When you think of hills in Southern California you often think of Hollywood Hills which is more of a neighborhood than hills you walk up. I have walked up some steep hills in my day both in Seattle and San Francisco. But I found that Los Angeles has some hefty hills to walk up in parts of downtown. I got of the Metro (light rail) and went mistakenly up a different exit which brought me half way up a huge hill. I continued up and working my way to my destination corner I looked straight up at this huge skyscraper. This was fairly close to the US Bank Tower which is the tallest building in LA. By coming this way I was able to minister to a homeless woman and her two young boys.
This time in Los Angeles was unique. I normally don’t come down this way in the summer months. I observed more people on the streets this time. You could have picked most any corner and had lots of people go by. Also they are always making movies in downtown so this draws attention from tourists. This time here every corner I went to was a new corner for me. Below are the highlights:
5th & Figueroa Street
When I arrived here (5th & Figueroa) there were not that many people, but as the lunch hour progressed it got crowded. I was planning on going to my normal set up, a block away, at 5th & Flower, which is the heart of the financial district. However there was construction and other distractions so I came up a block. Although the myriads of people came by they were indifferent and seemingly not interested as I preached for an hour and a half. I didn’t give away any Gospels but did talk to Manny, a Hispanic man, who stuck around as long as he could listening to the Word of God. Interesting side note; many businessmen in Los Angeles do not wear the traditional shirt and tie, but a button-up shirt with slacks or jeans and dress shoes.
6th & Flower
Having scoped out the area the day before I am in the direct sunlight today so I brought my sun hat. I stood back and prayed over the area before starting. I noticed a peculiar man wandering around the exact area where I was planning on setting up. This is not uncommon. Usually I believe it is the enemy using these people. I prayed and turned for a moment and he was gone. I always wonder if they were going to be a distraction, or was the Lord having them there to hear the Gospel. Prayer solves this by relying on God to move accordingly.
Also when I first started preaching a security guard came out to tell me to leave; that it was private property. I was polite and told him about the sidewalk being public. To my surprise he didn’t disagree but responded with. “Well you must know the system” and he went back to wherever he had come from. An extraordinary amount of people came by as I preached. A couple of groups stopping at the stoplight we’re listening as I shared my faith in Christ and the testimony of the Risen Savior. There were about 6 people who acknowledged Christ. Some either were Christian, or at the very least, interested in the gospel. I gave away only two gospels of John. I was exhausted afterwards!
6th & Grand
This day I had intended to preach at Pershing Square, a place where I have preached many times in the past, however, there were several guys with “Amnesty International” and while I sat to contemplate what to do, they approached me for a donation. I witnessed to the one guy and then left. I went to 6th & Grand (another new corner) As I was setting up a woman came and took a Gospel. A few minutes later when I started preaching she came back with another man and they listened the whole time I preached (about one hour and twenty minutes) There also was two other gentlemen who also stopped for quite a while and listened. There was a ledge on a wall right next to where I was at so they could sit.
I felt I preached a good powerful message non-stop. I covered the usual and kept focus on the work of Christ and Him alone, the new birth, and gave a lengthy discourse on what a true Christian is. I was very tired when I was done and headed back to the van on the light rail. Great day indeed!
I met my friend Jeff Baran a little later than I had planned but we started off on Arizona Ave and 3rd Street, which is called “The Third Street Promenade”. It is where they perpetually block off the street so people can stroll this several block area. It is lined with stores and other performers. I also met the manager of the commissioned program that runs this permitted area. He was very nice and informed me of something I already knew, and that is; with free speech or religious speech one does not need a permit.
I had forgotten that there is a farmer’s market on the corner where we wanted to set up and they don’t leave until later in the afternoon. We moved down the block about halfway toward Santa Monica Avenue. We found a good spot and I started preaching while Jeff handed out tracts and talked to people. We met a homeless man who was very interested in the gospel, and in all likelihood saved. We gave him some water and one of my survival packets and prayed for him afterwards. The preaching went good, as once again most of the people very indifferent. Jeff also witnessed to the Jehovah Witnesses who had a table set up nearby. They remembered him from last time we were there. Jeff ended up buying me a baseball hat because the sun was beating on my head and I forgot my hat and sunscreen. We had coffee afterwards at Starbucks, prayed, and then parted ways. This ends another great day and time in LA!
Leaving Los Angeles, as I headed to San Diego I stopped in Oceanside, California. A city of 170,000 with the population swelling during the summer, I thought it would be a good spot to preach. Normally I am not in California in August so I thought I should take advantage of this beach town. Upon arriving I walked on the pier and some beach area before coming back to the van. (My back is way better, Praise the Lord) I was not going to preach because of the lack of people but went ahead and found a spot across the street from where the people funnel into the beach and pier. I preached for about an hour and it went well. Lots of well wishers and I gave away about 8 Gospels. I was encouraged by several Christians. I never had any city official say anything about me being there although I saw several drive by. This was a pleasant surprise since my past experience in smaller beach communities like Santa Cruz has been met with much resistance. The more posh the area the more the squelching of freedom as it pertains to this ministry. Until my next report – Thanks for the prayers!