Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Behind the Scenes of Way of the Master Radio (06-26-07)

Today, my daughters, Michelle and Marissa, joined me for Way of the Master Radio "street fishing." We picked a new fishing hole, one decidedly closer to water than our usually spots. We spent the afternoon in downtown Ventura, one of Southern California's popular beach communities.

Things were a bit shaky, at first. Very few people were on the streets. So, we went into the gift shop for the San Buenaventura Mission. The lady behind the counter, friendly as she was, would not go on the radio. But she pointed to a door saying that it led to a meditation garden, and that we might find someone there. That sounded like a great idea. Well......

We walked through the door into a very beautiful garden. Sadly, interspersed among the beautiful flowering plants were numerous statues--icons of the Roman Catholic faith. We entered the garden expecting to find lots of people milling about. No one was there! I had only one minute until I was do to go on the air. So we made our way to the door through which we entered the garden. It was locked! Along the west wall of the garden, there was a gate. We moved toward the gate, which appeared to be locked. We were trapped!

I called "Hip-Hop" at the radio studio. "David, the fish aren't biting. And we're trapped in a Roman Catholic meditation garden!"

Todd came on the phone and asked me to make a decision. Were we a "go-no-go" for launch? Aaahhh!

Moments later, three women and a baby entered the garden. The oldest three of the group appeared to be a grandmother, daughter, and teenage granddaughter. How they got in, I do not know. I didn't care. I prayed...quickly. I approached the teenager. Her name was Jennifer. Her manner of dress and make-up led me to believe she had, at the very least, interest in the Gothic subculture.

Jennifer and her family travel more than 100 miles, from Bakersfield, every six months, so her mother can lay flowers before the statue of Saint Anthony. According to Jennifer, her mother made a promise to Saint Anthony. If Saint Anthony would heal her baby (Jennifer's little sister) of a skin disorder, she would come to the garden every six months to lay flowers a pay homage to the patron saint. Very sad.

Thankfully, she agreed to be on the show. Ray Comfort took her through the Law and the Gospel. Listen to their conversation. Her beliefs were a mix of Catholicism, New Age, and a creation of a god and universe in her own imagination. She was a very personable 18-year-old, but also a confused young lady.

As Jennifer talked to Ray on the phone, a groundskeeper approached me and asked if I was having trouble finding my way out of the garden. Humbly (like I had a choice), I admitted we couldn't get out. He pointed to the same gate we had thought was locked and said, "The gate is open. You push it out to open it."

Okay, so it wasn't my best moment. It wouldn't be the first time a cop came to a door with plans of kicking it open, when someone suggested trying the doorknob. If you can stop laughing, let's get back to Jennifer. Thanks. :-)

I began my follow-up conversation with Jennifer by asking her why she came to the garden, today. She told me that her mother was very dedicated to Saint Anthony, believing that Saint Anthony had healed her baby sister of a skin disorder.

While it did not appear that Jennifer had been truly humbled by the Law (of course, appearances can be deceiving), the conversations she had with Ray and me caused her to reconsider some of her preconceived notions about God and eternity. Listen to the conversation. What do you think?

As was the case with the first hour, I entered the second-hour segment with no one to put on the phone. But the Lord provided someone just in the nick of time (at least as we fallible humans see time). God is never late.

When I asked the young man (pictured here) his name. He said, "I don't use my real name. I use my street name."

"What's your street name?" I asked.

"Puke." was the answer.

Puke identified himself as an agnostic, which was also evidenced by the word "agnostic" written with a Sharpie pen on the back of his jacket. He had lived on the streets of Ventura for a while. He is seventeen.

Puke told Ray that if his girlfriend (who apparently died of a drug overdose) is in hell, that's where he wants to go. He also asserted, at one point, that while he was guilty of breaking God's Law while he was on drugs, he felt he had been able to keep the Law since he got sober. Listen to Ray and Puke's conversation.

I enjoyed a good conversation with Puke, after he got off the phone with Ray. He admitted that he had learned more about Christianity than he had expected. His belief that life on this earth is hell was challenged. Listen to my conversation with Puke. Listen to the humility in his voice. I believe God was at work in this young man's heart.

Before Puke walked away, we made sure he had enough money for lunch--trusting that is how he would use it. As Puke walked away, I asked Marissa what she thought of the conversation I had with him. She began to cry. "It's just so very sad."

I took my two daughters back into the garden. I sensed my little girl needed to debrief and pray. The three of us found a quiet spot and sat closely together on a bench. The garden truly was a beautiful place. Marissa again expressed how sad it was that Puke, a person her age, was living on the streets and was so utterly lost. We spent some time in prayer for both Puke and Jennifer--asking the Lord to save them. I prayed thanking God for His grace and mercy in my daughters' lives. We thanked God for giving Marissa a sense of compassion for Puke. We asked God to use this moment, for His glory, giving Marissa even more passion and compassion for reaching the lost with the gospel. More tears.

Ventura is a town with several antique and gift shops. So, we decided to do a little window shopping before making the hour-drive home. A half-hour had past since we said good-bye to Puke. We thought we would likely never see him again.

As we walked down the street, past a small hamburger stand, Puke ran up behind us and said, "Excuse me." Always enjoying having someone sneak up behind me (not), I quickly turned around. Seeing that it was Puke, I powered down, but not completely. "What did he want?" I wondered.

"I just wanted to say thank you, again."

I shook Puke's hand and wished him well. I don't think he was only thanking us for lunch. I think he was also thankful for the conversation. I know I was.

Yet another great day of fishing. Please pray for Jennifer and Puke's salvation.


Rob said...

Hey Tony, As Todd Friel would say. "Way to go, dude!"


Ron and Ginny said...

Wow. That sent chills up my spine. I will definitely be praying that the Lord would glorify himself in the lives of these people. I had my best witnessing situation thus far in my journey last night at a car dealership. I have still not gotten to the point of taking someone through the ten commandments, but I got to talk with him for a while and leave a few tracts with him.

In Christ,


Anonymous said...

I wish there was a way of knowing what happens to people like Puke, after they hear Law and Grace.

It just seems like seeds get planted all the time, but now he'll be back in the streets getting different seeds planted, like what he's use to, when really I wish there was a place for people on the streets to get off the streets and into an atmosphere where they won't get lost on the streets again, and can grow those seeds.

It's just so sad that he had to part ways and go back out to a lonely way of life. I was him before.