Black Friday. I think I have gone shopping on Black Friday once about 5 years ago but have never been one who gets up before dawn to take part in the "early bird" sales each year. This past Friday was a bit different in that it was the first time I got up before dawn to go to the stores on Black Friday. A few months back I realized for the first time what an awesome opportunity Black Friday presented to reaching a lot of people in a short period of time with the Gospel. This year, myself and a few others decided to get up early to go share the gospel with the people waiting in line.
Our schedule was as follows:
1. Kohl's (South Bay Galleria) - Doors open at 3am so we got there at 230 am.
2. Target (across the street from Kohl's) - Doors open at 4am so we would go there after Kohl's.
3. Best Buy (Hawthorne) - Doors open at 5am so we got there at 415 am.
4. Best Buy (El Segundo) - Doors open at 5am so we got there right before they opened.
It was quite a morning. Personally, I was expecting to see less than 50 people or so waiting outside of these stores so I was blown away by what I saw when I drove up to Kohl's at 230 am. First, when I passed by Target, which didn't open until 4am, there must have been 500 people outside with blankets and chairs waiting to go in when they opened. Kohl's probably had 400 people outside and cars were steadily streaming into the parking lot. I immediately got nervous and excited at the shear number of people outside of these stores knowing that in a few minutes we would be sharing the gospel with them. Our plan was to start from the back of the line handing out Million Dollar Bill gospel tracts to the people in line and then preach the gospel to them as they stood in line after they had a chance to read the message on the gospel tracts. Up until about 6 months ago I would have never pictured myself as someone who would address a group of strangers by publicly declaring the gospel to them. Since then, God has been changing my heart in that area and giving me a burden to share the gospel with all creation. A lot of the change has to do with the way I see the early church living out their faith which I wrote about in an earlier blog post.
When we got to Kohl's we passed out a lot of tracts and then Tony and I shared a message with the people in line. Tony started off showing people that God exists by pointing to creation as well as fulfilled prophecies in the Bible. I followed that up with God's Law, using the Ten Commandments to show people their sin before God and that they are in desperate need of a Savior, and then sharing the grace of God shown to us through Christ's death and resurrection. Tony then came back up and shared why so many people reject the gift (John 3:16-22) and encouraged them to repent and trust Christ today for salvation.
By the time we were done, there were probably an additional 200 people in line and we passed tracts out to them before we left. At Target, we distributed tracts to everybody in line and then one of the workers told us that we were not aloud to be there handing out literature. Rather than arguing with them, we decided to go to Best Buy since we had already had the opportunity to give tracts to everybody in line. At Best Buy, there were another 500-600 people in line and we spent about half an hour going through the line, talking to people and sharing the gospel with them. Our friend Carlos Ramos shared a short gospel message with the crowd and by then it was about 445. With 15 minutes left we went to the Best Buy in El Segundo and passed out tracts to the people standing in line right before they started letting people inside.
Overall, we probably distributed 2000 tracts with people on Black Friday. Most everybody took tracts and some even asked for extra to give to their family. We received some negative comments from a handful of people and also some very encouraging comments from other believers in line who thanked us for being out there sharing the gospel with people. At the end of the morning, we rejoiced that we were able to reach that many people and prayed for the seeds that were sown and for the Holy Spirit to convict people of sin, righteousness and judgment. I thank God for Black Friday and how Christians can take advantage of worldly gatherings to share the gospel with multitudes of people, especially ones who might not ever step foot into a gospel preaching church.
Below is an audio player and link to some of the audio from the message we shared with the people standing in line at Kohl's. I pray that it might be used to encourage you in your walk with Christ.
Link to Audio