Got Kicked Out of Northpoint Mall (Alpharetta)

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This morning as I was praying, God laid on my heart to go to the mall this afternoon to share the Gospel.  I had the opportunity to talk with three different individuals. The greatest thing about it was you could tell the conversations were Spirit-led and hearts were completely open to discussion.  Each of the three conversations was vastly different and each message was tailored to the individual.  I mean, no 12-step Gospel presentation here.  It is such a blessing to serve in your area of giftedness and just watch as God uses you РI totally enjoy using my gift of evangelism to serve the kingdom and reach people.

As I was talking to the third young lady, a security guard approached me.¬† He was led to my table by an onlooker who didn’t appreciate what I was doing.¬† The security guard asks me if I was soliciting religion.¬† I answered, “Well, I and the young lady here are talking about spiritual stuff.¬† I’m not sure if that’s what you call soliciting religion.”¬† He told me that I wasn’t allowed to do that.¬† I told him that I asked the girl if she minded and she said that she didn’t.¬† I invited the guard to ask the girl if she wanted me to leave or if I could stay.¬† So the security guard asked her and she said that I was okay and wasn’t bothering her.¬† The guard told me that I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone else after her and if he saw me, then he would escort me out personally.¬† I told him that when I got through talking to her, I would leave.

When the conversation with the girl was finished, I thanked her for talking and started making my way out of the food court. On the outskirts of the atrium, I saw the guard again.  I decided to go talk to him.  I figure the worse thing that could happen was that he would escort me out of the mall. Either way I was leaving, so asking him would still be a ‘winning’ situation.

As the guard, Benjamin Franklin (I kid you not), approached, I asked him where he stood spiritually.¬† Benjamin replied that he was a Christian; he believed in and trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior.¬† I then asked him (not in an accusing manner, but encouragement – always speaking in love), when was the last time he shared Christ with someone.¬† Benjamin told me he shared it with someone just last week.¬† I told him that was great but then asked him how often did he share Christ.¬† Benjamin answered, “Every chance I get. I just don’t go and try to cram it down people’s throats.”¬† I responded, “I wasn’t trying to cram it down people’s throats. I asked the girl if I could ask her a question and she told me I could.¬† All she had to do was say ‘No’.”¬† Benjamin replied, “I know you weren’t trying to cram it down; I could tell by your attitude towards me and how you respond to me. But we do have rules at the mall and you’re on private property. The mall sets rules in place to protect people who don’t want to be approached.” I then told him, “I understand and I want you to know that I did apologize to the guy who reported me to you for offending him.” Benjamin asked me, “Do you really think you offended him?”¬† I answered, “No. I think he just feels threatened and insecure just like many other people because they are uninformed and uneducated.¬† You know, I sat through 20 years of math classes as I went through school.¬† I not once got into a debate with my math teacher because I knew they knew more than I did¬†and I would be totally insecure because of my lack of knowledge compared to them.¬† The only difference between this situation and that is the fact that I didn’t have a choice in regards to sitting in the class – I was required to.¬† People, however, have a choice whether they want to listen to me.”

Benjamin continued, “Well, you need to understand that the mall has rules set by the owners and, even though I’m a Christian, I have to uphold those rules.”¬† I told him that I understood. He continued, “God has set in place authority that we should respect and obey.”¬† I asked, “You mean Romans 12 where it’s talking about all authority is ordained by God?” Benjamin answered, “Yes.” I¬†shared with¬†him that I read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego this morning and how they wouldn’t bow to King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol.¬† Benjamin argued, “But wait a minute; that’s totally different.¬† The king wanted them to bow to an¬†idol.¬† We’re just asking you to follow some rules.”¬† I replied, “I’m sorry, but it’s no different.¬† I understand that the story was about an idol.¬† But¬†my¬†point is that they were obedient to God. Benjamin, I know the management group owns this mall, but who¬†really¬†owns it?”¬† Benjamin answered, “Well, I guess God – he owns everything.”¬† I said, “Yep.¬† And, I want you to know that the only reason I’m here today is that God told me he wanted me to come to the mall.”¬† Benjamin argued, “Oh, I don’t believe that.”¬† I asked him why he didn’t believe it.¬† Benjamin answered, “Because God told us to respect authority and I don’t believe he would call you to a mall in order to break that authority’s rules.”¬† I then asked him… (please don’t miss this)…

“Benjamin, I know a group of about 20-50 people who are flying over to Israel today to share the Gospel on the streets in Jerusalem.¬† The Israeli government made it very clear to these people not to come.¬† As a matter of fact, this group of people couldn’t even find a hotel to stay at because no one would accommodate them.¬† They’re actually going to have to find someplace to camp out.¬† A small group of these people was already stoned in¬†New York¬†by some Jewish people.¬† Going over to Israel could mean that they’d get stoned, beaten, or imprisoned. Now, this is a¬†national government¬†that told them not to come and share the Gospel.¬† There are Christians all around the world who would be tortured and murdered if the local governments found out what they were doing.¬† Do you believe that God would call someone to a country where the actual government was ordering them not to come?”

Benjamin replied, “Yeah, I believe God can do that.”  I reasoned, “If God can call someone to a country where the government has said they can’t share the Gospel, then why can’t God call me to a mall where just the owners said I can’t share the Gospel?”  Benjamin started to stutter and then became speechless.

I thanked Benjamin for talking to me and¬†I then left the mall.¬† My hope and prayer are that God will use the conversation to open up Benjamin’s mind a little bit and challenge him.

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