In defence of ‘Open-air preaching’ – Letter

Dr Edward Cooke shared this letter with me a week ago, which he had submitted to the ‘Belfast Newsletter’, and since it has not appeared in that newspaper, I am forwarding you all a copy.

He rightly objects to the attitude of the ‘Belfast Telegraph’ journalist, Lindy McDowell’s scornful attitude toward those who seek to witness for Christ in the open-air.

While I would not give a ‘blanket’ endorsement to all that goes on under the name of ‘open-air gospel preaching’, I believe that there are many earnest souls seeking to warn their fellow countrymen of the need of Christ on the streets, in the absence of any real gospel witness in so many churches today.

Here is Dr Cooke’s letter.

Sincerely in Christ’s name,
Ivan Foster.

Brooklyn Beckham and Street Preaching

Lindy McDowell writes in the Belfast Telegraph today that ‘some of our street preachers are to oratory what Brooklyn Beckham is to gourmet cooking’ and within her article she captions a photograph of the back of a street preacher.  Ms McDowell seems to suggest that the public arena should be reserved only for the intellectuals and professional clergy and that ordinary Christians should be denied their same Human Rights freedoms of those who have been educated in the clerical colleges and the diminishing theology schools in the UK university sector. Yet, the reverse is true, if ordinary individuals are restricted from accessing main stream media and cannot preach in the different denominational churches, then the public arena must be seen as a place sacred for their discourses, no matter how unstructured and poorly polished their religious discourses are.  Paradoxically, Ms McDowell, has access to the mainstream media and gets well paid to air her views, whilst the people she denigrates are denied similar access and give freely of their time to bring people to faith.

Ms McDowell also needs to be mindful of using photographs of people who can be identified.  The person in the hat, with ‘Jesus loves You’ emblazoned on his back, is known to me.   This photograph was taken at the Appleby Horse Fair and was taken outside the Appleby COE parish church.  Moreover, the man in the photograph is a highly effective, courteous man, who gives freely of his time during the ‘gypsy’ raucous horse fair and is accompanied by several other NI ‘street preachers’ who over the years travel to the horse fair to promote the gospel.  These same NI evangelising preachers will recognise this man in the hat, and will be aggrieved that he is associated with the Belfast Telegraph article.

Kindest Regards,
Dr Edward Cooke