There and Back Again…a Mardis Gras Holiday (Blog Entry for 3-14-11)March 14, 2011 by: Mike Savage
I have gotten a lot of questions recently about why I have not been blogging and why I have not answered several of the questions submitted to the website. The answer is pretty simple…I have been enormously busy. Teaching at the college and preparing for my first evangelism trip has consumed a great portion of my time. Here is what has been going on:
In addition to my teaching schedule at the college, I was tasked with helping recruit for the Fall trimester. This has been a difficult task for me because I am not good at selling stuff and felt like that was what I was called upon to do. Of course I was wrong, but it was a big learning curve for me. I have met with a lot of pastors and Christian educators and talked with them about the school. It has been an eye-opener, and something I will write about at a later time.
The other thing that has occupied my thoughts was a trip the school sends its students and staff to each year…Mardis Gras. Every year students from the school go to this bacchanalian event and evangelize on the street to people who go there to party. I was NOT excited about going. Street evangelism is not my thing. I am a teacher/pastor and the idea of talking about Jesus to drunk people was not on my “bucket list”. Frankly, it still isn’t. Still, I was told by the Chancellor of the school that I needed to go, so I went…reluctantly….VERY reluctantly.
We spent the entire time evangelizing at the corner of Canal and Bourbon streets…party central. There were about 240 students along with attendant staff. My job was to watch over a certain group of the students and make sure no one accosted them. In addition, I was to speak with people about Jesus and try to “win them to Christ.” Not a tantalizing prospect for me but one I did out of obedience to my bosses at the school.
In addition to the street time, we spent every morning and evening in worship services geared to helping us understand the importance of what we were doing, as well as to provide encouragement and instruction. Speakers from around the country were featured in these services and provided a measure of exhortation and education. There were “break out sessions” with the speakers that focused on various aspects of Christian ministry. With my reluctant attitude, I ‘m afraid I did not learn a great deal…initially.
The college I work for is Pentecostal…very Pentecostal. In fact, it is seen as too Pentecostal for some Pentecostals…not an easy thing to accomplish. If you are not certain what Pentecostal means, or how a school can be VERY Pentecostal, ask me and I will explain it to you. Suffice it to say that it is not a school for those who like quiet services, preachers, teachers, or music. All the gifts of the Spirit are practiced there and it can seem terribly chaotic to some. Those of you who know me may wonder how in the world I came to be a professor at such a college. The answer is that God PUT me there. Frankly, I am not Pentecostal enough for most Pentecostals and I am not conservative enough for most other conservative groups in Christendom. To say that I am being stretched by being in such a place is to make an enormous understatement. Oddly enough, I fit in there just fine. Weird, huh?
So off I go to Mardis Gras with a bad attitude and extreme doubts about what I was called upon to do. I am not certain but I may have been a bit grumpy in my demeanor…something Pentecostals are not supposed to be…but there you go. If you think Pentecostal services are chaotic, they are nothing compared to Mardis Gras…especially in the midst of where we were located. The smell of booze, vomit, pot, crack, urine, and other stuff I am too polite to write about, surrounded our mission field. I was certain I would be in the midst of breaking up attacks on our students from the revelers. I saw little chance of success.
I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing about this right now because I am still trying to understand all of it. Suffice it to say that there were a lot of conversions on the street, no one got hurt, and it was an event in my life that changed a lot of my perspectives of what it means to be a Christian. I will write about it more later…maybe. For now let me answer a couple of questions:
1. Am I more Pentecostal after going to Mardis Gras? Nope.
2. Was it a waste of time? Nope.
3. Did a lot of good come out of it? Yep.
4. Has my attitude changed about going again? Too early to tell.
5. Do I love my job at the School of Urban Missions Bible College? Absolutely…especially the students…MOST of the students.
6. How am I getting along with the staff? Quit asking so many questions.
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