For New Year’s Eve I had made plans to return to Bourbon Street with the people of Raven Street Church. All week long there had been a battle in me over whether or not I was going to return. My time there the previous week had been very difficult and I struggled all week with feeling inadequate for such a work. My natural temperament is reserved and quiet, so such a hostile environment left me feeling quite out of my element and unable to minister to anyone. The experience was humbling, as I very clearly saw my own weakness. It was a crushing (and necessary) blow to pride. One that kept me down for most of the week. I could hardly bear to think of returning to experience such a paralyzing ineffectiveness again. And yet……..at the same time I felt so strongly compelled to go. Thus the battle.
Friday afternoon I sat at my table feeling desperate to hear something from God regarding all of this. I opened my Bible to the place I had left off reading – 2 Corinthians 3 and almost immediately the Lord brought peace to my heart through His Word….
And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away,how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels.For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech–
The last portion caught my attention because it addressed my need – “Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech–” I looked up the word hope and found it to mean a confident expectation based on solid certainty. I searched the previous verses to find out what this solid certainty is that created a confidence that led to great boldness – “the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory”. Something clicked, and a truth that I had already known became much more solidly established in my heart – the message that we bring is a glorious message. Because of our wonderful Christ and His wonderful gospel, we can be very bold because of our confidence that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation…regardless of the weakness of the messenger.
I felt as though 10,000 pounds had been lifted from my heart. With great thankfulness to the Lord I rejoiced in the peace that washed over me concerning the trip to Bourbon Street the next night.
To be continued…..
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.