Sunday, May 22, 2011

Westboro Baptist in Savannah: nothing unifies like a common enemy

Today was the day we've been waiting for. No, I'm not talking about Christ's return and I'm not writing this from the heavenlies of heavenlies. Today was the day Westboro came to Savannah.

Personally, I don't see any benefit from counter-protesting a group that thrives on attention. I do hope that the WBC group will hear and respond to the gospel and the only possible way they can hear that gospel is if someone preaches it to them and "demonstrates" the love of Christ, but frankly I didn't have any meaninful interaction with them. They were on one side of the road at every location and we were always on the other with twenty or so officers between us.

There was still much room for the kingdom to advance because there were very few professing believers on our side of the barricades. Most of the counter-protesters were either flaming rainbow worshippers or the friends and family of fallen soldiers. Overall it was a very peaceful demonstration that brought many unbelievers to one location in order to speak against the hateful and graceless God of WBC. I'm down with that.

I didn't want to carry any signs. My wife made a couple signs to hold up. The first containing the message that she wanted everyone to know from the beginning of our planning: "beware of false prophets who come to you in sheeps clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves." the second was the message I said I would put on a poster if I were inclined to carry a sign: "Christ redeemed us from the law by becoming a curse for us." I thanked her but I still didn't carry it.

While everyone shouted and waved their signs around, I interacted with the multiple groups and individuals present. It was a really cool experience. I have never had an opportunity like this to have so many unbelievers, especially homosexuals, engage in a conversation about religion and faith. I am very glad I went downtown and equally glad that Westboro provided such an opportunity.

I was WOWed by some of the responses I got when I asked the folks there if WBC had any effect on their views of who God is. It was nice to know that WBC didn't have the devastating effects on the fame of God's name I thought they did.  I enjoyed listening to the different worldviews represented there.  One girl had several flyers made up that said we make gods in our own image.  She was there to promote gay rights but I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with her message about idols.

Over the course of a couple hours I engaged in several conversations about where I agreed and disagreed with Westboro.  Yes, I think some of what they say is true, but it's only half true. I had many perfect opportunities to tell people about how God does hate everyone who lives in sin but demonstrated His love for those same people by sending Jesus to die for us.  Christ took God's hate for us and His wrath toward us upon Himself and brought us into a right relationship with our heavenly Daddy.  He took the sin and gave us perfection.  He took the hate and gave us love. Every conversation was different because everyone shared different things.  I did the best I could to share the gospel in a way that would speak directly to them yet remain faithful to God's Word.  No one broke down and repented of their sins or asked to be baptized in the fountain at Johnson Square, although that would have been really awesome.  

One of the highlights was when one of my friends (way to go Sara!) persuaded many of the Pride group to sing "Jesus Loves The Little Children".  They sang so loud with so many voices that you couldn't hear WBC for a short time.  What made it so special is that we made many efforts to contact the church sites that were being protested along with numerous other children of God and asked them to join with us to sing praises to God as a unified body and share the love of Christ.  I could almost hear the church in Savannah singing "Amazing Grace" in my daydreams.  Regretfully, we were turned down and even lectured for telling others that they should participate.  Hearing the crowd of unbelievers sing praise to God was like hearing the rocks cry out.  God is sovereign and faithful.  He answers prayer, even when all hope seems lost.

I want to thank all of you that were praying for us through this time.  Even if you live here and didn't feel called to come downtown with us, I'm thankful that you were with us in spirit and gave our words and actions power through your active, prayerful participation.  Our efforts are useless without the other members of Christ's body playing their role.  I believe seeds were planted in the hearts of an unreached, yet local people group.  To the believers that were indifferent and decided you had better, more godly things to do in your living room or pew this morning I say SHAME ON YOU!!!

For my readers that do not live in Savannah:  If Westboro comes to your town, remember this:  you may not have any way to show them the love of Christ but there will be a great opportunity for many unbelievers there to see that same love.  Jesus hates, yet loves people both sides of the barricade and He died to show them.  The very least we can do is give up our comfortable Sunday morning to follow Him there.  That may mean going physically, organizing, or fervently praying.  Just do what God gives you the grace to do and don't ignore it or act on your own strength.  God will lead and provide you as you seek His will.

This is getting long and I don't have the ability to break up the blocks of text with pictures or anything so I'm signing off now.  I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Laters.

2 comments:

  1. Glad to hear it all turned out well. Blessings

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Hearing the crowd of unbelievers sing praise to God was like hearing the rocks cry out." That is SWEET...

    ReplyDelete

As in a biblical church gathering, my word is not complete or final. Participation is allowed, encouraged and expected. Please, don't leave without adding something.