A number of evangelists nationwide are planning to eagerly race to the stores during the early hours of the morning on Black Friday — not to be the first to snatch the latest gadget off the shelves, but to utilize the day as an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the masses.
Shawn Holes of Luke Ten Two Ministries, and Mike Stockwell and Robert Gray of Cross Country Evangelism, told Christian News Network that they have been witnessing to shoppers on Black Friday for four years, and they plan to do so again this week.
“I’ve had great experiences on Black Friday,” Holes said. “We’re always looking for opportunities to share the Gospel with groups of people, and on Black Friday, they line up for hours waiting for a good deal. So, we look for some of these locations that people would be getting there early in the wee morning, and we go share with them because they’re just waiting in line, and they really aren’t doing much else besides waiting for the door to open.”
“We hit Target, Best Buy, Bass Pro Shop and Kohls,” Stockwell said, who spends Black Friday in Virginia each year and has witnessed the crowds camping outside of the stores all night. “We tract the lines and we preach to the lines. … Everybody usually takes our tracts in the line. Very few don’t take them.”
Stockwell said that he was inspired to go out and share the Gospel at the stores after tragedy struck near his hometown.
“Someone got killed in Long Island as they trampled a guy in the store as they rushed in,” he explained. “I was thinking, these people are rushing in here a day after they were giving thanks for the things that they have, and now here they are running into this place to get more stuff, and they kill a guy trying to get in the store.”
“I said, ‘I don’t want to miss any of these after that; these people need to hear the Gospel more than anybody,'” he continued.
Gray said that the first time he decided to share the Gospel with shoppers, it took some convincing to get anyone to go with him.
“I told my friend, ‘I want to go preach on Black Friday,’ and nobody wanted go with me,” he said. “And my best friend was like, ‘I want 100 percent proof that we’re supposed to go out and preach the Gospel to people.'”
It just so happened that Gray’s friend was set to teach on the Biblical account of Jonah at children’s church that week, and Gray was there to help him.
“After the end of us teaching this, I called him and I said, ‘You’ve got your 100 percent proof that we’re supposed to go out and preach the Gospel,'” Gray recalled. “[He said,] ‘What are you talking about?’ I said, ‘Well, we talked to the children about Jonah. Jonah didn’t want to go. God turned him around and sent him in the right direction. Do you think people wanted to hear what Jonah had to preach? But over 120 thousand people got saved.'”
“He got it. He just really got it,” Gray said joyously. “And then he said, ‘What time do you want me to pick you up?'”
“So, we got up at 4 a.m., and he had hot cocoa, and it was my first time preaching,” he said.
Holes said that he was pleasantly surprised the first time he witnessed to the Black Friday crowds in Boise, Idaho.
“It may have been like 4:30 in the morning, and there were lots of people gathered outside of — I think it was a Target,” he explained. “I went and shared the Gospel, and after I got done, they clapped.”
“I was shocked,” Holes stated. “It’s a great encouragement to a preacher when they clap … It’s not always that way.”
When asked what motivates the men to get up in the middle of the night and lose sleep in order to share the Gospel with others, they all stated that they are moved by their love for God and their compassion for people.
“[I do it] to glorify God, to glorify my Lord and Savior, who said to tell people about him,” Gray said. “He’s worthy of having His name lifted up regardless of what time it is.”
“Most of those people will never enter a church and hear the Gospel, so we go out to them and proclaim it to them out there,” Stockwell explained. “I personally want to have a clean conscience that I stood in a wicked and perverse generation and boldly proclaimed God’s word to these people. And I care about their souls.”
“The truth is that we’re out there because we want to obey the Great Commission, and that is to go into all the world and preach the Gospel,'” Holes added. “We just want to be obedient servants of the Lord Most High, and do it in a way that demonstrates our love for what He did on the cross.”
Holes said that he and a friend will be ministering this year outside of stores in Colorado, and Stockwell and Gray explained that they will visit outlets in both Northern and Southern Virginia.
“We’re going to be hitting an area that we’ve never done before, so it’s going to be interesting on how people receive that,” Stockwell outlined. “And then later on that night we’ll go back to the Best Buy [in Southern Virginia] we do every year. There will be a bunch of us out there.”
They encouraged others to also step outside of their comfort zone and reach the lost this Friday.
“Think of something creative, go and have fun, and just talk to to people,” Gray stated, who said that one year in New Hampshire, in addition to distributing tracts and free Bibles to those waiting in line, he surveyed the crowd about their beliefs regarding how a person can get to heaven, and then used it as a segue to share the Gospel. “It’s just a great opportunity to talk to people and share with people.”
Holes urged Christians to invite their pastor join them for the outreach.
“[I would encourage them to] ask their pastor kindly if they would mind joining them to go out and share some good news with a lost and dying world,” he said. “And maybe they can get the tracts from the supplies that the church has and go out there and and just go hand people a Gospel tract — some type of literature. Maybe go grab some New Testaments and give those to the people. Maybe on Black Friday … if they are so led, they can stand up and share their testimony.”
Stockwell said that everyone should check their heart about the matter, and be genuinely broken over lost souls.
“I think we ought to realize that there’s a sense of urgency. I think that’s a problem today. There’s no urgency,” Stockwell said. “We act as though we have plenty of time, when actually, we don’t know if we have tomorrow.”
“Don’t hesitate. Our lives are like a vapor. The Bible says, ‘Today is the day of salvation,'” Holes agreed. “Go out and tell the world of this great King and this great Messiah.”
“We need to go out and share our faith and realize that we have everything that we need. We have the Good News. We have a testimony. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us,” he added. “We have everything we need to go out and do this. We just need to go out and do it.”