Tampa, FL. While the idea of a shopping area or “mall” has been around since ancient Rome, the idea only made its way to America in 1828. With the relatively recent development of the internet, websites like Amazon have taken over as the first shopping option for many. However, others still like to do their shopping “first hand” at malls. Sadly, consumerism has taken Christ out of Christmas over the years, but our SPSE evangelists are striving to put Jesus back as the focus.
The following report comes to us from evangelist Bill and the team in Tampa, FL:
What do seven evangelists do after they get kicked out of the mall for trying to put Christ back in Christmas? They have a few beers (or in Mike’s case, an ice cream soda).
Last Christmas worked so well. We stationed ourselves at the exits of Brandon Mall and approached only those shoppers leaving the mall. As always with SPSE we weren’t pushy. We just asked, “Would you like to help remind everyone to keep Christ in Christmas by placing one of these free magnets on your car?” We actually got more “yeses” to this than rosaries on a normal outing. We handed them out until we ran out in about 90 minutes.
This year we did the same thing expecting the same result. We even had a few newbies, Chris and Eliseo, joining Reuben, Richard, Mike, Luis and I. We distributed our magnets (and Nativity coloring books for the kids) and split up in groups of 2 or 3.
Ouch! Unfortunately, a mall cop stopped Reuben about 30 minutes into the evening. (He’s the “suspicious” looking guy on the left.) The other teams at the other entrances kept evangelizing. I saw Chris praying with a woman when she started to cry as he comforted her. Eliseo met a Hispanic gentleman who admitted he hadn’t been to Mass in awhile. Eliseo got his number and made arrangements to take him to one of the local Spanish Masses.
By about the hour mark, the mall security officer drove up with his lights flashing. He sauntered up to Chris and I, saying, “I thought I told you to leave.” “Not us”, we replied. It did no good to explain we were not charging or accepting money. So we put our materials away and celebrated what success we did have with some burgers, onion rings, wings, fries and beer.
Come join us for our next outing. One never knows what will happen.
Praised be Jesus Christ! We usually do not recommend SPSE evangelists to attempt outings at shopping malls due to legal issues. However, we admire the courage of this team for talking to folks about the real reason for the season, come what may.