FIFA World Cup 2010 and Evangelism – update 4

2nd July 2010, Soccer City

I had never been more excited about an outreach as I was on the morning of the 2nd July. It was the game between Ghana and Uruguay, and I was going to preach for the first time, and I had been looking forward to it the whole week. I remember going through the sermon I had written over and over again in my car during long drives to work. The moment of truth came when I had to leave home for the stadium, and suddenly I realized that I would be the only one going to the stadium, and I’ll have to stand alone and stand up for the Gospel. The trip to the stadium was the shortest 60kms distance I have ever travelled, and any thoughts of retreating perished. I knew I would be faced with thousands of people who would be passing through where I was to stand and preach from, and I needed encouragement and fast. I tried to read a few passages as soon as I parked the car yet nothing worked, and I was very horrified. To make matters even worse I had no tracts at all, except for German and French tracts but they were not going to help me as none of teams playing speak German or French. I knew there was no easy way out, it’s either I had to stand there and preach or I would have wasted a trip and embarrassed the Kingdom of God as well.

The walk from the parking lot to the preaching area was one of the longest walks I have ever taken, as I was looking for all justifiable reasons not to preach but rather walk back to the car. Next thing I know I was passing two Christians distributing tracts, and suddenly I smiled as I asked them for tracts so I can help them distribute. They obliged, and were very happy to have a volunteer. I was going to use the tracts as my way out of preaching, and I continued to walk to the spot where I was going to stand and preach but the plan changed as I was going to just distribute tracts then go home. I arrived to that spot, and I just stood there and made it look like I was waiting for a friend, but people could see the tracts and in my mind they could see through me. Five minutes passed by, and another, and another, and next thing I know 30 minutes have passed and I was even too horrified to even distribute tracts, which I normally excel in. During that time, literally thousands of people had already passed, and the thought of them going to hell because I didn’t preach to them (in case they repent) terrified me enough to open my mouth and speak.

I shouted as loud as I could, and I even forgot about the sermon I had written and preached as hard as I could. The more people passed the more I shouted louder and louder, and the thought of these people having God’s wrath upon them was all the encouragement I needed. I started first by reminding people of the reality of death, and went on to remind them about the coming Judgment Day and how all of us will have to give account of ourselves. From there I looked at the last four of the Ten Commandments (adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting) and made people see their transgression of the Law, then showed them that they would be guilty in Judgment Day. Having made comparison between civil law and God’s Law to highlight the justification for hell, I proceeded to tell them the good news – that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. And I concluded my sermon by pleading with my hearers to repent and trust in Jesus. There was a time when I said “it doesn’t matter which church you go but unless you have repented then the bible says you are condemned already”, and some three ladies who heard that laughed as they were walking along, and I also nearly laughed. During the last ten minutes or so, my vocal cords were very painful and my voice was gone.

The one I was sent to

What I have realized with these outreaches is that there are always people that God sends you to specifically so you can have a conversation with them, and they are the people that only you can speak to them. And there was this guy who was a marshal for the fans and buses there, and somehow it looked like he was behind me the whole time listening to me preaching. As soon as I finished preaching then I saw him and spoke to him, and he felt sorry for me because my voice was totally gone and I was struggling to speak to him. He told me about how he’s a Christian, and how he agreed with everything I have said. He admitted to having never repented from his sins, but was positive that he was a good person and destined for heaven. The Law shut him up and made him accountable to God, and I showed him his need for repentance. I was encouraged because I knew that had I not been there, then this man would have never seen his error and he would have died in his sins while he thought he was at peace with God. And this made me realize just how many people are dying in their sins due to religious error.

I had gone to stadium defeated and dominated by fear and isolation, but I came back victorious.

Lesson learnt:

  • Open air preaching is not a calling for certain people only, but it’s a calling for all Christians. If I can do it then every Christian can do it, and should do it
  • Paul Washer said in one of his sermons: “which part of ‘go’ don’t you understand?” I learnt that all I need to do is go, and there’ll always be a person that God is sending me to, and if I fail to go then that person will probably perish and Ezekiel 3:18 will be applied to me.
  • Vocal cords preservation is very important, as there’s no use preaching when your voice is gone and nobody can hear you clearly
  • Not all ‘Christian’ tracts are Gospel based, and when we go to outreaches we need to read what we distribute first as it may give people a wrong impression of what the Gospel is all about.

 

I didn’t manage to go to Ellis Park the next day for the Spain vs Paraguay game, as my voice was totally gone, but I’m looking forward to the final match at Soccer City on the 11th July 2010, and I hope God can give me mercy from FIFA as the security would be even tighter than it has been.  And of course I can’t wait for the Tri-Nations rugby competition at Soccer City and Loftus Stadium in August.

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