Mary from “Children of the Rock” prays with people at UN Plaza.
Dear Christian friends,
Several years ago, I read a biography of John and Charles Wesley. These men, along with Whitefield, preached out of doors several times weekly to as many as 25,000 people at one time, without an amplifier! Most churchgoers regarded them as fanatics for preaching outside the church, as they do today. They also often found themselves in the middle of riots, and were stopped from preaching by the police.
As John S. Simon wrote, “If Methodism had not come into contact with the mob it would never have reached the section of the English people which most needed salvation. The `Religious Societies’, shut up in their rooms, would never have reformed the country. It was necessary that a race of heroic men should arise, who would dare to confront the wildest and most brutal men, and tell them the meaning of sin, and show them the Christ of the Cross and of the Judgement Throne. The incessant assaults of the mob on the Methodist preachers showed that they had reached the masses. With a superb courage…the Methodist preachers went again and again, to the places from which they had been driven by violence, until their persistence wore down the antagonism of their assailants. Then, out of the once furious crowd, men and women were gathered whose hearts the Lord had touched.” (The Revival of Religion in the Eighteenth Century)
While we sometimes face opposition today to our preaching on the streets, it is nothing compared to the persecution these men faced. Here is one incident (from A Heart Set Free: the Life of Charles Wesley by Arnold Dallimore):
“Charles preached for three quarters on an hour the next morning. But the mob soon attacked, at first using a hand-operated pump to cover the Methodists with water. Then they resorted to a larger engine which broke the windows, flooded the rooms and spoiled the goods. We were withdrawn to a small upper-room, in the back part of the house, seeing no way to escape their violence…One brother they dragged away. They threw him into the horse-pond and broke his back.”
“Now we stood in jeopardy every moment. Such threatenings, curses and blasphemies I have never heard….They were now close to us, on every side, and over our heads, untiling the roof. I was diverted by a little girl, who called to me, `Mr. Wesley! Mr. Wesley! creep under the bed: they will kill you. They are pulling down the house.’ Our sister Taylor’s faith was just failing, when a ruffian cried out, `Here they are, behind the curtain!’ At this time we fully expected their appearance, and returned to the furthermost corner of the room…In about an hour after the last general assault the answer of faith came, and God made bare his arm. Soon after three, Mr. Clark knocked at the door, and brought with him the constable. He said, `Sir, if you will promise never to preach here again, the gentleman and I will engage to bring you safely out of town.’ My answer was, `I shall promise no such thing.’”
Finally they were able to leave town on horses, with the mob following. They pulled one brother off his horse, and two bulldogs tore his flesh. He got back on his horse and they rode off, singing the hymn “Worship, and thanks, and blessing.”
Fear of Witnessing
A great many in the church have a fear of witnessing. Our word “martyr” comes from the Greek word martus meaning witness. Because so many in the early church who witnessed died for their faith, the word “witness” became associated with death. We are fortunate in America today that we have great freedom to preach the gospel and little danger of physical harm or death for doing so. In over 30 years of our outreach in San Francisco involving thousands of Christians, none of us have ever been significantly hurt while witnessing. Yet, it seems that fear of witnessing is even more prevalent here than in places where witnessing often results in death.
It seems to me that our main fear today that keeps us from witnessing is fear of ridicule or rejection. I believe that this is one of the main reasons we do not witness as we know we should–whether at work, to our friends and relatives, to people we meet in everyday life, or in special outreaches.
How do we overcome this fear? The first step is to recognize this as a sin, and come to genuine repentance concerning it. Second, understand that the reason we fear rejection, ridicule, injury or death as a result of obeying God as His witness is because we do not reckon ourselves dead to the world. Finally, we overcome fear of man by trusting in God’s love. Here are a few of the many scriptures relating to this:
“Do not be afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do….Fear not therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God; But he that denies me before men shall be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:4-11).
“If any man come to me, and hate not…his own life…he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung” (Phil. 3:8).
“Fear none of those things which you shall suffer; Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried…be thou faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). “And they over came him (the devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11).
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4: 18-19). “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4).
As we come to know God’s love, and are assured that He is with us and that nothing can come into our life that He does not allow, then we will be freed from the torment of fear and know His peace. “He has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6).
On the Streets
On Sat. July 23, “Machaira” and “Children of the Rock” ministered with us at UN Plaza. Machaira normally plays in small towns in Northern California, but they join us once a year. This was the first time that “Children of the Rock” had been with us for many years. About 10 years ago, they played on the streets with us almost once a month. At that time, their leader, Greg, got a job that requires him to work on Saturdays. This week was Greg’s vacation, so it was great seeing him and the group again. Hundreds of people stopped to listen to the excellent music, and many stayed to hear the preaching.
On August 13, we had planned to witness at Fisherman’s Wharf from 11-1 and then go to Union Square from 3-5 PM, where the band Sonhouse was scheduled to play. That week, the park department emailed me that another group would be at Union Square until 4 PM, and that we would need to reschedule (even though they had sent us a permit several months ago). I contacted the band, and they were unable to change their time, so they cancelled. It is very difficult to schedule this band, and they had not worked with us for several years, so we were quite disappointed. I called Tim Moon, who was planning to sing with us at the Wharf. He was willing to do whatever we decided to do that day.
We decided to minister at 5th St. and Market from 1:30-4 PM and at Union Square from 5-7 PM. Two young men, J.D. and Andrew, had met me through Facebook. They have spent the past year ministering in 11 nations around the world, and wanted to finish their trip in San Francisco. So they were staying with us for 2 weeks.
Both of them witnessed to a lot of people that afternoon, and J.D. also sang and preached. Laura, who found us on the internet, also joined us. She is a Lieutenant in the Air Force who speaks Cantonese and Japanese and is learning Arabic! She is also an excellent singer, and sang with J.D. at Union Square. She seemed to really enjoy witnessing with us, and hopefully she will return.
When we arrived at 5th St. and Market, Dave met Victor, who is 19 and speaks Spanish and Maya (spoken in parts of Mexico). Dave shared the gospel with him, and he professed faith in Christ. He invited him to attend church with him the next day. Often, people we meet promise to come to church with us and don’t show up, but Victor called him Sunday morning and met him at the BART station. One of the church greeters invited him to join the youth group. Please pray for Victor.
Note: Outreaches are subject to change. Call (510) 761-6120 to confirm outreaches or for more information.
Friday September 23 and 30 Witnessing in San Francisco neighborhoods. 7:30-10 PM (Call for location).
Sat. September 24 San Francisco Evangelism Outreach UN Plaza, 7th St. and Market, 12-5 PM
Sat. October 1 Berkeley Outreach. 12:30-4:30 PM Telegraph & Haste St.
Thank you for your prayers and financial support for this ministry. For over 25 years, we have used small 9-watt “Maximouse” amplifiers for our Friday night outreaches. The company that made them stopped making them over 10 years ago. Since then, we have repaired our amplifiers several times, but they have finally worn out. We have purchased two new 10-watt amplifiers from a company named Traynor. I think they will work well for us. San Francisco does not require permits for amplifiers 10 watts and under.
Please pray for those who were ministered to during our evangelism outreaches. We still have two openings in our house for Christian men who are serious about evangelism.
Yours in His love,
“Machaira” plays at UN Plaza.
Sacramento dance troupe at Wharf.
Jeromy prays with man at 5th St. and Market, SF.