Handing out tracts at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. has never been an easy endeavor. We face our share of opposition from the Jewish student body, who would like to see us give up our attempts to share our faith. But as Victoria Lannon, our Russian outreach worker pointed out to me, Americans are spoiled and have no clue as to what true opposition is!” She was right. I can only imagine what our missionaries in Russia go through on a daily basis. My experience is limited to an occasional hostile remark or the threat of an arrest for an activity that is guaranteed to me by our Constitution.
Most of us will never be beaten for our faith or placed in chains, as Paul was. Yet we can relate to his exhortation to those in Thessalonica, when he told them how he had “suffered and been insulted…but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition” (I Thessalonians 2:2).
I received a taste of that opposition recently at GWU, with our branch leader, Peter Rice. We had been on campus for about thirty minutes when two police officers approached and told Peter we were trespassing on private property. Peter tried to explain that we were standing on a public sidewalk, and therefore we were not breaking any laws. The police officers insisted they were responding to a complaint, and we had to leave. It wasn’t long before six more police officers joined the original two, to try to figure out the best way to rid us from “their” campus.
Two of the police officers patted a student on the back saying, “Thanks for letting us know about this problem.” As the police were surrounding us I heard one student tell another, “It’s about time they get rid of these guys.” Still another student told me how disgusted he was that he had to pay such high tuition and see our faces all the time.
Peter walked to the campus police station to try to remedy the situation, while I continued to distribute broadsides on a nearby street corner. One woman who took a tract returned moments later to tap me on the shoulder and ask, “Where’s your office?” The woman (who was not a believer) said, “I think this is great. We Jews need to hear more about this.”
Virginia gladly gave me her name and address to receive more information. As she crossed the street, she turned around, calling back to me, “Please keep doing this, even though some people may not like it.” I smiled, knowing that we were there that day to please God alone, and not the police or the student body at George Washington University. I am grateful for the divine appointments that God sends our way and for people like Virginia, who are willing to hear the Good News.