Pastor Disguises Himself as Homeless Man Outside Church To See How Members React


In the biblical book of James, the apostle James addressed the commandment to love one another without prejudice by saying, “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.

“For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit down at my feet,’ have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4)

Sadly, some Christians have done just that. One Chicago-area pastor was so concerned about the spiritual health of his congregation in this area that he decided to put members to a test.

Dr. James MacDonald, the senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, is no stranger to ministry. According to his bio on the church’s website, his time in the pastorate began in 1988.

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He welcomes some 13,000 people for worship at Harvest Bible Chapel campuses every week. Yet he wanted to make sure that his sermons were doing more than merely going in one ear and out the other.

According to CBN News, MacDonald donned a fake beard and ratty coat. Then he showed up at Harvest Bible Chapel pushing a shopping cart.

The perfect picture of a homeless man, he parked himself by the front door with an empty cup and a cardboard sign. Attendees had to walk right by him to enter the sanctuary.

Of course, they didn’t know it was their senior pastor. They also didn’t know that their reactions were being videotaped.

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That footage became a viral video that has, as of Thursday afternoon, been viewed almost a million times. It shows some of the parishioners simply glancing at him as they pass by.

Others turn around as soon as they see him and walk in the opposite direction to avoid him. A few don’t even bother to look at him.

The mask came off, though, when MacDonald walked down the sanctuary’s main aisle pushing his shopping cart a couple of weeks later. All of a sudden, people realized that the indigent man was their senior pastor.

MacDonald then preached on common grace using Matthew 5:45 (“For (God) makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust”). “If we’re gonna love like our Father in Heaven loves, we don’t get to play favorites,” he preached.

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Fortunately, most at Harvest Bible Chapel didn’t. “I was crying inside that beard,” MacDonald said.

“I cannot believe the people in this church, the number of people that prayed with me and brought me food. Just watch and see.”

The video went on to show people bringing him food, coffee, and money, as well as praying for him. And that’s exactly what a world lost in sin and struggling to find meaning needs to see.

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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