Street Preacher Karl Walters takes the Good News to Forth Street every Friday and Saturday Night. Photo by Laura Johnson
Questions with a street corner evangelist
You’ve seen them out there. They stand on the corner across from Teaser’s and the Dog Eat Dog hot dog cart most Friday and Saturday nights. Almost like the guardians of Fourth Street they plunk down on the sidewalk with their signs and yell out to those who parade the street at night. But what are they doing there? Step forward and talk to them and you’ll realize they aren’t protesting anything – in fact it’s the opposite. These men are just trying to tell everyone about the love of Jesus Christ. If you’re lucky they’ll even hand you a free Bible tract.
One man among the group set out to spread the Good News last summer and has never looked back. His name is Karl Walters.
Photo by Laura Johnson
One of the signs used by sidewalk evangelists on the corner of Iowa and Fourth streets most weekends
W: So how did you get these other guys to come to the corner too? [There were four men with signs last Saturday].
KW: We all attend the same church. [Lighthouse Baptist Church].
W: What do people normally ask you when you’re out here?
KW: What are you protesting? Or, is it a sin to drink? Or, is it a sin to have fun? What we say is we’re not here because they’re drinking or smoking or swearing or things people would commonly consider a sin. We’re here because Jesus said you must be born again. There’s a lot of people here – a lot of traffic so it’s good visability.
W: You guys are here in the freezing cold winter – what’s your motivation behind that?
KW: I prayed about that and Jesus said, “as soon as someone does not take a tract than you can go home.” Every weekend I’ve been here during the winter, and otherwise, someone has taken a tract. So someone can make the educated decision to choose Christ.
W: Does this cut into your social life being here on weekend nights?
KW: Most would find this peculiar, but I genuinely enjoy talking to people. And I’ve had people call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved right here. I don’t want to be anywhere else.
W: Who are your biggest critics?
KW: Mostly Christians actually. People say, “You’re preaching to all these drunks out here you can’t do any good out here.” People say, “This isn’t the way to do it, you’re supposed to be sitting in church.” But Jesus said “Go!” I say don’t just sit in your pew. In a way we’re protesting against death. We don’t want anyone going to hell.
W: Are you at all judgmental towards anyone out here?
KW: Everyone is a sinner. I’m not any worse than anyone here. I have frequented all of these bars and I am now born again. If you had met me 15 years ago, my chopper would have been parked around the corner and I would have been someone you want to steer clear of. I can relate to a lot of these people out here. I’m a sinner saved by grace.
W: Do you ever have a beer yourself?
KW: I used to drink. I found it wasn’t worth it – and that it wasn’t doing anything good for my body. That was before I was saved. Now I seriously have more joy than I ever did inside these bars.
W: What is the one wish you have for everybody out here tonight?
KW: That they would repent of their sins. You can’t be good enough to get into heaven. Your religion and your church can’t save you, only Jesus can save you.