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STORIES FROM THE ROAD


July 04, 1993

YOU CAN'T WORSHIP HERE

It was good getting back into Florida again. The only problem that I had right now was getting through Jacksonville. The downtown area was packed with people waiting for the fireworks display that was to take place over the St. Johns River. Since it was Sunday night, I had hoped to find a church to attend the evening service. I did stop at this Baptist church but the greeter said that I should move on since there wouldn't be a safe place for me to put the bike near the church.

When I got across the drawbridge over the river, I saw signs to FL 10 (Atlantic Blvd.) to the ocean. I thought that if I would get away from the main part of the city, I might find a church near the ocean. Just before sunset, I came across this non-denominational church on the eastern edge of Atlantic Beach. It was a little after seven so I had missed the first quarter of the service. I went inside and found a chair in the back of the church.

The minister was up in front on the stage telling everybody that the congregation had to start their preparations for the up-coming revival. He told everybody that they should start thinking about fasting and praying. After about five minutes of more talk, he asked everybody to leave their seats and come up front as a group for prayers. I got up from chair and went up front also.

The next thing I knew this lady had put her arm and started to lead me out the door. I was shocked and wondered what was happening. It turns out that the lady was in fact the pastor's wife. She said that the church was giving money to a shelter in the downtown Jacksonville area and I should go there for assistance. I told her that I wasn't asking for any help and that I was a missionary and I just wanted to worship with them. I wasn't wearing anything at the time designating what I was doing.

I didn't think anything that I would have said would have mattered to the pastor's wife. She just wanted to get back into the church. After she had gone back into the church, I unlocked the bike and walked it through the parking lot. There was no way that I wanted to try and head back into Jacksonville. When I got to the road, I symbolically shook the dust off my feet in a couple of stomps and headed out in the dark.

After about an hour of walking and riding towards the ocean, I found a place to camp out behind some bushes between Jacksonville Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach along FL A1A. While I was getting the tent put up, the sky lit up with fireworks.




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