For the last several years I have seen preacher Don Ausderau’s belting out his interpretations of the Bible from an empty corner of the U.S. Federal Court House plaza. Alone, he always seemed to be preaching hellfire and brimstone to no one in particular. He has recently moved his pulpit to the northeast corner STA Plaza. I’ve always wanted to talk to him, but never got up the nerve to do it. Last Friday, armed with my video camera, I just walked up to him and asked him to tell me a little about his life and his beliefs. No surprise, his views are a little off the charts on the religion spectrum. That said, he is actually a nice guy once you get him to settle into a normal conversation. I became intrigued at what other people thought of his rather loud sermons.
What started out as a simple video story of a street preacher, quickly morphed into something different after Karen, Don’s wife of 31-years, arrived while I was filming. I love stories that make you see a person in a different light. Thousands have seen and overheard Ausderau preaching. Most pay little attention to him. Observing for a few hours, I found Ausderau’s message connected with some people who desperately needed a touch of hope in their lives.
A few unkind words were muttered from passing commuters. From as distance, wary STA Plaza security guards spoke uneasily into their two-way radio lapel microphones. Some people sitting nearby just averted their eyes, cranking up the volume of their iPods to drown out his message. One young homeless woman did stop to listen to Ausderau. Standing there, she seemed transfixed by his message as she slowly raised her hand to wipe a tear from under her sunglasses.