I have been back in the Bay Area for almost a month now. The first week I stopped in Sacramento for a brief visit and some preaching. I then went to Dublin, California where I spent the next two weeks going out preaching in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. I had a great time and then back to Sacramento for Thanksgiving week which is where I am writing this from. The last Saturday in SF I met up Eric Martinez, Ken Onaga, and Andy Conway. There were several others who came too. I have known and preached with these guys for many years. The highlight was when Caleb, Eric’s son, who is 13 read Psalm one over the mic, it was powerful. Also in Sacramento I was able to see Gary Hayden, Tom Adcock & Wally Van Sandt in Old Town just earlier today.
Stoned in San Francisco
One day on Market street I met a young man named Joseph. Joseph came up to Andy while he was preaching and was disruptive when I came over to intervene. Joseph and I had words but before too long we bonded and I began to ask him questions. He admitted he was high on Marijuana which confirmed my earlier analysis of him. Over the course of the next couple hours both Andy and myself interacted with Joseph. He decided we weren’t so bad after all. After hearing his story of religious abuse growing up and a failed suicide attempt I encouraged him to start reading the Bible (he had some Bible knowledge) He followed me all the way to the BART train turnstile and didn’t want me to leave. I prayed for him and we said our goodbyes. He probably doesn’t have too many friends. Although he didn’t seem to be it turns out that Joseph is also homeless.
The first Friday in San Francisco while out with SOS Ministries I was awaiting to take my turn to preach when I saw a couple having some disagreement over a cellphone. The man finally grabbed it away from this woman. As he walked away the woman ran and attemptedto jump over a railing that overlooks the BART plaza from Market street. It happened so fast but I saw her go over head first. She was of short stature and it took her two attempts. About this time her husband ran and grabbed her. At this point she swung around and now was hanging feet down as her husband had a hold of both her hands. Although he had a hold of her he could not pull her back up over the rail although he was a young fellow with a healthy build. Immediately I and a few others; Dave, Andy, and another bystander ran over and grabbed hold of her and pulled her to safety. The police were across the plaza and someone yelled for them. They ended up taking her into custody on a 51-50. after the commotion was over we learned that the couple was involved in an arranged marriage. Both of them were East Indian and the man was a Muslim. This would be a good time to mention to pray for my continuing back ache. I should not have gotten involved but glad I did; I just reacted. A woman out with SOS named Yvonne was able to minister to and pray with both of them after the incident.
Last Monday Robert Payne, the new street preacher, and I went downtown Sacramento to 9th & J streets. It started off a little slow as the legislature is not in session right now. When they are, it provides many more people on the street. I started the preaching and not too long into my presentation there were two City Guides who approached me and told me I could not use my amp. This has not happened it quite sometime so I was a bit surprised. I told them that I was perfectly within my rights and they needed to call in the police. Immediately they got on their radios. Right then coincidentally a squad car came around the corner and they hailed them down and went up to the car. The car then pulled over across the street but no officer got out for about twenty minutes. Finally one officer came over and I thought “oh boy”. Strangely enough he passed by me to talk to the two guides. After a couple of minutes the officer came back by me, smiled, and left to go back to the police car. I continued to preach with the amp as the two city guides left. Wow!
Over the years is has never been established exactly how the ordinance is concerning free speech and amplification here in Sacramento. Therefore I am not sure if I was within the parameters of the law or the police wanted to give me a “free pass”. Most cities, including Sacramento, the police are not in the habit of enforcing minutiae laws unless they receive a formal complaint.
Earlier in the month, a block away, a woman approached Robert and I as we were packing up. She was irate that we had been using an amp because she was told she could not use one for her flute. I know that sometimes amplification ordinances do not apply equally to entertainers as it does to free speech. Perhaps she took the cue from these city guides. Bye the way they have no authority to enforce these laws. They can suggest someone comply, call police, or make a citizen’s arrest, and that’s about it. However we should show respect for these city ambassadors..
Steve Stiles, one of the local preachers, had researched the ordinance online and ended up with more than just confusion. He received an email from the city clerk’s office basically saying it was legal to preach with an amp. Of course there are decibel limitations which would have to be checked with a sound meter. Much of this becomes a hassle even for the officers and so usually what they say goes unless you want to fight it in court. This is ok for now since I have never actually been shut down in over six years. On one occasion I actually was told I could continue even after a complaint. Praise the Lord for the favor with His message!
Coming in December
In the upcoming month I will be traveling to San Diego and Los Angeles. There are two well-attended Christmas festivals, one in Balboa Park (SD), and one in Riverside. I plan on attending both of these with a great opportunity for the Gospel. Besides the regular places I preach in I was hoping to go to a new place in Hollywood in order to reach the locals rather than the tourists. I have preached the last five years in the same spot at Hollywood Blvd & Highland Ave, Please remember to pray for these preaching opportunities. Thanks!