Friday, June 10, 2005

Riot! – Part III

The Conclusion...

This guy in front of me is livid. We’ll call him, “red shirt”. He’s pacing back and forth like a wild animal about to pounce on their prey. Why is he angry? He’s angry because we have gotten in his friends and his face, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom. It’s good news that made him this mad! Another reason is that all of these kids here claming a relationship with God. They all attend church and believe that they will make it to heaven. They should be happy that we are preaching the Gospel, but they aren’t. Our example in preaching the Gospel reveals what they really have; dead religion. And they don’t like it.

“Red shirt” starts making threats, telling me that he’s going to kick my @#$ and kill me. He tells me that he and his friends (gathering all around) are going to wipe us out. He tells me that I should shut up and go away… or else. The tension is HIGH. A couple guys from my group have my back, the rest of the group is now praying in tongues. The volume of their prayer increases as the threats increase. The angry Muslim guy from earlier makes a reappearance, this time with a friend or two. Instead of just anger on his face, there is a wicked grin. Something’s up. We have a choice. Back down to avoid bloodshed or keep going, throwing caution to the wind. We choose the latter.

Feeling ten feet tall and bulletproof and having an assurance of angelic protection, I take a step closer to “red shirt” and say in front of all his friends, “I defy you, the power you operate by and the anger inside of you, in Jesus name!” This sends him over the edge and he lunges at me. Out of nowhere, this little teenage girl with a scar over her left eye jumps in front of the guy stopping his charge and starts telling him that we’re not worth going to jail over. I disagree and politely ask her to let him go. Now she is standing between me and her very angry boyfriend. She starts into me with a series of questions on why we don’t just walk away. I explain to her that her boyfriend is full of the devil and the devil in him is attempting to order us around, but we just won’t take orders from the devil. She is warning me that he will hurt us if she lets go. I tell her to please not stand in the way and let him get to work. She starts a semi religious diatribe on peace, all while holding her boyfriend back. I remind her that I am as calm as a lake in winter and it’s her boyfriend that really needs the sermon.

Now she goes off! She is livid, screaming and yelling at me. Her boyfriend starts yelling at me, the gathered crowd starts yelling at us. Spit flies. I get a huge goober right in the face, I get shoved a few times. A couple folks in our group get spit on and pushed. I feel like I am in a blender, there is so much turmoil going on. Our group prays louder. The Muslim guy hands “red shirt” a pair of brass knuckles from that go over three knuckles and it has some kind of spike on it. I know now why he was smiling. I tell “red shirt” that he had better get to work, what will his friends think if he just stands there looking angry, afraid to hit an unarmed preacher? I present my right cheek to him and draw an “x” saying, “Start with this one. But you know what I’m going to do after you hit this one? I am just going to turn the other cheek, give you a big grin and say, Jesus loves you!” This is all “red shirt” can take; he has passed the point of no return and again lunges at me. But someone pushes past me from behind and jumps in front of me and him!

Before I could even recognize it, several young men that we had led to the Lord over the last couple months come up from behind us and stand between us and our aggressors! We had been wondering how committed these new believers were, not seeing a lot of fruit of their conversion, but here they were standing between us and a whipping! These new believers came up and said, “We got your back”. This one guy, a dancer we had talked to a few weeks before, stands up to “red shirt” and says while pointing at me, “If you are going to hit him, you will have to go through me!” I don’t know what happened, but involuntarily, a tear ran down my cheek. I was blown away! This was their way of standing with us and showing their commitment to the Lord Jesus. They were ready to brawl! The only problem is that they don’t understand that we don’t fight with natural weapons. We have to explain this to them because we are about to have a huge fight!

A couple guys from our team and I start to tell our new believer friends that this is not how we do things. We don’t use physical violence to prove our point. We literally have to pull them off “red shirt” and his crew. But it has already begun. They were the spark that set the forest fire! Sides square off, there is pushing, shoving and more spit flying. Out of nowhere, people with two pit bulls come into the center of the crowd. I see a knife out of the corner of my eye. People are getting baseball bats and paintball guns out of their cars. Our team is praying at the top of their lungs, literally screaming in tongues! Everyone in the parking lot is pressed into this tiny area, about 200 people all touching each other in a tight circle. I see that the situation is totally out of human control and is now boiling over. Something rises up in me and I realize that we can stop this from happening. I wade right in between the two groups and start proclaiming, “PEACE! In Jesus name, PEACE!” I walk through a wall of people commanding peace at the top of my lungs. Instead of anger and hate, there is bewilderment in their eyes. They are looking at me proclaiming peace and my team praying in tongues and they don’t know what to think!

I switch to preaching the Gospel and start proclaiming that Jesus is King and His Kingdom is on the earth! I start rebuking the entire crowd for their desire to see bloodshed and violence. I start proclaiming to them that this is the fruit of religion and that they must turn from their lukewarmness and come to the feet of Jesus! Two guys on our team take my lead and start preaching too. We go in three separate directions, wading into the crowd, preaching at the top of our lungs! There are three preachers preaching with all their might and a handful of prayer people praying with all of their might. In the spirit, you could feel the aggression and tension being drained out, being replaced with wonder and amazement. These kids are looking at us like we are flying! We are connecting and have their attention. The guys that were so ready to fight have been stripped of their anger and now are just standing there with their hands in their pockets, looking dumb. We openly defy them and their demons, proclaiming Jesus. The crowd disperses and breaks up. Some folks gather across the parking lot, but the battle is over. We have won!

A few people come out to us saying, “I’m with you guys, way to go!” We start telling them to come with us and preach the Gospel. Several young guys that just gave their lives to the Lord earlier that night are treated to a display of the power and courage that comes from the Gospel. All in all, four people gave their lives to the Lord that night and countless others are witness to the overcoming power of God in any situation.

Jesus is King!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know what an HTML tag is (or a blogger), but I DO know that we feel a desperate hunger for God Himself here in Cleveland & to get the good news of the Kingdom to the lost people on the streets. We say, "Come, Thy Kingdom, come!"

Thanks for leading the way & showing how it is done!