Today started out as a usual day. I prayed God would hold off the rain so we could go to Blanchard Park and do evangelism. There were going to be four or five of us altogether.
We prayed when we got out there. It wasn't overly crowded but there were a few people to talk to. I brought my beach balls, maracas, frisbies, and crayons and had them in a big laundry bag in a cart. As I would see kids and teens, I would give them out to them.
The weather was beautiful and we were walking on the bike path. One of our guys started a conversation with a man on a bike, when the security guys in their golf carts came by to let him know that he was not allowed to be soliciting. After about five minutes of reasoning, it looked like Steven was able to help them see that we really were allowed to do what we were doing.
Not too long after that, Richard was over by the river talking with a man named Malcolm. So we were just hanging around and talking with people we would meet. Daniel was throwing a basketball to some kids and I was coming back from talking with a young man and his step sister, when, another golf cart came our way. This time, the man identified himself as 'Ed' and he was trying to convince Steven (poor Steven, not again!) that he was soliciting, and that we were not allowed to do that. We were not allowed, according to this security guard, to pass out tracts and give toys away. Ed continued to argue with Steve and threatened to call the cops. Steven is a very soft spoken person who preaches the Gospel very well, so it is hard to imagine what this conversation looked like. He stated the truth. We had every right to be there since we pay taxes and it was public property. But Ed wouldn't budge. He stuck with his story and said he would call the cops. That would actually have been ok, since we weren't breaking the law. Ed saw my cart and asked whose cart it was, to which I replied 'Mine'. He asked me what I was doing with the items in it. I told him I was giving them away, to which he replied, that I was passing them out. He indicated that I needed to be going to my car and leave. I was angry, not so much because we were preaching the Gospel and someone got angry about it, but I was angry because this man was believing a lie, and asking us to respond to it. First of all, we were not soliciting. We were not asking people for money, or anything else. I was not advertising my business out there. We were giving tracts and toys away to people who would take them, and talk with people who would engage in conversation with us. Ed said that people come to the park to relax, and what we were doing would violate that. Steven managed to get a business card from Ed with the name of Ed's supervisor. He was going to call the supervisor. With that, I left, but let Ed know that this would be dealt with.
I posted a message on Face Book for people to pray. I am so thankful for my praying friends. We left Steven and Daniel behind talking with Ed. Rich was obscure to Ed because he was still talking to Malcolm, but when Ed found out that another person was part of our group, he wanted to know where Rich was. I got a phone call from Rich because his wife called him when she saw the Face Book post.
So we were heading to the other side of the park where my car was parked. What would happen? Would the police come? What if they were hostile to the Gospel? Could we be arrested? What about our rights as citizens of a country that is still free? What could I do to respond to this in a godly way?
I thought about going to the police department, and planned to research to find the one that corresponds with Blanchard Park. Since our rights were being violated, what else could I do?
When we got to the car, we all prayed. We prayed for Ed. We prayed for the people we talked to. Then Michael got a phone call. It was Steven. Steven was now telling us that he called the supervisor of the park and talked with him. The supervisor apologized for what happened and said that we could go back into the park and give out tracts and talk to people! The only thing he asked is that we don't disturb the people.
Please pray for Ed. He may be in trouble with his supervisor now. He needs to hear the Gospel. Pray for Malcolm. Also, for a man on roller blades who told Michael that he was not allowed to give out tracts and tried to run after the cops car that was going through the park. Pray for Isabel and the group of kids I talked to. Also, for the other young man and his step sister. I have that conversation on tape. I didn't get their names. And for the man on the bike Steven was talking to.
There is a place where we can get legal help in situations like this. They are a Christian legal group that has researched the rights of American citizens. I am going to print out the page and bring it with me when I am out doing evangelism. This organization also helps you understand what is meant by 'solicitation' and its variants. Here is the web site address: American Center for Law and Justice . While we have freedoms and rights, we need to use them.
On a better note, I got to see Justin and gave him a Gospel of John. I met Justin when he was carrying out my bags one day and he was commenting on the tracts. He said that he didn't understand the meaning of the message (the Gospel). So I took some time and went through the Gospel with him. Please pray for him. I hope he contacts me through email and I wish I could get him a regular Bible (he said he didn't have one). I got a Gospel of John when we were at the parade at Christmas time. Pray that God will deal with his heart and help him to understand his need for a Savior.