The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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     All three of my children graduated from college in Birmingham, AL. The university is located on Lakeshore Drive. During the 11 years that Hall kids attended school in Birmingham, we frequently visited a Chick-fil-a, a Wal-Mart, and different hotels that were situated near the intersection of Lakeshore Drive and Interstate 65.
     Most of our visits were on weekends and we often saw a van parked in a grassy area on Lakeshore Drive near the I-65 intersection. Propped against the van and all around the area were signs and placards of varying sizes that presented a scripture, a thought-provoking question of a spiritual nature, or a biblical truth. Holding a sign and a microphone was a gentleman who was preaching and admonishing those passing by to fix their eyes upon Jesus. I don’t know how many years this street preacher had used that particular location as his Saturday pulpit before we began visiting Birmingham in the fall of 2007. What I do know, however, is that he proclaimed the gospel regardless of any obstacles, hindrances, or challenges that might have otherwise thwarted the efforts or good intentions of most people. This gentleman died recently and his granddaughter offered the following on social media:


My grandfather John Brown passed away today. It saddens me to know never again will there be a Saturday that he’ll be on Lakeshore boldly preaching the gospel. I am happy knowing that he wasn’t perfect but he lived a life to please The Most High and to help others do the same. His unwavering faith is something I only hope to have and somehow keep his spirit alive. One Love G-Daddy.

     A Birmingham attorney who is a colleague of my wife offered these personal reflections:

Like pretty much everyone else in Birmingham, I guess, there were many Saturdays I drove past the guy shouting into the microphone, uphill from the Wal-Mart on Lakeshore Drive, and sort of shook my head at the folly of it. I mean, a man who stood out there on bitter cold Saturdays and on blazing August Saturdays preaching all day to folks driving by with their windows tightly rolled up and their minds on where they were going next – how crazy would you have to be to do that week after week? How could you think that what you were doing would make any difference?

I don’t know that it did. I guess no one this side of heaven does. But I do know that what he preached certainly wouldn’t have made a difference in anyone’s life if he hadn’t preached it. And I think about what I could be doing from my comfortable air-conditioned spot, and whose life I might make a difference in if I had the courage, even once in a while, that this gentleman showed every Saturday.

Mr. John Brown, I didn’t know your name before, but I hope you’re enjoying your heavenly rest now. And I hope maybe now and again I can find a way to be a little bit crazy for what I believe in, to feel a little of that divine craziness that gave you the courage to be out there each Saturday, doing for the Lord what you do. Rest in peace, good and faithful servant.

     May each of us be “mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:12) recognizing that we “are obligated to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish” (Romans 1:14). May each of us put feet to our faith and exhibit the kind of divine craziness that reflects the declaration of the apostle Paul, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16).