He went to (his son) and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. ~ Matthew 21:28-29As 2012 drew to a close, I had resolved not to do any evangelism on New Year's Eve because I did not have anyone to go with me, and the nearest crowd was quite a distance away. At one point during the afternoon I nearly made the 5+ hour drive to Atlanta, but had that idea about thirty minutes too late.
Due to many factors, I decided I would not do any evangelism, and headed to a friend's house for fireworks and dinner. It was a nice night of strengthening friendships and making memories and hopefully continuing to water gospel seeds. As the night drew to a close, I began in earnest to think of the crowd that was formed just a few dozen miles away in a neighboring tourist town. The faithfulness of my Saviour and his call to seek and save the lost overwhelmed my disobedient heart and before I knew it, I had excused myself from the party and was on my way to a massive celebration at an open-air mall.
I reached the mall at 11:40, just minutes before Midnight, which is generally when this particular crowd disperses, so I had to make the most of my brief time. The mall was jam packed with people, so much so that my initial attempts to hand out tracts were stifled because I was just too close to people and they were too close to me. The ridiculously loud music made preaching an impossibility as well. I made my way away from the stage and began handing out tracts, I was using www.onemilliontracts.com 's The Good Test which worked very well with this crowd. I would say things like, "Something to go along with your New Year's Resolution" or "Something to think about in the New Year." Practically everyone took one.
The first time I ever preached at New Years, it was outside of a Zac Brown concert; it was a strange coincidence that the last song that played before midnight last night was a Zac Brown song, but it reminded me that there were evangelists all over the country who were either actively evangelizing, had just finished, or were preparing to evangelize, and it motivated me to press forward to distribute as many tracts as possible.
At this point the first big blessing of the night happened, I gave a group of teens tracts, and one asked what it was, I told him it was a gospel tract. The group asked if they could hand them out. I gave them about a hundred. Throughout the night I would run into people who held up tracts and said, "I've already got one, thanks." I know nothing of these students, but pray that God raises them up to be great laborers in his field.
I desperately looked for a place that was quiet enough to preach but with enough people to preach to, because I wanted to preach at midnight, but couldn't find one. So at midnight I wrote a text to a young lady I am hoping to get to know better (I would appreciate your prayers in this matter).
I have a conviction that men and women should not kiss before marriage; it is not something I push (hard) on others, but it is a firm conviction I have, and I will not kiss another girl until she is my wife. The young lady I mentioned above knows this and thinks it's weird. At this moment a fairly pretty, and very inebriated, girl walked right at me, she said, "Ooh, a cowboy." I knew exactly what she was thinking, and I put both hands up prepared to push her away by her shoulders, she saw that her advance was unwanted and gave me a very awkward hug. Her and her friends took tracts. A little bit later another girl sneakily came up and I saw her at the last second and turned away, I got a kiss on the bottom of my right cheek.
I had a good location for tracting the crowd as it departed, but then I looked over my shoulder and noticed security guards gathered around one of my tracts and discussing it. I felt it best to move locations, and found an evangelist's dream. Around one side of the stage, the crowd bottlenecked so that only three people could pass through at a time. My thumb is a little sore today from the quantity and speed which were required to pass out tracts. At this point I heard something funny, I heard, "Hey, that looks like Canyon's hat." then, "Hey, that is Canyon's hat!" and I got to wish a young friend Happy New Years and hopefully encourage him to join me in the future as we go into the highways and hedges.
Many Christians thanked me for being there and for being bold enough to share the message of reconciliation; I thought of the verse that I started this article with, that I was only being obedient after my initial disobedience.
The night wrapped up with about 450 tracts in about forty-five minutes. I never did get to preach, but was blessed to share with many people that,
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17-21