Friday, 4 April 2008

The Street Evangelist

This is a true story about a street evangelist, and as Romanos my very good Eastern Orthodox friend comments: 'it has all the the hallmarks of authenticity'.I agree with the writer Gary Tresidder,that though this evangelist's name may not be known to men,in heaven he,and those like him, will be well known. May it inspire the readers of this post to be faithful in the ministrythe Lord has given them,however unknown and unrecognised it may be(2 Cor.6.9).

In the beginning days of July 1970, there was a man who lived in Houston, Texas. Though of slight build and shorter than average height, he had been given a tremendous ministry. The Lord had chosen him to be a “street preacher” and he had accepted the calling. But there was to be more involved in this occupation than standing on a corner and handing out tracts. The Lord wanted him to minister to the lost souls that lived and died in the area known as the Houston Underground. This district was located near the center of Houston within viewing distance of the M&M factory.

An area that can be described as the Playground of the Devil would suffice to express the environment where this man was to minister. The remnants of the Hippie counter-culture had drifted here from all points of the compass. Other drifters of more nefarious pasts also were attracted to the area. They brought with themselves their own ingredients. They brought the drugs – barbiturates, amphetamines, the hallucinogenic and heroin. They also brought their gods – Krishna, Santeria (Voodoo), and Astrology. They also carried with them the seeds of their own destruction – violence.

Armed with only his faith that the Lord would protect him and a Bible, he entered into this arena of Hell. Only a believer who is secure in his belief would walk these mean streets at nights carrying an old worn leather covered Bible with thumb-eared edges. His suit was worn and shiny in spots. He wore a white shirt and an out-of-date narrow tie. But shining through this frail frame was a presence that was more than him. The denizens of this dark world never bothered him. They did their best to avoid him – the one they called “The Preacher Man.”

Into this scene of chaos appeared another individual. He was a drifter from many places. In his aimless trek he had seen the climates of the North, East and West. Having allegiance to none and respect for no one, he came seeking what he could take. He was one of the Hippies who had fled the violence that had overtaken the movement in larger cities. His appearance was tall and scraggly like a scarecrow. His clothes looked typical for those in the place he found himself. He wore a pair of jeans with a garrison belt, sandals, and a shirt that had probably hadn’t seen soap and water since it was first purchased. His hair was long and unkempt. His eyes blazed with the fire created from drugs and lack of sleep. This young man was “strung-out” from a series of LSD trips and amphetamine highs. In his present condition it was not even necessary for him to consume any more of those drugs. He could be walking down the street, and just thinking about idle thoughts and in the next moment his daydreaming would turn into the drug induced hallucinations into which he was fond of retreating. This was the condition of the youth the night these two individuals crossed paths.

On the night they met, the street evangelist prepared his path before him. He asked the Lord to set before him those who He wanted to be saved from Destruction. His ministry to the Lost wasn’t to be like a sideshow barker. He wasn’t to stand on a corner and yell about the End of the World. He also wasn’t supposed to walk through the throngs that were on the streets and give the gospel tracts that many want to do and call “witnessing the Gospel”. He was only to approach those that the Lord wanted for His Purpose and to do as the Lord directed. After he received his assurance from the Lord, he set out to perform the Lord’s assignment. At the same time the wild-eyed drifter was headed in the same direction, but with a different purpose in mind. He was going to the Underground to look for what he could beg or scrounge to support his need for drugs and the blissful state of nothingness they brought.

The young man wandered from place to place on the heavily populated streets of Houston’s Underground district. He avoided the strip joints and other honky-tonks because he didn’t have any money to even pay the cover charge. Besides, they weren’t the people with whom he associated anyway. He preferred the company of like creatures as himself – the hippies and drug abusers. After visiting several of the shops that catered to his type of clientele, he came across a leather shop that made items for tourists and the rich. He walked into the small shop and looked around at the merchandise. Finally he saw a bundle of leather strips and pieces that the shop owner had left over from several of his projects. The young man knew he could fashion some of the pieces into items that he could sell.

“How much you want for that bundle of stuff?” the young man asked.

“Two bucks”, responded the clerk.

“OK”, replied the drifter as he fished two worn-out dollar bills out of his pocket.

As the man was handing the clerk the two dollars, the clerk leaned over the counter and looked out the storefront window. “Oh, no. Here comes that damn street preacher again. I wish he would just get out of here and leave us alone.” The clerk looked up at the drifter and said, “You better make sure he doesn’t get a hold of you.”

The young man ambled to the front door of the shop and started out the door. As he came to the steps that led down from the shop onto the sidewalk, he stopped. It was as if a bolt of lightening had run from his head to the bottom of his feet. He felt as if fear had shaken everything inside him. He had trouble even feeling the fingers of his hand. Everything felt dislocated. The only thought that was coherent is his mind was to look up from the steps below his feet. As he did, he saw the eyes of a skinny little man across the street. Those eyes were looking directly into his eyes. Also seeing the old worn book that the man had pressed to his chest, he knew with certainty that this was the “Preacher Man” he had just been warned about. Inside his mind he also knew with all certainty that this man was purposing to talk to him.

“Damn, I’ve got to get out of here.” This was the next thought that raced through the drifter’s mind. Fear consumed the man as he tried to hurry down the steps. He knew that this was one of the most important things he would ever have to do – flee. All at once a group of partygoers passed in front the stairway, blocking his action. After they passed, he looked to see if his way was clear. But there was one more obstruction in front of him. There standing squarely in front of him stood his enemy – the man with the Bible.

The street evangelist looked up at the tall unkempt man in front of him. He saw the wild and dangerous eyes that now were touched with fear. He knew that without any doubt that this was the man that the Lord had sent him to see.

The street preacher spoke to the man who was trying to bolt like a rabbit in a cage. He said, “ You’re running from God.” Though spoken softly, it was if a hammer had struck the drifter. The young man staggered. Even though he didn’t understand what the little evangelist meant, he knew that it was true. The man looked back up at the drifter and said, “May I talk to you about your need for the Lord?”

Looking down at the street evangelist, the young man thought that this was the craziest little man he had ever met – and maybe the most dangerous he would ever run across. He felt that if he listened to this man, something in his life would change forever. He couldn’t come back to the life he enjoyed. “No.” he responded.

Undaunted in his faith and assured in the conviction that this was the man he was to tell about the Gospel, the little street preacher spoke again. “Then, may I pray for you?” He asked.

Hoping that this would get the weird little man away from him, the drifter responded, “Sure go ahead.”

“Lord”, started the little man, “I lift up this man before Your Throne. He doesn’t know who you are. But I know that he is one that You have chosen for Your Kingdom. I ask that You make his life so miserable that he will come running to You. I pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.” The short simple prayer asking God to direct the paths of this drifter from the pathway to Hell to the Feet of the Lord was like an arrow striking the heart. The drifter was stone cold sober; he couldn’t feel the effects of any of the drugs that were coursing through his veins. The drifter shook his head as if he was trying to remove a headache. He looked down again – the little man was gone. He started running…

Thirty years have come and gone since that singular event – the crossing of paths between a skinny little street preacher and the Hippie drifter. The intercession of that skinny little street evangelist, insignificant in man’s eyes but great in the Lord’s eyes, came to fruition. His name may never mentioned to the annals of Man’s times, but you may be assured that his name is recorded in the Lord’s book of faithful servants.

As for the drifter and what happened to him. Eventually, he found the peace that comes with knowing the Lord, though it took another year and a half. But that’s another story…

Gary Tresidder


Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

This story has all the hallmarks of authenticity. The way you described the street preacher and the way he followed Jesus into the streets is right on. It all checks out, in the spirit. Thanks for posting this testimony.

Anonymous said...

I've found a militant atheist if you want to try and help him; he's at:

GBWY, James