Beggars and Street Preachers

If you have ever been accosted by a pan handler, you will understand what Mike Harden is talking about in “Rules for handling beggars of all kinds.”

According to Columbus Police Cmdr. Richard Bash, we don’t have to buy them 40-ounce King Cobras. In a news release on Monday, Bash exhorted the citizenry, “Do not give money to panhandlers. … Panhandling for drugs or alcohol is very common. Walk purposefully and with confidence. Give the appearance that you are aware of your surroundings. … Acknowledge a panhandler with a nod, and answer the request for money by saying, ‘No.’ Then walk away. Do not be angry or feel guilty.”

That’s good advice for those of us who have a hard time saying no to the “needy.” But in actuality, Harden is not really concerned with the commander’s advice. He’s more interested in making some humor about other “beggars.” After writing about congressman and street dancers, Harden turns his attention to perhaps the most obnoxious of all beggars.

Occasionally, Downtown, you might be accosted by a person asking, “Do you know where you will spend eternity?” Acknowledge the person with a nod and respond, “Cleveland.” Do not be angry or feel guilty. Many people spend eternity in Cleveland.

I recognize the humor in that statement—especially as I live near Cleveland. But the point is still well made. Most people are turned off by street preachers. Part of the problem can be attributed to the poor theology and odd methods employed by many street preachers (think Jed here). Although I admire their courage, they often misrepresent the gospel and bring shame on our Lord. But are all street preachers that way? Somehow I don’t think so. There are probably some who faithfully proclaim the gospel despite the opposition. I just don’t know of any.

So, what do you think? Is this something with which we should be involved? Is it an effective/appropriate way to spread the gospel? Opposition should not keep us from preaching the gospel. Our Lord told his disciples to expect opposition, but he also told them to leave those places where they were rejected. Honestly, I’m still thinking through these things myself.

Care to share your thoughts?

7 thoughts on “Beggars and Street Preachers

  1. dale

    Absolutely appropriate, but not necessarily effective as most folk generally ignore those they feel are wack-job fruit loops. I support the effort and have even done it myself many many many years ago in California [Berkeley-Oakland], although everyone there is generally considered wacko so there were not a whole lot of results: just a lot of folks ignoring us. Even I tend to ignore street preachers, although I have heard some very good ones that I actually stop and listen [Chicago, St Louis, Buffalo, and Topeka come to mind (NOT to include Fred Phelps!)], and tend to agree with some of them very much.

    Appropriate, absolutely: effective, not really.

  2. KatriniZambini

    We heard a guy singing about being “High, High, High on Jesus” on our way through Atlanta to visit Laura in Baltimore.
    A Schriner on a electric wheelchair handed us Chick tracks in downtown Minneapolis. I remember reading Chick tracks when we were little, but not really getting any theology from them.

  3. KatriniZambini

    Mom is reading a book by Pink on Ezekiel, so I started reading through the scripture text myself a few weeks ago. This morning I wondered about chapter 34. It talks about the shepherds not taking care of the sheep. The shepherd is guilty if he doesn’t give warning. What does it mean when it says that the shepherd feeds himself but not the sheep? Is it parallel to a NT pastor or am I mixing covenant and dispensational theology? Or just completely out of it? It was kind of early in the morning ( :

  4. Andy Rupert

    I’m not sure I want to compare my new life in Christ to the use of illegal drugs. Also, I don’t use Chick tracts anymore after reading about some of the author’s theology and strange ideas.

    As to Old Testament shepherds, I have always taken them to be the leaders (as opposed to spiritual leaders) placed by God to take care of the people (see Numbers 27:15-17, 2 Samuel 5:1-2, and Isaiah 44:28). However, shepherds were expected to teach the people (Jeremiah 3:15.

    With that in mind, it would seem that Ezekiel was writing about leaders who were not leading the people toward God or providing for the needs of the people. The rest of chapter 34 seems to support that as God promises a future leader who will meet those neglected needs (34:23).

  5. Derek

    I have heard missionaries speak from places such as Russia and Romania that go there and hand out literature and Bibles on the street, and find it effective. So really, I think it is a fine practice, as a rule. But I think, simply because of the way it is looked at and thought of, that in America, it is most likely not the wisest practice if you really wish to do anything for the Lord.

  6. Andy Rupert

    Dale and Derek,

    I agree that street preaching seems to do more harm than good in our culture. But I am hesitant to speak against something that has been effective in the past. But with the advent of television and the internet, it is becoming more difficult to gain an untrained listener’s attention for longer than 5 minutes.

    Therefore, the next step is finding methods by which we can present the gospel most effectively. It would seem to me that the most effective ministry will come from private conversations with people who have seen our godly lives. This has been my practice of late and some people are listening.

  7. dale

    You are so right, Andy. A consistant stand for the Gospel, effective conversation in a one-to-one situation when the opportunity arises, a life reflecting the fruits of the Spirit, and unwavering love for the Lord without compromise of conviction makes for a powerful testimony to the lost. Scriptural and ethical integrity, gentleness of persuasion, and meekness in presentation of the Gospel win more to the Lord than standing on a street corner yelling it [notwithstanding its minimal appropriateness].

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