Friday, August 08, 2008

Preach on Lawman!

From Tony Miano's blog The Lawman Chronicles

I was blessed to spend a few hours this afternoon on Hollywood Boulevard, with Leon Brown and Anthony English. Together, they made the 3-hour drive from San Diego to Los Angeles. As you can see by the above photo (the very distinct prop belongs to Leon), we went to Hollywood Boulevard to preach the Law and the Gospel.

The crowds were moderate in size, but we found it difficult to draw and keep a crowd. Trivia for cash didn't seem to be too effective so the three of us took turns stepping onto the box, reading Scripture, and heralding the Law and the Gospel. At first, most of the hecklers did what we call "hit and runs." In other words, they would walk by, hurl an insult or make a blasphemous comment, and continue on their way.

They didn't have the courage of their convictions to stop and engage in conversation. They just wanted to spew a little hatred to make themselves feel as if they accomplished something, and then walk away with a silly grin on their faces.After Leon preached for the second time, I climbed onto the box. This would be my third and last open-air of the afternoon.I began by affirming the crowds probable belief in John 3:16. Then I challenged them to have integrity in their belief in the Bible, by reading John 3:17-19 to them and asking them if they believed the verses that followed John 3:16.

Things began quietly enough. But within just a few short minutes, all of that would change.As I walked the crowd through the Ten Commandments, I could see a young man approach from my left. It was obvious to me that he was intoxicated, as evidenced by his unsteady gait and slurred speech.

The 5th Commandment (honor your parents) hit a nerve with this young man. His level of agitation went from zero to ten in about two seconds. Considering his intoxicated state, I had no intention of engaging the young man. But my sovereign Lord had other plans.

As I moved from the 5th to the 6th Commandment (Do not murder), the young man walked over to the heckler mike and proceeded to use it for field goal practice. The mike stand fell to the ground, with the microphone flying through the air. A person walking by picked up the microphone and handed it to me.I told the young man that the hatred he just expressed was tantamount to murder in God's eyes. He didn't like that.

He stormed toward the box, threatening to beat me. With my Bible in my hand, I calmly assured the young man that that would not happen. He looked at the Word of God and then grabbed at it with a swiping, tearing motion. He was able to get enough of a grip on the Bible to tear John 3 from the Book. He threw the torn page to the ground in disgust. Another passerby reached into the nearby gutter, picked up the torn piece of Scripture, and gently handed it to me.I returned my attention to the angry young man in front of me.

The situation continued to deteriorate, culminating in the young man spitting phlegm on my chest.When he spat on me, I admit that for a brief moment I shifted into deputy sheriff mode. I had been the victim of not one, but two assaults at the hands of the young man.I stepped off the box toward the young man. He immediately raised his fists. He was ready to fight.

I quickly read his stance and anticipated that the first blow would likely come from his right fist, and in a downward trajectory. I played out in my mind how I would either dodge or deflect the first blow, and then render the young man, shall we say, harmless.By God's amazing and totally unmerited grace, the young man did not try to punch me. Instead, he tried to grab the microphone from my hand (assault #3), which caused loud distortion in the amplifier.

I quietly told the young man that I would not fight him, that I loved him, that He wasn't a Christian(which was one of the first proclamations he made when he approached me), and that my hope for him was that he would repent and believe.He turned and walked away; and I returned to the box to continue to preach. For whatever reason, I couldn't get the feedback in the amplifier to stop; so I turned it off and preached without it.

I admit that I was shaken by the incident. I was also angry with myself for getting off the box. The frustration for what I considered to be a momentary lapse in judgment, the anger over a drunk man tearing a page from my Bible, the sorrow over the mockery of the gospel that came from the crowd, and the apparent enjoyment they derived from seeing a preacher assaulted and a Bible torn brought me to tears. (I think I've shed more tears than usual this week, over the depravity of man and their mockery of Christ and His gospel.)And I was upset about something else. My first thought was not to count it all joy.

My first thoughts were not of Paul's Words to the Church in Corinth. "When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things" (1 Cor. 4:12b-13).My first thoughts were not of the words of Jesus Christ to the multitudes. "Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matt. 5:11-12).

These should have been my first thoughts; but they weren't.Having not seen what had transpired, Leon was a bit surprised and confused by my countenance when he walked up to me. My beloved brother in Christ had to bear the brunt of my venting.

We prayed together. I asked the Lord's forgiveness for the weakness of my faith and my sins against Him. I sought my brother's forgiveness for venting my frustrations toward him. My poor brother, Leon--I do think there are times when I leave him wondering if I'm becoming a bit unhinged. :-)I thanked God for allowing me to be persecuted for His name's sake. And I thought of His Word, which says, "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Rom. 5:3-5).

By the time we finished praying together, it was about the time I had planned to head home. So, we said our good-byes and I made my way to my car.On the way home, I was blessed by another dear brother in Christ, Bart McCurdy. I debriefed with him on the phone, as I made the hour-drive home. He listened patiently and encouraged me greatly.

Looking back on the eventful afternoon, I give glory to God and thank Him for my best worst day.If you would like to listen to the open-air, please click here.

Tomorrow's a new day. I can't wait to get to Brand Boulevard in Glendale, to preach the gospel.

Thank you for your faithfulness to preach the truth Mr. Miano!!!!!


Doorman-Priest said...

Hi. Greetings from Tallinn.

Yes, I know that feeling of being faced with violence and needing to respond appropriately from when I was a bouncer. It sounds as if you did well in a difficult situation. Not easy.

I have this image of you preaching with phlegm on your chest. That may stay with me for longer than I'd like!

WayneDawg said...

Just to be clear DP, this happened to Tony Miano and was taken from his blog.

I've done a lot of 1-2-1 witnessing but I have never street preached (maybe one day though).

Doorman-Priest said...

I really must read more carefully.