Sunday, July 24, 2011

When Hecklers Get Too Close

The Third Street Heralds, along with members of the Living Waters team and folks who attended the Transformed Conference at Calvary Chapel Oceanside, went to Comic Con yesterday afternoon. It was intense from start to finish.

The Third Street Heralds took up a position at a street corner, adjacent to the San Diego Convention Center. There, we preached non-stop for three hours and distributed thousands of gospel tracts.

Sometimes hecklers don't say a word. Sometimes they try to heckle or interrupt the preaching through intimidation. And one way they try to intimidate the preacher is by taking a position in close proximity him or her. This is what one many tried to do to my brother, Bill McCarty.

One of the benefits of conducting street evangelism with a team is that there is both physical and spiritual strength in numbers. Whenever someone tries to get too close to a brother or sister on the box, other members of the team simply form a human shield between the preacher and the heckler.

And that's what I tried to do for Bill when the man you will see in the video tried to intimidate him with his mere presence. Brothers Mike Stockwell and Steve Pivovaroff (both considerably larger men than me), were nearby. The man had a look in his eyes with which I have grown all-too-familiar, through twenty years of law enforcement and several years preaching the gospel on the streets. Evil. He was literally covered from head to toe in tattoos. One of his tattoos, located just below his lower lip, read: "Psalms." Every muscle in his body seemed tense, as if he was about to explode. And he did explode; but in a way I did not expect.

Here's what happened.

Learn from My Mistake

The hug and kiss from the heckler could have been avoided, but I made a tactical error. Instead of simply letting the heckler walk away, I called out to him and thanked him for stopping by. Yes, I was being sarcastic; and it was a fleshly moment. When the man turned around and started back, I extended my hand to shake his hand. He grabbed my hand, which gave him the tactical advantage over me. In a blink of an eye, he had his arms around me and planted a kiss on my cheek. The encounter could have turned out much worse. Much worse.

So learn from my mistake. If you have a potentially dangerous heckler in your midst and they choose to walk away, let them walk away. Don't fall into the trap of pride and arrogance as I did.

As a side note: there was a police officer standing about twenty feet away. He could clearly see the intensity of the moment, but he did nothing. In my next article, I will share with you how the officer, at a different moment of time, took police action. You're not going to believe this!