Whitefield’s quote reminds me yet again, why I go to UNT on a weekly basis and preach the gospel “open air” style and why I really do not care much for popular opinion regarding the lack of “civility” of this “style” of evangelism.
Let me just point out a few things I hope will stoke the embers of evangelistic zeal in the church. I remember this day quite vividly. It was one of the biggest crowds that ever gathered to hear us preach maybe 200 students at one point. What is so amazing about that is not just the sheer number of students who stood to listen to God’s word, but how long they stayed, some up to an hour long. Whoever says this is not effective is just out of touch with what is really happening, at least in our corner of the “open air” scene— students are really listening, learning, and leaving with a clear gospel message being imparted to them.
I remember the gentlemen at the microphone in the camouflage outfit. He was a self-proclaimed Buddhist that thought he really understood the history and composition of the cannon of Scripture. Our first encounter was explosive and full of expletives, at least on my friend’s part— he left totally hostile to the gospel, not to mention the preacher too. However, the following week he brought me a chocolate cake and explained how I had caused him to “rethink” everything he believed! He also brought his girlfriend and insisted I preach to her the exact same message I had shared with him. Who would have ever foreseen these turn of events? This is precisely what student ministry is about, making students stop and think to consider the consequences of their worldview and find life in Christ. The picture with this young man at the microphone was our third encounter. By this point he was objecting but courteous, no more foul language, and seeking to understand not seeking to undermine. The truth is that these kinds of testimonies happen quite often, ok, without the cake, I must confess that was a bit out of the ordinary even for me. But time and again it never ceases to amaze me how God is working in the “White Fields” of College campuses. The Lord recently even permitted us to meet a young lady who claimed to have come to faith in Christ after hearing our preaching a couple of years ago. Some people object to “open air” preaching because it they think it is inappropriate, outdated, and out of step with our contemporary culture. These folks will usually say that Whitefield and Wesley were preaching in a different time when it was more acceptable etc. but as the quote by George Whitfield above demonstrates— many did not support this Great Awakening preacher during his day either. This is why I am happy to echo the words of this most eminent theologian-evangelist and follow in his steps.
“Preaching in the fields may displease some, but I am thoroughly persuaded it pleased God, and why should I fear anything else?”
— George Whitefield
Praise God for His sovereign grace.
Emilio Ramos is the preaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church. Pastor Emilio is committed to the expository and exegetical teaching of the Word of God. Emilio is also the author of Convert, From Adam to Christ and the founder of redgracemedia.com- a media ministry devoted to the glory of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ. He and his wife Trisha live in Dallas, TX.