Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Evangecamp #1--Buffalo/Niagara (Part 3--Friday)

Well, this was advertised as a camp to the Niagara Falls, and now we are finally going. I'm not complaining about our venture to downtown Buffalo, though: we were needed.

Amelia seemed, this morning, to have recovered from the attack she suffered last night. My, the devil is such a bully. I prayed all night for her. It really helped me not to be so annoyed, when I looked at things in that light. Bernice was well enough to go out with us today, and she was even down early for prayer!

We hit up the parking lot and the people in it as we disembarked from the vans. We were having such a good time--until one of the Park Rangers told us that we weren't allowed to hand out tracts there. Which was a surprise to our leadership, because they had done so several times before. Of course, I didn't take too kindly to the order and continued to stealthily hand them out--except that my teammates were watching even more closely than the park people, and they were now getting on my case. Ha, then Jon, too, broke the rule, because he, too, could not resist the flow of people, as we waited for people to finish buying hats (the sun was beating down rather harshly). And then, as we left the information center, he said that, as long as we were moving targets, he felt that we were good to go. Smiles from me!!

We had been a bit late after prayer in getting to the vans, so, it now being about lunch time, we stopped and ate at Ruby Tuesday's on the Canadian side, my first time to the chain, no matter what country (my first visit to any Hard Rock Cafe was in China). It was there that the devil, once again, tried to hurt the team, by bringing up the age-old debate of Calvinism/Arminianism. Well, I guess if it works time after time, you just keep on trying, but it didn't work this time, even though there was some sharp disagreement. I stand for neither belief, because both of them are wrong (yeah, I said that--and meant it, too), but it is hard getting people to see that. Good thing no one is going to Hell over it--unless we just spend so much time fighting about it that we forget to evangelize the lost. John 6:37 solves this entire debate, if you read the verse in its entirety without breaking it up to suit yourself. (A friend of mine showed me that verse after I returned to St Pete.)

After lunch, a camera crew caught up with us. They were doing a documentary on Christians who share their faith. Is this so rare an action that it warrants a news story? Please don't answer that question.

Ken and I stood on Clifton Hill for the most part, Ken encouraging, almost goading me, to get into one-to-one conversations as I passed out tracts. But I hate doing that, because all of these people keep passing by without ever hearing the Gospel from me. But the conversations that I had with Steve, Matt, and another young man whose name I did not get made it worthwhile to entrust those souls to God and to obey Him in this matter. God cares about those souls, too, and a tract doesn't always answer people's questions. If God only wanted witnessing done with tracts, I doubt He would have used so many conversations in my life to help me witness to people. Besides, there was a team waiting for them at the bottom of the hill, as evidenced by the people coming up the hill with tracts in their hands already, and there was yet another team down at the "Maid of the Mist" plaza.

Plus, there were way too many people for all of them to get tracts, anyway. That's how we all ran low on tracts.

When Ken and I ran out, we retreated to the bottom of the hill to see if Tim or someone else was there to give us extra. But dArrel and Bernice were almost out, too. At first, Ken and I tried to find the others, but we could not. Reluctantly, then, Ken unleashed his $1000 bills and his $1 million bills, too. We had wanted to preserve them for another time, but we had nothing else, and the crowds were still coming.

Two limousines passed by while I was passing millions at the bottom of the hill. One was evidently a bachelorette party, whose girls were all eager for the cool-looking bills I offered them. I think there were five. The other had a girl in between two guys, but I thought (or maybe this was wishing) that there were some others in there, too. However, she was the only female voice I heard, and she was flirting with me (to get me to give her the bills), blowing kisses and screaming as they rolled down the window, while sitting by this young man. If not merely a harlot at heart, she might also have been a live one. Sad. But I'm sure they got the shock of their lives when they read the tracts! "Jesus said, 'Whosoever looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart': have you ever looked with lust?"

We ended the afternoon session with some open-air preaching, which, and we knew this, we weren't really allowed to do. After we had been going for quite some time, though, a bicycle cop finally came around and told us to cease. Well, some people still got to hear, even though they were planning to. So we packed it in for the afternoon and retreated to dinner.

We had a delicious dinner of roasted chicken, greasy-but-good fries, salad, and some fresh-baked rolds--still warm from the oven (I think I can tell the difference between fresh and microwaved, but I didn't care--they were gooooooood). We also had lemonade and a couple of sodas. All this was eaten at the church of Bruce, the man who had been arranging the extra drivers for us. It was a Lutheran church, and I think it was Missouri Synod (that being the most common Conservative branch of Lutherans in the US; the other is the Wisconsin Synod, but they are far stricter and have, consequently, a smaller following; I used to listen to an LCMS radio station, so that is what I am basing this judgment on). We got a nice tour of the small facility (well, small compared to CC St Pete!), and we got back on the road to get back to the Falls.

This time we stayed on the US side, focusing on the crowds gathered for the Friday night fireworks. It was a largely international crowd, as we had been seeing all day long at the Falls, both when we first arrived and when we crossed to the Canadian side earlier in the day. The reception of tracts was about 50-50, which I think had held true for most of the day (as opposed to the 65% rejection rate I think we were getting in downtown Buffalo on Thursday).

We did get some open air preaching in before the fireworks show began, but not afterward, because the crowd was thinning out quickly by then. In fact, they left in droves. I tried to catch them and tract them, but then I kept seeing all these people with tracts already in their hands. I knew I hadn't been that thorough during the preaching time! Ken and I are just not that good! It was then that I realized that dArrell wArren was upstream catching as many fish as he could. Well, he had a much narrower spot than I, meaning that not many people could just walk around him, so most people walking by were within arms-length, unlike my extra wide spot up the hill about 100 feet. So I had to pick another spot. Which also meant I got to reload, so that wasn't bad. (But I did talk to dArrell about it later. =])

While I was going down the side, trying to get to people, the wind had been blowing hard all night. I did not realize that this meant a storm. So when the rain first burst upon us, I had thought it was just the mist from the Falls but very quickly realized my mistake and ran for cover. Bernice was sitting by a shelter, but it wasn't open, so we had to hope that the eaves of the roof would provide sufficient shelter, which it did--for the first round.

After the first rain stopped, people came out of hiding, but many people moved away. Most of our team followed, leaving me, Hans, and Bruce. While those two talked, with practically nobody around, I talked to a Syrian man and his brother and their mother (the mother doesn't speak English). I didn't know that the Catholic population was recognized in Syria. I guess a hatred for the Jews unites people with an overriding bond that covers anything else. (Now, this doesn't mean that all Catholics and all Muslims hate the Jews, but the leaders of both religions do, and that I know for a fact--just look at how they treat Israel.) I really wasn't able to communicate with Zihad and R'whad that we are not good at all, not simply deficient, and that our good deeds cannot cover up for our bad deeds (a common misconception among both Catholics and Muslims, btw). So I just asked them to reread Mark 10 and ask the Lord what He wanted to show them in it, and they agreed.

I passed out a few more tracts after that, but then the rains came down hard and sustained. Eventually, we gave up trying to ride out the storm and just beat a retreat back to the vans. It had been a productive enough day, though I did hand out some more tracts to people trying to get what cover they could after feeling convicted about passing up some people who were still coming in under their umbrellas. I wish that I hadn't passed up those others. But I can't change those facts now. May God get to them, even though I didn't.

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