Thousands of people flood downtown Phoenix, once a month for “First Fridays.” First Fridays is a free art festival that takes place on the first Friday of each month(Roosevelt street is closed from Central to 1st Avenue). We arrived on the the crowded streets at about 7pm Friday night. Marcus and his crew walked up just as we did, and didn’t waste a second of time. As soon as the mic was flipped to the on switch Jennifer was on the mic conducting the “good person test.” A few skeptical on lookers watched from a distance.
David Barr began his night by speaking to a young man, who had been intently questioning his faith. Like many people the young man had been turned by false religion and in his eyes some injustices that had taken place within a church. After about 45mins of talking something clicked for the man and he seemed to understand what David had been speaking about the entire conversation. At that point David had a chance to pray for him. The man left with some understanding of past confusion, and encouragement.
Walter began the air war out strong with an excellent analogy. He spoke from Matthew 22, which is the parable of the wedding feast. “If you guys were invited to a wedding or a great party, would you get angry with the people who invited you… or want to beat them up?” He asked the crowd. ” Of course not!” Someone shouted back at him. Right! Of course not and yet that’s what happened in this parable. He went on to explain how this is similar to when Jesus is presented to someone. In other words, it’s absurd that anyone refuses Jesus! Honestly, think about that for a second. Jesus promises to save us from death, wrath, eternal punishment, etc., He has reveled himself time and time again, and yet some …no MANY will still refuse to accept. I think about the times in my past I refused, rejected or despised Christ. It humbles me and makes me abundantly thankful that we serve a gracious and merciful God.
Later in the evening Walter set up the question mic and a homosexual man began questioning Walter. He attempted to provoke him, probably expected Walter to bite back with a classic “TURN OR BURN!!!!!!!!” Walter directed the issue of his sin, but did so in a gentle way; drawing his attention to his own sin as well. Walter focused not on the sin of homosexuality but instead on sin at its core. He spoke the truth with a lotttt of love and luckily many in the crowd witnessed and heard what Walter preached at this time. Unfortunately for Walter, the conversation ended rather awkwardly as the questioner approached Walter at the mic and began grabbing his butt and touching him inappropriately. None the less, Walter persevered and reveled love and truth in the midst of a bit of discomfort!
I spent over an hour of the evening speaking to one of the leaders of the Scientology church of downtown Phoenix. For the sake of this mans privacy, lets call the gentleman “Luke.” I asked Luke a few fundamental questions about Scientology. In giving the definition itself he beat around the bush for about 5 minuets. I realized that what he was trying to do was form an answer to my question, in a way that was suitable to my personality. This may be a bit of a generalization but, Scientology refuses to offend anyone and allows you to believe and do whatever you would like. Therefore, Luke didn’t want to say anything at all that would upset me in the least. He spoke a lot about the lifestyle of Scientology and how the programs that have developed have gotten people off drug and alcohol addictions and on to a better way of life.
I didn’t necessarily disagree with any of the methods he described. Essentially he presented negative psychological tendencies and what they developed to stop those things. However, I did disagree with Luke’s definition of truth. He believed that truth was whatever an individual believed to be true in their own reality. He believed two counter truths could simultaneously be true. I explained to him how that contradicted the very definition of truth. If you look up the word “truth,” in any accredited dictionary, synonyms such as “fact, actuality, and reality are listened. I explained to him what it means to have your own perceptions and how it can naturally deceive you.
I spoke to Luke about Jesus and truth from a historical basis. “I agree with you. And it’s not a problem. I can believe in Jesus and also practice Scientology.” If Scientology claims that truth is whatever you see truth as, then no, you can’t. He continued on to say that he mentors people who have asked questions about Jesus. He expressed that Scientology refuses to alter someones lifestyle or way of thinking if the individual did not want to. He merely tells them to seek it out for themselves and if they decide that it is true, then great! But he would never touch on his personal beliefs to anyone, “and actually I’m not even sure why I’m telling this to you!” He added. I gave him an analogy that seemed to click. “Luke, pretend that you have cancer and I just found the cure for cancer…If I gave you the cure, it very well may alter your lifestyle as well as the way you saw life. You may need surgery, time to heal, rest, etc., but when all was said and done you would be cured from the cancer.” He seemed to understand and I went on to share the gospel with him. In the end he admitted that he has his doubts regarding what he personally believes. Scientology speaks of multiple lives… returning as a new person after death. He said he wonders if Heaven and Hell are real but actively decides to not think about that and rather “think positively,” each day and focus on “happiness.” Please keep “Luke,” in your prayers.
As always thanks for stopping by and feel free to post your comments, thoughts, criticisms, etc.,:)