CONFESSIONS OF A STREET PREACHER: Highways and Hedges

“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”  (Luke 14:23)

Bro. Tony and I began to go and hand out Gospel tracts on a regular basis. As more tracts were distributed, the 24-hour prayer line was becoming more active.

God even opened doors for us to have a public service announcement about the prayer line to run on some local television and radio stations.

People were calling in not only to ask for prayer, but to share how they had prayed the sinner’s prayer on the back of the tract and had accepted Christ.

Bro. Tony would always instruct them about their need to begin reading the Bible, talking to their Heavenly Father, and to start attending a local Bible-believing Church of their choice.

The prayer line was becoming so busy, that oftentimes they would call-forward the line to ring at my house so that I could answer it when they needed to be away.

On one particular evening, Bro. Tony had call-forwarded the line to my house so that he could attend some other ministry requirements, and then he would transfer the line back to the Center when he returned.

I went to bed as usual, and awoke about 2:00 A.M. to go pick up my newspapers downtown, and run my route. As I went out and tried to leave, my brand new truck would not start.

I tried again, praying, “Lord, please help me. I’m already running late.” but the engine would not turn over. It was dead as the proverbial doornail.

It was then that I looked up and saw my porch light flashing off and on, off and on. As I stepped out of the truck, my wife stepped out on the porch and said, “There’s a man on the phone and he’s threatening to commit suicide!”

I ran back into the house, took the phone and said, “Jesus loves you. Can I help you?”

He answered, “ I have a gun in my hand and I was about to pull the trigger, when I looked down and saw this paper that someone had given me laying on my table.”

“I decided to give it one last chance and call this number on the back, but if you can’t give me a reason to live, then I’m going to take this gun and kill myself.”

Not knowing what to say, I started to open my mouth to say something, anything, when suddenly that same feeling of power, which I had felt at the motel fire, seemed to fill me, and I heard myself saying in a loud, firm voice “You’re a liar, and the Devil is a liar.”

“What?”’ he said, “I tell you I’m going to kill myself, and you call me a liar?”

I replied, “The Bible says that the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; but that Jesus has come that you might have life, and life more abundantly. The Bible says that the devil is a liar and the father of it.”

“He’s the one that’s trying to talk you into killing yourself, but I rebuke him in the Name of Jesus Christ! You’re not going to kill yourself. Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life, and wants to save you and set you free.”

He started to cry and said, “I wish I could believe that.”

I said, “You can. You didn’t call this number by accident. God ordained for you to have that tract, and call this number, and that I should talk to you. He wants to save you now, forgive you of your sins, and give you a new life.”

We prayed together, and he invited Christ into his heart and was born again. He began to laugh and rejoice. I told him that the angels in heaven also rejoice over one sinner that comes to repentance.

I hung up and called Bro. Tony. He had forgotten to transfer the prayer line back to the Outreach Center.

I went outside, got in my truck, and, to my amazement, it started right up.

I began to praise God as I realized that He had caused my truck not to start in order to keep me there and lead this man to Christ.

By the time I got down to the newspaper, everyone was gone and my papers were stacked up on the dock. I had to climb up on the dock and load them myself by hand, but I didn’t mind one bit.

God was beginning to teach me just exactly how much He has everything in control.

This would not be the only time that I would see a vehicle not start in order for God to save someone‘s life.

Not long after this, Bro. Tony and I had gone downtown to hand out tracts as usual.

We would often stand at Akard and Elm, handing out tracts to the lunch crowd as they hurried about their business, rarely actually praying with anyone to receive Christ, but content to know that we were sowing seeds for the harvest.

Oftentimes, after the crowd had dispersed, many of our tracts ended up on the ground so we would retrieve what we could and hand them out again.

On this particular day, the Lord put something in my heart, and I turned to Bro. Tony and said, “You know brother, as I read the Bible, the disciples were constantly going.”

“They went, they didn’t just stay in one place, and the Lord confirmed His word with signs following (Mark 16:20). Instead of standing here in one spot, let’s start walking and see what the Lord does.”

We started walking and instead of handing tracts out to everyone we saw, we would approach people as the Holy Spirit would lead us, and begin to talk to them on a one-to-one basis.

After several hours, and after walking around much of downtown Dallas, we realized that we had prayed with over 30 people to receive Christ in their hearts. We were ecstatic as we headed back to the Outreach Center.

From that day forward, we never stayed still, but we went.

It became miraculous the way that the Holy Spirit would lead us. Some days, we would walk together and some days we would split up and then meet back together at a certain time.

We began to see 50, 60, sometimes over 70 people come to Christ after just a few hours of walking around downtown. God was truly bringing in a harvest of souls.

We began to see many miraculous conversions as well. Drug addicts, prostitutes, alcoholics, and religious folk, anyone whose heart the Holy Spirit had prepared to receive the Gospel.

As we became more sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, He began to lead us into places and to people that we would never think to go to.

It might be a lady all alone, having her lunch break, reading a book under a shade tree. The Holy Spirit would say “Go to her, she’s the one.”

Instead of being afraid of a stranger approaching her alone, she would accept the tract with the good news of Jesus and pray on the spot to accept Christ into her heart.

Or perhaps it would be a group of people sitting at a bus stop. Once, the Lord had it all arranged for one individual sitting there.

As I approached the bus stop, I came to the first person and said “Hi. Do you know that Jesus loves you?”

“Oh my, yes” he replied, “I go to the Baptist church.” “Great!” I said, “Praise the Lord!”

As I spoke to each individual in order, they each one replied similarly. They all knew the Lord, had been born again, and each attended church. The only difference was that each one belonged to a different denomination.

My reply was the same for every person: “Great! Praise the Lord!”

As I came to the last one and began to speak to him, he stopped me and said, “Wait. Before you say another word, I want to ask you a question.”

“I listened as you spoke to each of these people, and each one told you that they attended a different type of church, and yet you said, “Praise the Lord” to everyone. Why is that?”

I replied, “Because there’s only going to be one heaven. It doesn’t matter what denomination or church you belong to, what matters is whether you have been born again and have asked Jesus Christ to come into your heart and save your soul.”

“He will write your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life and give you eternal life with Him. How about you, have you been born again?”

“No” he said, “But if that’s the kind of God you serve, then I want to be.” He bowed his head and asked Christ into his heart while everyone else at the bus stop looked on.

There was even a time when the Lord led me into an empty parking garage.

As Bro. Tony and I were walking down the sidewalk, suddenly the Holy Spirit said, “Turn here.” Without thinking, I immediately turned to the right and found myself walking into a downtown-parking garage.

Where are you going?” Tony asked.

“I don’t know” I replied, halfway laughing. “The Holy Spirit said to turn in here.”

About that time, a door opened and a gentleman walked into the garage. He looked at me with a surprised expression as I walked toward him saying, “Excuse me sir, but do you know that Jesus loves you?”

I assumed that he was the uniformed attendant as he glanced nervously at another man in a shirt and tie that was standing in the doorway behind him. The Holy Spirit began giving me the words to say.

“Don’t worry about him. You’re not going to get into any trouble talking to me. God sent me in here to tell you that He loves you. He sent His only Son to die for you, to forgive you of your sins and save you.”

The man in the doorway stood reverently silent as I continued to share the Gospel with this gentleman and lead him in a prayer of salvation. I left him looking at the Gospel tract that I had placed in his hand.

We met people in the big city of Dallas, in the heart of the “Bible-belt”, that actually did not know who Jesus was other than just a word they used when they swore.

We met people who had never heard the phrase “born again”, although Jesus said in the Gospel of John that this is the ultimate requirement for any man to see the Kingdom of God.

As I was crossing through a busy crosswalk one day, a gentleman in a suit was approaching me and the Holy Spirit said “him”.

I quickly handed out a Gospel tract as we passed and said “Sir, do you know Jesus loves you?” He glanced at the tract as he reached the sidewalk, turned and said, “What did you say?”

I hurried back to where he stood and I said, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?”

He said with a smile, “I sure do. I’m a Presbyter of the Presbyterian Church here downtown.”

My natural instinct was to say “Wonderful” and go my way, but instead I heard myself saying, “That’s great! Have you been born again?”

He said, “I don’t know what you mean. What do you mean by born again?”

I shared with him what the Bible says about being born again and how that Jesus said we must be born of the “water and the spirit”.

I shared that when we are born again the Spirit of God comes and lives inside us and that the Bible says “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.”

We must invite Jesus in. Jesus said, “I stand at the door and knock. If any man opens unto me, I will come into him…”

I said “Would you like to pray with me now and ask Jesus to come and live inside of you through His Holy Spirit and be born again?”

He said “Yes”, and there, on a downtown sidewalk in one of the busiest cities of the world, out in plain sight of everyone, possibly even members of his own congregation, this humble leader of the church prayed out loud and asked Jesus to come into his heart and be born again.

We began to go out at night as well as in the day. The first night we went out, we decided to go downtown and start at the Greyhound Bus Terminal.

As we parked and walked toward the terminal, the others that came along that night all went inside to witness to the passengers waiting for their buses, but the Holy Spirit was directing me toward the area in the terminal where the buses were loaded and unloaded.

As I rounded a parked bus, I saw three men in work uniforms sitting on the dock talking to each other.

I handed each one of them a tract and began to tell them of the love of Christ, when suddenly one of them got an unusual look on his face as he spoke and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but not over ten minutes ago I put my girlfriend on a bus going out of town, and her last words to me were “I’m going to pray for you that you get saved tonight.”

I said “God heard her prayer and He sent me in here to pray with you so that you can be saved and her prayer be answered. The other people that I’m with went inside, but God sent me out here to you because He loves you and wants to save you now.”

I explained the Scriptures to him that were printed in the Gospel tract, we prayed together, and he received Christ.

After witnessing to others, we left from there and made our way over to the area of downtown where the clubs and bars are located. We wanted to be there when they closed at 2:00 A.M. and the patrons began to leave.

We arrived there a little early, and I approached a group of men that had just come out of a bar and had started walking down the street.

As I approached them, I began talking, “Hey fellows, do ya’ll know that Jesus loves you?”

One of the men in particular seemed unsteady on his feet. As I shared the Gospel with them and asked if they would like to be born again, he spoke up.

“You know, I would, but you see that other bar right down there, right down the street? I’m going to go down there and have one more drink and then I’m going home and go to bed.”

They all laughed in agreement, but the anointing of the Holy Ghost was upon me and He filled my mouth with words.

“I tell you what”, I replied, “I believe the God I serve is so powerful, that if you believe Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for your sins and rose from the grave, and you pray with me right now to ask Him into your heart;”

“I believe that He is so powerful, He will come into your heart and change your desire and your “want-to” so that you won’t even go have that other drink, but God will sober you up and send you home to have the most peaceful night of sleep that you have ever known.”

“Do you really believe that?” he said. “With all my heart”, I replied.

“Well, if you believe it, then I’ll do it!” he said. We prayed the sinner’s prayer together and he asked Jesus to come into his heart and save his soul.

I told him if he needed further help or prayer to call the telephone number written on the back of the tract, and I left as he began walking back down the street.

The next day, Bro. Tony had transferred the prayer line to my house. It rang, and I answered it with the usual “Jesus cares. May I help you?”

The voice on the other end was a little hesitant as he began to speak, “You know, I was downtown last night, and this great big guy handed me a brochure with this number on the back and said I could call it if I needed any help.”

I knew that he was talking about me when he said “great big guy”, so I said, “Sure, what can I do for you?”

“Well”, he said, “The fellow that gave me this said that if I prayed this prayer with him, that Jesus would save me, sober me up, and that I wouldn’t want to go and have another drink. And you know, he was right!”

“I felt so good on the inside after we prayed, that I didn’t go have that last drink, but I went home and went to sleep, and when I woke up this morning, I felt so good that I wanted to go tell all my friends.”

“But when I told them they laughed at me and I got mad and cussed them out. When I got mad, that good feeling left, and it was like a little voice told me to have a drink and it would come back.”

“So I did, but instead of feeling better I felt worse, and then I remembered this paper and this phone number so I’m calling. Can you tell me what to do?”

I told him that I was the “big guy” that had prayed with him the night before, and that when he got mad and cussed, he had sinned against God and broke his fellowship with the Lord.

It didn’t mean that he wasn’t saved. As a matter of fact, it was the Holy Spirit in him that was making him feel bad about his sin. I told him that was called conviction.

The voice that told him to have a drink and feel better was the devil, but as he found out the devil is a liar.

I told him that when we stumble and sin, God still loves us and wants to forgive us, if only we will confess our sins, repent, and ask Him to do it.

I told him that this was a prayer that he would have to pray on his own and that I could not pray it for him.

He began to pray. He told God that he was sorry for getting mad and cussing and drinking. He asked God to forgive him and help him to not do it again.

He said “Amen”, and then he said “Its back, that good feeling is back.”

I told him that was the peace of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and the next time something like that happens, he didn’t have to wait and call someone or have somebody else pray for him, but that he could pray for himself right then and ask God to forgive him and God would do it every time.

There were those who criticized us, and said that if we did not disciple the ones that we prayed with on the streets, their conversion would not be real.

We had always felt that the Lord had called us to plant seeds and bring in the harvest, and that the Holy Spirit and others would tend to the harvest once it was brought in.

That is why we always encouraged the new converts to find a church of their choice, and also to call the prayer line if they needed any other help or prayer.

We prayed and asked the Lord to confirm to us that we were doing the right thing, and not long after, we began to run into people on the street and receive phone calls from people that we had prayed for.

They would tell us of how their life had changed, how they were now attending church, had been baptized, or how they had been delivered from drugs or alcohol, and how families had been restored.

We praised God, for as the Apostle Paul said, “We had not run in vain.”

(TO BE CONTINUED)

Next- CONFESSIONS OF A STREET PREACHER: Other Cities Also

"THE SERVANTS OF THE LORD (Memoirs of Miracles and Evangelism) available at amazon.com, bn.com, Lulu.com, and the Ibookstore for $4.99

“THE SERVANTS OF THE LORD (Memoirs of Miracles and Evangelism) available at amazon.com, bn.com, Lulu.com, and the Ibookstore for $4.99

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