This past August my wife Leeta and I visited Edinburgh, Scotland for two days. We happened to be there during a month-long festival that takes place around that same time each year in Edinburgh. The festival used to feature classical dramatic productions – think Shakespeare. But in more recent years it has come to highlight modern, indie drama presentations. For that reason, the festival has been named Fringe.
After taking a bus to the center of Edingburgh’s famed tourist district, the Royal Mile, Leeta and I began making our way up the hill toward Edinburgh Castle. In many places the streets and sidewalks were quite literally wall-to-wall people. Along the way street entertainers drew crowds by performing music, magic, mime and the like. The large public square outside St. Giles Cathedral was dotted with canopies under which street merchants sold their wares. A sizeable pair of temporary columns supporting a wide beam stood on the square, advertising the Fringe festival.
Countless large posters advertised the seemingly-innumerable plays that were being offered during the festival. Scores of promoters of the various shows energetically offered tickets to passersby. From the poster-advertisements I saw, it seemed the large majority of the dramatic presentations were of a morally-degraded nature – not what I would recommend as good, moral entertainment viewing.
As we walked along the crowded thoroughfare near the cathedral I suddenly spotted a large white cross up ahead in the middle of the street. “Why?” was printed in large letters atop the cross, and an arrow pointed to the words of John 3:16 which were printed on the crossbar. Two brief parenthetical statements highlighted in red lettering were inserted in the verse by way of explanation and invitation: “For God so loved the world (that’s you) that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him (will you???) shall not perish but have eternal life.”
A tall, pleasant-looking man stood quietly beside the cross with both his arms extended. In each hand he held out a Christian pamphlet entitled “Father’s Love Letter: An Intimate Message from God to You.” The pamphlet, which is saturated with more than fifty Bible references, very winsomely communicates God’s complete knowledge of us as well as His desire to have a personal relationship with us and to bless us abundantly in this life and throughout eternity. In definite but non-pushy fashion the tract invites people to enter God’s spiritual family through personal, saving faith in Jesus Christ.
My heart was moved by the sight of this faithful ambassador of Christ quietly holding out the Gospel (Good News) of salvation to anyone who would care to take the pamphlet or to stop and talk in order to learn more about it. I was especially struck by the contrast of this evangelist offering the message of God’s spiritual light and life in the public square where secularism and even plenty of godlessness were very much in evidence.
We stopped and introduced ourselves to this fellow Christian and thanked him for his commendable public witness. He introduced himself simply as Steve (sorry I didn’t get his last name). Steve was friendly and engaging. After visiting a few minutes, he suggested we pray together, which we did. Steve prayed God’s blessing on us in our ministry, thanked the Lord for the encouragement our brief visit had been to him, and asked God to make his outreach efforts there that day spiritually fruitful. Steve’s earnest prayerful dependence on the Lord in carrying out his evangelistic ministry was obvious.
I later visited the website of the ministry organization Steve is part of, Joy on the Streets. I would have a degree of reservation toward some of the perspectives I saw promoted there. But the foundational desire of that Christian ministry to passionately, publicly, joyfully and urgently share the Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is spot-on. Their zeal in that regard is an encouragement (and something of a rebuke) to me to be more faithful and earnest in sharing the Gospel myself. Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie