Monday, November 03, 2008

How to Befriend Strangers

As I stood in front of the camera, I tried to look relaxed as I said, “I’m going to show you how easy it is to befriend strangers, using tracts.” Kirk Cameron, my associate Mark Spence, and myself were in Canada at the invitation of our Canadian agent (LivingWatersCanada.com), Pastor Chris Curry, conducting a “Way of the Master” seminar in Ottawa. Kirk had left earlier that day, so the three of us were looking for prospective interviews for our upcoming television program.

Most Christians are a little apprehensive about approaching strangers, so I was going to demonstrate how easy it was. The key was to keep a relaxed atmosphere. I would simply walk up to strangers (wearing a hidden microphone), befriend them (using our unique tracts), and then explain what we were doing. We would then ask for permission to use the film.

An hour earlier I had said the same thing, but just as I finished speaking, a youth spotted our “hidden” camera and angrily ran toward us with his middle finger pointed skyward. He was really mad. Afterward, he told us that he thought we were police officers, and suggested that Mark take off his sunglasses next time, because they made him look like a cop.

This time Mark wasn’t wearing his sunglasses, and the camera wouldn’t be spotted. We were at a public park. Four youths were sitting on a seat with their backs to us, so we carefully positioned ourselves behind them, and I did my introduction. It was simply a matter of approaching them, and after I had shown how easy it was to befriend strangers, I would call Mark over, have them “sign off,” and then interview them about the things of God.

As I casually approached the youths, their dog purposely walked toward me. The animal had a similar look in his eye as the youth with the skyward finger. That didn’t help to make the atmosphere as relaxed as I would have liked it to be. Thankfully, its owner called it back and apologized for the dog’s territorial attitude.

As I greeted the four guys, suddenly an argument broke out behind me between one of them and someone else who had joined the group. That didn’t help keep a relaxed atmosphere either, especially in the light of the fact that it was obviously an argument about a drug deal of some sort.

Within seconds, two other older men joined the little dope party. These two looked like dealers. One had a decidedly nervous expression. The other had a long platted red beard. Mr. Nervous asked who I was and what I was doing. There was impatience in his tone. Then he spotted the camera. Oh dear. That didn’t help his nerves (or mine). Mark realized that he had been spotted and sensed that there was tension in the air, so he positioned Chris in front of him with a microphone, to give the impression that he wasn’t filming me.

The air was electric. I was now looking directly at the two pushers who were demanding who I was, and why we were filming them. Chris’s standing in front of the camera didn’t seem to fool them. I suddenly became aware of the fact that two-inches of microphone wire was very visible. I knew that it could be seen as it ran across my belt but it didn’t seem to matter a few minutes earlier.

Also, a week earlier some kind Christian had given me a plastic card with the letters “FBI” boldly emblazoned in it. In fine print across the bottom, it said, “Firm Believer in Christ.” I loved it, and put it in the “window” on my wallet. I had even pressed it down in the window so that “Firm Believer in Christ” couldn’t be clearly seen. It gave me a buzz to think that someone might actually think that I was an FBI agent.

My predicament wasn’t good.

I glanced across at Mark for some sort of consolation that I wasn’t alone in such a tense situation. All I could see was Chris being interviewed. It seemed to me that Mark thought that what I was doing was boring and that Chris would make a better interview.

As I began to try and explain what I was doing, one of the pushers angrily said, “You are a fake!” He had no doubt seen the microphone wire. If they grabbed me and found my FBI badge, they weren’t going to bother with the fine print. I thought, “Great, I’m not going to be killed for my faith, but for being an undercover cop!”

Suddenly, the spokesman quickly said, “I’m getting out of here!” His friend looked at me, and then speedily followed him. The argument behind me had come to a conclusion, so I turned to the doped three that were still checking out the tracts, and began to share my faith with them.

Thankfully, the entire incident was captured on film, showing how easy it is to approach strangers and befriend them, using tracts.

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