Part 2: God, Bless the Street Preacher

For those of you that missed Part 1 of this post, this is in no way an endorsement of street preachers so head on over and read the first part before reading this post. This is Part 2 of Kevin Harris (Director of Community Relations for The Marin Foundation) posts on our upcoming Chicago Gay Pride Parade events.

“I’m not sure what your reaction is to or what you think of street preachers, but my guess is that if you’re reading this blog you’re probably not a big fan of them.  So in the name of practical application, I’ve written out a short prayer while thinking about Ruben Israel (above) as he was at the pride parade in Chicago last year and will most likely be there again this weekend. If you have a minute, take the time to read and say the prayer with me. If you can’t bring yourself to pray for Ruben or street preachers in general, then maybe take a minute to ask God to start to work on your heart to foster some feelings of compassion and love for them so you can one day pray for them if you feel being led to do so (considering that you’re a Christian).

I try to avoid praying that God would change others hearts and the way that they present their message, as that is already a given that often seems to play into feelings of moral superiority and pity for the person that I disagree with. Although it is important that his approach would change as I assume that it has caused a decent amount of hurt and bitterness in those that come in contact with it, we often seem to focus on this aspect instead of affirming others humanity as a child of God and praying for their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

God, I lift up Ruben and pray that he would continue to come to a deeper understanding of how great your love is for him

that he would more fully grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ

that you would continue to bless him with the joy of his salvation

the hope that you have called him to

assurance in his identity as a child of God

contentment in his relationship with you

comfort in his times of trouble

and your peace that surpasses all understanding

while revealing what your will is for his life and how he should walk out his faith

While he is away from home I ask that you would give him safe travels

and be with his family until he returns

I ask that you would forgive me for the feelings of contempt that I have felt towards him

and I acknowledge him as my brother in Christ regardless of my feelings

as you alone have the knowledge to fully know

and the authority to determine the salvation of your children”

Do you have any specific prayers that come to mind when you think of street preachers that tell you or someone that you love that they are evil and going to hell? What about others that have hurt you in the past?

Much love.

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  • wackywilliams

    I don’t know if my prayers are quite as forgiving as yours but with street preacher & other ministers that have deeply wounded me, I basicly pray like this. that God will open there eyes & heart to the worth & validity of ALL of his kids & that they would be brought to relisation of grace & mercy before they wound someone in the name of Christ that turns thire back on God foever due to that wound becuse then a soal is forever lost & they will forever be accontible for that soal. I don’t know I think I still have a lot of deep ingraind bitterness to work through, but I hope that one day I can have as much grace & forgiveness in my heart as you seem too. your an awsome dude Kevin! thanks for teaching me how to show more of Crist & less of myself to others!

  • Kevin Harris

    Thanks wackywilliams, and if there is any good within me it is definitely from God as we’ll just say that grace and forgiveness are not the first feelings that come to mind when I think of people like Ruben Israel.

  • High Hopes

    Wackywilliams and Kevin…….you are both forever the apple of His eye!

    When I see folks like Ruben doing ‘Ruben-actions’ like above… heart is weighed down into the pit of my stomach. I worry for all the folks that see this and think, ‘Jesus Freak gone crazy!’

    I think inside the Ruben’s think their actions are spreading the Good News but don’t understand a thing about who they are speaking to or where they come from. Somewhere they have missed the true vision of Christ — as one that comes to people right where they are at – where they live – embracing them and accepting them. Right there. Right then. Nothing more. The ‘Ruben-actions’ are missing it.

    My prayer? For all who encounter the Ruben-action’s of the world is to see past the ‘action’ and into where God is…. God is in the crowd of people hurrying past the Ruben-action. He is with them as they seek to separate themselves and get out from under the Ruben-action judgment and wrath. He is inside of them wanting to pour peace and grace into their hearts and minds. And as for Ruben? God seeks to embrace Him where he is at doing his Ruben-action; right there, right then. I pray for it to be done. Pour grace and peace into him (in his action) and in doing so, I know………when filled with grace and peace he will not continue the Ruben-action any longer. PEACE

  • Not “bad” people, but “scared” people. Great words Kevin!!

  • Kevin Harris

    High Hopes – “Pour grace and peace into him (in his action) and in doing so, I know………when filled with grace and peace he will not continue the Ruben-action any longer”

    Nice, the above comment that you made is one of the things that I have been thinking about. I feel that it is not even really necessary to ask God to change someone’s heart that is not speaking words that are edifying to others, but rather for God to just pour grace, peace, and love into them. Like you mentioned, when filled with those things from God it seems to me that they will not be able to stop those things from flowing out of them out of gratitude and assurance in their relationship with God. The scary part is that God could be calling us to be the answer to our prayers which might mean loving them in some tangible way.

    • I think the last part of your comment fits with something heard that made a lot of sense, that we shouldn’t pray for God to change other people’s hearts, but only for him to change our own heart. I wonder if that’s the only way we can avoid the charge of seeing ourselves as better than others (specks and planks and all that). Feels much safer to ask God to change a Ruben’s heart than to think we may need to change so we can show love to a Ruben – and I find that scary feeling is often God prompting that it’s just what he wants…

  • Seth

    What a wonderful prayer, Kevin! I think my only prayer in situations like these (besides a quick escape!) is that physical violence and confrontation remain absent.

    But it looks like Ruben will provide the ideal place for you all to stand during the parade on Sunday. Wherever he decides to preach, you all be in the next block down, wearing the t-shirts. You will be overflowing vessels of grace and love. I will be watching eagerly for you as I march; and praying all the while for the Holy Spirit to work mightily among you. I will let you know what I hear from those in the parade with me. Take care!

    • We have several Rubens at our London Pride. It’s generally really well policed, and they are kept at a distance and all the marchers make as much noise as possible as we pass them, to drown out their shouts.

      This year, all the Christians at London Pride have been invited to march wearing purple T-shirts with a cross and ‘Christian and proud’ on the front, and the Stonewall logo on the back (amazingly, Stonewall, a big secular LGB charity, has provided sponsorship).

      We hope we’ll be able to show love, community and God to our fellow marchers, so everyone can know that God is for them too!

      • Debbie Thurman

        Not amazing at all. Christianity and pride are like oil and water. It’s a juxtaposition the worldly try to make, to sooth and justify themselves. Pride is ungodly idolatry, no matter what we attach it to.

        Love the prayer, Kevin. It does take true humility to see the sin, the judgment in ourselves and realize, when looking at another’s short-sightedness, that there but for the grace of God go I. It works on both sides of the issues. We are all short-sighted or sin-sighted and desperately in need of grace 24/7.

        I try to stop and remember what Andrew has reminded us of often: that we are to love others and hate our own sins. We will move this particular train of redemption and reconciliation forward to the extent that we get that. May God grant us all that vision.

        • Yeah I wondered about the slogan, but I don’t think it means proud like Christians usually mean proud (when they’re talking about the sin). I think it means being OK about being a Christian, OK about being gay, and OK with God – being at peace with yourself. Which we all need to be if we’re in with a hope of loving our neighbours as ourselves!

  • Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
    We need to put this in perspective…the Apostle Paul would have been one of them while he was still Saul… As much as they hurt others, these misguided people, who truly believe they are doing God’s work, are precious
    to God. In addition to my prayers for the Marrin group this weekend, I’m going to add the hatemongers. Also, we need to pray for all those who work in the restaurants and bars in Boystown. This is the roughest week of the year for them and they put up with a lot. This hits close to home…my daughter works the midnight shift at the Melrose. (if any of you are ministering in the wee hours and need a hug, go there and ask for Beth. She may not have time to pray on the spot, but she can give hugs!)

    • Alice – I wish I would have seen this earlier! Drat. I love Melrose. Next time I’m there at night, though, I’ll track her down.

      • Andrew…please do go see her…she’s a Christian and a lesbian. After she sees your parade pictures, I’m sure she’ll cry just as I did. The gay community is dear to me. Before I was a Christian, I had lupus. A group of gay guys reached out to me and helped me through some pretty dark days. Beth’s story is a long one. Briefly…I adopted her as an adult. She came out at age 45…after working through her abuse issues. Truth does free us…she went back to school on her 50th birthday to study software engineering at DePaul…she carries a 4.0 after two years!

        • Wow. I will most definitely find her next time I’ll at Melrose!

  • blake

    I think as much as they can make us sick, its also prob a brainwashing that’s been imposed on them from their churches. Its set from a culture of law and punsishment.

    Perhaps our extension of grace is the only thing? Maybe our call is not only to the LGBT but to the homophobes, the self righteous, the bigots and the pharisees?

    I don’t like them but Jesus died for them- and they make my life difficult, but He loved them too.

    Its hard.

  • Josh Williams

    The psalms of lament are especially comforting and therapeutic to me in this time of my life.

    Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men,
    who plan evil things in their heart and stir up wars continually.
    They make their tongue sharp as a serpent’s, and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah

    Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from violent men, who have planned to trip up my feet.
    The arrogant have hidden a trap for me, and with cords they have spread a net; beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah

    I say to the Lord, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Lord!
    O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle.
    Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; do not further their evil plot or they will be exalted! Selah

    As for the head of those who surround me, let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!
    Let burning coals fall upon them! Let them be cast into fire, into miry pits, no more to rise!
    Let not the slanderer be established in the land; let evil hunt down the violent man speedily!
    I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.
    Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.

    Father, forgive me for I know not what I do. Use my negativity in an edifying, positive way.


  • Br. Michael

    I witnessed a gay kill himself and a “street preacher” applauded. I have no more compassion for those who hate, and police to protect them. I am no longer “sorry” for others’ lack of respect to Matthew 25. I will no longer be a victim to other’s hate or my own bitterness. Today, I will no longer “drink poision and wait for “street preachers” to die. I stand and march in the light of God.

    • Angela

      why would a person need police protection, Br?? you planning revenge. Vengance is mine, sayeth the lord

  • Nice prayer, Kevin.

    There was a trio of sign-holders last weekend at Iowa City’s pride parade and festival. They stood in a triangle formation, each one on a different street corner. One would engage a pride participant or would be engaged and another of the sign-holders would subtley whip out a video camera and tape the whole encounter. This pattern continued for about an hour until the parade came and went. They then packed up their signs and left. They apparently weren’t interested in hanging around for the festival, only the parade.

    Personally, I don’t pray for or engage street preachers. I don’t see the point. I’m not going to come up with some brilliant observation or counter-argument that’ll stop them from protesting myself and my friends and I’m not interested in experiencing the mental frustration and anger that’ll build if I try talking with any of those guys. Let them protest and then move on out of our community.

  • Angela

    Once you’re saved, you no longer need to fear hell or what man can do to you 🙂

  • verandoug

    Kevin if we believe Homosexuals are going to Hell and that is what the Bible says will happen to them, we would be a bunch of monsters if we stayed at home with this knowledge and did not warn them of this. doug

    • Doug: I question how effective protesters like the guy up top are. Here in Iowa City, they had a guy with a “Got AIDS Yet?” sign. ( Do you really think Pride participants are gonna read that and here him insult them over a voice amplifying and be receptive to him?

      • Eugene

        Do you have a better idea?

        The thing is, Pride participants will not be very receptive to this message regardless of how it’s presented. And if a protester actually believes that gay people are going to Hell, he should at least be honest about it. From what I can tell, “bait-and-switch” messages and “I loooove you” messages can be even more off-putting and irritating.

  • I just don’t see the point of reaching out to someone by being so insulting and abrasive that those being reached out to will reject your message.

    • This was supposed to be a reply to Eugene’s 7/9/10 7:43 AM message.

    • Eugene

      Gay people will not like this message, anyway. They can’t be expected to like it. The message itself sounds “insulting and abrasive” to them. That’s why it makes no sense to sugarcoat it.

      The thing is, we all are fatigued with different slogans, messages and images. And we all think we’re right. That’s why shocking and harsh slogans actually make sense. They breach your defense against all the foreign memes and ideals. They get the point across. PETA’s advertising is a good example. It’s unpleasant and shocking, but it gets the point across – because the point itself is unpleasant. And I still remember the time when I first heard about the “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” slogan.

      Being “nice” won’t necessarily make people accept your message. Even if you try to say something like, “I looove you and God loooves you, but we hate your homosexuality”, the message will be rejected just as easily. It can actually make gay people more angry (at least, that’s what often happens in comments to different blog posts).

      Do you think that anti-gay Christians simply shouldn’t reach out to gay people at all?

      • It’s not a matter of being nice. It’s a matter of “what’s the point?”. I get to stand in a sea of gay people, yell at people, and get yelled at by them. Makes for great martyr attitude. Beyond that? Not much.

        “Should” they reach out to gays? Eh. Is it their right to reach out to gays. Sure. Are there more effective ways to do it. Definitely.

        Then again, we’re all sinners, according to their beliefs. No sin greater or lesser than the other. Why aren’t they out with “Got AIDS Yet?” at homecoming when the frats and sororities are going by with their floats? Why not scream salvation-laced insults at the high school marching bands?

        Those street preachers aren’t trying to reach out to or minister to gay people. Not really.

        • Eugene

          It’s not a matter of being nice. It’s a matter of “what’s the point?”.

          The point is that you will go to Hell if you don’t abandon your chosen lifestyle. 🙂 In a way, it’s like a warning on a pack of cigarettes. You are not supposed to like it.

          “Are there more effective ways to do it. Definitely.”

          Examples? How exactly can you turn a confident, well-adjusted gay man into an “ex-gay” person?

          “Why aren’t they out with “Got AIDS Yet?” at homecoming when the frats and sororities are going by with their floats?”

          Well, I don’t know the answer, but they probably assume that AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality. More importantly, the modern society still believes (or pretends to believe) that heterosexual marriage is the ideal expression of sexuality. I guess that’s why (heterosexual) premarital sex doesn’t seem as “dangerous” as homosexuality. In away, promiscuous heterosexual people are still on the path to (heterosexual) marriage. Gay people aren’t.

  • Kostya

    Ruben at least loves his neighbor enough to warn him about coming judgment, no wonder America is falling apart because of this sissifying message of “God loves you as you are”, very sad indeed…