This story was written on February 27, 2010, and is reposted from another blog.
To my left, in the above photo, is Pastor Audie Yancy of First Baptist Church of Quartz Hill. To my right is a young reporter for the local paper, The Signal.
My sister, Cheryl, and I spend time together most Saturday mornings in prayer and Bible study. This morning we chose the parking lot of our city's civic center for the location of our time of devotion. The reason: I had prayed the night before that the Lord would allow the impending storm to quiet between 11 AM and 1 PM. Why utter such a prayer?
The occasion was an anti-illegal immigration rally sponsored by the group Save Our State, which was scheduled to be held near the civic center. My brother-in-law, Ian, heard about the event. Anytime Ian hears about events in our community, he lets me know. Ian and I see community events as an opportunity to present the gospel to people in our community. The rally was scheduled from 11 AM to 1 PM, today.
As my sister and I sat in my car, the rain came down in buckets. At about 10:30 AM, the rain stopped. The skies parted. And the sun came out. We thanked God for His grace.
Ian arrived at about 11 AM. We started our efforts by distributing gospel tracts to those in attendance. Having done that, I removed my cross from the trunk of my car. We positioned ourselves on the sidewalk, on the outskirts of the event.
The reporter (pictured above) approached me to inquire if I was with either of the groups represented at the event and why I attended. I told him that I wasn't part of the event and I was there simply hoping to share the gospel with people.
Moments later, Pastor Yancey approached me and introduced himself. He said that he was going to open the event with prayer. He asked if I would bring my cross forward to the area of the stage. With some hesitancy, I agreed.
As I walked forward through the crowd, I remembered my conversation with Cheryl about bringing the cross to an event like this.
Cheryl's legitimate concern was that people in attendance or passing by might draw the conclusion that I was supporting the event, by carrying the cross. We prayed. When those who opposed the point of view of the rally organizers arrived, we determined that since both sides of the issue were present, it would be all right to bring out the cross. We also realized that people would think whatever they wanted to think about us and the cross; but we knew why we were there. More importantly, the Lord knew why we were there.
As I walked forward with the cross, Pastor Yancey stepped onto the stage. Within moments, he yelled at the opposition to shut up so he could pray.
That was all I needed to hear. Realizing it was a mistake to come forward with the cross, I quietly made my way back to the sidewalk.
And then Pastor Yancey prayed. It didn't take long for me to realize that I couldn't bow my head in agreement with this man. I was grieved by what I thought was a prayer that did not bring honor and glory to Christ. What could have been and should have been an opportunity to pray for the souls of people (all people, regardless of their political position) and to share the gospel with those same people was instead used as an opportunity to further a political agenda. Regardless of whether or not the political agenda was right or wrong, the pastor missed an opportunity to minister to all of the people gathered on that street corner. He missed an opportunity to glorify Christ.
Some time after his prayer, Pastor Yancey approached me on the sidewalk and asked what church I attended. I told him the name of my church, and then I told him that my spirit was grieved by his prayer. The conversation went downhill from there.
Reporters in the area were quick to sense some tension in our conversation. Before I knew it, there were three reporters standing in front of us with smiles on their faces, making notes and taking pictures.
I didn't want to simply blog about the pastor's prayer. I didn't want to send him an e-mail via his church website. I had the pastor standing in front of me. I believed the right and biblical thing to do was to confront him about his prayer, to his face. My prayer, now, is that the Lord agrees with my decision.
Listen, now, to the pastor's prayer and our subsequent conversation.
Please click here to download and/or listen to the audio.
And now, as I wait to read what, if anything, the paper prints about my conversation with Pastor Yancey; I pray that I, too, did not dishonor Christ. To my Christian readers, please join me in praying to that end. Pray for Pastor Yancey. Pray that he will see his error in praying the way he did. Pray that the Lord will soften his heart toward all people who need Christ--regardless of their immigration status and/or nation of origin. After all, we have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Romans 3:23).
Pray also that if the paper prints any photos of me holding the cross that it would be the image of the cross that would draw and keep their attention; and not the sinner holding it. And may the Lord use that simple cross to cause readers to consider where they will spend eternity. May God, who is sovereign over all things, see to it that those same people somehow hear the gospel, repent of their sin, and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
All for HIS glory.