On Friday evening, Adams Morgan’s pizza and beer-fueled sinners met their match: A group of pizza and God-fueled “soul winners.”
At around 1:30 a.m., a sizeable crowd gathered outside Columbia Road watering hole Chief Ike’s. The hundred-strong mob jumped, fist-pumped, and chanted in unison. Some wildly brandished flags, possibly made of their own shirts. From my perch across the sidewalk, the driving two-syllable chant was indecipherable.
Were these revelers footballers? Kickballers? Goths? As I ventured closer to the seductive chorus, its message became clear: “JE-SUS!” the mob shouted, again and again. “JE-SUS! JE-SUS! JE-SUS!”
They had me at “JE-SUS.” I joined the mob as it began to migrate down Columbia and toward 18th Street’s den of iniquity. Most of the crowd was composed of coltish, t-shirted teens; some older, calmer heads took up the rear, driving the pack to their destination. One bright-eyed, fanny-packed reveler enthusiastically extended a postcard to me after lamenting, enthusiastically, that he no longer had any “American” cards. I accepted an un-American version, then slipped from the train before the Jesus coalition hit Asylum.
“JESUS,” the card read, predictably. “Es la respuesta a todos tus problemas.”Beyond the rather ambitious promise, the card held little identifying information. I dialed a phone number on the card and reached Jerry Staten, Pastor of the Living Hope First United Pentecostal Church.
The evangelists, Staten informed me, were members of the Go Win Souls Soul Winner Boot Camp. What makes a “Soul Winner,” you ask? Here’s a tip, via Brandon”T” of Corvallis, Oregon:
This Is just a small tip and its not really a idea.
GET AGGRESIVE God Always choose aggresive people to use in the Bible.
Example: Moses murdered someone.
Last weekend, these Soul Winners GOT AGGRESSIVE on Washington. “We had over 300 young people come from around the nation to reach out and tell people where we’re located and invite them to come worship with us” (Read: win their souls -ed.), Staten explained. Staten explained that the group held religious programs on U Street and in the Trinidad area last week.
But Staten held few details on the early-morning after-party. “Of course, I’m a little older,” explains Staten. “These were young people. They had scheduled programs with them until about 11:30. Then, I guess they fed them pizza and stuff, and a bunch of the young people, on their own initiative, you know, walked through Adams Morgan, I’m guessing,” he says.
“I went home and went to bed,” Staten admits. “Really, I didn’t really have anything to do with this. I was just in charge of the facility.”
Find more soul winning tips—-and a sweet Website theme song—-here.