Introduction to Street Ministry
Shortly after I was saved in May 1991, a friend who led me to Christ took me to nightly gospel meetings conducted by Mr. Harold Paisley at Rexdale Gospel Hall. It was there that I learned that several believers from different gospel halls met at various locations on Friday nights and Saturday mornings to preach the Gospel on the streets of Toronto. This outreach occurred during the spring and summer months. Even though I was newly saved, I quickly became interested and joined them at the Yonge & Eglington Square (Y.E.S.) location. It was often difficult to finish work in Mississauga and get there by 6:30 pm to prepare by praying, briefing, and sorting out gospel tracts before preaching at 7:00 pm. I participated in this outreach from 1991 until I was commended to the Lord’s work in Ghana in 2002. During this time, I witnessed the Lord’s amazing power at work in many situations. These experiences solidified and prepared me for the Lord’s work in Ghana.
Encounter with “Satanists”
When I first joined the group at Y.E.S., there were several believers coming out each week from Eglington Avenue Gospel Hall, but as years went by and the Hall dwindled in number, there were not many coming out anymore, except for one older man. Sadly, he was hit by a car while he was on his way to preach at Y.E.S., his hands and coat pockets filled with gospel tracts. He died a few days later and it was very hard for us to attend his funeral. After he died, I was mostly there by myself.
It was always windy at Y.E.S. due to the tall office buildings. One evening while I was preaching and handing out gospel tracts to those passing by on the streets, a group of young men and women numbering about seven came and stood there, listening to the message. They were all dressed in black with hoods, chains, and spiked/studded leather jackets. Their leader introduced the group, telling me that they were “Satanist” who worshipped “the god of dreams.” According to them, anyone who dreamed while sleeping worships their powerful god. I told them that they were deceived by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), who is the father of lies (John 8:44). I offered them gospel tracts; they took them, but their leader told them not to read the tracts. He decided to burn the tracts in front of everyone there. He tried several times, but his cigarette lighter would not work. He tossed it out, and he got another lighter from another one in their group, and suddenly, a strong wind began to blow. He tried, and tried to light the tracts, but it still would not work. Suddenly, out of frustration, he took off and the rest of the group followed him. Obviously, I was relieved as I sensed the presence and power of God knowing that they were more in number than me.
Encounter with Mr. Fool
Friday nights were known as nights of pleasure for many on Yonge Street. On one such night, a group of older men and women came by Y.E.S. where I was preaching. They stood for a while listening and then I offered them gospel tracts to take with them. Among them was a man who began talking with me, asking me to literally point to the God that I was preaching about, so that he could talk to Him in person like he was talking with me. He was speaking so loudly that everyone there could hear him. He went on further to state that God does not exist and that we are all a product of evolution. Judging by his choice of words, I sensed that he was well educated and more knowledgeable about evolution than me. However, I was not there to debate him, but to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).
I quickly sent an emergency prayer to heaven, and I believe the Lord heard and answered me immediately. I quickly told him that the God he did not believe exists is the Creator of the universe, and He also created all of us, and He knows each one of us by name. In fact, He has all our names written in His Book, the Bible, if he would care to look at his name. He asked if I knew His name and I answered, “No, I do not know your name, but God does.” He said to me, “You mean my name is in the Bible?” I answered him, “Yes” and I quickly opened my Bible to Psalm 14:1 and offered it to him to read. He took the Bible from my hands, and I asked him to read it aloud so that everyone there could hear his name, which he proceeded to do. He read, “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God…” After he read it, I said to him, “That’s you, Mr. Fool!” He, along with everyone there started to laugh and some of the people there began calling him, “Mr. Fool…” He quickly gave me back my Bible and took off, and the rest of the group followed him.
Encouragement from a Christian lady
One night, after a difficult night preaching at Y.E.S., I got home past midnight. When I got home, there was a message left on my answering machine by a Christian lady who did not want to be identified. I could tell from her voice that she was crying when she left the message. The message she left on my machine went like this, “Hello, Joseph. I just want to tell you that the Lord has answered my many years of praying for my husband tonight through you. I am not going into details. I just wanted to tell you this to encourage you to keep on preaching the Gospel. I am praying for you, Joseph.” She then ended her message. Obviously, she must have gotten my phone number from the back of the gospel tracts I was handing out as I had stamped my contact details on the back of each gospel tract. I had no idea about her husband’s spiritual condition—he could had been saved or restored to the Lord that night. Only eternity will tell!
What has been your experience witnessing for the Lord Jesus Christ?