By Samuel Lam
Last year, I attended the Rose Bowl Parade for the first time ever and noticed that there were a lot of people with picketing signs with messages of salvation in Christ. Some were straight to the points, some used megaphones, and some just brought an unnecessary fear to people.
Last week, I returned to the Rose Bowl Parade and I knew that this time, I wanted to talk with them. It was more of me being curious about their approach and why they felt that big signs at a big event was the way to go.
Before the parade began, I sought out one of the picketers. I didn’t get his name, so I will call him Greg. He was an older man, maybe in his 60s and he was very kind and genuine with his discussion with me. He held a sign like the one you see on the right.
I wanted to learn. Instead of just pre-judging them, I wanted to know more.
When I approached him and asked for a minute of his time, Greg was open to talking to me. Instead of shoving Bible verses in my face, he allowed me to ask my question.
I first identified myself as a believer, so he understood where I was coming from. I asked him as to why he believed this method of picketing with Bible verses is a good method. Greg told me that he’s done numerous methods of preaching the Gospel in the past. He’s passed tracts, he’s done missionary work, he’s done so many and picketing is just one of them.
Greg explained that even though there are chances that his approach (just the sign, no megaphone or anything) might scare off people, there have been chances that it reaches one person.
I had always approached this picketing style as “pearls before swine” but Greg told me that it was more of a “sower and the seeds” parable. Maybe his approach doesn’t reach someone and it just lands on rocks. But maybe his work does reach someone in good soil and it grows.
Is it my duty to decide how a person receives the good word? I don’t know. I could just plant the seed and let God handle the rest. But what if my approach scares people away from Jesus?
As I had mentioned earlier in my original blog post last year, the conviction and confidence is something that I admire. And that’s what Greg told me. He was so convicted by God’s word and love that he wants to share it. Sure, the method won’t reach everyone, but if it reaches one, then it’s worth it, right?
He also said that the signs he uses are verses from the Bible and they present the truth. And even though the truth is good to present, there has to be a reason to believe it for a person who doesn’t get it. A balance of the good word and what it means with the sins of the world. But it’s a seed, he told me. That I understood could be just enough to save someone. With that, I understood them a little better.
As I wrapped up my conversation with Greg, he did leave me with one lasting impression. Maybe the picketing thing isn’t for me. Maybe it’s not the best approach, but who’s to judge that? All he knows is that it has reached out to people and it has given people the knowledge of Christ’s existence. And if the picketing has reached people before, then it’s an approach worth doing.
I thanked him, shook his hand and said “God bless you.”
We walked our separate ways as the parade began and for me at least, I left understanding more of something that I always thought was ineffective. Would I ever do what he does? Unlikely. It’s not my style. But do I think people like him are bad? Not anymore. Maybe if he had a megaphone and professed fear with his signs, I’d think differently. But he didn’t have any of that. He had a sign and love in his heart.
He was exactly what we should be as Christians. And with that, I am glad I took a risk and talked with him. Maybe next year I’ll ask a person with a megaphone why they think that their loud approach works. Hopefully I’ll learn something new and maybe I’ll find out that I was missing something the whole time.
But I am glad I took the time to talk to Greg, and he did the same for me. I’m wiser now because of it.