While I was on my normal route to New Haven I felt the sudden urge to turn around and go to Hartford for ministry instead. I had never preached open-air in Hartford before and wasn’t sure exactly how to get there either. I did however find my way easily and located a great public place downtown for preaching.
When I first got out of my car a man was walking bye and I greeted him. We started talking and apparently his truck ran out of gas and he was stuck in Hartford. I don’t know if you was lying or not but if he was lying then I am sure he got convicted when I gave him money and a gospel of John. He said he would read it. There was a lot of people in the downtown area. I set up my stool on a big brick walk way that had benches full of people and vendors. Like Paul I used a statue to spring board into the gospel. Near me was a statue of Christopher Hooker who founded Hartford in, I believe, 1634. He had a bible in his hand and the monument said it was in that spot where He preached the sermon that inspired the Hartford constitution. Some children gathered near me to listen and people were listening from the benches.
A man came out of one of the offices and asked me to move. I asked if I was breaking the law and he said “no”. When he realized that I was going to move he told me that I was on private property and have to move. I think that was a lie because there were public benches all over that area and it was a public brick sidewalk but I said “Okay sir, where can I preach?” He showed me a area right across from where I was. When I started preaching there a different security guard came and said “Oh no they can’t send you over here”. Then all the security guards came together and agreed on a spot that I could preach at.
Although the only spot they said I could preach at was only inches away from the main road I preached there just the same. As soon as I started a man came out of the office buildings nicely dressed and started swearing repeatedly at me over and over again. He got closer and closer until he was only maybe an inch away from me. He was saying “YOU SHUT THE BLANK UP” over and over again. He got me a big crowd. I said “Sir you keep this up and your going to draw me a bigger crowd.” He continued to yell and to spit and would not ease up. I told him if he doesn’t stop I’ll call the cops. He started doing a satanic sign along with his cursing and then told me he worships Satan. I said “In the name of Christ Jesus you leave me alone!” and he walked off.
That’s when the cops showed up. They pulled me aside and said I can’t use the microphone without a permit. Then they put me in the back of the police car and talked with me for a few minutes. When they released me there was an even bigger crowd there waiting to see what is going on. I stood up on my stool to address them but first looked over to the office and said “I can I preach now? He said “You can preach whatever you want without your microphone.” So I preached the Law, sin, righteousness, judgment, and offered them Christ. A vendor came and complained to the cops and then to me. I told him I will keep him in mind but that I have only been here maybe a total of 10 minutes and won’t be here for to long.
The cop pulled me aside and said I can’t preach anymore because someone complained. I asked the crowd if they were bothered by what I was doing and many people said “NO” and nobody said “Yes”. That’s when they put the hand cuffs on me which gave me marks for two days and put me in the back of the police car. The officer went around the area for about 10 minutes talking to people. He probably wanted to get as many complaints as possible but later told me that nobody wanted to leave their information in order to complain. Finally the cop said “Look, we don’t want to arrest you. We will release you if you promise not to preach.” I said “Officer, it is 2:44 right now. If you release me then by God’s good graces I’ll be preaching again in public by 3:00.” He said “then your going to jail” so I said “I would rather go to jail then to forfeit my right of freedom of speech. I would rather go to jail even for the rest of my life then to deny my Lord.” He brought me to jail where I was able to witness to someone in the cell with me named Jeff. Pray for Jeff. He seemed touch. They took me out of the cell and said they were going to release me and I requested another 10 minutes behind bars so I could finish witnessing. They granted me the favor.
I did the math and realized that I have been preaching the gospel on the street for almost 2 years now without any real incident with the police. In the past 3 weeks alone I have had 6 different incidents with the police in 3 different cities, by 10 different police officers, 3 threats of arrest and 1 actual jailing. Something must have happened in the spiritual. A friend of mine sent me a quote from Ravenhill which he related to the situation. Ravenhill said “We haven’t witnessed to somebody who’s going to an eternal hell according to our theology but we talked about some trivial to them. Whisper in my ear that Satan has moved you up. He said you’re getting to be dangerous to his kingdom. He says you’re spoiling his plans, your thwarting his purposes, your pulling down his strong holds! We’re not pulling things out. We’re building pretty little churches and little rooms for people to sit around. If Jesus came back He wouldn’t cleanse the temple, He’d cleanse the pulpit.”
I think of a different quote from a man of God who said “And the problem today is that the salts lost its flavor and too many candles are under the bushel and under the bed. Now if the church ever recovers the power to break up demonism in the community it will bring down the wrath of evil and the church may land in jail but she’ll learn how to sing in prison, pray down an earth quake. Folks are asking “will the church go underground?” Well she may develop more power underground then she’s got above ground these days. We’re not going to pray down earth quakes in committee meetings, sipping coffee and reading the minutes of the last meeting.”
Of coarse they will claim that I was not “arrested for the gospel” but in reality, the only thing I was doing was preaching the gospel. I was doing nothing more and nothing less. If I were to go to Hartford and preach the gospel I would probably be arrested again. Mark this and be sure of this: This is America which our Christian four fathers fought and died for, so as soon as this court situation is settled, I will be back there preaching the gospel of eternal life to those people. I think I did good going two years without getting arrested; John Baptist lasted only six months. A preacher friend said “your not really apart of the club until you’ve been arrested.” I will do as Jesus commands and “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Please pray over this whole situation that the charges will simply get dropped and I can start preaching there again.