Open Air: Various Interruptions

Our poster with the text on it goes up first: this week, it’s Romans 6.23. Up comes a gent of indeterminate age, shabby, unshaven, taking the last few draws on what’s left of his cigarette. He shares his insights into Revelation as I set up our equipment.

I try not to encourage him, since I can guess where he’s going; but then he says “When Jesus returns, Christians will make war upon Him!” closely followed by “Jesus has already returned and no one has recognised Him!” - well, I can’t help but take issue with him. He’s not happy with this. “You could be talking to Him now and you wouldn’t know it!” Oh dear… “You’re not Him, by any chance, are you?” “Yes, I am!”

I tell him that I have my doubts; and after a few more texts out of context, he shuffles off, disconsolate and yet defiant.

It’s a fine day, with just Peter, Brendan and myself, and for the most part it’s business as usual. Stephen is otherwise engaged, so I preach for most of the time, despite various interruptions. Familiar faces go by: Jacob, our Messianic acquaintance, talks to Peter, and Vincent - forever seeking, and yet never finding - bends Brendan’s ear for a good while.

Our poster attracts the attention of a young man, dark of countenance and curly of hair, who demands that I take it down, because “The first slave ship was named the SS Jesus Christ!” He follows this with a great deal of ill-considered extrapolation, which might be summarised as “White man bad, white Christian man very bad indeed!” I then tell him where to disembark, and our subsequent exchange draws the attention of a number of passersby. He takes himself off, still shouting the odds.

A lady in black offers a word of encouragement, then goes to talk to Peter. He tells me later that she’s a believer from the Great Eccleston area.

A young man of East Asian appearance points in the direction of my adversary and says, with some emphasis, “Arrogant!” I ask him about his faith, and he says he hasn’t any. Then we talk for a while, profitably so, and he leaves with a copy of John Blanchard’s “Why On Earth Did Jesus Come?”

There are a few more interruptions, but these don’t last long, I’m happy to say, since I’ve wasted enough time already. What? Surely, those with cares and concerns deserve to be listened to, and that with sensitivity, solicitude and compassion? No, not really. If they refuse to take themselves over to another one of us for an answer to their questions, then what they really want is for us to stop preaching. They don’t like it. They don’t want other people to hear it. They want us to cease and desist. And, generally, they’ll say anything and everything to that end. Why give in to them?

That said, the highlight of the afternoon was when a young man in school uniform approached me. I may well have been watching him with a frown as he neared me. Was he about to make some ostensibly humorous remark, or ask a silly question? Far from it. He smiled, bent down and placed a large, chilled bottle of mineral water by my side. He offered a few words of encouragement, and went on his way. I was impressed by that.

A brief account, then, but I have several more tasks to complete before the end of today. Please pray for any one or for all of those mentioned above, if the Lord puts it upon your heart to do so. We will be back in the usual place at the usual time next Wednesday, God willing. Join us if you can, and pray for us if you will.

Every blessing!