Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Evangecamp #1--Buffalo/Niagara (Part 2--Thursday)

The morning prayers were kicked off on time, with dArrell wArren leading the way. Bernice's health was still a matter of much petition, but our faithfulness while God was working that situation out was still more pressing. Bernice was God's problem, and He could handle her well.

Our first landing in downtown Buffalo was near lunch time. So we tried to find good routes to cover in order to reach the people in their limited time. Jon's team set up to preach diagonal across from where Cathy and I set up to tract. dArrell and Mike set up directly across from us, and Ken and Debbie went somewhere, and Tim and Amelia went somewhere else. Then Tim felt convicted about being alone with a young woman, he being married and Amelia being engaged, so he came back to me and Cathy and paired the ladies and then he and I were supposed to be partners, but we both ended up being mavericks, partly because of his responsibilities as a leader, and partly because I am just that way anyway.

During the change up, I crossed the street to catch the fish that were getting by dArrell and Mike because they were engaged in 1-2-1's (which is fine--I just don't like letting fish get away: I was their back up). I retreated closer and closer to the corner, though, because there were just more fish there. I continued to pass out as many as I could, often running out and going over to Jon to reload, because he said he had some extra. I did try some 1-2-1's , but they clearly aren't my strong suit when there are tracts to be given.

But my talk with Jeff, after Hans had preached, was a good one. Jeff turned to me to ask if the work he did helping animals would count before God on Judgment Day. I hated to tell him this, but, no, it won't. Good works don't change the fact that we have broken God's Law, and that lawbreakers deserve to go to Hell. Most people don't think that's fair, but that's because they think that they have done enough good things to get in. In reality, though, most of them are in a privileged situation to be able to do what they do. Most other people in the world could never do what they do, simply because they don't have the opportunity. That is why God's remedy is much more fair--Christ crucified for all.

But that is not why God doesn't allow good works to outweigh bad. The truth is, that God does not allow any sin into Heaven, and Jesus said that every little word we utter is weighed against God's law and either justified or found wanting. Thus, unless we have absolutely perfect records, none of us is eligible to enter Heaven. The only Person who ever earned a perfect record is Jesus Christ, and He, being God in the flesh, gave it up for us, so that, He being punished for our sins, we could have eternal life based on His record, instead of being judged and found guilty by ours.

Jeff didn't accept this proposition, but it was all I could give him, because it is the only truth that will set him free. So I prayed for him and told him that he needed to talk it over with God. I couldn't do anything else for him.

Most of the rest of the day consisted of handing out tracts. We did stop in at Tim Horton's and Elaine bought me lunch. I was so thankful that people were picking me up. I still didn't know why my card wasn't working, but I figured that I had missed something.

At the end of the day, we did some open air preaching and a park ranger came over to tell us that the city of Buffalo had a code against amplified preaching in the city limits. Jon challenged him on it, because Jon used to live in or near Buffalo and he knows the code there. The ranger asked if we wanted him to call the cops, and we told him yes. Well, he didn't want to hear that! He was bluffing, and we knew it, and now he knew that we knew it. He must have been convicted or something. dArrell was doing a good job of preaching.

By that time, it was time to go, though, so we prayed and beat a quick retreat to the vans, while some people continued to set up for the evening festivities. We were planning to come back out at that time and continue, so we went back to the hotel for dinner and rest.

It was back at the hotel that I found out what had happened: TLC had been unable to deposit my check right away, and, instead of recognizing this, I simply praised God for an unexpected extra $300 plus, not realizing that this was exactly $325, the amount that I was paying for the boot camp. In hindsight, if I hadn't made this mistake, I probably would not have purchased my tickets for my trip to St Louis, which is scheduled for the very next weekend, because the funds would not have been available, and then the prices would have been much higher, because priceline was already too high (though that doesn't really mean anything, necessarily: just like this trip, I may have flown out of an alternative airport; but I wasn't thinking that far). But, as it stood, going to St Louis was in jeopardy because I may have been asking the airlines for refunds to try to cover the -$405 that my bank account was reading, before the bank started charging me extra for having a negative balance for too long. I could only look at the situation in disbelief and pray, because I knew that God had told me that I needed to go to St Louis, but I didn't know how I was going to get there now.

I couldn't worry about it now, though, because I wasn't going to be able to suddenly go home and make some extra money on the side, because I don't have any side work that I can do, and I couldn't adjust my flight back, because that would cost more money, which I obviously didn't have. So I just gave it to the Lord and kept going.

Bernice was released at 6PM, much to dArrell's delight. I got to meet her for the first time, so I was happy. dArrell had mentioned that this was her first boot camp, so it was nice to see that she might be able to get out with us the next day. But it was good to have her out of the hospital for now.

The night time party in downtown Buffalo was so full of drunk people, I am amazed they didn't just riot on us. First, we tracted the free food line, which went on without a hitch. Those people were not acting wild. You know, usually, we think that the homeless are to be feared, but, tonight, it was the classy, the privileged, the people who work day jobs that scared me.

Well, some of them work day jobs. Some of them were just kids looking to get drunk and either beat up, imprisoned, or laid. And that was just the white boys. The girls were either trying to get raped or get free drinks--I couldn't tell which (maybe both?)--I didn't care. I was trying to get them saved. All of them. Boys and girls, men and women who should know better, alike.

I talked to Casper, who had two beers in his hand while looking for his gf, Doug, a motorcyclist who did not want to talk but was too sluggish to get away, Ashley, whose bf Amelia talked to while I tried to reason with her (eventually he pulled her away, but we had a good talk), and Veronica, whose daughter apparently loves it when her mom is a drunken fool, because she certainly kept trying to get her away from me (didn't succeed until I had made all my points and she had understood). But those weren't the exciting ones.

Some lady rejected the tract I offered her, saying, "I don't need that," and grumbling about the fact that we were handing them out. I replied, "Ma'am, I just don't want you to go to Hell." Shouldn't have said that!

BOOM!! She turned around so quickly and came shouting up to me, telling me that her god would never condemn her for drinking. I, in typical "Comfort"-ing fashion, replied, "Of course not, ma'am, you are an idolater, you have made a god that you are comfortable with, and he won't ever condemn you for doing what you want to do." Now, if I tried to tell you that I got this entire sentence out of my mouth, would you believe me? You shouldn't, because she wasn't having it.

She jabbed me several times with her finger, though, somehow, she was careful not to scratch me. Suddenly, dArrell grabbed me from behind and pulled me away from her. He told me, "Now, you're going to be quiet here, because 'a soft answer turneth away wrath.'" I was too busy enjoying the fireworks so I was laughing at her while others were surrounding her (you have to kind of wonder who was the drunk in this case), but he held me back, and they got her to stop venting at them after a while. We got a great picture of her, too. I wish I could show it to you--she was livid. All because I don't want her to go to Hell? Wow.

In the meanwhile, Amelia had been cranky all night long. It had been a struggle to get her to come with me to my first corner. And she grabbed my arm hard whenever we needed to move. And she was insisting on retreating immediately when we had only about 15 minutes left. I was quite annoyed. But then I had to realize: Amelia was the newbie on our team. The devil was attacking our weakest link. What a bully!! This is how spiritual warfare works: divide and conquer. I had heard of his minions doing this to Jews for Jesus missionaries during campaigns, but this was my first time seeing this at a boot camp. So I'll be praying for her tonight. Wow.

So, if you go to a boot camp, be prepared.

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