I was going to entitle this post, “The Beasts of Ephesus”, a term the Apostle Paul used when describing part of his ministry; fighting the beasts of Ephesus. I didn’t think what I went through out on the streets of San Diego measured up to what Paul went through by any stretch of the imagination; however, it was quite a difficult, but exciting time here. Five years ago when I first came to this city to preach and evangelize I would have described it as the Bible belt of California. Presently the Christians here were not as prevalent or vocal in showing support as in years past. Furthermore, the homeless population has grown and the streets are filled with unruly and hateful people causing disturbances. I surmise they are either demon possessed, mentally ill, drug affected, or “all of the above”. I realize this is my subjective experience, in which I will share in detail in the paragraphs below.
Dancing in the Streets
My first day downtown at 5th Avenue and “C” Street I was aghast to see several people on the streets not in their right mind. There was a man on the corner barefoot. He really leaned out into traffic and I am not sure what he was doing. He was either yelling or trying to sing. He had a pair of earphones on. At the same time a woman came up next to him and took off her shoes and started this weird dance. She was moving quickly and going up to people and harassing them. She was being bizarre. Right then a transit security agent asked her to leave. She gave her some gruff but proceeded to walk away. About halfway across the street she sat some stuff down and then left it to go back to the garbage can and start throwing garbage onto the street. Meanwhile there was a third man who was doing some strange dancing and caught the attention of a merchant who made motions to indicate he thought the guy was crazy. The man walked by me and left. The woman now was walking in front of the light rail trains and staying on the tracts. About this time SDPD and other backup came. The woman was chased off. (I didn’t think to get a couple of pictures)
I stood across the street and prayed for about a half hour before preaching. I went across to my spot and set up my Gospels and proceeded to preach. The man who was barefoot and yelling continued for a time but then left and got on the light rail. I kept preaching without incident for the next hour. I gave away many Gospels and saw a few people who I talked to last time I was here. I began to notice a lady across the street and down some about 30 yards away. She was yelling and seemed to be in unison with me. She was quoting scripture. At first I thought she was supportive until she ended up right in front of me with her cart and Bible opened on top. She did nothing but heckle and interfere. Another couple was there and they seemed to want to hear but I stopped to talk to them I realized they were loons. The man said he talked to my son earlier at the other station. I assured him both my sons were thousands of miles from here. I was friendly but dismissed them as a distraction. To my surprise, the first lady who was very animated (the one throwing garbage) came back by; she was silent and she took a Gospel. After all this commotion I preached for another 40 minutes or so and then left.
On another day I ended up on the corner of “C” Street and 2nd Avenue. This is a corner I’ve been to previously in my trips here to San Diego. It is directly across from a city hall building and many employees come out there to go to lunch. Also it is by one of the Light Rail stations and gets a fair amount of traffic, although it is a small corner. The highlight of the day was a priest, a man wearing a collar, a Catholic priest no doubt, listened to me for about 5 minutes or so while he waited for the light to change. He seemed to enjoy the preaching and was visibly excited about it as he commented to the other gentleman that was with him.
The next day as I headed downtown on the light rail, I talked to a man whose name was Mike. He had got on board and said, “God bless you” to me. He had seen me preaching downtown on a couple different days and we started to talk about it. He brought up the Catholic priest who saw me the day before preaching. I told him that not all the things that Catholics believe are in the Bible. He insisted that it’s the same but I brought up purgatory. After a few minutes he said he could not stop thinking about purgatory. He asked, “are you sure it doesn’t say something about a person purifying himself after death”. “No” I said and I began to share with him a discourse about the dead, the resurrection, the resurrection of Christ, and a whole lot of things having good opportunity. Earlier that morning I prayed that I would be a better witness individually to people before and after my preaching. This was an answer to prayer. It came very easily as the Holy Spirit guided me. It helped when the man (Mike) kept asking questions. There were other people around by our seats and they could here what was being said as well.
Putting Me Out on Front Street
One day I was kicked out of the area in front of a federal building but it turned out to be a divine appointment two blocks away on Broadway & Front Street. A man came by mumbling to himself but I heard him plainly say, “Satan is going to get you, he doesn’t even care about me, and will destroy me too.” This is an example of the spiritual warfare I have been experiencing here this time around. Here are the divine appointments described:
First two guys came by stood right in front of me. One was very vocal and said that I was talking a bunch of crap etc %##*&^. I was concerned that he was going to be a great interference. His friend kept hounding him to keep going. But he (Shorty) wanted to stay and said, “if there’s a God how come I am homeless?” I sympathized with him and I gave him a survival pack that I carry with socks and a few other goodies. He was so overwhelmed that he said, “I believe.” he was very impressed by the fact that Christians would actually help him. This is probably because he was so antagonistic. I told him it is God who gives the gifts and that I would pray for him and he went away a friend rather than a foe. His name is Shorty.
Later on another man came down the street headed right for me very angry. I was afraid for my person when he demanded that I stop preaching, put my stuff away, and go home. I thought he was going to get violent. He used very foul language and was very angry. The Lord really put me out there on front street so to speak. I haven’t been tested like this in quite some time. I told him I wasn’t going to stop and that I was going to continue to preach about Jesus. This infuriated him, however over the next few minutes in the conversation we had it became evident he had some church upbringing. It could have been possible he had a demon and part of the time I was talking to him and part of the time I was talking to the demon, only the Lord knows. He seemed to start to calm down a little bit. I shared some things as I turned off the mic and addressed him personally. I assured him that all people are special in God’s eyes and he claimed that no one likes black people, even that other black people hate black people. Eventually he changed his tune and when he started to describe all people hate him, to my surprise he excluded me from this group. Eventually he said what I was doing was okay and he shook my hand before he left and said, “keep up the good work.” It was quite a miracle to see this transformation right before my eyes.
Today on the way via light rail (Trolley) I noticed at the El Cajon station where I leave from there was a great police presence. It looked like what they call, “A sweep” where they go and check warrants and generally roust the vagrants. The same thing was going on at the busiest light rail station; 12th & Imperial. There were at least 12-14 police cars including paddy wagons. These were mostly SDPD plus some sheriffs. It was a huge undergoing. Normally I see these things as an oppression on the poor, however, over the last week here I was complaining to God about how these street people seem to have free riegn to intimidate people and cause havoc. They are rude, obnoxious, and mean-spirited. I must remember that they are sinners, some mentally ill and demonized. I was glad to see the police make an effort to rid the streets of those who are a danger to themselves and others. More could be said. I really believe it was an answer to my prayers and complaints as I laid them before the Lord.
Medley of Events
Some of my time here included a couple of trips out to colleges and one day spent holding a “support the police” banner at a nearby police station where lots of traffic passes through. This was in response to the recent killing of one of San Diego’s officers. With my friends the Bensons gone (I was house sitting) I looked up a local church to attend here in El Cajon. I went to Faith Community Bible Church. I was very glad I did. I met some great brothers and sisters and they have many who have an active ministry. Some of these are handing out tracts. I gave them some of my tracts to hand out. I also attended their mid-week prayer meeting. The pastor and congregation were favorable to me and the street preaching ministry. So once again thank you for the prayers. This is a very vital part of advancing the Kingdom of God. Sorry no pictures to show this time.