This was my first time at the Kentucky Derby, and it will not be my last. In Louisville, Kentucky, over 130,000 people crammed into a tiny spot of land to watch horses run around a track. Most of them did not care about the horse race—they were there to wear pastel colored outfits and drink alcohol.
However, GGM was there to meet them with the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are four takeaways that will hopefully motivate you- at minimum- into the flow lost humanity in your city, and hopefully join us next year at the Kentucky Derby.
Maybe you go out with your family to local events around your area and attend local concerts. But do you take the time to stop and look at what is going on around you? If you do, you should be shocked.
We are so focused on ourselves that when we are at events with either families or spouses, we are focused on what we want; what we want to drink; what we want to eat; where we want to sit; where we need to park; keeping up with the kids; changing the baby’s diaper—you get the picture. We can be around people but never be with people. Listen to our podcast on this topic. Go to Season 2 Episode 1
We forget to take a look around and see what’s going on. When we don’t take advantage of the opportunity, we miss two major God gifts. One is what God wants to do through you by sharing the life-giving hope of the Gospel. Two: the broken world needs the hope of Jesus Christ. To not understand these two points is to live with your head in the clouds, even though you may be at these events.
When you begin to look around, you will see broken people who struggle with different idols that they worship, like drunkenness, people pleasing, pleasure, entertainment, drug addictions, greed, and many more. At these events, all these idols are up front, exposed for everyone to see.
I don’t think that we should go to these events with a “holier than thou” demeanor, but seeing this sin should motivate you to pray and then get involved by scheduling some time to be a part of one of these outreaches.
I have been sharing the Gospel in the open air since 2004, and open-air preaching since 2008. I tell you this as someone who has seen God do this over and over again firsthand. Do what? Draw people in to hear his word. I will briefly share two stories from the Kentucky Derby.
A Young Jewish Boy Is Confronted With Truth
There was a young Jewish boy who came by and began to proudly tell us that if we could provide a scripture that stated Jesus was the Messiah, he would convert. Well, we shared with him, but he did not convert. No surprise.
Nevertheless, he heard the Gospel even though his friends were trying to pull him away. The story does not end there. He went into Churchill Downs, and that afternoon he came back out, and I happened to be open air preaching.
That was God ordained. He came back by and gave the same statement. I appealed to his knowledge of the Torah and pointed him to Jesus from Genesis 3:14–15, the promise of God in Genesis 13:16, the faith of Abraham in Genesis 15:5, and the suffering servant found in Isaiah 53. Appealing to what he already knew about the Bible helped him engage in the conversation. I shared how this suffering servant was Jesus. After that, he said he was going to leave. His demeanor had completely changed when he walked away. (link to our facebook page to see a video of him)
The Truth Inside A Unbelievers Conscience Holds Him Captive And Draws Him Back
Another gentleman came by and started laughing in my face like a demon, and he said several profanities over and over again. Then, he would stop and allow me to share that the overflow from his mouth was showing me that his heart was in rebellion against God. His girlfriend tried pulling him away, but he would come back and laugh and say vile and wicked things. Next, he would stop and allow me to expose his idols and give him the Gospel. This happened four times. I asked him for the last time, “Do you know why you keep coming back?” He said he did not know. I told him clearly that he was being drawn to what he knows is true.
Many came by to thank us for being in Kentucky to share the Gospel. When true Christians hear the Gospel message being preached, they are not ashamed, instead they are encouraged. This encouragement is another reason why I have seen that more open-air preaching needs to take place.
Christians are beat down by the media (TV, Movies, Social Media), the world, and popular radio broadcasting. When they hear what they believe, it encourages them to be bolder for Jesus.
Heaven knows that after constantly being discouraged by all the media, the Gospel preached in the open air is a shot of spiritual adrenaline to the soul. From professed Christians, some of the comments this weekend included: “Thank you for being here,” “Thank you so much for sharing,” “Will you pray for me,” and “Thank you for being ready in season and out of season.”
If you don’t believe I am going to tell to try God on this one. Pray that God would bring divine appointments in the form of conversations. Read Robert’s testimony in our November 2016 newsletter. I want to share two divine encounters that happened while I was at the Kentucky Derby.
Someone In Need Of Emergency Prayer
I was handing out tracts as people flowed pass me at a rate of about 1,000 per minute. They were leaving and going home after the race on Friday. My hand was out stretched with a tract on the end of my fingers. I asked, “Have you received one yet?” She said, “No, what it is?” I said, “It’s a Gospel tract.” She eagerly took the tract and stuffed it in her small purse. She began to cry and asked if I was a Christian. I stated that I was, and she asked if we could pray. A few seconds prior, she had just found out that her daughter was in a tragic car accident in Orlando Beach, FL.
I put my hand on her shoulder and began to pray. She just wept and sobbed as I prayed. If I would have been five feet to the left, I would have never seen her. If I would’ve been turned the other way, I would have never seen her. If I had been sitting on my couch, I would have never seen her.
I had the privilege to encourage a professed Christian with the power of prayer. When I finished, she wiped the tears from her eyes and thanked me and went on her way. I may never see her again, but it does not matter. This divine appointment was planned by God, and I had the privilege of being an instrument in His hands. On to the next story.
The Spirit Of God Draws Chandler In A Down Pour
It was pouring down rain the day of the Kentucky Derby when Chandler walked by the preaching of the word of God. I was preaching from Matthew 7:1–14 and, as God planned it, I was preaching about verse 7. As he walked by, I asked Chandler if he was ready to seek God—if he was ready to ask for eternal life?
He was soaked from head to toe. Rain was streaming down his face as he looked up at me under the hood of my rain suit. He asked how he could receive God? He thought he had committed too many sins against Him. His girlfriend was trying to pull him away. As she would pull on him, his feet would slide but he would struggle back to me, and I would continue our conversation. After she tried pulling him away three times, I said, “Leave him alone. God wants Chandler here at this very moment and you need to quit fighting against God’s will.” By God’s grace, she did stop and began talking with Dan, another evangelist with our team, and she too began to listen to the Gospel.
After several more minutes, I could see that he needed one-on-one counseling, so I referred him to Ken as I continued to preach the word of God. If you would like to watch Ken and I debrief about this conversation, click here.
I hope this article has encouraged you, challenged you, and motivated you to be at the Kentucky Derby with us next year, proclaiming the amazing Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Are you taking the time to look at this broken world we live in? Do you realize the lost that are coming to Christ are being drawn by His word?
Never forget, Christians are encouraged by the exaltation of Jesus. God has divine appointments ready for you today. Now go proclaim the Gospel to see a life transformed.