Thursday, November 20, 2008

Platform preaching for Jesus or "I shoulda thrown the son-of-a-bitch under the train!"

You are standing on an elevated platform waiting for a train to take you to your job in downtown Chicago. You're late because the damn alarm didn't go off and you're hungry because you there was no milk for cereal and the bread was moldy. You didn't have time for breakfast anyway.

It is very cold. The wind blows through your jacket leaving trails of icicles up and across your back. Your fingers no longer move even though they're stuffed deep into your pockets. Your nose is numb, your eyes water, and you're stomping your feet to keep them warm.

And that's the good part.

Your job sucks, and your manager told you yesterday that your pension fund has been cut in half and your health benefits have been reduced by one-third. Last night you discovered your kid has some kind of wormy thing going on which may require hospitalization. The car wouldn't start this morning and your wife said she wasn't going to work, that it was too damn cold and the kid was sick anyway.

While you're standing on the elevated platform shivering and runny-eyed, a clean-cut, well-shaven young man wearing a cashmere overcoat pulls on your arm. He doesn't seem cold at all. He tries to hand you a tract.

He asks, "Have you been saved? Do you know Jesus as your personal savior? Do you know that you're going to heaven when you die?"

You stare glassily at this youthful apparition of godly devotion and wonder where the hell he came from. You look at the tract. It is black with red print and flames appear to be consuming the edges. It asks the question, "Where will YOU spend eternity?"

You try to hand it back to the young man. He refuses to take it. You turn away from his toothy grin and shiver.

Just then a Transit Authority cop comes up and tells the young man to give it up, go away, move on. The kid stands there, defiant now. Another cop arrives and grabs the kid's arm and tries to move him off the platform and down the steps. The kid goes limp. Together, the cops hoist him off the ground and drag him away.

Your relief is palpable. You had just about decided to throw him under the next train that came along.

The train arrives, you hop on, and in ten minutes you're sitting in your cubicle, trying to thaw out your extremities. You glance at the morning newspaper sprawled across your desk. The headline reads: "Chicago Transit Authority OK's evangelism of Moody Bible Institute students on train platforms."

"Omigod!" you exclaim, as you scurry between the cubicles to the break room to get a cup of coffee. "I shoulda done it! I shoulda thrown the son-of-a-bitch under the train!"

Read the full story here.

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