Recently, while sitting in my favorite spot at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park and reading my Bible I was blessed with the opportunity to share the love of God with someone. The person walked up to me and asked, “Is that the Bible you are reading?” Smiling, I answered, “Yes it is, are you a Believer also?” They said yes and then shared an all to common statement with me. They shared with me how and why church-hopping was causing them such distress. How very sad this child of God came to live in our wonderful, historic city and they cannot find a church they are comfortable with to attend. They had problems with the business of religiosity. I will not share with you their religious denomination. Trying to find a solution, they even converted to another denomination only to discover the same business of religiosity. I cannot recall just how many times I have heard this same dilemma arise about some church, denomination, or clergy member(s). I am confident I am not alone in this observation. I continue to ask myself why, thousands of years after Christ Jesus and the Apostles started, taught, and lived the original Church we too often treat this (religion/the church) as a business. Many individuals, primarily clergy I would think, will not like what I am about to write in this article.
Because of my disabilities, I generally find myself able to go outside and share the gospel for just a few precious hours each week. It is not uncommon, because of my pain, to be delayed responding to texts, emails, returning phone calls, or even writing. For those of you suffering a disability(s) let me briefly digress and share something with you from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9, NKJV).
Now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. I have learned over the course of several decades to trust in knowing God has not forgotten my need, disregarded my pain, closed His ears to my cry for help, or in any way held back His favor from me. However, I will share more, in greater depth, on being disabled and how God has determined to use me for His glory in future writings.
I am frequently asked why I do not preach in a brick and mortar church. Being inspired by the Holy Spirit my sharing the gospel through Christ Jesus on the street, in hospitals, senior facilities, or study groups most people appear to more easily receive the Word. Because of the personal interaction, I am able to receive a blessing with them also! This always becomes a stirring and profound blessing for the listener and me as well! At first, that alarmed me and it almost seemed somewhat selfish on my end. Then I began to see and experience the fruits. In the Spirit, through Christ Jesus, and directed by God, I came to see and believe I was able to feed these hungry people – young, old, disabled, financially well off or not, more effectively in this manner.
Plant a church so many have said! I’ll come and I bet others will too! Okay, here is the nexus of this article. I borrow from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Cor. 1:17, ESV). Are there only certain individuals “qualified” to baptize? According to Scripture, the answer is no. Am I at all comfortable with the idea of Baptizing an individual(s)? No – Not unless I have known this person intimately for enough time to be comfortable with the sincerity of their walk with God. I am a street minister who does NOT feel called to baptize. In other words, brick and mortar churches are generally filled with more people than I feel able to successfully reach in the way God has called me to share His Word. It has been my decades-long experience brick and mortar churches lose too much focus on God because of financial demands and unnecessary fabricated doctrine, traditions, and rituals. According to the Bible, Believers are not called upon to participate in any of that. In my eyes, brick and mortar churches create, because of denominations, more division in the Word of God than they create understanding, wholeness, and unity.By God’s Holy Spirit, and through Christ Jesus my LORD and Savior, I am at such great peace sharing the gospel – with no strings attached to my method or me. If I were anything but a street preacher, I would have to depend on and be governed by others. I ask and expect nothing from others for what I do. God has called upon me to preach, teach, and share in my brokenness the way I do — Praise God in His Wisdom!
How very sad business, ego, and greed are too often the propellants for sharing God’s Word. I am not the only street minister out here. The person I was writing about at the beginning of this article simply asked if it was the Holy Bible I was reading as they observed me reading and peacefully sitting there. I will not push God on anyone, but if you want to converse, simply knock on the door as that person did and there are many of us who are just waiting to answer the door! Until you find a comfortable church, big or small, I, and others similar to me are here to help you in your walk. Please don’t harden your heart and just give up. I have Good News for you if you seek me out. Amen.