Easter Outreach at the Flea Market

IMG_5624For Easter, we took the remaining Gospel coins (from our St. Patrick’s Day outreach) and stuffed them into multi-colored Easter eggs, along with candy, stickers, temporary tattoos and million dollar bill tracts.

Both Megan and Lexi enjoyed putting the materials together.

I booked a table at the local flea market, and we set up our booth as per usual.

Unfortunately, it was a bitter cold morning with sporadic rainfall (i.e., miserable conditions). But Megan was persistent and gave away most of the “Resurrection Eggs”. I was able to hand out a lot of Bibles and Gospel tracts, though conversations were few and far between.

As always, we pray that God would bless our efforts and use the materials we distributed to open the eyes of the spiritually blind.

St. Patrick’s Day Outreach

IMG_4717For St. Patrick’s Day this year, we decided to go see the parade in uptown Charlotte. We had never gone before, so it was quite an adventure. Megan and Lexi were excited to dress up, and I was excited to make the event an evangelistic outreach.

I was inspired by a video from Living Waters (see below), making excellent use of their Gospel coins. We ordered a cheap, plastic cauldron online and two hundred coins from the ministry.

And that was really all the prep we needed.

We arrived at the parade late, so we were way at the fringe of the festivities. We thought we could stand at the end of the parade and hand coins out to everyone as they left.

Surprise, surprise… Our nerves got the best of us, and we made excuses for why it wasn’t an ideal place to hand out coins. So, we walked against the flow of foot traffic, and were able to use Lexi to hand out coins.

By the end of the event, we handed out about 50-60 coins and had a LOT leftover. “Next year,” I thought, “We’ll get rid of them next year.”

I had no idea it would actually be much sooner than that.

Christmas Outreach to the Neighborhood

IMG_4219In the days leading up to Christmas, we prepared over 250 door hanger bags containing a New Testament Bible, New Testament reading plan, Gospel tract, homemade cookie, and a personal invitation to join our family for a home Bible study.

Initially, we just wanted to invite the 10 or so households in our cul-de-sac. But we had hundreds of bagged Bibles and tracts from an outreach we planned for our former church, which never materialized for one reason or another.

So, we invited our whole neighborhood.

It was a cold winter, and we felt the pressure to abandon our task. We weren’t going to speak to anyone directly, but even the act of leaving something as controversial as the Gospel on the doors of our neighbors filled us with apprehension.

To ease the burden, my parents decided to join us and make it a family outreach. But Satan had other plans.

My parents, wife, daughter and I piled into my parents’ minivan, and as soon as we pulled out of our driveway, we got a flat tire. We drove it about one block before realizing what happened — and ended up on the side of the busiest road in the neighborhood.

My mom decided to stay with the van, as she waited for AAA to show up. My dad, frustrated, decided to take our daughter back to the house to wait for us to finish. So, it was up to Megan and I.

One of the reasons I wanted to marry Megan was because of her boldness in passing out religious literature to complete strangers. She has an outgoing delightfulness about her that is appealing to everyone. As I wrestled with discouragement and anxiety, I relied heavily on Megan to keep us moving forward.

For the next few hours, we went up and down every street and cul-de-sac in our neighborhood, hanging the good news packets on our neighbors’ doors. We finally stopped, when the sky became dark.

We were completely exhausted — physically and spiritually. But went out again the next day.

For the second outing, it was Megan, Lexi, Nikki (our dog) and I. We had a red wagon that carried Lexi and the packages. This seemed a lot easier, because we weren’t dealing with as much adversity. It was actually kinda fun — especially when Lexi rang her jingle bell as we walked along.

We finished handing out all of the bags and completed the outreach. Now, all we had to do is wait to hear if anyone was interested in doing a Bible study at our house.

Unfortunately, we only had one response to our online survey — so we decided it wasn’t the right time to host a neighborhood Bible study.

However, we are very pleased to have participated in Jesus’ mission to the world, starting with our own neighborhood. We pray that God would use our efforts and the materials we shared to open the eyes of the spiritually blind and bring lost souls to Christ.

Tract or Treat

Tract or TreatToday is Halloween — or, as Ray Comfort likes to say, National Evangelism Day, when people actually come to your doorstep for free stuff. It’s probably the easiest opportunity to hand out tracts and engage your neighbors in casual conversation.

Since this was only the second year we’ve lived here in Charlotte — and we didn’t participate last year — we had no idea how many kids would show up at our door. So, we bought 42 full-size Hershey bars and wrapped them with Million Dollar Bills. (Note to self: We ran out in less than an hour. Get more candy next year.)

I figure, if you’re going to give out Gospel tracts, you don’t want the stigma of being “that person” in the neighborhood, if you can help it — so at the very least, give out the best candy you can with the tracts.

I actually had one parent respond, “Oh, this is the good house!”

I almost challenged her definition of “good,” but thought that could wait for our next encounter.

For more evangelism tips for Halloween, visit Living Waters.

Christian Music Day 2018 Gospel Outreach

Once Blind booth at Christian Music DayOn September 22, 2018, Once Blind (my wife and I) sponsored a booth at the annual Christian Music Day festival at Carowinds park in Charlotte, North Carolina. We shared our booth with two other Christian ministries in Charlotte — Justice Ministries (anti-human trafficking) and Love Life Charlotte (pro-life).

Over the course of 7 hours, we spoke to about 50 people and took them through the “Good Person Quiz,” which is basically our modified version of The Way of the Master. Everyone who took the quiz received a free copy of the Settled DVD or Heroine CD. Despite its age, the Heroine CD was a big draw for attendees who came to the festival to hear Christian music.

It was a blessing to have the other ministries at our table, as each struck a chord with concert goers and brought people to our table. We all benefited from sharing our resources.

Megan and I primarily spoke with professing Christians, who may or may not have a clear knowledge of the true Gospel. Many professed their own goodness and bristled at the thought that they — or anyone else — deserved God’s judgement. But when we walked through the Law — the way Jesus did — we shined a light on sin, and most came to realize the degree to which we all fall short of the glory of God.

Pray for those we spoke to — that God would convict them and bring them to saving faith, if He hasn’t already.

Overall, I think this was the best outreach we’ve ever done. We will definitely be sponsoring more events at Carowinds — and sharing our booth with other ministries seeking to impact the city of Charlotte with the message of Jesus Christ.

WVU Freshman Hears the Gospel

WVU Freshman EliseOn our way home from vacation on Labor Day weekend, we stopped by the WVU campus in Morgantown, West Virginia and ran into Elise, a college Freshman and former Catholic, with whom we shared the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. She is a lovely person and was very gracious to us. She seemed appreciative of our efforts and open to reevaluating Christianity by reading the Gospel tract and Bible we gave her. Please pray that God would reveal Himself to her.

[Video removed at the request of the subject.]

Evangelism Policies on Charlotte Campuses

Winthrop University CampusLately, I’ve been considering going to local colleges and universities in Charlotte to hand out gospel tracts, open-air preach and invite students to my church. While the public university I attended in Virginia twenty years ago was very open to having street preaching and canvasing on campus, times have changed, and religious expression has been steadily regulated and suppressed throughout the country.

So, what are the free speech policies on college campuses today? Are all public institutions for higher learning required to follow the same rules?

Below are the free speech policies of three state-funded schools in the Charlotte area. Generally speaking, the more rules there are, the less free speech there is on campus (when speech is relegated to specific zones, times, etc.).

So, for future reference, here are the evangelism-relevant policies of three universities/colleges close to where I live, work and worship in Charlotte, NC and Rock Hill, SC…

UNC Charlotte

I. Distribution of Pamphlets and Written Materials
Both Affiliated and Non-Affiliated Groups may distribute written materials in any open, exterior campus space or in the Cone Center Main Entrance Lobby. When charitable donations are to be accepted at the time such written materials are distributed, the provisions of Section II of this Policy shall apply. In expressing a policy of open distribution of written materials, the University does not assume any obligation or responsibility for the content of the materials distributed. Furthermore, the University reminds any organization distributing written materials to be aware of the current laws concerning defamation, obscenity, fair labor practices, defacement or destruction of State property, and other applicable laws.
(University Policy: 601.9)

Central Piedmont Community College

III. Speech and Assembly for Non-College-Affiliated Individuals and Groups

CPCC places reasonable restrictions on the time, place, and manner in which non-College-affiliated individuals and groups may exercise rights of free speech, petition, and peaceable assembly on College property.

The College has designated certain areas for free speech, outdoor public assemblies, and distribution/petitioning and requires non-College-affiliated individuals and groups, without regard to the content of their activities, to confine such activities to these areas. The College reserves the right to relocate any assembly to ensure that the activity does not interfere with the normal operation of the College.

IV. Registration and Regulations

Participants exercising their rights of free speech, petition, and peaceable assembly must follow these regulations:

A. Registration: Non-College-affiliated individuals and groups must register with the Student Life Office at least 3 business days, but no more than 30 business days, in advance by completing the Registration for Use of Designated Area form. The Student Life Office will notify Campus Security, the Campus Dean, and the Public Information Officer regarding any registration. A separate registration form is required for each day and site. Upon request of a College official, non-affiliated individuals and groups will be required to provide proof of registration for use of the designated area. College students, staff, faculty, and affiliated groups who have chosen not to register must be able to show current and valid College identification.

B. Time Restrictions: The designated areas are available for use between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays when the College’s general curriculum classes are in session.

E. The Right to Dissent: The right to dissent is the complement of the right to speak, but these rights need not occupy the same forum at the same time. A speaker is entitled to communicate his or her message to the audience during his or her allotted time, and the audience is entitled to hear the message and see the speaker during that time. A dissenter must not substantially interfere with the speaker’s ability to communicate or the audience’s ability to hear and see the speaker. Likewise, the audience must respect the right to dissent.

F. No Public Address System: Use of public address systems or amplified sound will not be permitted.

G. Dissemination or Display of Printed Material: Participants may petition and/or distribute pamphlets, booklets, brochures, and other forms of printed material within designated areas on the condition that such material is designed for informational (not commercial) purposes. Any parties interested in pursuing commercial activity must be in compliance with Policy 6.33. The participants must provide a receptacle for the disposal of such materials. The College does not assume any obligation or liability for the content of such distributed material. Any signs used may not be larger than three feet by four feet in size. Signs must either be held by participants or be freestanding signs that do not stick into the ground. No signs may be mounted on buildings, trees, or other College property.
(Policy 6.31)

Winthrop University (Rock Hill, SC)

As a state university, Winthrop also acknowledges the right of individuals and groups who are not affiliated with the University to peacefully assemble on campus. These individuals and groups may assemble on the Campus Green B (closest to the Amphitheatre) and the Amphitheatre and MUST notify the Assistant Dean of Students (803.323.4503) at least two days prior to assembling. Any and all sound equipment used must be cleared through the University.
(2017-2018 Student Handbook)