I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!
Lessons From A Hitchhiker
June 2, 2019
I'll never forget it. I was 17 years old when I first "hitchhiked." We lived about 5 miles out from the nearest town and since I was grounded from using the car, if I wanted to get anywhere I would have to find my own way. So there I stood on the side of the road with my thumb stuck out hoping to hitch a ride. It wasn't long before a man pulled over, asked me where I was heading, and said, "hop on in." After getting down the road a bit he hit me with an unexpected proposition to which I politely replied "no thank you." He then offered money related to his proposal and again I replied "no thank you." When we arrived in town I hopped out. He asked if he had scared me to which I replied "No Sir." I then proceeded to run like the proverbial "bat outta Hell." Yes, I was scared!
That was the first real encounter with a homosexual male, better known as "gay." One year later, I moved out of my parents home and got a job working on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico as a "galley hand." And wouldn't you know it, the head chef was gay. Some years later living in Baton Rouge Louisiana, it was revealed that my female neighbors down the hall were all lesbians. All this to say I became familiar with "alternative lifestyles" in my teens and early 20's.
Boy, how times have changed. Nowadays kids hear of the LGBTQ community in their kindergarten years. The days of "coming out of the closet" so to speak are long gone. Everything and everyone is open concerning their sexuality and what we are faced with today is a plethora of so-called lifestyle choices.
Now in my 50's, I am a Christian pastor who places a strong emphasis on evangelism and apologetics. I have frequently gone out and engaged folks in dialogue here in my hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana.
New Orleans is world-renowned for it's nonstop celebratory enviroment and having one of the most recognizable party streets in the world--Bourbon Street. It is here that I have gone out to engage in dialogue with numerous folks living the gay and lesbian lifestyle. It is here that I've been punched, had drinks thrown at me and been called every curse word known to man. It is here that 3 men danced around me wearing nothing more than G-strings and tutu's. It is here as I was out ministering one night that my nephew stopped by deciding that it was the right time and place to introduce me to "his boyfriend." It is here also that I engaged in dialogue with a female couple I have never forgotten. They had come from Houston as they vacationed here for "Gay Pride" week. It is this conversation that I will now highlight for you.
There were about 20 or so of us out that particular night to minister at the 400 block of Bourbon Street. I was with a local ministry that have been going there year, after year, after year. A huge cross is set right in the middle of the street with a sound system and hand-held microphone used for preaching. While one preaches, the rest of us distribute tracts and try to engage in dialogue with those who pass by. Many stop and listen, many ignore us, many hurry on by (I think sometimes from conviction) and many take the time to mock and ridicule us. But on this night, I recall seeing two ladies on the sidewalk to the left of me standing there with drinks in their hands that got my attention. They were not striking in appearance, both a bit overweight with one being recognizably more masculine than the other.
I journeyed toward them and asked "what brings you two pretty ladies out to Bourbon Street on a night like this?" They were taken a back somewhat by my nice guy approach and immediately let their guard down, if they had had one to begin with. They never mentioned them being there for gay pride week and I don't recall me saying anything about it either, at least not in the beginning of our conversation. We started off by making small talk. Them telling me a bit about themselves, with one being a school teacher and the other doing something else that I can't recall. I told them a bit about myself as well. I then asked them what they thought of us being out there preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ? It didn't seem to phase them much so I then proceeded to tell the Christian story and to paint a picture concerning the fall of mankind and the ensuing darkness that a place such as Bourbon Street reflected. I asked if they were raised with any religious persuasion and continued along these lines with some other spiritually-related questions. Our conversation was cordial and respectfuI. I eventually steered them towards the holiness of God and the sacredness of human life. Of how He created man and woman as His crown jewel to be united for procreation and explained, that what was taking place here on Bourbon Street (highlighting the week that it was) was a violation of the purpose of God. I relayed to them of how mankind had corrupted the beauty by which God had created all things good--"In the beginning..."
After a bit of back and forth, the more masculine of the two women spoke up informing me that they were a couple. Of course I had already discerned that, so I continued on explaining to them the beauty by which God had created them individually and reiterated the violation of purpose message. I went with the "us missing the mark" message yet with a more personal appeal. Continuing my exhortation, I began to speak of a "changing of the mind" which leads to a change of behavior and/or actions. It was then that the more feminine of the two began to tear up. I relayed to them the love of God and how He desired for them to be in a right relationship with Him and so forth. As the conversation came to a close, I hugged them both, held their hands and prayed for them. They thanked me, and moved on into the unbridled mass of humanity gathered that evening.
I know in the past that I've cringed at seeing same-sex couples holding hands and/or kissing and openly displaying affection for one another. Maybe you have as well. But I ask, are we not judging by outward appearance? The answer is likely yes because it's a reflection of what we deem is on the inside. Now I ask us, are we willing to take the time to find out where they are spiritually, where they are going, and where they have been? By this I mean what's the emotional makeup and possible baggage that lead them to this physical (especially in men) and sometimes emotional attraction. Some sins are more damaging than others, and I believe one could make a case for this being more egregious. We certainly see how "these lifestyles" continue to have a devastating affect on our society. Therefore, the urgency of the call to "come out" for those ensnared in this behavior abides.
This night with them wasn't a night filled with deep philosophical explorations. Though I did make an appeal to their conscious, this particular engagement was more of a call to the heart--an appeal to their emotions--an appeal to their feelings.
As Scripture tells us the "heart is desperately wicked and deceitful." Scripture also reminds us to not be removed from the simplicity of the faith. Abdu Murray is North American director of RZIM and warns us against having "lofty arguments with closed Bibles." I am certainly guilty of this, maybe you are as well. There have been times when I've had discussions which caused me to empty my apologetics tool chest, and yet there have been times where no "pre-evangelism" was needed. I encourage us all to take time to listen and endeavor to meet folks where they're at, and give them what they need.
People today still have their thumbs out, hitchhikers on the road of life. Let's strive to pick them up or get them aboard the "Love Boat" so to speak. After all, isn't this what is needed most, love coupled with compassion. Let's emulate the Lord Jesus who when He looked (and might I add is still looking) upon the multitudes was "moved with compassion for He saw them...as sheep having no shepherd (Matt.9:36).
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!