Have you ever had that weird feeling in your stomach that something wasn't right? Well, it wasn't just my stomach--it was my head, too. But I was determined to battle through it, because I had seen it sideline several people on bootcamps before (Phyllis in Miami, Jermaine in Tampa Bay), and I wasn't going to let it happen to me. It seems to happen to Jews for Jesus Missionaries all the time during campaigns, too, so I knew the source: but what the devil meant for evil, I was certain that God would use for good.
So I really didn't tell anyone about it. Bad move.
So, after our official prayer time, which was filmed, by the way, I did tell dArrel wArren about it, and he prayed for me. Which made me feel better at the time, but that may have been psychosomatic, because the issues never were really resolved.
I didn't figure it out until we were well into our early afternoon outreach, the Allentown Art Festival.
First, we stopped and talked to the kids who were protesting the Church of Scientology. Boy, these kids need to start thinking things through. They seem to love conspiracy theories more than sensible action. They are absolutely right to oppose CoS, because it is a cult, but they have no real answer for it. And the politically correct answers they have been using just don't wash. I mean, why do they care if Jesus was called a pedophile, if they don't worship Jesus, or think highly of him personally? And how do they know that this is a false statement if they don't believe the Gospels? It's not just enough to oppose one lie (or set of lies): You need to know the truth.
Then we went tract-attacking into the festival itself. I hit the restroom early, as the dizziness began to get to me. Now, of course, everyone knew about it. I never did puke, but I sure felt like it several times. But I had more important things to do, so I buckled down and stood up and offered tracts to passersby.
At first, as I was passing out the "America, America" tract from Living Waters, I tried, in this liberal town, to take advantage of the disenchantment with the current state of the nation. However, very few people were biting. Then, one of the organizers came along and said that those who hand out pamphlets have to keep moving--they cannot stand in one place.
Well, almost everyone bit after that! I could hardly find someone to turn it down! I ran out quickly and then switched to the other tracts in my pockets. Those were a bit harder, but most of the time, people took them. To think--their annoying rule was actually the key to my success! The Lord knows what He is doing!
But, after about three hours, the dizziness got to me. Smells of greasy food cooking annoyed me to the point of utter frustration, near the point of upheaval. Which is when I realized what the issue was: those greasy fries we ate last night. They were messing up my entire system. I hadn't eaten something so greasy in my life, but, because they weren't that bad tasting (actually, they tasted quite good in that BBQ sauce), I didn't worry about it...until now. Never again. I don't care how good it is. That feeling on the battlefield is not worth the cozy taste the night before.
Now I began to understand why God had had me buy those prunes on Wednesday before I left, instead of that nail-clipper. But I had to wait in the van for three hours before we got back in, and I could avail myself of them. Three miserable hours. I definitely should have asked for prayer in the morning instead of trying to just tough it out. I am no match for the devil. Only Jesus is. And God let me know where my pride would get me, much to the loss of my team.
My team got kicked out of the festival early, which meant that we stayed on schedule instead of running about an hour behind as we had second-guessed, trying to ride the whole thing out. So, once again, the festival officials kept us in line with God's will. Hahaha. They just never know.
Back at the hotel, the rest of the team conducted the graduation ceremony, as we had replanned that morning, since so many of us would be leaving so early Sunday morning (me included), but I had to miss it. Amazing what pride costs you.
Finally, around 6:50 PM, bored with the baseball game (because I could see that the team I was rooting for was going to lose), I had to come to a resolution: the prunes were going to begin their work any minute now; would I stay at the hotel letting them finish so that I could go home well-rested, or would I get up and go and just trust the Lord to get me through another day, as they continued to flush me?
I chose the latter, not wanting to be knocked out. By this time, I had texted everyone in my phone whom I knew could receive text messages, asking them for prayer. And I got it, too. Also, all the saints downstairs were praying for me, too. Now I had the strength in the Lord to proceed, unlike earlier in the day. Plus, I had the prunes, which were a gift from God. (I'll bet you never thought you'd ever hear someone say that about prunes!)
So out I went, and the devil regretted it. All of my tracts were gone within 30 minutes of reaching Clifton Hill. I had approached cars, approached people, tried to approach a loud, drunk group across the street, but the cars didn't stop coming in time, and they got away. Then, with the easel set up again, I joined the open-air preaching rotation and continued to pull in hearers from that all night long.
Initially, I was able to draw a sizable crowd, because of the sheer volume of people passing by, by shouting, "We're giving the Intelligence Test right here, five-question test, and, if you are intelligent, we want you to stop by, and if you are not intelligent, please keep walking!" The questions were all brain-teasers, so people got a kick out of it.
But that line didn't work the second time. I kept having people just walk by. So I just started asking random people the first question: "How many of each animal did Moses take into the Ark?" And people would shout their various answers, and then I would disappoint all of them: "None! It wasn't Moses--it was Noah! You need to read your Bible!" The people driving by were also being reeled into the game, and not just by me.
Finally, Nathan and Seana stopped by and I spoke to them about the Intelligence Test, and then, after getting them through that, as we all had been doing, I took them through three of the Ten Commandments (the Good Person Test), showed them that their sin was exceeding sinful in the eyes of God, and then gave them the Good News. They were both grateful as I told them what to do to inherit eternal life: repent toward God and trust in Jesus' death and resurrection (Acts 20:21).
While I was talking to them, another group came by, and Ken took care of them, so I moved us down a little ways so that our discussion would not be interrupted. It worked out great, and many conversations came out of Ken's discussion afterwards, as Mike, Mike, and their buddies tried to defend their sinful lifestyles against our Biblical command to repent. Mike even defied God several times just to show that God wouldn't strike him dead on the spot.
Well, I am glad that God did have mercy on that fool, but he was certainly pushing his luck. I am not as patient as God, and I don't know that I would have let him continue to live, just to prove the point that I do have some justice. But to strike him dead would land him in Hell for all eternity, so I definitely understand why God had compassion on him--and I was certainly praying for him the whole time. But wow.
Later, I stopped three youths who seemed to be Catholic (from what they said) and then also a daughter and her parents, who were all Muslim. The girl kept insisting that she believed in Jesus, but that he was not her savior. I desperately tried to get her to understand that, if she doesn't have Jesus, she has nothing to hide her sins from God on Judgment Day. But she didn't seem to get that. Their names were way too hard to pronounce or spell, and they seemed to understand that, perceiving that my only language is English. I did urge them to read a Bible and prayerfully consider Jesus' claims.
The Catholic boys were all drunk, and one of them said he didn't believe in God. I told him that he still had to face God on Judgment Day whether he believes in Him or not, and I begged them to depart from iniquity and not to cling to tradition over Scripture to save them. Either I didn't get their names, or I just don't remember them (this was kind of late).
And I may have stopped both sets of these people before I talked to Nathan and Seana (I didn't have the microphone when I talked to these two, but I did for the other six). But, as I am recording this a few days late, my memory of some details is kind of fuzzy.
We ended near 1 AM. Yeah. AM. And I had to get up at 4:00. AM. Oh boy.
But, hey, I would not have missed it for the world, queasy stomach, dizzy head, and all. The prunes seemed to have finished their job with the last visit to the washroom at the bottom of Clifton Hill before I joined the team at the top, so all possible disasters were avoided, and the water I needed when I was feeling faint right after I ran out of tracts was provided in due season (though it was not immediately available).
On the way back, I finally plucked up the courage to talk to one of my teammates about my financial situation. Jesus said, "Ask and ye shall receive [as long as it is to glorify my Name]," and so I did. I received enough to cover the shortfall and more--even to the point of being able to cover the costs of the Family Reunion this coming weekend. Which I didn't know I would be able to do, and didn't ask for.
Wow, God covers every detail.
I was beginning to wonder if God had indeed commanded me to go, since I couldn't afford it, anymore (well, I don't think I could have afforded it to begin with, but, anyway). Well, now the Lord had definitely shown me mercy. I had the $85 I needed for the reunion fees without even asking. Does God care about the little things? Does God want me at this reunion for something? Can someone say, "Amen!"?