Open Air: The Wind And More

Last Wednesday was one of those windy days when, if you don’t happen to have a nice, even disposition (like what we have, © E. Wise), then you tend to get aerated (pronounced air-ee-ayted) over the least little thing. And so it was that we had more to contend with in the way of opposition than we’ve had over many months.

There was nothing that we couldn’t cope with - indeed, one inebriated gent who came up carrying a can and complaining went away well pleased with a bible and a Blanchard booklet. But it made for an intense afternoon, I’d say.

There were also encouraging voices to be heard from time to time - or so it seemed. I’ll just pick out a couple of interesting examples, since I haven’t time to give an exhaustive account of our activities on that day.

The first gent was engaged in selling copies of the Big Issue, but he took time out to talk to me as I was giving out tracts. His command of English was a little limited, but after he’d questioned me for a few minutes, he told me that he was from Romania, that he was a Christian brother, that he was a Baptist, and that he came to Piccadilly Gardens on a Sunday to preach in the open air, and - in fact - he was a pastor, just like me…

Well, I’m not anybody’s pastor, and I wondered, idly, whether he was. The conversation stalled at this point, and he wandered away, but - back he came. He had a church and a pastor to support in Romania, and he was here to earn money to send back there, and could I help him with a handout? I told him that we were not there to give away money, since once we did so, word would spread, and we’d have a queue lining up all the way down Market Street to Deansgate and beyond.

Hard-hearted, eh? He shrugged his shoulders, and away he went again.

Later on, we were joined by a young man who said he had been handing out tracts and doing some street preaching elsewhere in the city centre. As per usual, I invited him to stand with us if he was a born-again, bible-believing brother. He did indeed help out for a while, and then he volunteered to preach for us. I dug out our Statement Of Faith, and invited him to take a look at it; and then I turned him down.

Hard-hearted and hardly an encouragement to a young preacher? Possibly so.

However, there were two reasons for saying ‘no’ (and if you happen to be reading this by any chance, brother, I trust that you will understand).

Firstly, he merely glanced at the Statement Of Faith and said “Oh yeah, I agree with all that!” when he couldn’t possibly have read it with any understanding; and thus he had missed the last paragraph, which explains exactly what we expect from any man who preaches with us.

Secondly, while he was talking to a young Christian woman while tracting, he began to lay down the law on bible translations, without having any idea of what our policy was in such matters. Whatever others may want us to do, we’re not out to fight Version Wars over and over again in the open air.

On the plus side, he did ask me if I had any notes that would help him to improve his preaching, so I took out a couple of pages from amongst those Blu Tacked into my bible. I hope that they were not too condensed for him to follow. It would have been better if he’d joined us for a time of fellowship afterwards, when we could have discussed things, but he was on his way as soon as I’d handed him my notes.

If you would like to hand out money in Manchester next week, feel free to join us - but remember to bring your own wallet with you. If you would like to preach with us (after reading the Salem Open Air Ministry Statement Of Faith and assenting to it), you’re welcome to do so. Anyone else who would like to lend a hand will also be welcome.

Please pray for all those who heard at least a little of the gospel on that windswept Wednesday afternoon last week, and for our time together next week.

Every blessing!