Friday, March 2, 2012

From Pastor to Powers

This story was written on April 9, 2011, and is reposted from another blog.

I spent the afternoon at the North Hollywood Metro Station, and on Hollywood Boulevard with my friends, Chris Yarzab and Jeff Baran. Chris and Jeff faithfully spend every Saturday afternoon at these two locations, preaching the gospel, reading aloud the Word of God, distributing gospel tracts, and engaging people in conversation.

It would be the first time taking the cross to Hollywood Boulevard since being ordered to leave the boulevard by LAPD officers, in November 2010.

We began our evangelism efforts at the North Hollywood Metro Station. The three of us distributed tracts and Chris read from the Word of God.

Shortly thereafter we made our way to Hollywood Boulevard. The place was packed.

We made our way to the northeast corner of Hollywood and Highland--one of Chris and Jeff's favorite spots. Moments after Chris began to read the Word of God, the enemy went to work--trying to disrupt the reading of the Word and the preaching of the gospel. The first enemy volley came via a regular heckler--one who has been a thorn at almost every well-known evangelism spot in Los Angeles County. We call him "Dollhouse Dude."

Usually intoxicated and profane, this little character has long since done away with his namesake headgear. When I first met him, he was wearing this:

Yes, that's a Barbie Townhouse on his head. I first met Dollhouse Dude a few years ago at, of all places, in the maintenance area of Cerritos College. Over time, the dollhouse fell into disrepair with, eventually, a Styrofoam Boeing 747 crashed into the side of the dollhouse. Since then he has expanded his wardrobe to, well, even more bizarre ensembles.

Dollhouse Dude heckled us in his usual profane and nonsensical way. He eventually tired and rode his bike toward Grauman's Chinese Theater.

In addition to Dollhouse Dude and the usual cast of costumed characters (Batman, Spiderman, The Hulk, Sponge Bob, Tom Cruise from Top Gun, and others), the cults were out in force--including Harold Camping's followers and the Church of Scientology.

I made my way up to Grauman's Chinese Theater and was immediately greeted by one of the most unpleasant ladies I have ever met. Her name, I believe, is Mona and she works for Starline Tours. Her red hair matches her flaming hatred of Jesus and the preaching of the gospel. As soon as she saw me with the cross, she made a B-line for me from the front of Grauman's Chinese Theater. In typical fashion, with a snarl on her face and a boney finger pointed at mine, she "ordered" me not to preach. "I want none of your Jesus stuff, or I'm going to call the police!"

I invited her to make the call. If she made it, the police never came.

As I stood in front of the theater with the cross, handing out tracts, several people came up to me to engage me in conversation. The usual question: "Ready for what?" The conversations included a young man from West Africa, and atheist from Israel, and this man...

If you don't immediately recognize him, that's okay. The man's impersonation leads a little to be desired. The man is dressed to impersonate none other than Austin Powers. He's quite a bit older than Mike Myers, though.

The man had mocked me carrying the cross a little earlier in the afternoon. He returned for more when he saw me standing in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater. I asked the man what he thought was going to happen to him when he dies.

He said, "No one knows that. And I'm not so arrogant to claim to know and to think I can tell others. I'm too humble for that."

"Don't you think it's a bit arrogant to declare your own humility?" I ask. He didn't have an answer for that. He walked away returning to character, as he approached women in a flamboyant manner while uttering comments laced with double entendres.

He approached me again. This time I tried to share the gospel with him. When I did, he said, "Don't bother. I'm a graduate from a two-year Bible college and I'm an ordained minister."

"Then why are you so antagonistic to the gospel?"

"I'm not!" He barked, as he walked away in a huff.

The man walked by me a short time later. "What happened to you?" I asked.

"What do you mean, what happened to me?"

"How did you get here? How did you go from being a minister to being on Hollywood Boulevard dressed like Austin Powers?"

"We all share the message in our own way?" He disappeared into the crowd. What a sad example of false conversion.

I returned to the corner where Chris and Jeff were continuing to share the gospel. It was getting late, so we decided to make our way back to NoHo Station.

I walked up the long flight of stairs that led out of the subway terminal. I stood there for a few moments waiting for Chris and Jeff to join me. As I waited, I was approached by two sixteen-year-olds named Angel and Frankie. They took one look at my cross and asked, "What does that mean? Ready for what?"

"Are you ready for eternity?" I asked.

They thought about it for a moment and then they both indicated they weren't sure. What followed was a 30-minute conversation that ended with the boys saying they wanted to know Jesus and that they were going to go home and read the Gospel of John. Please join me in praying for Angel and Frankie.

All-in-all, it was a wonderful afternoon of evangelism.

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