Andy Rooney rebuffs street corner witness

PHOENIX (BP)--As thousands of people thronged Phoenix for the Super Bowl, a small contingent of Christians spread out across the metropolitan area to share their faith in Christ.

One of them had a chance to talk with Andy Rooney, the commentator whose curmudgeonly complaints wrap up the weekly "60 Minutes" program on CBS.

"I was standing on a corner and turned around and there was this little old man walking across the street," said Tony Didlo, a member of Grace Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in Des Moines, Iowa. "I knew right away it was Andy Rooney."

Didlo held out a Gospel tract and asked Rooney if he had received one yet.

"Yeah, I've got one of those," Rooney replied, according to Didlo’s account of the Jan. 31 encounter.

"Sir, do you believe in God?" Didlo asked.

"No, I'm an atheist," Rooney said. "I think it's sad you people believe in that stuff."

Didlo tried to pursue the conversation, asking if the existence of creation didn't imply a creator, but Rooney's cameraman stepped in between them and said, "We've got to go."

"He wouldn't let me go any further with it," Didlo said. "I was surprised he thinks people are totally off their rockers for believing in God."

Not all Didlo's encounters that weekend were as brusque, however.

"I had a wonderful time and talked with a lot of people," he said. "I shared the Gospel with several Jehovah's Witnesses. I had a good conversation with a young Hindu man, even though he didn't like everything I had to say, and I gave him a Bible.

"I also had conversations with a lot of Catholic young men who believed they were going to work their way into heaven," Didlo said. "I shared the Gospel with them by showing them how they've broken the Ten Commandments and one day would have to stand before God and account for their lives."

The outreach in Phoenix was sponsored by the Great News Network, a Christian ministry based in Denton, Texas, affiliated with Ray Comfort's Way of the Master organization. About 20 Christians conducted open-air preaching events, passed out tracts and engaged people in one-on-one spiritual conversations.

Back in Des Moines, Didlo is a house parent at Promise House, an initiative of Freedom for Youth Ministries that helps young men in trouble find their way back into mainstream society.

Mark Kelly is assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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