Josh Brahm

What we can learn from hateful street-preachers

Josh Brahm
By Josh Brahm
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March 25, 2013 (LiveActionNews.org) - Today was a weird day. While at Fresno State University, I witnessed the worst street-preaching I’ve ever seen. I also witnessed what God can do with a few humble servants who want to show love while preaching truth to a crowd of disgusted atheists, Mormons, Muslims, and at least one Catholic guy. While telling the story, I’m going to write some things that have been going on in my heart lately as I think about communicating effectively to people who are different from us.

I was at Fresno State with my colleagues Gabi Vehrs, Kyle Goddard, and Clinton Wilcox, with hopes of engaging the students on the issue of abortion. We haven’t had a lot of success with Fresno State’s busy students in the past, so we set up a small JFA exhibit that we hadn’t used before at FSU as an R&D test, and just invited a few seasoned pro-life advocates to join us and test the outreach tool and its effect on FSU students.

A few decent dialogues later, we heard some loud noises coming from the Free Speech Area. We looked over, and I saw three street-preachers yelling at the students, some of whom stopped to listen.

Before I describe what they were saying, I should say something. I don’t think all street preaching is bad. I think people like Ray Comfort can be very effective, but he’s a seasoned evangelist who has gained some very helpful skills and a lot of experience. I generally prefer relational evangelism, because most people are going to take the words of a friend much more seriously than the words of a stranger. That being said, a thoughtful street evangelist can get some people thinking about religious ideas, and obviously that’s a good thing.

The first thing I saw was their signs. The big sign said “JESUS SAVES FROM SIN AND HELL” on one side, and the other side had a long list of mainly sexual sins that people go to Hell over.

Another lady held a sign that simply said “YOU DESERVE HELL” on one side and “JESUS SAVES” on the other.

I noticed a clear difference between their signs and the ones we set up to engage in dialogue about abortion. Their signs had declarative statements on them. Ours always ask questions, like “Should abortion remain legal?” “When do human rights begin?” “In what cases should abortion be legal?” We even experimented with a poll table at UC Irvine last Fall that said, “Do pro-lifers annoy you?” (We had some great conversations in front of that poll table!) We’re asking questions that invite people to come and share their opinion with us so we can have an evenhanded dialogue. We’re not interested in just shouting at people as they pass by.

The woman holding the big sign was doing the preaching. She described herself as a “warm-up band” for her husband. I later learned that her name is Cynthia, or “Sister Cindy.” Her group travels around doing exactly what I witnessed. There’s even a Wikipedia page about her husband, including accounts of some horribly racist things he’s said while street-preaching.

Sister Cindy was yelling about the evils of lesbianism and marijuana. As I got closer to hear her, I actually thought for a second that she might be an atheist putting on a skit or something, because I saw every bad street-preaching stereotype I’ve heard of, except literal Bible-thumping. The woman wasn’t holding a Bible at all, as that would have prevented her from holding her sign while using her other hand to point her long finger in girls’ faces while literally calling them “whores” who are being “tempted by lesbianism.”

Her voice was grating, and her attitude was hateful. I don’t use that word lightly. She tended not to respond to questions, preferring to preach instead. When she did answer questions, her answers were loud, sarcastic, and rude, with a clearly mocking tone to her voice. “Holier than thou” doesn’t begin to describe the attitude this woman had. Her disdain was palpable.

And it grieved me.

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I tried to engage the preaching woman, but she refused to talk to me. I made a comment to an atheist who made a sign to counter the “YOU DESERVE HELL” sign that simply said, “You Deserve Respect.” I told him that as a Christian, this kind of behavior embarrasses me, but he didn’t have much to say to me. He was too busy yelling at the preachers.

I walked away feeling helpless. A crowd had formed around this hateful woman, and it felt like there was nothing I could do about it. I got emotional. I felt angry. I wanted to cry. I know that God can do anything and that He can use anybody, even wretches like these street-preachers and me. But I also felt like every sentence these people yelled put the people in this crowd farther from meeting my Savior.

A little while later, I walked back to try again. I decided to engage the one with the “YOU DESERVE HELL” sign because she wasn’t preaching, and nobody was talking to her. I sat on the grass, introduced myself with a smile, and asked for permission to ask her a few questions. She was happy to oblige.

My goal was to convince her that some methods of communication are more effective than others. I think some people feel like as long as you’re doing God’s work, you don’t need to worry about being effective. “Just let God do the work!” “God cares about obedience, not success!” Yes, God is doing the major heart work, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be effective. We’re the hands and feet of Christ. He wants to use us to do His work. We should take that really seriously.

Our conversation didn’t go very well. This woman cares only about what other street preachers do on college campuses. I told her that Ray Comfort goes on college campuses, and she remarked that her group is more effective than Ray Comfort. I should have asked her how she came to that conclusion, but I was stunned and literally turned speechless. She added that the Bible says, “Where two or more are gathered, Jesus is there,” so all they need to do is get a (very) small crowd together and let the Holy Spirit do His work.

They don’t see any problems with what they’re doing because they have a few stories of people spilling their guts to the preachers after hearing them. I responded that “anecdotes don’t necessarily make good arguments.”

I did pretty well in the beginning at asking her questions and listening to her long, rambling answers. About 10 minutes into the conversation, she started making heterodox statements about people not being born in sin, and how Christians like her don’t sin at all! Here’s the brief exchange we had about that. Notice how badly I fail to ask questions at this point. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and I was pretty much in debate mode, which I regret now.

Me: You haven’t sinned at all today?
Her: Of course not! I can’t even remember the last time I sinned!
Me: Then I think you’re deluded.
Her: You said you’re a Christian. You’re saying you sinned today?
Me: Of course I have! I’m still human. I have a sin nature that won’t be completely gone until I’m in Heaven.
Her: What sin did you commit today?
Me: Self-righteousness, to start with.
Her: And what did you do about that?
Me: I came and talked to you!
Her: What do you mean?
Me: Watching your team makes me feel self-righteous because I think I’m a lot better at talking to atheists than you are.
Her: That’s not a sin. If you had hit me, that would be one thing…
Me: No, I can sin with my mind without hitting you. And some of the prideful feelings I have right now are not of God.

It wasn’t long before I ended the conversation, which was going nowhere. I walked back to our pro-life display, having failed a second time to change anything. I started talking to Gabi about the feelings I was having. Meanwhile, a larger crowd had formed to watch the car wreck in front of them.

Then Gabi said, “Maybe I should go up and quote the ‘greater love hath no man than this’ verse.” I responded that 1 Corinthians 13 would be better, because I’ve never personally heard a more clanging cymbal than this. I’ve been thinking about this passage more lately because my brother Tim has written an excellent pro-life piece based on the poetic structure of 1 Corinthians 13.

Seriously, you should go read it now. I’ll wait.

Gabi asked me more seriously: “Really, should I do it?” I responded that she couldn’t make anything worse and that this crowd needed to hear a different kind of Christian today.

So we prayed. We prayed for the people in that crowd, whom God loves in a way we can’t possibly understand. We prayed that God would help us love these people like He does. We prayed for wisdom. We prayed that God would open people’s hearts.

And then we walked confidently into spiritual battle. (Click here for appropriate mood music to open up in another window.)

Gabi recruited a young Muslim to join her in a loud dialogue to divert the crowd. It worked. The crowd immediately turned to listen to this new person.

Gabi spoke passionately, with both clarity and compassion, about the need for people to engage religious ideas and examine the evidence for each of them. She preached against religious pluralism and intellectual laziness. She talked about how people from different religions should be able to have good dialogues together, listening to each other while attempting to find common ground, with the ultimate goal of finding more truth together.

Sister Cindy was furious. At first she tried to interrupt Gabi a bunch of times, but Gabi refused to engage her. Cindy got right in Gabi’s face and yelled, “I am in charge here!” Gabi just kept preaching, and the crowd was clearly more interested in what she had to say than Sister Cindy’s tired message.

Eventually, Sister Cindy decided to preach a little ways off, hoping the crowd would abandon Gabi and form around her. It didn’t happen, as the picture above shows. Sister Cindy is in the red shirt on the left, yelling at nobody, because the members of the crowd are listening to Gabi and beginning to engage each other in religious dialogue.

Pretty soon everybody was talking to each other. Myself and a Catholic guy named Anthony talked to an atheist named Devon for a while. The main topic of our conversation was about not judging an entire religion based on the hypocrites, especially if those hypocrites are going against the religion’s teaching. I also engaged Devon on whether the Bible is more trustworthy than Harry Potter. (Devon’s actual comparison.)

Talking to Devon and Anthony.

Meanwhile, Gabi and Clinton talked to a Mormon for a while. Small groups formed all around and engaged each other for about 20 minutes.

What’s the takeaway here, besides an effective method of diverting a crowd from a hateful preacher? I think we should be thoughtful about the way we communicate to others. Some methods of communication are clearly more effective than others. So pray about it, and then try some things and reflect later on what went well and how you could improve.

But don’t be so afraid of failing that you become paralyzed and don’t engage at all until you feel like you have something perfect. That attitude would have led Gabi not to do anything, because it was not at all clear whether anybody would listen to her.

No, we had an idea, we prayed about it, we thought about the right strategy, and then we did something. Anybody can do that.

Reprinted with permission from LiveActionNews.org.

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Hillary Clinton: ‘I’m proud to stand with Planned Parenthood’

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By Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Seven days after calling videos of Planned Parenthood officials harvesting fetal parts "disturbing," leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is throwing her support behind the embattled abortion giant.

In an ad released on Monday, just hours before the U.S. Senate failed to defund Planned Parenthood, Clinton called such legislative efforts "a full-on assault on women's health."

She also described Planned Parenthood as "the nation's leader in providing reproductive health care."

“Unfortunately, these attacks aren’t new," Clinton said. "They’re more of the same. We have seen them in Wisconsin, where Governor Walker defunded Planned Parenthood and left women across the state stranded with nowhere else to turn. We have seen them in Florida, where Jeb Bush funneled millions of dollars into abstinence-only programs while gutting funds for crucial family planning programs. And we have seen them in Texas, where Governor [Rick] Perry drastically cut funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings."

"And then [Perry] signed legislation that forced health centers across the state to close their doors in an attempt to wipe out access to safe and legal abortion all together,” Clinton said.

Walker boasted of defunding Planned Parenthood at a Republican presidential candidate in New Hampshire last night.

As governor of Florida, Bush put millions of dollars towards pro-life pregnancy care clinics, which are pro-life alternatives to abortion clinics.

The measures Perry signed in 2013 banned most abortions after 20 weeks' gestation, forced abortion centers to upgrade to the same level as ambulatory surgical centers, and required abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

However, according to Clinton, defunding America's largest abortion company is "cutting people off from the health care provider they know and trust."

“When they attack women’s health, they attack America’s health," Clinton said. "And it’s wrong. And we are not going to let them get away with it."

"We are not going back. We are going to fight back," she vowed.

She concluded, "I’m proud to stand with Planned Parenthood."

Her video came between the releases of undercover video footage revealing Planned Parenthood's work in harvesting the organs of aborted babies and turning them over to research firms for a fee.

Clinton has long supported abortion-on-demand, saying earlier this year that religious beliefs opposed to abortion "must be changed."

Last year, she said it was "a bedrock truth" that "you cannot make progress on gender equality or broader human development, without safeguarding women’s reproductive health and rights."

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Bobby Jindal cancels Planned Parenthood funding in wake of body parts scandal

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By Dustin Siggins

BATON ROUGE, LA, August 4, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The state of Louisiana has canceled its contract with the state's two Planned Parenthood centers.

Louisiana governor and 2016 presidential candidate Bobby Jindal said that the decision came because of new videos showing illegal activity by top Planned Parenthood officials.

“In recent weeks, it has been shocking to see reports of the alleged activities taking place at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life,” he said. “It has become clear that this is not an organization that is worthy of receiving public assistance from the state.”

Jindal, who had ordered the state to investigate Planned Parenthood for potential felony violations following the release of the first video, canceled the contract because of its "at will" provision. That means that "either party can choose to cancel the contract at will after providing written notice,” according to a press release from the governor's office. “Governor Jindal and DHH decided to give the required 30-day notice to terminate the Planned Parenthood Medicaid provider contract because Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the State of Louisiana in regards to respecting human life."

"Pending the ongoing investigation, DHH [the Dept. of Health and Hospitals] reserves the right to amend the cancellation notice and terminate the provider agreement immediately should cause be determined," it states.

This action is just the latest by the pro-life governor, who last year signed a law requiring all abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

Louisiana has been named the number one pro-life state by Americans United for Life for six years in a row.

A Planned Parenthood official told the left-wing blog Talking Points Memo that no Planned Parenthood facilities provide abortions, although the abortion provider hopes to build a facility to do so.

Gov. Jindal also halted the building that 8,000-square foot abortion megaplex, scheduled to be built in New Orleans, following the release of the first video.

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John Jalsevac John Jalsevac Follow John

This one shot from the latest PP sting video might be the most disturbing thing you see all year

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By John Jalsevac
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I’m about to show you something that, if you're alive and have a heartbeat, will deeply disturb you, and then make you hopping mad.

I warn you, it’s graphic. But everybody needs to see this. Because this is the truth. And even if the truth is difficult, and gruesome, and challenging, it must be known.

This morning the Center for Medical Progress released the latest in their series of undercover sting videos exposing the fact that Planned Parenthood is harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted babies.

The first part is plenty disturbing, as director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Melissa Farrell, discusses how she “diversifies” Planned Parenthood's “revenue stream” by selling aborted baby parts, and how their abortionists can modify the abortion procedure (Note: totally illegal) to obtain “intact” fetuses.

But then the camera moves into the lab, where workers are actually involved in dissecting and dismembering aborted babies to get the useful body parts.

Describing their “last case” of the day, one of the workers tells an actor posing as someone interested in purchasing fetal body parts, that “it was a twin” at about 20 weeks gestation.

The camera then pans over to a dish, filled with what Planned Parenthood describes as “tissue.” One of the workers uses tweezers to pick up the intestines, and boasts about how sometimes “the organs come out really, really well.”

And that’s when I saw it. A little, beautiful, perfectly formed hand, gently clenched in a fist – a hand attached to an arm that had been torn from its owner's body, and thrown in a dish swimming with body parts.

...And then I saw the foot. And the other foot.

I wish I could say I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. But I could, because I know what Planned Parenthood does. But there’s a difference between believing, and seeing.

And that’s why these photos must be shared as far and wide as possible.

After that, it gets even worse, as the man behind the camera uses his tweezers to pick up and inspect an arm and hand...and then the leg...and then another leg.

Yes, it is horrifying that Planned Parenthood is apparently lying about the fact that it makes a tidy profit off trafficking in the body parts of aborted babies.

But the worst thing of all is that Planned Parenthood has body parts to sell in the first place. That Planned Parenthood is daily, constantly, aborting babies that have hands, and feet, and hearts, and lungs.

The worst part is that every time Planned Parenthood sells a body part, it is because they have killed a baby, a human being like you and me – a human being that had the right to live, and love, and be, a baby whose life was summarily snuffed out, and turned into a “revenue stream.”

The worst part is that year after year, decade after decade, we let Planned Parenthood get away with the canard that they are only aborting "blobs of tissue," or "products of pregnancy" - as if we don't all know perfectly well what the product of a pregnancy is: a baby. 

I say, enough is enough. Shut Planned Parenthood down, now!

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