Every late October, the town of Athens, Ohio (home of Ohio University) saw thousands of people assemble to celebrate Halloween on Court Street (the four block long center of town). Athens was packed on those Friday nights by students from OU and well as other campuses and towns within a few hours drive. Did I mention the plethora of bars that did a healthy business that weekend? Others came for the infamous Halloween costume party, where revelers dressed up, down, or not much at all, and paraded up and down Court Street to been seen and ogled.
Our campus ministry prayed and fasted the weeks leading up to Halloween and waded into the masses to do street evangelism on Friday night. We had music and drama teams out on the streets, cup-of-cold-water stations (as well as hot chocolate for a frosty Friday night), and 2×2 witnessing teams out and about. Every year yielded testimony about a student deciding to follow Christ that evening, healings of all sorts, and a multitude of divine contacts worth shouting about. I remember one tipsy fraternity guy I was talking with, and in the course of the conversation got convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, sobered up by the same Spirit, and then dragged away by another frat guy who wanted to fight me for talking with “his frat brother” about Jesus.
One year Wiccans dressed in dark clothes showed up on Court Street. Some of our Chi Alpha students approached them and asked, “What are you dressed up to be?” When one replied, “Wiccans, or witches, leave us alone,” one of our students asked, “Why are you so afraid of the Light?” They chuckled at my enthusiastic young Christ-followers and left – all except for Sherry.
She wanted to stay behind and defend her right to follow her beliefs and practice her “dark arts.” She talked with my students a long time and something began to happen. My students asked questions about Sherry’s story and journey, and listened intently to why she believed what she believed. When appropriate, they presented some persuasive, powerful arguments for the person of Jesus that she could not dismiss. Before she left, they offered and Sherry accepted a Bible.
That night she began to read the small pocket-sized Bible. A few days later she left the Wiccan community and went home to her family near Columbus, Ohio. She started attending church again, confessed her faith and trust in Jesus, and was baptized. Sherry returned the next few years to Halloween at OU, not to celebrate Mother Earth, but to join us as a witness to the various partiers (and witches) of the person, love, and power of Jesus Christ.
The students who talked with Sherry never knew of her conversion until years later because they graduated and moved on. I found out because the pastor of Sherry’s church called one year and wanted to connect with our street witnessing efforts. Sherry told me, “I wish I could thank them in person and tell them how they changed my life.” They didn’t change it, of course, but God did. But they had made themselves available to Him on the streets of Athens, Ohio. In the power of the Holy Spirit, they had gone into a dark area with the light of the gospel, and Sherry responded.
God may not be calling you to witness to witches near your campus. If He does, Sherry (and I) would advise some special training and preparation. But many people around your campus need Christ. Ask for God’s help and then go out to talk about Jesus. We can never anticipate the impact of a witness. Live communally. Witnessing is taking the Light into the darkness.
Love is a verb,
©2014 by Mike Olejarz