their lives getting smashed at the bars.