The Street Preacher returns to the valley

The Street Preacher, Duane H. Lyon hails from Jordan, Kentucky and has traveled around the world for over 30 years, to help people know the love of Jesus. He recently returned to Canada, and will be making his way through communities across the region. LORI PENNER/Red River Valley Echo

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Duane Lyon was on his way to Lewistown, Montana when he began to feel conflicted.
“I kept on driving, but something kept telling me to make the turn and drive to Grand Forks instead, so in the end, that’s where I went.”
Lyon is used to being led to unexpected places.
He is known internationally as “The Street Preacher” because of his street corner ministry and the big sign he holds, which simply says, “Jesus Saves”.
For over 30 years, the Jordan, Kentucky native has held his sign on street corners in 70 nations around the globe, sharing the message of the gospel.
“What I say is the Bible in two words,” he says. “I’m a living billboard, basically.”
This simple act of holding a sign has led to thousands of life-changing conversations and prayers through the years.
Many of the people he has met have become life-long friends, and the churches always welcome him back.
Lyon says while in Grand Forks, he felt another overwhelming pull in his heart. This time, something was compelling him to head to Canada.
He was there two years ago, where he spent seven months in communities across southern Manitoba, speaking in churches and homes, and chatting with people who passed by him on the streets.
“I’ve been praying about coming back. Now, I kept feeling this incredibly strong urging by God to go back, but I still wasn’t sure.” One night, he tipped a cup in his car, and as he was cleaning up the mess, he found three small objects tucked behind the odometer.
“I pulled out three tie pins – one a Canadian flag, one an American and Canadian flag, and one was an Emerson pin. I had purchased these at the MCC store in Altona during my last visit. I didn’t even know those pins were there, but that was all the sign that I needed.”
He crossed the border last Sunday, and is once again gracing the street corners in Altona.
He plans to take his ministry to Plum Coulee, Winkler, Morden, Carman and Steinbach in the coming weeks.
“I never know where I’ll be led next, but I knew I was supposed to come back to Canada. I’ve been praying about it, and here I am. I’m excited to be back.”
For Lyon, it’s all about seeing people change and finding Jesus.
“That’s really what it’s all about. Making that connection with God.”
Sometimes, he says, just seeing the words on that sign can raise questions in someone’s soul that can lead them to find the answers.
Along with the sign, he also uses poetry and art to send out the message of redemption.
“There’s all kinds of ways you can use to inspire those around you.”
He recently discovered another creative method to reach out to others.
“I’m starting something I like to call rock evangelism. I want to encourage people all over Manitoba to start painting small, encouraging messages on rocks, and leaving them in different places for people to find. You just never know. That message might be just what someone needs to see at that moment, to change their way of thinking and to change their life.”
Lyon believes that evangelism doesn’t just happen in a church or auditorium.
“I believe every time we show love to others, that is evangelism. Holding a door, buying someone an ice cream, wishing them good morning – it can be as simple as that. It’s a lifestyle, not an event. Your congregation is wherever you go – your work place, your school, a coffee shop or even a street corner.”
He says it’s great to be breathing Manitoba air again, and seeing all his old friends. “I’ve missed everyone so much. I’m so glad God led me back here.”
The Street Preacher will be visiting communities across the region in the coming weeks. Chances are, you’ll run into him eventually. When you do, wave, stop and say hi, and maybe have a chat.
You never know. It might be just the conversation you need.