PASADENA, Calif. (BP)–Sitting along Colorado Boulevard about 12 hours before the start of the 2006 Rose Parade, Laurence Rocha had nothing better to do than hear the Gospel and watch a mime group perform to songs depicting the death and resurrection of Christ.
“I’m just sitting and watching football on my little TV,” said Rocha, who had heard an announcement over a hand-held megaphone to see the performance in front of a Pasadena pizza shop a few yards away from where he had set up for the night. “There is no other entertainment.”
That is exactly what Martin Davis, in his 11th year heading up the annual outreach, wants to hear.
Davis, two mime teams and more than 50 other volunteers joined together to spread the Gospel to a captive audience Dec. 31.
Amid the pink and green silly string being sprayed and marshmallows being thrown into the streets, thousands of people heard that Jesus loves them and that He died for them.
As a result five people prayed to follow Christ and many others heard the Good News for the first time.
“God’s doing things we don’t see,” Davis said.
Last year, one of the mime teams from San Diego was contacted in April by a man who had just given his heart to God.
“He told them he had started his process to Christ when he saw them perform at the Rose Parade several months earlier,” said Davis, a member of the San Diego-area Shadow Mountain Baptist Church and of the SBC Executive Committee. “Sometimes we don’t know what seeds are being planted.”
The two mime teams performed five times each at different locations from early evening to about 9 p.m., using various songs to show the death, life and resurrection of Christ.
Both teams are comprised of homeschooled teens who are part of Action Impact Mission, a national mime ministry.
“This is a really encouraging and uplifting ministry because we can reach thousands of people in three to four hours,” said Kim Doemmer, head of a team from Apple Valley, Calif., who brought 12 of their 22 members to Pasadena. “Last year we had a guy follow us on his bike to each stop we made along the parade route and at the end he prayed to receive Christ.” This is the fourth year for the Apple Valley troupe to participate in the Rose Parade ministry.
The teams find an open spot, like a parking lot or a car dealership, and gather a crowd by using a megaphone to advertise their performance.
Each year, the crowds expect to see the mimes. “They ask for more,” said Linda Stafford, head of the San Diego troupe that brings a team each year. “[The crowd] really appreciate the entertainment. We get people who are crying at the end, saying thank you.”
Best of all, for Stafford, is seeing little kids line up to watch.
“I know they are all hearing the name of Jesus and sometime in their life they will remember His name again,” she said.
In addition to the mime teams, 50-plus volunteers from three Calvary Chapel churches distributed tracts and brochures Davis printed with the order of the parade, how to get connected to a Southern Baptist church and the steps to becoming a Christian.
In the past, Davis has printed 5,000 items but this year he brought 7,500 and all were given out.
The parking lot of Calvary Chapel of Pasadena on Colorado Boulevard is the home base for the Rose Parade outreach.
The mime troupes and volunteers set up tents and trailers beginning about 2:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to warm up by a fire pit throughout the night or grab a cup of coffee or drinks until they get up to go watch the parade together the next morning at 8 a.m.
“I love this ministry,” said Debbie Trim of San Diego, who has been involved for the past 11 years. “I used to be so shy at first and now I am the one sharing the Gospel over the bullhorn.”
Angel Hernandez, 18, of Calvary Chapel Ranch Cucamonga, helped distribute oversized 100 dollar-bill tracts to Rose Parade watchers.
“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “We’re planting a seed and Jesus will water it and grow it. It’s something productive I can do on New Year’s Eve instead of being at home.”
The church brought about 25 junior high and high school students to help pass out the tracts.
“It was very scary for me,” said Daniela Alvarez, 14. “I almost didn’t come because I was so scared, but then I thought I’d give it a try and it wasn’t so bad.”
This was the first year the church has volunteered at the event but Rod Youngblood, leader of the Rancho Cucamonga junior high ministry, hopes to be back next year. “When I tell the other junior highers how fun this was, we’ll have double the amount next year,” Youngblood said. “This is what the Bible teaches and we get to share our faith. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
For the past nine years before the parade festivities begin, Davis and Trim have volunteered to help build one of the Rose Parade’s floats to gain an avenue of witness as they put the petals on.
“We have been witnessing to a florist we’ve worked with for nine years and now he asks for us,” Davis said. “We only see him for a couple days a year, but he no longer cusses in front of us; he prays before meals with us and now attends a church. He’s no longer the same guy who we met nine years ago.
“I have no doubt he knows how to get to heaven.”
Davis has no plans to stop the ministry event to the million-plus people from around the world who attend the Rose Parade each year.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else on New Year’s Eve.”