Every year around winter solstice Hobart hosts the pagan “Dark Mofo” festival. It is without fail a festival that insults the values of Christians and often aims insults at Jesus Himself. It is all based on Bacchanalia according to Leigh Carmichael the artistic director of the festival, all about “…the link between sex, death and beauty…”. Most go thinking they are going to enjoy good food and art but really the festival is a celebration of all things dark, violent, licentious and pagan. I could go into the horrible examples of this but those of you with a need to know and a cast iron stomach can google the horror for yourselves.
Into this darkness, myself and 4 others went armed with bibles, tracts and backed by the prayers of many. We went to the street outside “Dark Park” on the wharf in Hobart. We prayed before beginning that God would act to save people from the festival and allow us to witness freely to the crowds.
As this was the first year we’d tried this I was tentative and brought what I thought would be enough tracts. This caution very quickly proved unnecessary. Within 30 minutes every one of my tracts went out to the passing crowds. Most people took the “Eternity” cards thinking it was to do with the festival, but most kept them even after reading them praise God! As is always the case there were some who refused or returned the tracts as “God stuff”.
During this time, I had a quick chat with a Chaplain from the north of Hobart who was excited to see Christian witness at the festival and encouraged me to continue the work next year. I also encouraged him to continue reaching out to the kids in the schools, a vital work, and assured him that we would be back next year.
After so quickly running out of tracts we stopped to pray again and then set off to find an area to preach from. I found an ideal spot across the street from the main gates of the park. As the street is pedestrianized for the festival there were many people milling around in the street and not many cars.
The symbol of the festival is a red cross on a black background, so bouncing from this I preached about the Cross of Christ and the gospel of free salvation by faith alone in Him alone. Many passing looked and listened and some even gave a thumbs-up as they went past. There were a couple of heckles but for the most part the preaching was uninterrupted. The security and festival staff were not pleased to see the Gospel preached and most of them were on their phones and there was a lot of pointing and discussing happening on the other side of the street. Shortly after this the police turned up and after speaking to the staff they loitered near the gates obviously checking out what we were doing.
I opened the bible to the account of Lazarus being raised to life by Jesus, showing Him clearly to be Lord over both life and death. At this the police came and spoke to Tim, one of the team. They asked what we were doing and when Tim told them they responded that we should be careful as the “ratbags” will be out and about soon. With that they left!
As if being left unhindered was not enough of a blessing, one of the festival staff gave a clear contrast between peaceful, lawful gospel proclamation and the heart of the festival. She came rushing over as the police left to shout abuse at them (I can only assume for not removing us) and then disappeared back into “Dark Park”. I have no doubt that those two officers will remember the contrast.
We prayed together before heading away for the night, celebrating the great blessings of God and praising His name for blessing us with the opportunities we’d had tonight.