[url=http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com/?p=566#more-566]Slice of Laodicea[/url]
A long time Slice reader decided to take his young son and travel to the Luis Palau Festival in Nebraska. Tens of thousands of people gathered for the fun and frolics, the face painting, the motocross, the BMX shows, the skateboarders, the rock and roll acts, etc. Kevin Pulver decided to go and share the Gospel with as many as he could, knowing that there would be many needy people in the crowd. He shares his experience in this letter. (The lines that are emboldened in the body of the letter, I have highlighted myself.)
Luis Palau Heartland Festival, Omaha Nebraska
Eyewitness Summary by Kevin O. Pulver on Saturday, July 14th, 2007.
I was informed of Mr. Palaus half-gospel Festival presentations through Ingrid Schlueters www.sliceoflaodicea.com, a blog which chronicles the downward spiral of contemporary evangelicalism.
I planned to travel 3 hours to Omaha to attend with my son Joseph. I told him that 3 types of people would be attending the Heartland Festival.
#1 True Christians who didnt realize what was missing in this festival and what was wrong with the philosophy behind it.
#2 Professing Christians who would someday hear, Depart, I never knew you unless they could be awakened and truly converted.
#3 The Un-religious who simply came for the world class carnival atmosphere and who, as Ingrid says,
Dont mind if a little Jesus is drizzled on top.
I told Joseph there would be many thousands there who needed to hear the Gospel, but would only hear half the story from Mr. Palau. This is the half they usually already know, mainly- God is good, God loves them, Jesus died for them. So Saturday morning I wrote a tract titled, The rest of the story, in which I told them that not only is God good, but He is Holy. Yes, God loves them, but they are condemned already because of sin. Jesus died for them, but even the devil believes and is not saved, they must therefore examine themselves by the law to see their great need, then, repent toward God, and put faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. This was the essence of my message. People know God is good- The trouble is, they think they themselves are good as well.
I told Joseph we would not be going to disrupt anything, but merely pass out some tracts, and wear our sandwich board sign promoting the Bible. According to the Festival website, some 300 (I believe) churches were working together to get the gospel out to the people of the area. Surely they would be glad to have us there to help right? Wrong!
We arrived Saturday at about 2:30 P.M. A horse mounted policeman told me there would be no problem taking our wagon in the Qwest Center grounds for the outside festival. Our wagon contained my sign, a cooler with lunch and drinks, and a small backpack with tracts in it. People have been taking stuff in there all day he said.
Outside the grounds we met a man who had been studying to be a priest before being converted during a Nicky Cruz meeting in a protestant church in Colorado decades ago.
He had a sign reading, Why I left the Roman Catholic Church and was passing out literature. He was talking with some young Catholic men who looked for all the world like Mormons except they had on something called a Brown scapular. This is like a religious medal except made of embroidered fabric and has a fabric ribbon rather than a chain. It was worn over their white shirts and said, Whoever dies wearing this brown scapular shall not suffer eternal flames. Our ladys scapular promise. I asked them if they KNEW they would go to heaven when they died, and they said, That would be the sin of presumption, we CANT know. I replied that of course the Catholic Catechism would say they were anathema if they claimed to know, but the BIBLE said, These things are written that ye may KNOW
(I was a Roman Catholic myself before conversion)
Entering the grounds, We passed out a few tracts and then stopped to put the sandwich board sign on and continued to walk through the large crowd, (estimated at 45-50 thousand) and pass out a few tracts.
Understand, this was nowhere near the main stage, but on a sidewalk near a lot of portable tent/booths where people were milling around picking up literature and free stuff such as literature, paper fans, can coolers and ministry information. It had the general atmosphere of a state fair and we were in no way obtrusive nor disruptive to what was going on.
A Catholic man approached, took our tract, and gave us a small religious medal. A few people read our sign and smiled, but for the most part noone seemed to notice much. After all, this was an evangelism event right? All churches were welcome to help, right?
Our sign read on the front:
Jesus said: Go and Sin No More
Limited time offer
Read the Bible
The back said:
The love and grace of God
Will either make you holy
Or cast you into hell.
Fear God- Jesus
In approximately 5 minutes, a man with a white Palau polo shirt approached and said we couldnt pass out our literature. I asked, Why? We drove 3 hours to help evangelize today. I wrote this tract this morning. He replied that all the churches involved had agreed not to pass out any literature except that which they had all agreed upon.
I said, OK, Ill put the tracts back in the backpack. And I started to walk away.
The man said he would have to ask me to remove my sign also. I objected, he insisted, I told him to forget it and started to walk away. He instantly was on his radio asking for additional Palau volunteers and police. I figured the police would arrive and ask me to leave at which point I would comply, but in the meantime my son and I would walk around the carnival a bit and see the sights and some people could read our sign.
Within a few minutes, several more white shirts approached and tried to prevent me from moving in any direction while they frantically updated others by radio on our location. They hindered my movement even to the point of pushing me, surrounding me and holding my wagon so it wouldnt move. We tried to change directions and move through the crowd to sort of peel them off of us so to speak.
Very soon, the goon squad arrived. These were in Palau logoed red shirts. They were large overweight biker types with tattoos, goatees and sunglasses (no collars just T-shirts for these guys.)
Two of the group roughly grabbed my arms and held them out to my sides, another removed my sign and threw it on the ground, and another ripped my camera from my hand. They threatened to throw me to the ground if I resisted them.
Within a minute or two, a bicycle mounted policeman arrived (I dont know if the 3 arrived together or first one and then the other two) and without either asking my name, what I was doing, ordering me to leave, or reading me my rights, he began to handcuff me as if he himself worked for Palaus goons and took orders from them.
He wouldnt answer any questions, but ordered me to lace my fingers together behind my back and then asked where my I.D. was and whether anything sharp was in my pocket with my wallet. (sure officer, I always keep a blowfish and a porcupine in there to thwart pickpockets) (I didnt actually say that but would have if Id thought of it)
An irate man appeared and told the officers that I had assaulted his daughter with my sign. I declared that it was a lie, but inwardly I thought, This could mean trouble.
I was unaware of any occurance, but could have possibly bumped someone when I was trying to move through the crowd to get away from the Palau white shirts who had been assaulting me. I figured some trumped up charges would embolden the police to jail me for sure.
A small crowd began to gather, so I told Joseph to give the people some tracts. The officer commanded him not to, so I invited the people to grab them out of the backpack themselves. Several did so. I figured then I was going to jail and might as well preach.
I asked the crowd to read for themselves what Luis Palau didnt want them to hear. I asked them what was wrong with a man wearing a Bible sign at an evangelistic event?
One man approached and wanted to know what the back of my sign said.
I invited him to pick it up and look for himself as I was rather indisposed at the moment.
He picked it up and read it and said, Thats the Bible. You preach it Brother! You Preach it Brother!
Soon, the police decided to take me out of the grounds, and the 3 of them rode some distance ahead on their bicycles while the Palau whiteshirts led me out of the grounds pulling my wagon.
Joseph, being only 7 years old, was somewhat distraught, not knowing what would happen to him if I went to jail. I tried to comfort him that we would call someone to come get him. I preached as they led me out of the grounds. They took me the long way around the perimeter of the event apparently to avoid as much of the crowd as possible.
The police took me to the west side of 10th street and South side of Webster and told me if I so much as crossed the street to the east sidewalk, I would be arrested. I asked if the median (island) would be OK, and he said that either way would be considered loitering and I would go to jail. (The grounds would mean trespassing I believe he added.)
So I continued to preach as he took my handcuffs off. When my left hand was free, I noticed the policeman or someone had looped my camera strap through my belt loop at my right side.
So literally, shooting from the hip I reached around with my left hand and got my camera turned on and shot a couple photos of him and my right arm.
I should have demanded to get all three officers names and the names of the Palau representatives also, but all I got was the photos and the entire audio on my digital recorder. The officers name was on his shirt. I asked for a correct pronunciation- which he gave. So I do have an oral name and some faces.
Pete, the ex-Catholic man asked if we would take the North corner so we could reach more people without duplicating our literature efforts.
So we finished out our day by standing on the corner passing out our tracts and wearing our sign. The crowds both coming and going were very receptive as I would smile and ask them, Did you get The Rest of the Story?
From where we were standing, we could see the stage happenings projected on an enormous theater screen, and easily hear everything. Some people were sitting around watching from the same spot in addition to the passersby coming and going.
Occasionally, I would preach briefly when the things we saw and heard were just too horrible to let go by.
For instance, when rock music I recognized as Van Halen was played for the crowd.
When former Huskers coach and Congressman Tom Osborne told them God loved them just the way they were. (No mention of the fact they were already condemned just the way they were despite the fact that God loved them.)
When one of the entertainer/emcee/rapper types told of writing a song in the back of a car about God called, He touched me there. (he laughed and said, I dont mean inappropriately)
When a Roman Catholic priest had his turn at the microphone, I asked the crowd if the martyrs had died in vain? Was the entire reformation a tragic misunderstanding? Was the only difference between Catholics and Protestants mere semantics? Hadnt the crowd heard in the news only the week before how Pope Benedict had declared that Vatican II indeed changed nothing and all protestants were still counted heretics and Rome the only way to Heaven? So what was Palau (who is supposedly an evangelical Christian) doing having a Roman Catholic speak to the crowd? I think there were 11 Catholic churches advertised as working with the event in Omaha. They believe their pope is the ultimate authority on earth, and they were OK with what Palau is preaching, so how watered down must Palaus message be in light of the Popes recent words?
Why cant a man even walk through his Festival with a gospel sign? Yet catholics inside the Festival hand out religious medals without being challenged. Idolatrous Catholic medals are OK, gospel signs and tracts are not.
Maybe half a dozen people approached me and said they had been watching the whole thing unfold and listening to me, and were starting to realize that something was very wrong with the whole event.
Around 7:00 P.M. or so, we had long since passed out all our tracts, (300 of our own, and a big stack of Ray Comfort tracts too) and Joseph had to use the bathroom.
Of course, all the public restrooms were apparently off limits to us according to the police, so we headed to the van. We stopped in the parking lot to listen to Palau for a while over the public address system, then drove away, praying that people would somehow hear enough from Palau to get a complete understanding of their lost condition, and that the tracts that both we and the ex-Catholic man had distributed, as well as the small bit of preaching I had done, would glorify God and be used by Him.
Kevin O. Pulver
SI Moderator - Jeremy Hulsey