I took the opportunity last Friday evening to go preach at one of the most notorious places in Fredericton: the Tannery. God graciously blessed the time spend there and many people were reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I felt it a good idea to record what happened:
Jan. 13, 2006 - Feeling compelled to preach the day before, I determined to go preaching on the street after class the next day. Left the university at 2:00. Had already felt called to make the Tannery a new mission, so that's where I headed.
By 2:30 I had chosen my place, at the entrance to the Tannery where people would normally flow into the square. There was only a man shovelling snow near me and a few young people across the street talking amongst themselves. In a matter of minutes a crowd of 20 or more people were gathered and listening to what the Bible had to say.
Almost immediately I received hostility from the man shovelling. He boldly claimed himself an Anglican, but when he heard me professing that Jesus Christ alone was the sole basis of salvation, he began hollering and accusing, saying: "I'm an Anglican, but just because someone believes something different doesn't mean that it's wrong!" His manner of shovelling became increasingly more forceful to the point I even thought he might hit me with it. Occasionally he would shriek out in a high pitched voice, much like a demon from hell (I have heard this noise before by people while preaching other times).
In the first group that came over was a very supportive Christian youth, though he later admitted that he was not living for Christ. The conversation excited him and he was soon talking to those around him. He desired to keep in contact and left greatly encouraged.
Another young man, feeling convicted came up close and said, "I'll give my life to God when I'm 60 or 70 years old." Proceeded to tell him about the parable of the foolish builder. I said Jesus called this man a fool. He listened very soberly as I explained the dangers of waiting, nodding his head and saying: "That's true. That's true." This fellow and a few others were working across the street and by this time their boss was outside shouting at them to get back to work, for they had overstepped their break. After much prodding by the boss the group reluctantly left.
Noticed at this point people up and down the street listening in. Would occasionally look at them on my left, but they would shrink back behind some bars so I couldn't see them. This happened most every time I looked, and they remained there more than an hour, perhaps even the entire time I preached, which, I found out later was two and a half hours.
There was also a constant group of listeners leaning up against a brick wall to my right who stayed the entire time and grew in number.
A group of about seven men walked down the sidewalk and proceeded through the gate. I questioned them about their salvation and six of them scoffed and kept right on through, but one stayed and heard what I had to say. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36). He listened at length, but then went through the gate, but I later saw him back and listening again.
Now about this time more people were coming over, a group of obvious gothic and homosexual persons. One man came right over and asked if lying with another man was a sin. Leviticus 18:22 - "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." Immediately he objected by saying the Bible tells us not to do this and that, and he pointed out some minor cleansing rituals and eating laws. I reasoned with him, showing that he was "straining out a gnat but swallowing a camel" (Matthew 23:24). After talking with him for a short time about this he yielded and asked some other questions about the Bible. This man continued to come back and talk the remainder of the time. He was obviously convicted about his lifestyle, yet he put off any reform as far as I know.
There was at this time a lady across the street who was laughing at what was happening. I shouted: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7). And God graciously allowed this text to be the topic of discussion for the next while.
Now there was a new group listening to the Word, this one proved quite passionate about what was being said. There was a young girl, maybe 16, under the influence of cocaine (for she readily admitted it), and amongst the group there were also crack dealers who brought with them a disgustingly arrogant attitude. There was much to be said, and the conversation led in many directions. One young man in particular opened up his heart about life and his belief in God. He was an ex-Catholic and obviously hungry for truth. I perceived quite firmly that the Lord wanted to use him to preach the gospel, and I told him directly. We had fruitful conversation: he was clear on the issues of forgiveness and repentance, but his life was not a God-fearing one. Urged him to repent and "seek first the Lord's Kingdom and His righteousness", and he left very edified and with much to think about.
Here is a wonderful point to write: This whole time there was a young man, over twenty years old, who was listening intentely to all that was being said. He listened for over an hour, then suddenely he exclaimed, "Oh! What time is it, I have to be going!" He checked his watch and then said, "Oh, I've still got twenty-five minutes left." And he stayed the entire time! He inquired about his salvation and when he had to go I gave him a Gospel of John to read, which he took thankfully.
It would take much time to write about everything else that happened, and all the other people I was able to talk with. I will briefly add one more thing of interest, and say that I believe the Lord supernaturally hid us from the police, for during the time with the groups about me, two police cars passed by but not once did I see them even glance over and look at us, and I believe if they had they would have certainly come over and who knows if the work would have been ended then.
After much imploring that I leave rather than get myself beaten by an unruly mob, I packed up and left at about 4:30.
"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" - Romans 10:14