On Saturday, June 1, G220 was joined by Equip Ohio for outreach at the Cleveland Pride Festival at Public Square in downtown Cleveland. I have been to Public Square many times for evangelism with my friend and mentor, Ricky Gantz, but this was by far the rowdiest bunch of individuals we preached to there. With that said, I’d like to structure my review of the event around three topics: why we were there, the general rowdiness of the crowd, and some encouraging aspects of the day.
Why We Were There
One of the questions that kept popping up is, “Why are you here?” Many accused us of
specifically coming to target homosexuals there “they weren’t hurting anybody.” Others claimed we just came out to rain on their parade pairing that with the notion that the only time we preach is when we want to harass the homosexuals.
The Bible demands that those changed and redeemed by God act as agents for seeing that the Gospel goes forth to the ends of the earth in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus tells us that those who do not put their hope and trust in Him are already condemned in John 3:18. Those that are condemned will be judged by Christ on That Day according to Acts 17:31. Finally, those that are condemned will be tormented eternally in the fire prepared for the Devil and his angels in the presence of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 25:41, Revelation 14:10-11. The biblical command to love our neighbors as ourselves demands that we do all that we can to prevent this fate from befalling our neighbors. The Bible promises that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved, but Paul asks in Romans 10:14, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”
Since our neighbors must hear the Good News, our beautiful feet go wherever crowds of unbelievers are found that we might preach to them. One gentleman told me while I was preaching that I needed to “meet people where they are at,” to which I responded, “You’re here, so I am meeting you where you are at.” This year I have also been to New York, Louisville, Canton, Akron, and Cleveland to preach Good News. Many faithful street preachers are diligent in their own localities. Therefore, the claim that we only come to preach when there are homosexuals gathered must be seen as patently false.
Many times, our approach to spreading the Gospel is questioned, not only by the unbeliever but by those who name the name of Christ. However, there is strong biblical precedent for the work we do, Proverbs 1:20 says that Wisdom raises her voice in the noisy streets and at the city gates. All of the Old Testament prophets had a robust open-air ministry. The apostle Paul reasoned with and preached in the open air to those in the Agora and the Areopagus in Athens according to Acts 17:17-19. Even Jesus was an open-air preacher, read Matthew 5-7, Luke 6:17-49.
Each of these had false teachers who opposed them and who were upset that the status quo was being threatened. So too with us. There were many in the crowd heckling us claiming that Jesus loves homosexuals just the way they are. These though, are labeled by the prophet Jeremiah as those who heal the wound lightly and cry, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace, in Jeremiah 6:14. We instead are there to preach the only hope for true peace with God, a message many poor souls would not hear if we weren’t.
The Cleveland Pride event was one of the rowdiest crowds to whom I have preached. I have preached in places with a higher volume of people, but the crowd here was by far the most hostile. Sexuality, in particular queer sexuality, is one of the greatest idols of our day. Preaching before this crowd left me with a flavor of the hostile crowd faced by the Apostle Paul in Acts 19. In that part of Paul’s story, the crowd in its uproar chanted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” The crowd at the Cleveland Pride event similarly chanted in unison the praise of their god. “Love is love!” was a chant they were prone to burst forth into in unison attempting to shout down those who were preaching.
Although “love is love,” is a true statement on its face according to the logical law of identity, it doesn’t tell us much of anything because of the circuitous nature of the phrase. Love is indeed love, but the term must be defined for us to have any meaningful understanding of what love actually is. Since God is love, we must understand that His word is the standard for determining what love is and what is loving. For example, 1 Corinthians 13:6 says that love doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness but delights in the truth. Therefore, those who trumpet and praise homosexual pride are not actually being loving, since praising unrighteousness violates God’s standard of love.
It was very difficult to convey a logical argument like this to the crowds because sin by its very nature is illogical, and when we sinners gather together for a common wicked purpose we lose all capacity for rational thought. There were a few times when the crowds pressed in on us to the point of us being overwhelmed. There was a squadron of bicycle policemen gathered nearby and they used their bikes to form an ad hoc barricade between us and the mob to whom we were preaching. It was a such an encouragement to see Romans 13 in action. The governing authorities, the policemen, were God’s deacons to protect us as we preached, from those who would otherwise be prone to do us harm. It was neat to get a momentary glimpse of biblical governance.
There is always opposition when we do evangelism and especially when we preach. The Gospel is an extremely controversial and offensive message, whether you preach in a pulpit, in the public square, or finally get around to telling someone they are ruined and need to repent from their sins and trust in Christ after ten years of hot dog cookouts.
It does help to know that their controversy is not with the messenger but with the message and the One who sent it. There is encouragement from other believers who happen upon the scene and hear the proclamation of the Gospel. I experienced some major encouragement from a Christian woman who had come over to hear the preaching as I finished the first sermon of the day. As I concluded preaching and began to descend our makeshift pulpit, she called out, “Don’t stop! Keep going! That’s why we came over here!” So, although I had just finished preaching through 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, I re-ascended the stool and preached on Ephesians 2:1-10. It is so encouraging to know that God used the feeble preaching of one such as myself to benefit others. I was also encouraged by a fruitful conversation I had with a man after another time I had been preaching. I had noticed him thoughtfully paying attention as I preached and interacted with the crowd, though I didn’t immediately approach him after I was done. One of our sisters and co-laborers called me over a little later and I was able to talk with him more about the Gospel. His trouble was that he didn’t fit in with the so-called LGBT community because of their obvious lack of scruples but he also had trouble fitting in with the Christian community because of the nature of his sinful desires. I was able to explain to him that as we come to repentance and faith in Christ, God will give us a whole new set of desires to love and honor Him. Yet, I was also clear that there is a necessary mortification of sin and sometimes God doesn’t remove all temptation to past sin at once. I explained some of my own struggles and how I often must put to death the deeds of the body by relying on the Holy Spirit. I encouraged him and prayed for him, putting my arm around him as I did. He said it had been a very long time since someone had done that. There are a great many sins that the church is too afraid to speak frankly about, that we churchmen are neither good at confronting nor good at showing empathy as someone falls prey too temptation. Not only homosexual temptation, but drug use, pornography use, abortion, and sexual immorality of all types, just to name a few. Perhaps we even lack the same ability in “smaller” sins such as slander, gossip, gluttony, greed, frivolity, and malice. The body is one of the means God uses in His sanctification of individual believers and evangelism of the unbeliever. So, though we must confront sin, and we must, we must do so with the proper demeanor so as not to further mar the image of God in another. We must encourage one another every day, as long as it’s still called today, so that our hearts aren’t hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
All in all, it was a very fruitful day. There were more encouraging conversations that each of us had than I have space to reproduce here. Every single person we encountered was led to Christ, it is now up to God to give the increase and bring repentance, faith, and all other saving graces. God uses preaching. God uses faithful men and women. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being where you are supposed to be and doing what you are supposed to be doing.
For seven years I have been attending the Kentucky Derby Evangelism Outreach with Sports Fan Outreach International ( see sfoi.org/ ). It was at this event, with this ministry in 2013 that I preached the gospel in the open air for the very first time. Up until that point I had been a Christian and regularly sharing the gospel since 2008. So evangelizing wasn't new to me but proclaiming the gospel in the open air was a desire that I could not shake for almost a year before that first trip with SFOI to the Kentucky Derby.
I remember that first time when I was asked to get up and preach at the derby, the fear that came over me, I was nervous, terrified in fact and yet I knew that this desire to preach had been there for a long while leading up to this very moment and I knew that I need to take this first step out in faith and not let this fear keep me from proclaiming the truth, I was prayed for by members on my team and I was in constant prayer in my mind with the Lord to help me overcome this fear and give me the courage to preach.
Here is the very first time I ever opened air preached at the Kentucky Derby.
What seemed like forever while I was speaking to the crowd was actually only seven minutes.
Going back home from the Derby Outreach that first year I was so excited and couldn't wait to get on the streets in my local area and proclaim the gospel. Although, I couldn't find many others who were willing to go out with me and so I continued handing out tracts and engaging in one on ones.
After a phone conversation with Bill Adams ( Head of SFOI ) who gave me some encouragement and wisdom in how to go about preaching in the open air when I didn't have anyone else willing to go out with me.
It is wise to go out with others on the streets, going alone can be dangerous, which is why you must exercise wisdom if you desire to preach but have no one that is willing to join you. For example, don't go in a bad part of town by yourself to preach the gospel. A college campus, an open public area ( like a sporting event ) with lots of people passing by would be a better option. It's wiser to have someone with you but that might not always be an option, therefore, planning and being wise about where you go is necessary for your own safety.
It would be a few years before I began to see others out preaching the gospel that I was able to connect with and build friendships and partner with out local events. Every year I would encourage them to join me at the derby, knowing the impact it had on me and has help me grow over the years by learning from all the brothers who attend that can impart their knowledge and wisdom onto others has been a valuable part of my growth over the years in theology ( from the discussions among the brothers ), and ways to improve as an open air preacher.
Finally, after attempting to encourage the other local guys to attend, Adam Wright ( of Made For This Ministries ) joined me and has just returned from his fourth year at the Kentucky Derby Outreach.
I share all that to give you an idea of what it is like the first time you attend the derby and preach in the open air for the first time. There can be a tendency to leave the outreach on a spiritual high, longing to be around the brothers and preach with many others who are like minded but that is not always the case when you return home. Even so be faithful, continue to press on.
I caution you that while it is a great feeling and experience to be around so many like minded brothers who have a passion and desire to preach in the open air as you do, when going back home you might not experience the same atmosphere with brothers in your community or in your local church. Don't become disheartened but love on them and be gracious and kind. Should the Lord will, He will bring others along with you.
Here is Adam preaching to the crowd, this brother has been a huge encouragement to me and a good friend over the years and together this has been our favorite outreach away from home to attend. From the fellowship we have driving down to Kentucky, staying at the camp grounds and the drive back home. Adam is a great brother in the Lord and I am truly thankful to have him with me over the last four years going down to Kentucky.
This year Adam and I had two brothers from our area join us for the first time. They contacted me in July 2018 looking to do evangelism. Nathaniel and Seth Porter began joining me at evangelism outreaches I had planned throughout the months of summer, into fall and winter. I told them about the Kentucky Derby and SFOI and they were on board wanting to join us. We were blessed to see these two brothers come out and experience the derby outreach for the first time. Here below is a picture of the two brothers sharing the gospel on our first day out at Churchill Downs for the Oaks.
We often say, it is not the derby if it doesn't rain, well it rained! Day one it rained early and the rest of the day was nice. But day two the day of the derby race it rained on and off throughout the day. If you ever been a part of an SFOI event, then you are aware that the weather doesn't stop the preaching.
The crowds will keep coming....
And the saints come prepared to evangelize....
And preach regardless of the weather....
Like the rain every year at the derby, you can also expect these things to happen.
Large Crowds will come to the races.
The gospel will be preached.
Above pictured, Jaycen Saab of AppalachiaCry Ministries
Preaching draws conversations....
In this photo above Adam Wright is preaching
Photo by Pastor Adam Cutshaw who also pointed out this...
"6 evangelists-green (#3 is difficult to see)
10 interactions-red (#7 is difficult to see)"
This lady above came up and told me she was a Christian and that we were pushing people away from Jesus by the preaching. She told me that the way to reach people is through relationships, every objection she raised I simply took her to what the scriptures say and by the end of the conversation she shook my hand and said thank you for the conversations.
Praying is vital to the ministry and happens throughout the day.
Pastor Steven Stanley praying for John Coble before he preaches.
Dan Davis praying for Jamie Hall before preaching.
Ken Hisle praying for an individual who heard the gospel.
And gospel tracts go out.
Do people get upset and angry with us..... YES! Not because of our method, truthfully, it's because they are angry at God, and in rebellion against the one who created them. Therefore, they take out there frustrations on the messengers. Many walked by and called us names, and cussed at us.
Standing behind this barrier, when I was preaching a young man came up and flipped the stand over and walked away, after I finished and Heath (standing talking to the man in the dress coat and pink shirt) began to preach, a young man drunk and angry came and kicked the barricade into the inside of my left leg, then he walked away.
I've often said, if you want to experience the hatred people have for God, go stand on a street corner and preach the gospel to them and the majority of the time you will find out first hand.
And yet we must remember that but by the grace of God we would be no different, we may not have acted out in hatred the same way as these few examples given but we were just as much at enmity with God as those who vocally or physically make it known.
It is the love of Christ though that compels us to proclaim the gospel to the lost and dying world that they may experience new life as we have received in Christ.
God is good and merciful and I pray that His grace will be given to those mentioned above and the many others which heard the gospel at the Derby this past weekend.
May they be granted salvation in Christ!!
I want to thank all the brothers who came out this year to proclaim the gospel at the Derby. Also a huge thank you to Bill Adams and SFOI for hosting this event every year and bringing out speakers to teach us and taking care of the logistics to house and get all the preachers to the track.
I also want to say a special thank you to all of you who have supported us financially to attend this event, Adam Wright, Seth and Nathaniel Porter and I truly thank you, those who donated to the ministry gave generously and provided our way down and covered the entire cost of our trip this year.
Thank you to all of you who prayed for us while we were out at Churchill Downs preaching the gospel. You were just as much a part of this mission trip to the Kentucky Derby through your prayers.
Continue to pray for all those who heard the gospel, that God would grant them salvation and that He would raise up more brothers to come and preach the gospel at the derby next year.
All glory belongs to the Lord!
by Ricky Gantz
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.<<<
For the last four years G220 Ministries has hosted a College Evangelism Tour in which we visit local college campuses seeking to engage with the students and bring to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. The glorious gospel is that Jesus came into His own creation, never once sinned, lived in perfect obedience to the Father, and willfully went to the cross, died, was buried and rose again on the third day and God commands all to repent and believe in Him. All those who by grace through faith in Christ alone receive eternal life while those who reject Christ will receive eternal death.
>>>1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,<<<
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God<<<
One of the things we have observed over the last few years, is a growing surge in the LGBTQ+ community and those who would affirm it. So much so that it appears to be a quickly growing percentage of the student body. Those who openly profess to be homosexual and proud to call themselves such, as well as those who embrace and celebrate this with them who would claim to be heterosexual. Almost as if its the cool new fad among young people today. And anyone who disagrees is unloving and intolerant.
In one conversation with a male student at Cleveland State University who told us his name was "Jenny", claimed to be transgender. Our first encounter with "Jenny", he walked passed with a couple female students that took gospel tracts from us and then "Jenny" proceeded to rip up the tract, tossed it in the air and kept on walking. He stopped and came back with one of the tracts that another in his group received and asked me what was this about. I began to share the gospel with "Jenny", however, he didn't really seem as if he desired to engage in a meaningful conversation but rather mock. Even though every argument he brought forth we showed his inconsistencies and pointed him back to the scriptures.
He left but kept coming back to talk with us throughout the day. One of those times was with my wife, who came in the afternoon for a few hours before we ended the day at CSU.
While talking to my wife, he started with the premise that everyone should be left alone to live in a way that makes them happy. My wife went back and forth with him for awhile using scripture and talking about the foundation for morality, which he did admit that there had to be a standard for morality or you're just left with total chaos. Yet, continued to be inconsistent with what logically he knew to be true.
This just goes to show you that regardless of the evidence of something being true unless God does a supernatural work in the heart of an individual they will continue to suppress the truth for a lie and good they call evil and that which is evil they call good.
>>>Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.<<<
>>>Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!<<<
This young man in the same five minutes of the conversation denied the existence of God, while claiming that God had created him wrong. Do you not see the problem with that thinking? In one breath, he says God doesn't exist, while in the next breath lashes out in anger at the same God he is denying for creating him as he believes, he is a woman in a man's body.
This is the sad state in which we find ourselves today, if we are truly honest and believe the scripture in Romans chapter one, we would have to say we are definitely living in a nation that is not awaiting God's judgment but rather we are currently experiencing it as we see God give them up to the lusts of their hearts in impurity.
As you can see in the picture above college students are willing to engage with you. Most of the time they believe themselves to be wise in their own eyes and think they will put the Christians in their place, which they often seem to think is back in the first century as if truth has evolved and changed over time.
>>>Isaiah 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!<<<
Interestingly enough most of the time if not all the time when we are preaching the gospel at the college campuses in the open air or passing out tracts and engaging in conversations with students we don't even mention homosexuality. They are the ones who bring it up in questions they ask us, and from there we take them to the scriptures to show them what the Word of God says.
While at CSU a student named Patrick came up and was looking at our free materials we brought to the campus to give away. I asked him if he had any questions and he said yes, then he ask if we were zealots? Wanting to be informed about what it was he was asking, I inquired saying what do you mean by zealot? His reply was not exactly what I thought it was going to be, I thought maybe he was asking if we were like the angry street preaching crowd that goes around from campus to campus making it hard on the true biblical Christians who preach the truth, and not those who spend the day yelling at students and calling them names preaching law with no grace.
Patrick went straight for homosexuality, he asked do you preach against gays? I said that we preach the gospel and stand on the Word of God. Pointing out to Patrick that the scripture says all those who die in their sins will not inherit the kingdom of God but rather eternal damnation, homosexuality is one of many sins that God calls us to repent of. Expressing to Patrick that we were not out there to single out homosexuality but rather to point people to Jesus Christ because we are all sinners in need of a savior unable to save ourselves.
He walked away, but like "Jenny" kept coming around as if to hear us but not engaging in more conversations.
These students and many across the country who have the same kind of mindset, one that says there is no absolute truth, some of which will actually tell you there is no absolute truth. They embrace the lies of the world and worship creation over the creator. There is no fear of the Lord in their hearts and they are not seeking after God, which is why they need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ which is our hope and prayer for them. The gospel is the means by which God brings dead sinners to life, releasing the captives and setting them free, opening the blind eyes that they may see and it is only by His grace.
We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ, so preach Christ on the college campuses to these young students, preach Christ to family members, preach Christ to your friends, preach Christ to your co-workers, preach Christ and Him crucified, risen and coming again. Christ changes stony heart to flesh, so trust in Him to bring others to salvation, and let us stay faithful to the proclamation of His gospel message.
Even when it seems that homosexuality and those who support it is ever increasing and anyone who speaks out against it is viewed as unloving, intolerant, and hateful bigots, we know that God can bring these individuals to repentance and faith. We find great comfort in the writing of the Apostle Paul when he says in Corinthians, and such were some of you.
>>>1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.<<<
All those sins listed can be forgiven in Christ, not that one who comes to Christ can continue in their sinful lifestyle, regardless of whatever sin that was, but we repent and believe in Christ and He changes our desires and where sin still remains in the flesh we are called to die to ourselves and obedience to Christ. Too many today who want to preach and teach that you can be a homosexual Christian, when Paul is clear in the passage above that such were some of you, you were but you are no longer identified by the sins which kept you in slavery but you have been set free in Christ.
We have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who lives but Christ who now lives in us and the life we now live by faith in the Son of God who died for us. What comfort we have in Christ we are no longer enemies of God, we are now at peace with God.
So let us remember the grace of God that He poured out on us and extend that grace to the lost by giving them the gospel in truth and love that they might experience the same grace and say, such was I but I have been washed.
May the Grace of God be with you!
Ricky & Elesa Gantz
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