Little Rock – Memphis – Birmingham – Atlanta – Jacksonville
Below are experiences in the cities I have never been to before. I had a great time overall and it went fast. Once I left Dallas I traveled to the next four cities; one per day. I would arrive the night before then preach and leave for the next city. These cities were anywhere from 2-4 hours apart so it made it doable. I stayed in Walmart’s and cleaned up at the Planet Fitness gyms. I was on the move and looking back it seems like a blur. Another thing to note is that, praise the Lord, I avoided very much inclement weather as I traveled. I had avoided many thunderstorms, hail, and tornadoes. Each city had good weather the day I came and providentially bad after I left. Once again thank you so much for the prayers. I will post any pictures I took after I get back.
Pioneering my way past Texas this time around, I first stopped in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Clinton’s were not there to greet me, however, I found my way to a suitable corner. I drove around a bit to check out where I could set up. It seemed to be a ghost town like some of the other cities I have been to. At noon I took the vox amp and went one block away from my parking spot and set up on the corner of Louisiana Street and Capitol Avenue. It was as good a spot as any. I preached for an hour and there were only a few people who came by. I had no trouble using the amp. I met Allison, a Christian woman, whom I prayed for has adult boys who are addicted and have been incarcerated. Allison was parked across the street with her window down when she heard me and came over. I also met Carlos who sat on a bench behind me and listened. I prayed with him before leaving. A few others took the Gospels. I’m sure Little Rock is a fine town but no particular reason to come here again!
I arrived in Memphis somewhat early and drove around. I chose a spot by a public market with vendors that served lunch. The Lord gave me a good parking space and I walked down about a block. I set up on a corner where people were already starting to walk by to the park. I barely got started and here came a police officer, a lieutenant, who came up to me and with his southern drawl mentioned that I couldn’t use the amp. After further discussion I found out that it was because a harsh preacher comes here and makes things difficult. He eventually let me stay and use the amp. I told him I would turn it down a bit. The highlight was a young man who listened to me as he leaned against the building I was in front of. He was waiting for someone to come back to the car. He got out and decided to wait for his friend while he listened to the Gospel. I gave out some Gospels of John as well. I would come back here again if it were convenient while passing through to other cities!
I arose early to a nice sunny day. I prepared by praying and reading the word as per custom. I then drove a few miles down the highway to the city. I found a parking spot right away and then walked a block to a very good corner. (19th & 5th Street) I had several people affirm my presence as I preached Christ for about an hour and half. I gave away many Gospels. The highlight was meeting Duwan, a young man who listened for quite awhile. I talked to him and he wants to get a sign and go to the roadways with it. I encouraged him in that ministry. Once again another favorable day with police concerning the amp. Four stars – Would definitely come back here!
As I came to Atlanta I was met with some resistance and minor difficulties. The first thing is that I had reserved a room for the week at InTown Suites, a place I have stayed at before. Basically you rent by the week and they provide a studio type apartment for a very reasonable price. In this case it was around $250.00. It was the last room and it was somewhat rundown. The whole place was ghetto but that was not the problem. I had to deal with a bathroom ceiling that was giving way because of a leak above me. That would have been fine except that the next day I started to notice cockroaches and a few other bugs I never have seen before. I was told one of the bugs was a water bug. This thing could have carried my luggage from the van had I not crushed it. By Monday these issues got worse not better. With no refund I left anyway and made arrangements to stay at the Sherwood’s. I was connected with this couple via “Candle in the Window” a Christian Hospitality network. I have used this before but never this short of notice. I had my own guest room and a bathroom as well. John and Rachael are missionaries themselves and graciously hosted me for the rest of the week. They lived a short distance from the light rail so it made easy to get into the city.
My next four days in Atlanta were not without a battle. On the first day out here is what happened: After preaching for about an hour a red-shirted ambassador came up and told me I could not use the amp. I mentioned that there were several police officers and ambassadors who already passed by and said nothing. I ended up telling her that I had my own policy; and that being, she would have to get a police officer to shut me down. She made a call on her radio and at the same time a man came by and shook my hand and said God bless you for being out here. I asked him to pray once he went on his way about the situation. Right after that a man who I believed was demonized came up and shouted at me and got in my face somewhat. I just sat there in silence. The lady ambassador who was trying to shut me down went after him. Next thing I know a squad car shows up with an officer and two other ambassadors. It turned out later that these guys were all Christian. They wanted to know how loud I was and after hearing me they said it was ok. They stayed for about a half hour and then left after giving me the right hand of fellowship. Phil, one of them I also saw my last day there. Each day was with some excitement but overall I think it was a fruitful adventure. I had another weird request from a man which I realized was just to get me out of the area and stop preaching. I can’t even begin to tell you what kind of things people come up with on the streets. Thumbs up – I would come back here again.
The population of Jacksonville is around 800,000. This is somewhat misleading. They have taken Duval county and made it the city limits. This makes it the largest city in the US by area. However it does not have the density of people as most major cities. The downtown area is nice and clean. It is also quiet. I wouldn’t rate this a ghost town like Albuquerque but I expected more people on the streets than were there after going to several corners and driving around a bit. My first day there I was shut down by police right away with the use of the amp. They didn’t get a complaint but said they couldn’t make an exception. The sidewalks are fairly close to each other so I attempted to preach without the amp which I can do. With the high heat and humidity it was hard preaching without the amp and also I was out of practice. I preached without the amp the rest of the time except the last day.
The highlight: I went to Hemming Park and took a seat by the fountain. I rested and prayed. There were probably a few hundred people scattered about the park. Many of these were either homeless or low-income folks who came there to hang out. I noticed there were some school busses parked across the street and some younger special needs people hanging out eating lunch. Finally there were business people eating in a corral style area with tables & chairs. I stood up and addressed the crowd; I said I would only take a brief moment. I said I was from Oakland and was there to preach the Gospel. I shared the fact I used to be a heroin addict and then went into the Gospel. My whole presentation was less than a minute. Afterward there was what seemed to be a mass rejection although I handed out two Gospels as I left. No one approached me or said anything to me good or bad.
The preaching here seemed to be a bust. Perhaps one-on-one would be the best approach here. I was able to hand out about a dozen Gospels overall. I talked to several people and had a good reception from a minority but I would not make it a point to come here again.