CultureMay 07, 2018 by Alyssa Duvall
While some may argue over the acceptability within Christian liberty of watching Hollywood films like Avengers: Infinity War, you can't deny the gospel opportunity presented in such a venue. For Pastor Michael Webber and his family, however, his boldness in sharing the gospel in the theater ahead of the film's post-credit scene was repaid with shouting, anger, and being handcuffed and arrested.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Webber explained his exact actions which ended in a citizen's arrest facilitated by police: "As the end credits started, I stood up from my seat and began to preach. I have a script that I follow when I preach in crowds to make sure my message is concise, consistent with Scripture, and to ensure that I am clear in my language so that my intentions are not misunderstood."
"The most unusual part about this particular night was that every other time that I have stood to preach in theaters, the lights would come up as the credits began," Webber continued. "But this night they did not. However, I did not perceive it to be a problem because my hands were up (evidencing that I was unarmed, and not a threat). And up until about mid-way through the salvation prayer, no one in the theater moved."
"They were just looking at me. There was an occasional shout back at me telling me to 'sit down,' but nothing that would indicate the audience was alarmed."
Contrary to several news stories covering the incident, Webber says he never once saw anyone "running for their lives" or leaving the theater at a frantic pace. At the end of his brief speech, Webber sat back down in his seat to enjoy the post-credit scene for Infinity War.
When the lights eventually went up, upset audience members asked who it was that had given the gospel speech. Webber raised his hand in admission and was consequently shouted at and berated by his fellow movie-goers: "At this time, theater managers came into the theater, along with theater security," Webber explained. "Up until that point, I did not know anyone had been alarmed."
Webber, attending the film with his wife and father, headed to the lobby where a crowd of furious people continued to barrage him. Fearing that the crowd would devolve into a violent mob, Webber walked his wife to their car where he was met by officers of the Redlands Police Department.
"After two hours in the back of the police vehicle, The officers returned to the car and informed me that this was a citizen's arrest, facilitated by Redlands Police Department," Webber said. "At the detainment center, the police asked me to sign a consent form that would allow them to search my residence to determine I was not a threat. After the search was complete, they let me go."
Webber, an evangelist of sorts, is familiar with public speaking and mass sharing of the gospel, but why was this event so different? "There are probably multiple factors as to why this instance was so different than other times," he suggested. "I believe the lights not coming up was one of them."
"Since this was the first time I had encountered that, I did not expect for them to stay down throughout my entire message," Webber continued. "I also read several reports from people on Facebook who were in the theater saying that someone yelled 'shooter' while I was preaching. This must have been when people began to leave frantically."
"...Seeing how much of the news coverage was not only inaccurate but blatant lies, I can't help but think that fear-mongering on the part of the media plays a large role in people's fears."
As for Webber, you can expect him to continue diligently sharing the gospel to all who will hear it, in spite of the massive backlash from this incident: "The common thread I hear from people who disagreed with what I did is that it wasn't the right 'time and place' to stand up and preach."
"Christians need to realize that if we don't stand up now, there won't be ANY 'times or places' left. There was a period of time in America where standing up to preach the Gospel would have been met with applause. But even in past times when I've preached, the message has been met with cursing, objects being thrown, and so on."
"Many people have said to leave the preaching for the pulpit," Webber concluded. "But, for one thing, the freedom of the pulpit is being infringed upon as we speak. And for another, not everyone attends church on Sunday. But every person should hear the Gospel of God's love as expressed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ."
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