The sense of the festive season was still in the air as I arrived in Brisbane City for our weekly Operation 513 outreach. As I walked through the Queen Street Mall, I noticed that it wasn't all to busy, and that few people were hanging around. I presumed that it may have been due to the fact that in two more nights the city would be full due to the New Year Eve celebrations.
The team met in our normal spot in King George square for a time of prayer and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father, then after prayer we spent some time as a group reading through the Scriptures. It was good to have some old friends from Sydney with us tonight as we ministered the Word.
At 9pm we made our way to the Queen Street Mall, and began to set up for the outreach. It was then that I decided that I would be the ‘strike' preacher, that is, the first preacher of the night. Normally I don't like going first, since my preaching style plays a lot of hecklers, and the first preacher of the night normally gets not many hecklers.
I started off by talking about how in a couple of nights people will make New Year resolutions, and how many people will break their resolution within hours of making it. Then I asked how many people would make the New Years resolution of "I will not die in 2008!".
From there I asked the question of ‘How many people died in the past year?' and ‘Are you assured of surviving 2008'? By God's grace a crowd began to gather, so I then opened up the Scripture and gave the crowd a biblical perspective of life from James 4:13-14:
"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (ESV)
Then I established with the crowd, that we could die at any moment, and it did not matter how old one was. Once people were thinking about death, and thinking about eternity, then I spoke about why we die, and how originally there was no death, but through sin and rebellion against God, sin passed to all people.
I had a couple of hecklers during this time, and they brought up one of the most ask questions that we have had in recent weeks, and that was the question of "prove there was a historical Jesus". I have enjoyed these questions, since it has made me study more the historical documents outside of the Bible that testify to the life and death of Jesus Christ.
After I stood down from preaching I had a good conversation with a young man who was an intellectually. He was really interested in knowing more about the historical Jesus, so I spent some time doing a bit of an apologetic work with him, and then brought it back to the Lord Jesus Christ, and how He only is the only one who can save sinners.
The rest of the night was fairly quiet until just before midnight, when a drunk Irishman decided to start abusing and threatening Josh Mitchell as he preached. So I moved into position behind Josh Mitchell to give any support if the situation got violent. The Irish man saw me, and then started to threaten me and generally abuse me. I was happy to let him threaten me since he was allowing the preacher to continue without interruption.
While he was yelling at me he did hit me once in the stomach, so I warned him if he did that again then I would get the police. He apologised, but then denied hitting me. After about ten minutes passed he started to hit me again, so this time I grabbed his arm and pushed him of me. He then started to shout that I assaulted him, so I sent one of our guys down to the get the police. The police arrived, and arrested the Irish man. I must commend the members of the Queensland Police in Brisbane for doing a fine job in tough situations!
Sunday, 30 December, 2007
The news reported gale force winds, and heavy rain for the Gold Coast, but we decided that we would still go out and witness to those who went to the beach to see the six metre high surf.
Upon arrival it was raining, so Josh Mitchell and Ryan started handing out tracts while Dave and I kept an eye on the teams equipment. Once the rain stopped we noticed the crowd rush to the beach front, so we went to where we normally preach and began to declare the gospel.
Josh Mitchell and Ryan Hemelaar went first, and they preached even though we were being pounded by strong winds, and sand being blown from the beach. A few people stopped to listen, and a couple even heckled. After about twenty minutes the heavens opened up and the rain began again. So once again we took cover, after about five minutes of rain it stopped so again we went back to the beach front.
This time it was my turn to preach, so I jumped up and preached from Hebrews 9:27, and how it is appointed for us to die once and then judgment. A small crowd gathered, and a heckler opened up on me saying that there was no historical evidence for Jesus. So as I did the night before I made an apologetic argument for the historic Jesus Christ.
It was hard preaching in gale force winds, so after about twenty minutes, I tagged Josh Mitchell in to preach. He was preaching for about ten minutes when it began to rain again, but this time we kept preaching, and there were four young men sitting on a seat listening to the gospel, and they were asking some good questions.
Let me set the scene for you. Picture one preacher, addressing four listeners. Behind the preach stood Ryan and I. It was onto this scene that things got nasty.
As I stood behind Josh Mitchell I noticed two Queensland police officers approach us. By the way they came towards us we knew they were coming to speak to us. However, speaking seemed to be the furthest thing from their mind.
They split up and went either side of Josh Mitchell, and as they did this I noticed the rank of a Sergeant and a Constable. They then both grabbed an arm of Josh Mitchell and pulled him down from preaching and forced him to his knees.
At no stage had they said about any law being broken, but they just decided to bring the preacher down. Josh Mitchell complied with their forceful actions, and as they stood him up I noticed that in his left hand, he was still gripping the Bible. The police turned to Ryan and I and asked if we were with him. We answered that we were so they ordered us to follow them to the Cavill Avenue police station.
Josh Mitchell was restrained the whole distance of the walk from the beach front to the police station, and we were all at a lost to what was going on.
Upon arrival at the station Josh Mitchell was taken into the holding area while Ryan and I waited in the waiting room. Before they took Josh away he requested that I come with him to be his witness for the interview. This got be pushed in the chest by the Sergeant and then yelled at.
Once the Sergeant and Josh Mitchell had gone I turned to the Constable who was not behind the front counter and I asked him for his name and details. The officer refused, and would not say anything. So I asked again, this time he gave me his name and rank. I then proceeded to ask for the Sergeants name, and all the constable would say is "his name is Sergeant".
I was also ignored by him when I asked what law we had broken. Since the police were not being forthcoming in what we had actually done wrong, I said that I would be making a formal complaint. And I began to write some notes down in my note book. It was then that I got the greatest shock of the whole situation.
While my back was turned the Constable came out from behind the counter and grabbed me by the neck and upper arm and slammed me into the wall. I called out that this was assault and he replied "Tough!" He then dragged me by my neck further into the station at the same time yelling "You're under-arrest!"
I was then manhandled down the hall way into the holding area where I was reunited with Josh Mitchell. None of us resisted what was going, but we were both breaking that God's will be done.
Since I was under-arrest, I asked for a lawyer, and it was then that the police became rather abusive and made offensive sexual comments towards us. During this whole time they never once told us what law we had broken, however, they did make many offensive comments against Christianity.
For about fifteen minutes we were in the holding area, and finally the Sergeant changed and became a lot more friendly. He told us that he would release us without charge, and that we could go free. But he still wouldn't say what we had done wrong. We were however, ordered to leave that part of the Gold Coast or be arrested again.
We left the area and straight away began to write our notes out so that we had an accurate record of what happened. We also took the time then to make a formal complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission, who are now investigating.
Please pray for the conversion of those two Queensland Police officers, and that God will get the Glory!
Monday, 31 December, 2007
New Years eve! As we have done for the past two years we went to the big city party in Brisbane city, not to party with them, but to declare the Words of Eternal life.
Josh Mitchell was the first and only preacher of the night. He went for well over one and a half hours, and the whole time a large crowd was gathered. Then as the midnight hour approached we got ready to preach as the people began to leave. All our tract reserves ran out that night as hundreds of people got the gospel.
2007 is finished, and 2008 is beginning. Pray that God will be glorified all the more in the New Year!
Soli Deo Gloria!