I never thought that I would ever spend any part of the holiday season, or any other season for that matter, on Bourbon Street. For those of you who know anything about Bourbon Street (and it does have quite a reputation) I don’t need to add anything to that. Even before I was a Christian, it wasn’t a place that I ever wanted to go. It is a place of drunkenness, strip clubs and all manner of sin.
But recently I made contact with some people who are part of a ministry called Raven Street Ministry and they go to Bourbon Street every Friday and Saturday night for open air street church right in the middle of Bourbon Street. On Friday, December 23rd, I made the trip with a few other people from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. At 11:00 PM we met up in a parking lot with the rest of the people, and a total of about 15 of us began the walk to Bourbon Street. The men carried the sound equipment and a large red cross about 10 feet tall. We got to the 500 block of Bourbon Street and began to setup the cross and the equipment. Although it was almost Christmas and the activity on Bourbon Street was less than a normal night, there were still many people out that night.
Five or six people took turns preaching and the rest of us stood either in the street or along side the street, talking to and praying with people who stopped. I have been a part of street ministry before and have been active in evangelism in my hometown of Baton Rouge, but I was in no way prepared for what I saw this night. The one verse that kinda sums it all up is this – “there is no fear of God before their eyes”. I have never in my life witnessed such blatant and hateful mockery of Christ and His gospel. I have seen street preachers before who preached such a distorted and hate-filled message that the mockery might be justified, but the gospel that was preached this night was wonderfully pure and complete – sin, righteousness, judgment, the love of God and Christ as the only Saviour. And many people despised it. One intoxicated middle aged woman actually came up and physically attacked our group and when she was finally separated away from us, she stood at a distance pointing her finger at us and screaming: “You are all white trash”, “Liars”, “Jesus would be so ashamed of you”.
Never in my life have I observed such hatred for Christ as I saw that night. My heart broke for those people who were cursing the God who was giving them the very breath that they used to curse Him. It seemed that if Jesus Himself had been there, they would have been shouting “Crucify Him!” And still as Jesus was looking down upon them that night, He loved them and desired them to repent.
I felt as thought I was witnessing the battle between light and darkness. And the darkness was very dark. But still the light was shining. The gospel was preached, Jesus was lifted up, and it was beautiful.