An evangelist, sponsored by a benefactor from the Twin Cities, has been spotted in Pine City, and other neighboring east central towns, carrying a large wooden cross up and down the city streets.
Patrick Ebner lives near Cambridge with his wife and three daughters and said that God laid it on his heart telling him to build a wooden cross and bring it out on the street. “I dug in my feet for a while thinking about how I would do something like this,” recalled Ebner. “I calculated the likelihood of success, and God told me that’s not faith and that I just needed to step out.”
Ebner spends time walking the streets of East Central Minnesota cities such as Pine City, Cambridge, Rush City, North Branch and Forest Lake. He also does metro evangelism, local evangelism and ministers to individuals and discipleship groups.
Ebner’s motivation is that he feels God wants to wake people up. “We go throughout our day at work and go to Wal-Mart or wherever and then home. And the weekend is about recreation. Not all that is bad, but God wants to be on our radar,” said Ebner. “And in the modern church, it's easy for us to be complacent, and it's good to stir compassion.”
When asked about how he came into this type of ministry, his answer was this: he believes it is prophetic. “I was an insurance company database developer and wasn’t sure how long I wanted to do that and spent time praying about it,” recalled Ebner. “A friend of mine who is a business owner came along and offered me a job. He said he would pay me a full time salary for only part time work. He wanted to free up my time for evangelism.”
Ebner has what he called a prophetic word from God that said he would be working full time in ministry. He now does ministry full time and has been for the past five years. This is his second summer carrying the cross.
His benefactor, Brett, a manufacturing company owner who only wants to go by his first name as to not draw focus to himself, said he got to know Ebner and his heart and felt he should support him. “You just know you should do something and you do it,” recalled Brett. “You don’t always see the results of what you’re doing, but someday we will.”
When asked about people’s responses to seeing a man carrying a cross, Ebner responded, “It’s been interesting for sure and has opened up a lot of conversations and doors. I have had a few people opposed to what I’m doing but not too often.”
“When I talk to people, I pray for them and ask them questions about their spiritual background and talk to them about the gospel,” said Ebner. “I present the bad news first and so the good news makes sense. I give them my card with contact information if there’s a sense that they want to keep in touch. And I have with a few people.”
Ebner has observed that there are more and more people that are unchurched and don’t know much about God or the Bible, and that group seems to be growing larger and larger.
“I am just breaking up the soil, planting seeds and water and am okay with someone else coming around to harvest,” said Ebner. “I want people to know that life is meaningful and that true meaning is found in a relationship with the Creator. I pray the church is bold and is on fire.”
“I know what I'm doing is unusual and that's okay,” said Ebner.
Ebner has a website that people can visit to learn more about his ministry at http://whythecross.weebly.com/.