Monday, April 25, 2011

Witnessing Is Not Soliciting

Last week I went to Best Buy to return a camcorder purchased two days before. Standing outside the store were four college-aged men. Feeling led to witness to the men, I approached them asking if they would take part in a “survey.” All four were receptive and eventually told me they thought they were going to heaven but for the wrong reasons. Soon I led them all in a prayer to receive salvation.

By this time, the Best Buy manager was standing next to me. She informed me that someone complained because they “felt uncomfortable” with me ministering. I told the manager that I hadn’t witnessed to anyone else there! Whoever complained must have felt conviction by the Holy Spirit while walking by me. (I have since prayed that this person continually feels uncomfortable until he or she becomes born again.)

According to Christian Law Association attorney David Gibbs, Jr., shoppers have the freedom to talk to each other about various subjects. One person might discuss vacations and hand someone a brochure about a vacation destination. So should a Christian be free to share the gospel and hand someone a tract through incidental interactions while shopping. I showed the Best Buy manager my camcorder and receipt to prove I was there for business reasons (but took care of “Kingdom business” first).

The manager then told me, “We don’t allow soliciting here.” I replied by pointing out the U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that one-on-one evangelism in public places is not soliciting as long as you don’t ask for money. Numerous cases related to this issue include…

Lovell v. City of Griffin (1938)
Schneider v. New Jersey (1939)
Jones v. City of Opelika (1942)
Murdock v. Pennsylvania (1943)
Watchtower Society v. Village of Stratton (2002)

I ended the conversation by politely telling the Best Buy manager that these four men received eternal life so they won’t spend eternity in hell and that Jesus loved her also. A few minutes later, I ran into two of the men in the bathroom at a nearby shopping center. That gave me an opportunity to minister to them more without the manager around.

I will continue shopping for souls as the Lord leads. And whenever a store manager or security guard accuses me of soliciting, I will look at it as an opportunity to “solicit” the gospel to them.

“Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.” - Acts 17:17

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