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Mardi Gras: Fertile Ground for Outreach 

By Dave Clark
Family News in Focus

Some think Christians are to Mardi Gras what oil is to water — they don't mix. But you won't convince an intrepid band of evangelists who recently worked the crowds in New Orleans.

Every year in New Orleans, during Mardi Gras it's "Laissez le bon temps roulez" ("Let the good times roll!"). And every year, Mardi Gras Day ("Fat Tuesday") comes almost to the front door of Vieuxcarre Baptist Church.

"Our church is located a block away from Bourbon Street," said Randy Brown, who pastors Vieuxcarre Baptist.

For the past week, Brown's church has hosted dozens of lay evangelists who are doing what Jesus would do.

"We're just trying to be a light in the midst of all the darkness and evil that surrounds us," Brown said.

One of the evangelists, Harry Brooks, a Chicago schoolteacher, described what he does:

"I find people who, because of their drunkenness, are very vulnerable and in immediate danger and bring them back here to the church to get them out of harm's way," Brooks said. "It's almost like it's automatic. I see someone in trouble, I automatically try to help them."

Brooks' calling to minister at Mardi Gras is akin to that of Salvatore Mattson: "Our simple love for lost people motivates us."

Mattson made the 20-hour drive from his home in Gaithersburg, Md., via New York to pick up another witnessing friend. Together, they've made Mardi Gras a mission field for 27 years.

"The people down here have been incredibly open to the Lord," Mattson said.

He said the occasional jeers and mocking don't detract from his focus on people who are seeking.

"People would walk up to us and say, we want to know what you have," Mattson said. "They just want truth."

Mattson and others shared that truth until police closed down the street celebrations at midnight last night. 

CHURCH and MISSIONS NEWS from LifeLine News.
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