It was during the summer of 1992 that I first learned that the Pope was coming to Denver, Colorado, in August of 1993. At the Printed Page Camp Meeting in September of 1992, Evan Sadler, Carey Rowlendson, Rick Breckenridge, and myself formed a task force to meet the challenge. After consulting with Elder John Osborne and others, we decided to use this occasion to spread the three angels’ messages.
Earlier, in Australia, Carey Rowlendson had printed a million copies of the Protestant newspaper. Though this publication had met with opposition by the conference office, resulting in a lawsuit, we immediately laid plans for a special printing of the paper for America, for distribution in anticipation of the papal visit.
In October of 1992, I met Danny Vierra for the first time. He shared with me his billboard evangelism project. We saw this as an important part of the Denver campaign and settled on the use of a sign that said: The Bible says…”The man of Sin shall be revealed.” II Thessalonians 2:3. A free copy of The Great Controversy was offered, and our telephone number was given.
We signed a contract with Gannett Outdoor, a large billboard company, to place twenty-one billboards in Denver, starting just ten days before the Pope ’s visit.
Because we needed a substantial amount of funds to place these boards, we circulated a fund-raising letter. The Oregon Conference, having obtained a letter, faxed a copy to the North American Division, as well as the Colorado conference and the Midwest Union. This resulted in an emergency meeting about ten days before the billboards, causing a furor in the media and resulting in myself, as well as other members of my staff, being interviewed on several talk shows and by the newspapers.
On August 2, our billboards were to go up. We had raised the necessary funds and sent a cashier’s check and the posters that were to be used to Gannett Outdoor. I called the Gannett sales person to have a copy of the location map faxed to us, and she asked me if I had heard from the Denver office. I indicated that I had not, and she inferred that they might e wanting to break their contract because of the furor caused by those opposing it. You can imagine our surprise and chagrin to discover that it was not the Catholics who mounted the opposition, but the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We have since had it confirmed that it was the combined pressure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, government officials and the Catholics that led to Gannett’s breaking the contract.
We quickly called Root Outdoor in Fort Collins, Colorado. They agreed to post the billboards, and again, we sent out a cashier’s check, only to have them notify us the following day that they had changed their minds and would no longer post them.
At this point, we know that Satan did not want us in Denver. This only worked to strengthen our conviction that this was where God would have us go. We quickly contacted our printer, and in less than fort-eight hours, we had 50,000 copies of the Protestant printed. Several volunteers from the Troy Seventh-day Adventist Church helped us label them, and by the grace of God, we were able to mail them in time to coincide with the Pope ’s arrival.
While this was taking place, Bill Grimm, our street evangelist, David Musodole from Fiji, myself, and others, were converging on Denver with 100,000 tracts and several thousand copies of the Protestant.
We applied for, and received permission to pass out literature at Stapleton Airport, and this proved to be so effective that we intend to continue with an airport ministry in the future.
Some of us were able to gain an entrance to several of the papal events to videotape and photograph them. The young people, treated to what amounted a rock concert, were wildly enthusiastic as the pope mobile made a lap around Mile High Stadium. The procession of people, including high government officials that knelt before the pope , kissing his ring and hugging him, sickened us.
On the streets, Catholics had been deployed to stand right beside us offering “Catholic answers” including a tract that said Ellen White’s name adds up to 666. In all this, the Lord was glorified, however, as the attention drew the media and people who were interested in what we had to offer.
If we learned anything from our experience in Denver, it was that when we are undertaking anything of this nature, it is never wise to reveal your plans ahead of the event. On Friday, August 13, we brought to bear what had been our secret weapon—an airplane pulling a large banner on which it was stated: “pope =antichrist, free book 1-800-REFORMER.” This was on local news, and resulted in a number of phone calls, with requests for our free book, The Great Controversy.
On Sabbath we attended the Renaissance Seventh-day Adventist Church, and independent church, and were able to share what we had been doing. As a result, several members joined us in the afternoon when we went back to pass out literature. We were also joined by a former Catholic priest, as well as by other brothers and sisters who were in town on their own.
Even though the number of us who participated in this project was small, we felt the Lord’s blessing as we distributed thousands of tracts and copies of the Protestant newspaper. We were able to study the Bible with several people, some of whom accepted the Sabbath.
As we reviewed the week’s events, we were encouraged to set new goals. We ate planning to start a two week training school to train people in street evangelism. We urge you to prayerfully consider whether the Lord might not have you chare in this soul-winning experience. If you feel the Lord is calling you to receive more training in evangelism, contact our office by calling 1-800-REFORMER.