As I walked across the sky walk over the street to the Convention Center in Indianapolis for the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday morning, I could not help but notice the bright yellow and green signs on the street corner being held high above the heads of the Westboro ‘Baptist’ picketers. Immediately I felt a nudge of the Holy Spirit telling me to go out and witness to these people. The Westboro group has been in the news in recent days as they picket the funeral processions of dead soldiers.
After breakfast, we went into the Convention for the morning session. After the session, I walked with a fellow pastor out the doors of the Convention Center to get lunch. As I saw the group standing on the opposite corner of the street with their signs informing us that we are all going to Hell, I felt that familiar nudge once again. This time, I submitted to the nudge and headed across the street. Immediately after crossing the busy intersection, I started speaking to this radical group of people. I did not have a formal plan, but I knew that I was being led across the street to these people by the Spirit of God.
As I spoke to the gentleman who was standing on the American Flag while holding two different signs high above his head, I noticed that he had a little boy (most likely his son) who was also standing there beneath this man. The young boy was also holding a sign with a very judgmental message. So, there I was in front of the infamous radical Westboro hate group. The first thing I said was, “I serve a Savior who forgives.” He responded by saying that I serve a false god and that I (along with all of the SBC) am a liar. When I asked him why he accused me of being a liar, he informed me that “You preach a message of love when God really does not love everyone – he hates most people.”
As I stood beside the busy intersection adjacent to the Convention Center, I asked him, “How many people have you seen saved through your preaching?” He responded, “We have seen several people come and join our church.” I said, “Joining your church is different than salvation. Have you seen anyone repent of their sins and turn to God through Jesus Christ as a result of your hate messages?” He responded, “The Bible says that it will be like the days of Noah in the last days, and how many were saved through Noah’s preaching?” I responded, “So, you think that only you and your small group from Westboro will be saved?” I continued, “You don’t believe that God saves people during the last days? What you should consider is that Christ has sent us out to preach the true gospel that saves rather than a hate message. We are not to make ourselves judges over people, but we are to preach the gospel. The true gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. If we will do that, people will be saved. Paul also informed us that it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save them that believe. Therefore, God did not intend for us to be judges over others, He called us to take His gospel message to the world.”
The man simply disagreed and said, “Jude tells us to snatch ‘some’ from the fire.” He obviously misunderstood the passage in Jude to say that we are to snatch some out of the fire but leave others in the fire to perish. After talking to him about the true gospel for a period of 15 minutes, I ended by saying, “Sir, I just want you to know that I will be praying for you and this little boy. I am going to pray that God will spare this boy from your false message and teaching, but I will also pray that God will open your eyes to the truth.” With a smile on his face, he said, “Your prayers do not reach God. He does not hear you. You pray to a false god.” I responded, “I pray to the one true and living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When I get to my hotel room, I will pray for and ask God to change your heart and open your eyes to the truth of the true Gospel.”
As I walked away, a gentleman who was watching from the crowd followed me up the street. He looked at me and said, “Sir, I want to thank you for doing that. Most people are not willing to speak the truth to these people, but maybe God will use your message to speak to their heart.” He continued, “Sir, do you have children?” I know he must have thought I was being rude, but I was a bit emotional for a moment and I could not respond. So, I shook my head and continued to walk. I was overcome with emotion because of the harshness of their message and the small boy who is caught up in the midst of it all. After a couple of deep breaths, I responded, “Yes sir, I have two children. I have a little girl who is three and a little boy who is two and a half months.” After just a moment, we shook hands and parted ways. We both agreed to pray for Westboro that night.
Why did I witness to Westboro? Was it to stir up a crowd in order to be seen of men? Was it to cause trouble? Was it to debate and argue with confused people? Was it to be interviewed by the newspaper? No! The following reasons sum up why I witnessed to Westboro:
1. I felt the unmistakable nudge of the Spirit of God leading me to witness to these people.
2. I believe that God can save these people just as he saved me several years ago.
3. I saw the little boy holding the sign next to the street corner, so I felt a bit of urgency to tell him the truth.
4. These people are part of the world that we are called to evangelize (Matthew 28:18-20), and it would have been ultra hypocritical to sit in a Convention Center and talk about the Great Commission without fulfilling it less than 400 yards away.
5. We as Christians are to spread the “Good News” which is the Gospel – not a message of hate void of any Gospel. Since these people were not doing that, I felt responsible to share the truth on the street corner.
May God bless His Word! Although none of these people stopped and repented of their sin, they did hear the true Gospel. The gospel saves! I pray that Westboro ‘Baptist’ will repent and turn to Christ Jesus for salvation. May God turn them into a group who preaches the true Gospel rather than a message of hate and confusion.
For the glory of God!
Pastor Josh Buice
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