Last Friday and Saturday, eight of us from Midwestern Baptist College and Theological Seminary traveled to New Orleans to share the Gospel at the Mardi Gras festivities.
Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday,” is a celebration named for the last day prior to the period of “Lent” celebrated by liturgical churches. On Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras, the faithful are to receive ashes on their foreheads, hence “Ash Wednesday.” Liturgical churches seek to emphasize fasting from something during the approximate six-week period of Lent.
So, to make a long story short, the weekend before the “fasting” begins is for some a good time for celebration—which celebration finds a focal point in the French Quarter of New Orleans on Bourbon Street.
So the eight of us teamed up with David Cobb Ministries and set out to Bourbon Street with three 15-foot high crosses. Immediately upon setting up those crosses at three intersections of Bourbon Street, where the crowds were thick, we began to hear rebukes and jeers from the revelers. By the way, we had smiley face “Jesus Loves You” t-shirts on, and were giving away small gospel pamphlets with smiley face “Jesus Loves You” on the cover.
Here are some of the sanitized “Top Ten” comments we heard:
(10) “What does Jesus specifically say about homosexuality?”
(9) “Why is the preacher down the street saying _____?”
(8) “Are you getting paid to do this?”
(7) “Jesus doesn’t love me; I’m going to hell!”
(6) “I’ll ask for forgiveness tomorrow!”
(5) “Why do you hate _____?”
(4) “Leave us alone, we’re just having a good time!”
(3) “Your cross is upside down!”
(2) “You need to leave!”
(1) “Why are you here?”
At times it was a bedlam of spiritual warfare. The hostility to the crosses was quite alarming. If anything the hostility to the cross, in and of itself, was reaffirming that we were doing the right thing.
Jesus did not say, “Go in to all the world, except Bourbon Street.” He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15).
By the grace of God, along with the less pleasant conversations, some people were receptive and open to the gospel. It was amazing and humbling to see and feel the spiritual battle around this liturgical holiday!
[By the grace of God, our team was privileged to hand out a total of 12,000 tracts and pray with 4 people for salvation this past weekend!]