I do not know if you’ll think this is funny, surprising, or appalling. You decide.
A few years ago 25 of my friends and I attended Missions Fest in Vancouver, Canada. I have attended about 12 times. I represented three different ministries over the years and have spoken a few times in the smaller sessions…100-200 people. The plenary sessions are attended by 5,000.
Missions Fest is huge, 200+ ministry booths, and over 20,000 people attend this three day event. Because we have went so many times and I wanted the event to be more meaningful than just listening to the same old speakers, I came up with a plan to encourage and insight Christians to action.
We wore a provocative shirt that said ”The Hippies were right” and gave a small tract on the obligation to love.
When we were handing them out we were asked not to. I thought this was strange and I was upset, but I gave them our tracts in good faith to show we meant no harm and weren’t trying to be disruptive. We still wore the shirts.
We continued to visit with people. People would stop us because they saw the shirts everywhere, or what seemed everywhere. We would have a talk with them that went like this. They would ask “What’s the shirt about?” and we responded “The hippies were right about love but didn’t know how to do it, much in the same way we, the church, talk about love and have trouble manifesting it in a tangible, relevant way. Then we would explain a scripture 1 John 3:10:
“ This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. NIV”
We had great discussions and no conflicts…we are not rebel-rousers…we had no idea what was to happen next.
They were still disturbed by our presence. The organizers finally warned us not to solicit talks with people. We explained our Biblical orthodoxy, our desire to encourage the body toward love and good deeds. I reminded them that we weren’t promoting a cause, a ministry or anything of the sort. The previous tract had nothing offensive and didn’t have names, phone numbers, ministry names… I do not think it would have been out of bounds to include these but I could see them not desiring this.
The straw that broke their camel’s back was when they saw me visiting with someone, who had stopped me. They warned us to leave or they would call the police…security was there to escort us out.
I think it funny because we had no ill intent, did nothing disrespectful. We had good reason to be offended and dismayed… Wow, what a bees nest, we had no idea this type of censorship, fear, mindless bigotry was going to ever sting us this way.
My final assessment of why this happened is simply found in social psychology. They saw us as a threat because we were doing something different and they didn’t understand. They couldn’t understand why we would do this. It was a parodical, “Who tries to encourage the Body of Christ without a permit…insane, preposterous!” They assumed a sinister plot; maybe a cultic invasion. The only foul committed was that of ignorance. We never conceived of being offensive and it never crossed our minds they would threaten police action and kick us out. Maybe I’m just stupid.
We didn’t go back…I was embarrassed and ashamed and convinced not to do this kind of thing again….but… maybe I’m “sinister” enough… or smart enough to come up with a plot to “spur the church to love and good deeds.” lol
Luke 16:8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. NIV
Matt 10:16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. NIV