Pastor Disguised As Homeless Man Outside Church, To See Members Reaction

A Chicago pastor was so concerned about the spiritual health of his congregation, that he decided to put them to a test.

Dr. James MacDonald, senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, is well known in the ministry field, and has been in it from the year 1988.

pastor disguised as homeless man dr james macdonald

His congregation at Harvest Bible Chapel campuses comprises of around 13,000 people every week and yet he  wanted to make sure that his sermons were impacting the people and not merely doing eye service.

So Pastor MacDonald disguised himself with a fake beard and ratty coat and showed up at Harvest Bible Chapel pushing a shopping cart.

Looking just like a homeless man, he sat himself down at the front door of the Chapel with an empty cup and a cardboard sign. Attendees had to walk right by him to enter the sanctuary.

The attendees did not know that it was their senior pastor dressed up as a homeless man and they also did not know that their reactions were being videotaped.

Footage of them has since become viral with people seeing it more than a million times, it shows some of the church goers just glancing at him as they pass by.

Others turn around as soon as they spy him and walk off in the opposite direction so that they don’t bump into him. Some don’t even bother to look at him.

All of a sudden, the mask came off and when MacDonald walked down the church’s main aisle pushing his shopping cart, some weeks later, people realised that the homeless man was in fact their senior pastor.

MacDonald then preached 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 said.

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 touching video showed people bringing him food, coffee, and money, and 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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Steve Johnson

Dear Father, don’t EVER let us forget.

Jo Szcz

A lesson we all need to hear … and DO!

Rachel Ann Dayhuff

This absolutely brought tears to my eyes. My husband is not as loving as he should be, he wouldn’t even watch the whole thing.


When I was a youth group leader, we did something similar to this. When the pastor took summer vacation, the youth group conducted the Sunday services. We had one of the teenagers in the youth group dress shabbily and stumble into the sanctuary during the service and collapse in the aisle to see how people would react. The sermon was then focused around the response or lack thereof to a vagrant (drug user?) in their church. It was a real eye opener.

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