With Bible in hand he asked the people to consider Jesus. Every sort of response could be seen in the milling crowd of shoppers. Slight curiosity. Irritation. Due respect for the Good Book. Buzzing conversation unaffected.
His horse stood patiently to one side. Feed bag in place. Tail swishing away the flies come over from the meat stalls. Obviously he had heard it all before. The many miles traveled each week were meant to accomplish this, town after town.
But Harry and I had another idea. Foolish blokes that we were. Old Ebenezer’s bull was in a pen three blocks distant. He had serviced a couple of dames that morning, and was still in an agitated state, sullen eyes all red with menacing. With a couple of walking sticks we fueled the fire for about five minutes and then opened the gate.
Off he stormed, upsetting a couple of stalls, but obviously intent upon the gathered crowd near the preacher. Taken slightly aback by the numbers, the bull slowed to a determined pace, attention now fixed upon the speaker, who had not yet realized the situation of peril.
A bovine bellow broke the message. Preacher stepped off the stoop and took a couple of steps toward the animal. No threatening body language. Simply the words spoken in a calm voice, “I plead the blood of Jesus right now for myself and all the people. Devil you will not trouble this meeting. BE STILL.”
And that was the end of it all. Honest. Ebenezer had caught up with a couple of mates and hoop snares in hand. The beast lowered its head in submission to the one who always came with the food. The spirit of disturbance now totally gone.
The preacher regained his podium and opened the Bible again at the place where he had hurriedly inserted some notepaper. Much increased interest in the message all around.
And Harry and I in the background feeling sheepish and astounded in the tangible presence of the Spirit of God. For us it was the beginning of a remarkable change.
Note: The core of this story was a real event involving English circuit preacher John Wesley.