Gospel and Groceries

It was a rather strange sight: a car with an amplifier strapped to the roof with rope, circling the parking lot.

Had it been India or some other Asian country I would not have even thought twice. Scenes like that are nearly as common as rickshaws. But this was Texas…and at one of the busiest grocery stores in my hometown.

In the midst of all the bustling traffic, I strained to hear the message coming from the loudspeaker. I have to admit I was expecting message promoting some Black Panther rally or some political cause. Instead, I heard the firm, yet friendly, voice of a man praising Jesus and God for all of life’s blessings. He wasn’t screaming or rambling. Instead, the driver simply expressed his love and thankfulness to Jesus for saving his life and “washing me clean in His blood”.

As the car slowly made its way through the parking lot, I made it a point to watch the expressions of people close enough to hear the message. Many simply shook their heads in disbelief.  Others mocked and laughed. A few were even angry. One man, apparently a store manager, threatened to call the police. The crowd’s mocking demeanor seemed to empower the manager with a sort of cocky pride and antagonistic attitude. Slowly, the car made its way out of the parking lot and soon disappeared into traffic. Customers quickly returned to their business of buying groceries.

Wandering through the aisles of milk and cereal, I tried piecing together what had just happened. I soon began to wonder if I had just witnessed the true work of the church. Strange? Yes.  But doesn’t scripture show us a God who very much likes to work in strange ways? A talking donkey…prophets who wear and eat crazy things…manna falling from heaven.

We like our “religion” to be presented to us in clean-cut and “acceptable” ways. We accept messages if they are delivered from behind pulpits, on television screens, on the radio and in printed form.  We will even tolerate street preachers as long as they don’t get too eccentric. But strapping an old amplifier to the roof of a car is a bit too strange for us to accept.Telling others about God and Christ may be tolerated. However, we want it on our terms.

It’s apparent that we are often more critical of the method than the message.

I wonder if God had sent that man, and his rather strange way of delivering that message, to the shoppers of that grocery story. Maybe it was for the store manager. Perhaps the people who were mocking him. Then again, maybe that message was for me. Perhaps it was God’s way of exposing my fears about reaching others with the good news. I have to admit that I am not sure how to present the message to those who need to hear it. No, I don’t plan to convert my 2004 Chevy Aveo into a rolling amplifier a la “Blues Brothers”. However, I do realize that I shouldn’t be fearful about anything, or anyone, God uses to bring his message.

It really is amazing what God can do with a daring man in a small car in the parking lot of a Texas grocery store.

Marc S.


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