Preaching to political protestors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2004

This September, I will jet to New York for my first GOP National Convention.

I am pledged to support President Bush and I am delighted to celebrate his re-nomination.

However, as a piece of trivia, this is not my first convention.

More than 30 years ago, I went to the National Democratic Convention in Miami, Fla.

Here’s the rest of the story.

In 1972, America was still badly divided by the Vietnam War. Sore wounds festered between patriots and draft dodgers.

Just four years before in 1968, the volcano of emotions had erupted into unforgettable anarchy at the Democratic Convention in Chicago.

Everyone was bracing for a replay in Miami in 1972.

Protesters intended to show up en masse, disrupt the convention and make their voices heard.

Young evangelical Christian college kids heard about their intentions and decided to show up en masse as well.

I was one of those evangelical college students.

I converged on Miami with hundreds of other Christian kids from across America and walked the streets of Miami witnessing to the upset masses of hippies, yippies and zippies.

We all stayed in churches, ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and slept in sleeping bags on the floor. We loved it.

I’ll never forget leading a disgruntled protester to Jesus right under the TV cameras during a protest parade right outside the Miami convention center.

He came down the street in anger and left in peace and joy. I never saw him again.

But it proved to me the point that the trouble with the world is not politics – it is human heart.

Until we solve the deep problems of the human heart, protesters will continue to show up at national conventions to vent their frustrations.

But the answer will always be Jesus.

This September, I will jet to New York to go inside the convention center to support President Bush.

Protesters will show up there, too.

So, don’t be surprised if you see me on some TV screen sitting on the street curb telling the story of Jesus to some confused young person.

To me, it’s the true political solution.

Hank Erwin serves in the state senate where he represents Shelby County. He and his wife reside in Montevallo. Erwin can be reached at