The City of Roses
On New Years Eve, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA was a hot bed of activity. Hundreds of workers, thousands of volunteers and many thousands more spectators gathered in the Bowl. People were there setting up tents, preparing the Rose Bowl for the football game between Michigan State and Stanford (Michigan won the game in a close 24-20 victory), decorating floats and all the things that come with staging an event seen annually around the world.
The Rose Parade has also been an annual event for me to evangelize. I will often begin on New Years Eve at the Rose Bowl by painting beautifully decorated floats in the staging area. From there, I walk up to Colorado Blvd., the route for the parade, and paint people gathering along the sidewalk with their sleeping bags and folding chairs. My easel always attracts curious onlookers and I take the opportunity to share the love of God with them and/or give them a Talent Search tract.
Big Post New Years Eve Event
This year, I didn’t go to the Rose Bowl, nor did I go to the parade. Instead, I pitched my easel to paint en plein air one block north of Colorado Blvd. It was approximately one hour after the parade had passed. I chose this time and location for two reasons. First, I believe the Holy Spirit led me there. Second, I knew this building, with its curved facade, would be a fun challenge to paint.
Only after I had begun to paint did I realize why there were so many police officers and workers in brightly colored vests swarming the area. I was across from the entrance from the Gold Line rail station. Since it was a transit hub for many people traveling to and from Pasadena, it was a major security concern. I enjoy talking to police officers and reminding them that they are called ‘ministers of God’ (Romans 13:4). Once they determine I’m not a threat, they quickly went go their business.
I knew I was there that day, not just to paint, but to speak to someone in particular about Jesus. That moment came as I was putting the finishing touches on the painting. One of the yellow-vested workers stopped by my easel. I talked to him briefly about his work, then quickly turned the conversation toward Jesus, knowing he would soon return to his post.
George (not his real name) was a Catholic. When I asked him if he knew for sure that he would be with Jesus when his work on this earth was finally over, he said, “No”. I told him he could settle that question today. I quoted Romans 10:9,10 and gave him a brief explanation, then asked George if I cold pray with him. He said “Yes”, so I led him in a prayer to invite Jesus into his heart. I gave him the book of John as he returned to work. The entire exchange took less than 5 minutes.
Although I missed all the New Years Eve activity, New Years Day made up for it.