For the first time in my life, I can say that I have gone to a Lady Gaga concert.
Okay...I never actually PAID for a ticket for her concert. Oh, and I never actually went INSIDE the concert venue and watched her perform.
But, this past Tuesday night, my friend Chris and myself drove to downtown Oklahoma City where Lady Gaga was set to perform at the Ford Center at 8pm.
Our plans? To hand out tracts and--possibly--do some open-air preaching.
After our four-man evangelism team shrunk to a two-man evangelism team (one needed to finish a school assignment; the other couldn't get off of work in time), I began to get a little discouraged. With just two people, it's rather difficult to hand out tracts, have one-on-one conversations AND open-air preach (especially since I'm a firm believer of having a person by you at all times while preaching in the open air--for any potential safety or legal issue that may result). Still, it's a Lady Gaga concert, for crying out loud! The pagans will be out in full force to worship their queen. We simply CAN'T pass up this opportunity!
So, as Chris and I walk up to the Ford Center, we see the circus start to appear all around us. We see HUGE lines outside of the front door of the Ford Center. So far, so good.
But wait...there's a problem.
Right next to the front door--and right next to the huge crowd of people--a local radio station has set up a tent with loud speakers blaring Lady Gaga's biggest hits. We have amplification (our trusty little 40-watt portable pa system that has served us well), but we simply cannot compete with the warbling of Lady Gaga that permeates the air around the front door.
However, all is not lost!
As we walk further down, the music fades away a bit. We find a nice spot right by the OTHER big front door with a long line outside. So, we breathe a sigh of relief, find a nice spot, and park the box (our trusty preaching box that--like the amp--has served us well).
As I'm talking the amp out of the storage compartment, Chris notifies me that the long line is starting to move inside the building. The doors were supposed to open at 6:30. My watch indicates that they've jumped the gun and are letting them in early. So...as quickly as I can, I prepare the amp and hop up on the box.
I forgot to mention that from the moment I saw the hugeness of the crowd to the time we started preaching, I was having a MASSIVE "fear of man" attack. Fear gripped me as I began to realize how many people were around us.
I've learned that there is an effective two-pronged process of combating the fear of man before street preaching.
The two steps to effectively fight fear are:
1.) open your mouth
So, I opened my mouth and started speaking and, as is always the case, the fear started melting away. Considering the fact that this WAS a Lady Gaga concert, and there were wild-looking pagans all over the place, I was surprised when my first open-air preaching session went by heckler-free.
I did get approached by an angry woman. But she didn't appear to be a dressed-to-the-hilt Gaga fan. As it turns out, she was a well-dressed middle-aged woman from Iran who didn't like me saying that Jesus was the "only way." I tried to engage her more on the subject, but she decided that she had had enough and walked away in a huff. Okay.
Next up: Chris. Chris got up on the box and started preaching. As I standing close by watching and recording, I noticed that a news crew had set up just behind Chris. A lady reporter walked up to Chris and pointed her microphone in his general direction. The cameraman pointed his camera at Chris and they remained there for a few minutes. Shortly afterward, they walked away. I didn't think anything of it at the time.
Chris's open-air session went completely heckler-free. I did hear many sneers from Gaga fans who were walking by, but they all lacked the courage of their convictions to actually engage Chris about his message (the Gospel).
We decided to do some tracting for a while. After this, I decided to get up on the box again. This time, my open-air session was most definitely NOT heckler-free.
Quite the opposite.
I struggled to get out the full Law and the Gospel as I was bombared with all kinds of comments. MOST of the comments fell into the following three catagories:
1.) "Don't judge me!"
2.) "You're being judgmental!"
3.) "Stop judging me!"
Yes, the hecklers pretty much stuck to the same objection for about 25 minutes. During this time, one nice young lady asked me if I "was with the Westboro people." Not having yet made the connection to Westboro Baptist Church, I responded to her with "what is Westboro?" She took that to mean "no" and went on her way.
After I was done with the open-air, Chris told me that he had heard that Westboro Baptist Church had people there at that time who were protesting Lady Gaga. If you want to know who the Westboro Baptist Church people are...simply type "Westboro Baptist" into Google and prepare to be disgusted.
In short, they preach hatred and vitriol. They live for media attention, and--of course--the local media was more than willing to give them ALL the attention they desired.
One VERY NICE bit of encouragement during the evening. One believer--his name is Rex--was sitting and watching us preach. While I was still preaching, I noticed that he started talking to a couple of ladies who were standing next to him watching us. After I stepped off the box, Chris asked me if I had any tracts. He said that Rex was witnessing to these ladies and wanted to give them tracts. After he was done talking to the ladies, he came over and visited with us. Rex told us that he was so encouraged after watching us that he decided to strike up a conversation with those complete strangers and give them the Gospel. That was the first time he had shared his faith with strangers in the many years he had been born again. What a blessing and encouragement!
After some more tracting and open-air, we called it quits for the evening. It was about 8:15 and most everyone had gone inside for the concert. Chris and I were also EXTREMELY thirsty having stood out in the 100-degree heat/humidity for about 2 hours.
After I got home and was winding down. Chris texts me and informs me that he appeared on the local newscast at 10:00. I remembered that he was recorded by the camera crew.
Well...THIS is how the local media used the footage of Chris (he is the one wearing a red T-shirt standing on the box holding an amp)...
So...according to KFOR's report, we were there to protest Lady Gaga.
Yes...that's right...we are "anti-Gaga."
Well, contrary to what was presented in that sloppy piece of reporting, we were there to warn sinners of the reality of God's Law, His coming judgment, and were there to share with them the excellencies of Christ, the Righteous.
All in all, a good night.
Thank you, Lady Gaga, for scheduling a concert that we could stand outside of.
Thank you, Oklahoma City, for not shutting us down as we were preaching with an amp.
Thank you, "pro-Gaga" hecklers, for drawing a crowd for us to preach Jesus Christ to.
Most of all, praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by whom and through whom we have eternal salvation, and for whom we preach and exalt.
Soli Deo Gloria!