A Warrior’s Diary: Part 2 – 8/1/2017

This continues a fictional serial, first posted as my blog of July 1, 2017.  If you haven’t read Part 1, I encourage you to do so to provide context for Part 2.  I’ll reiterate that the fictional events portrayed here are based on my actual experiences.

The last several weeks have been surprisingly busy . . . and challenging.  It is evident that the Adversary’s agents focus their attention on those Christians in America whom they consider to be the most dangerous, namely those communicating a clear and Scriptural message to the multitudes of lost souls in this land.  My charge, Steve Bukowski, usually makes one or two trips per week to downtown Chicago.   It’s not just the intensity of the street evangelism that wears him out; it’s the spiritual battle itself, the enemy working to hinder and discourage, or trying to inflict sickness or provoke a disabling or even lethal accident.  One of my jobs is to prevent or deflect such attacks.  I must not fail.

It usually takes Steve two days to recover after each trip, even when his work goes smoothly.  On the surface one might think that a day of handing out tracts and engaging in 1-2-1 Gospel presentations would be light work.  If done lightly, it just might.  Yet the old man gives his best for every individual who talks with him, and he works hard, using a variety of small but clever tactics to get those hurrying by to accept tracts.

Des Plaines, Illinois

Des Plaines, Illinois

Today I’ve enjoyed working again with an old friend, Leto, assigned to the fellow partnering with Steve today.  Jack was able to get a week day off from work to join Steve on the train ride from Des Plaines.  He’s a young man, still learning how to share the Good News, yet has plenty of enthusiasm for the work.  It’s been a pleasure to listen in on their fellowship, their mutual encouragements and exhortations, which started the moment they greeted each other on the train station platform this morning.  Leto greeted me at the same time.

The warrior’s thunderous voice would have terrified the mortals nearby if they had ears to hear:  “Ho, Janus!  Into the fray side-by-side again after so many years!”

I replied, “Hail, Leto!  I sense trouble ahead of us today.  What news do you bring?”

“Indeed,” he said.  “I’ve been briefed that several encounters today will be critical.  Many of our brothers have been assigned to guide lost souls to cross paths with these two saints.  Here are the specifics . . .”

Leto proceeded to give me times and locations in the city for us to expect Spirit-ordained encounters, then concluded with, “Of course we can expect opposition.  The enemy’s scouts have noted our preparations and are tracking our comrades.  They are marshalling forces to keep their children within their own fold.”

I nodded, responding, “I expected as much.  The last two days have been difficult here . . . the usual stuff, like car trouble and sleeplessness, but more poignant attacks, too, in the form of relatives causing trouble . . . plus a couple of ‘Christians’ he knows who demanded help on a quite trivial matter today.  Wisely, he declined.  The old saint has learned that such opposition is an indicator of blessings in the battle ahead.  So he was not deterred.”

Blog 112 - image Des Plaines Metra waiting“I, too, have had my hands full this week with trouble in Jack’s life.  I’m pleased his older friend warned him accordingly, urging him to pray that neither the world nor the enemy would hinder their ability to reach today’s battlefield.  I sometimes wish that our forces could operate unseen to our opposition.  Our movements, unfortunately, allow the enemy to focus his attack on both ends, to keep the evangelist away from the hearer . . . ah, the train is about to pull out.  I’ll ride atop, if you like, if you would prefer to set watch inside.”

. . . . . a few hours later, mid afternoon, at the southeast corner of the Daley Center . . . . .

“Hey, Jack, how’s it going?”  Jack had just walked over after a very busy hour of work a block west of us, in front of City Hall.

“Good, Steve . . . lots of great 121’s.  Just finished talking to a guy who got under real conviction.  I’ve got hope for that fellow.  He promised to read the tracts I gave him and said he’ll give us a call soon.  But there’s this crazy lady that stood across the street from me, yelling and cussing at me, acting really weird . . . I decided to get out of her line of fire and see how you’re doing.”

“Yeah, she was over here a while ago, across the street, cussing at me, too.  I think she’s demon-possessed.”
“Really?  You know, it seems she got really loud just as that guy was opening up about sins in his life.”

“What’s interesting,” Steve said, “is that she acted like she wanted to cross the street to get into my face, but she just couldn’t do it.  I think we’ve got some protection today, Jack.  She doesn’t look like much . . . what do you figure, 5 foot 4, maybe 40 years old, overweight.  But I’m glad she can’t cross the street.”

Chicago City Hall

Chicago City Hall

Indeed, Leto and I have kept her at bay, despite the foul rantings of several of the Adversary’s agents urging her on, shouting vile words into her ears, which then came out of her own mouth.  I was compelled to use my sword to send one of them to the Pit, the one determined to push her across the street to accost Steve physically.  I gave her a quick shove back onto the sidewalk, then overcame her tormentor.  Seeing their comrade cut asunder, the vapor of his demise disappearing into the air, the others backed off, content for the moment to fill her mind with hate.

The demons in the West do not seem to match the prowess of those in the East that I battled so recently.  It is clear the enemy concentrates his forces where the war rages most hotly.  But the enemies I’ve faced these last several weeks are diligent and furious enough, working hard to keep America docile, deluded, and complacent.

“Hey, Jack, that tour bus is stopping . . . it’s full of young people.  Let’s hit them with tracts.”

Steve and Jack walked quickly over to meet the stream of high school students heading toward the Daley Center’s south entrance, Jack hurrying to catch those in the lead, Steve moving to intercept the middle of the flow.  With warm smiles from the evangelists and a new surge of energy, along with a bit of encouragement from Leto and myself, all 46 students accepted tracts, plus the two teachers escorting them!

I’ve been impressed with the variety of tracts the redeemed ones use, some designed by Steve, all of them with attention-grabbing colors and graphics.  Steve has been training his partner, pointing out that when tracting a crowd, a big variety of tracts is advantageous, especially with young people.  After the first teenager in this group accepts her tract, the ones following are eager to see just what they’re getting, noticing that each one is different, which provokes curiosity about the tracts their peers received.  By peering into the building, I observe that in the minutes to follow, after they pass by the two evangelists, many of them trade the tracts with each other, thereby reading multiple Gospel presentations, all with different ‘hooks’ to grab their attention.  Excellent!

The youngsters disappear into the building, each with a written message of eternal opportunity in his or her very hands, but two young fellows trail behind, intrigued by Steve’s effort to engage them in conversation.  Steve is enthused, because these boys have questions . . . they think the questions should stump the old man, but his responses penetrate to the conscience, as he turns the hypothetical into the personal, challenging them on their sins, their lives, their hope (or lack thereof) for facing God.

Jack stands close by, listening in until the guys depart, each with several additional tracts in hand.  At that moment, we hear yelling, screaming . . . tires squeal . . . the busy intersection is gridlocked.  The devil-possessed woman stands in the center of the crossing, yelling curses at the top of her lungs, screaming her anger and frustration.  There must be two thousand pedestrians within sight and sound . . . all frozen in place and staring, plus hundreds of cars backed up on both busy streets.

Daley Center, City Hall in background

Daley Center, City Hall in background

Two police officers run quickly from their security post on the east side of the Center, vainly attempt to reason with her, then grapple with her, hoping to pull her out of the street.  Amazingly, they fail, not able to see the devilish forces that energize her thrashing arms and legs.  It takes an additional three officers to wrestle her to the ground, handcuff her, and drag her into a police van, which quickly speeds away.  The buzz of hundreds of conversations fills the air, marveling at what just happened, but then traffic begins to flow again and the urbanites go about their business.

Jack observes, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like that before!”

Steve nods and says, “Jack, I think we should feel really good about this . . . and thankful!  Praise God!  If the Adversary is stirred up that much, we must be doing some good today!”

Blog 112 image traffic jam. . . . . The next Tuesday evening in the living room of a large residential home just outside Des Plaines . . .

Steve is on one of his ‘field trips’ . . . He signed up for this ‘fellowship group’ meeting after visiting a megachurch ‘worship service’ on Sunday morning.  I must be careful to put that in quotes.  The old man’s annoyance was palpable, although well hidden from those around him.  Yet he endured the anemic worldly music, as a necessary prelude to the winsome presentation given by the ‘senior pastor.’

My assessment of the message tracked with Steve’s.  The speaker spoke truth, but nothing that the large audience really needed to hear.  I surveyed the large auditorium, packed with over 2,000 people.  I had the pleasure of greeting a few of my fellow warriors . . . sadly, too few.  The evidence of the indwelling Spirit rested upon just a handful in the auditorium.  Nothing the others would hear in the sermon would provoke them to question their eternal destiny.  The ones already secure in their salvation likewise would hear nothing to impel them to urgency, to reach out with the saving Gospel to the lost multitudes around them.

I asked one of my brothers, Crispin, why there were only five warriors present, since I could count a full fifty of the redeemed in the crowd.  He explained that there was so little to do that each warrior could easily track ten of these saints.  The opposition was light, after all.  Once the enemy had established their program here, its best warriors could move on to other fields.  Crispin then urged me to be quick to ask for assistance if I needed help . . . any help at all!  So I explained what my charge was doing there, and suggested that he and his brothers work to guide certain saints to intersect with the old man’s path.

Accordingly, Steve was pleased that several middle-aged and senior saints greeted him after the service, giving him the chance to make his pitch.  Unfortunately, the responses were uniformly disappointing.

Blog 112 - megachurch serviceAs Steve headed toward his car Crispin said, “I’m not surprised, of course.  We know these people.  That’s why we call this group ‘Ichabod* Megachurch.’  Several of them once had some fire, but they are far too comfortable now.  That’s why we’re all on short term assignments.  We have to rotate in and out of these guardianships, lest we be tempted to discouragement.  But I have to ask . . . your charge has not been led here by the Spirit, has he?”

I replied, “No, but he’s determined to find someone of like mind, someone who has some fire for the battle.  Elohim has not discouraged the old man.  His efforts are permitted and some good may come.  He does seem to make some of these saints uncomfortable, at least.”

Steve’s real objective is this Tuesday night fellowship group.  He had learned that this group of adults was most active in the charitable outreach activities of the church and therefore might be receptive to his pleas . . . after all, the church web site was quite explicit in proclaiming their desire to spread the Gospel.

The ages ranged from 30 to 75, several couples plus two divorced single men and a couple of widows.  After introductions for Steve’s benefit – the new guy – he was asked if he would share something about himself and why he decided to visit the small group.

Steve went into his pitch . . . “I’ve been blessed to be retired from the paycheck for some years now, even before my wife went home to Heaven, to be able to use my time to reach out with the Gospel.  There are such great opportunities around the Des Plaines area, or by taking a short train ride into Chicago!  I’ll give you an example or two.  A good friend and I went downtown last Thursday . . .”

Steve went on to talk about the tracts he uses, handing out a wide variety to the group members as he talked.  He told about the young atheist college student he met outside DePaul University, how he challenged the young man’s materialist worldview, eliciting questions and an openness to Steve’s presentation of the Gospel.  He then told about the three Roman Catholic nuns who accepted tracts, despite an unwillingness to engage in conversation . . . making the point that tracts give people a chance even if you cannot engage them.  He talked about the gangbanger who admitted that he was a murderer in a recent gang war, but found the young fellow eager to open up, eager to hear that there is a God who forgives . . . contingent on repentance.

(My brothers are tracking that young fellow, who seems to be under conviction.  He could bring many into the Kingdom if he repents.)

I noted that Steve was careful to avoid mentioning the demonic manifestations he saw.  He judged that might be a bit too much for this group to handle.

Blog 112 - image small group meetingSteve closed his pitch with this:  “So I’m looking for someone . . . anyone who can walk and talk.  I noticed that everyone here walked in and talked to me, so you all qualify!  I’d love to have any of you join me for a day downtown, or ‘ride shotgun’ with me knocking doors near here, or . . . if that’s too much to start, then let me come along on one of your charitable outreaches.  I know you all believe that Jesus saves.  And it’s great to reach out to the homeless with meals . . . and all the other great projects you do . . . but as you help someone physically, I’d like to be there to share the Gospel with each one you help.  And if you’d like me to coach you so you can do that, too, compassionately, efficiently . . . it’s not hard at all to learn to do this . . . I’d love to teach anyone who wants to learn, or just needs to refresh, if you used to do personal evangelism.  So what do you think?”

Well, that provoked a lot of discussion, some of it quite positive . . . “Well, that’s great Steve!  That must be your special gift!” . . . Some of it condescending . . . “You know, we’ve kind of got a different way of doing things here.  We don’t want to scare people, after all.” . . . Some of it defensive . . . “Oh, that’s not for me.  I’m into building relationships with people.  In fact, that’s what our Pastor tells us to do, build relationships.”

Steve worked hard to be affirming.  For example:  “Absolutely!  Let’s build relationships.  I just want to make sure that during the relationship, the Gospel is shared and, if the ‘relationship’ is just a quick stop to pick up a meal, it’s easy to use that one-minute relationship and share some Gospel truth right then, especially since a lot of the people you help, well, you might never see them again.”

It was obvious that Steve was getting traction with no one.  The group’s host moved quickly to other topics, including a rehash of the elementary Sunday morning sermon.  Steve had to stifle several yawns.  The only other interesting element occurred when one of the men asked for prayer about his live-in mother-in-law.  Bill and his wife were greatly stressed by friction in the home due to the woman’s grumpiness, quick temper, interference with the children . . . and so on.

Steve couldn’t help himself:  “Is she a believer?”

Bill:  “What do you mean?  Of course she is!  She comes with us to church most of the time.”

Steve:  “Sure, I’m sorry I don’t have more background here.  I’m just asking whether she was ever actually born again.  Whether she trusted Christ at some point in her life and she gave strong evidence for it.”

Bill:  “Well, sure, I guess so.  I’m not going to get judgmental about her.”

Steve:  “What I’m suggesting is that the behavior you describe is that of a lost person . . . no fruits of the Spirit . . . you know, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness . . . It could be the best possible way you could help her, and yourselves, is to tell her face-to-face that you’re concerned that she’s never actually known the Lord . . . that she needs to be saved . . . that that’s the real problem.”

Bill blew up at this, speaking angrily, “Hey, I’m not gonna cram religion down her throat!!  What do you know about it, anyway?”

Steve decided to let it drop and was quiet until the meeting ended.  Everyone was polite to him as the meeting broke up, but the old saint knew with perfect clarity that this field trip was over.  I could hear him thinking, “It will be good to get out on the street again this week and talk to some honest gangbangers.”

 

*Ichabod – See 1 Samuel 4:21

 

  • drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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