When I was called to preach I had this idea that I might (by God’s grace) be the next Billy Graham or Jimmy Swaggart (thankfully, not). Well, it hasn’t quite gone that way – at least, so far, it hasn’t gone that way. I normally (actually, I never) preach to conference halls or stadiums full of expectant and admiring mass gatherings. My work is ALWAYS in a basement, a home, a tiny, hard-to-find church in the country, café or hot, stuffy, upstairs rooms that sits atop something like an auto body shop.
Like anyone, I would love to preach to huge audiences but the Lord told me a long time ago that I am called to serve “the back side of the desert.” I suppose someone has to go there and most people won’t, preferring to be the key note speaker at major events. My rule has always been to take whatever invitation comes my way. This means small churches in places like Parham, Ontario to Svinvoll (Pigville to be precise), Norway; Wyoming, Minnesota; and a hundred other places that barely show up on a map.
Upon hearing that I would be available to preach the week of August 7th, my agent and good friend Pastor Ken Roth of Chapel Ridge Free Methodist Church, scheduled me to preach on Wednesday night at a Haitian church plant in the east side of Ottawa. When we arrived in front of a community center the parking lot was packed with cars. There happened to be a carnival on the same evening so I jumped out of the car and ran up the stairs to a small room where singing was already in progress. I entered the room where there were as many microphones as there were people. We were still in a David and Goliath situation with the neon lit rides having far more appeal than conga drums and synthesizers. Nevertheless, the Haitians went right ahead singing with all their might until about twenty or so people arrived. An hour and a half later, I rose to preach for about thirty minutes with translation.
I was surprised at how similar the Haitian meeting was when compared to the Congolese services I led in Charlotte some months before. Though continents apart they turn out to have a lot in common. The style of music and French language were almost identical. I doubt if they know this and thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if they could have a shared experience of visiting each other’s churches.”
After the service we stayed for sandwiches and soft drinks and then made our way back home by 10:30.