Friday - Saturday, December 5th - 6th, 2008
For the past couple of weeks the local news has been carrying stories about all that was happening on the sunny Gold Coast. It was that time of the year again when all the students who graduated from high school converge on the Gold Coast for a week of parties, sin and regrets. We had already run some smaller outreaches during the Schoolies celebrations, but tonight was going to be our big night, the night in which we arrived at 6pm and left in the early hours AM.
Ryan and I arrived at the Surfers Paradise to prepare for the outreach, and as we began to walk up Cavill Avenue, the heavens open ed up and the rain began to fall. At first it wasn’t that heavy, but it gradually became heavier. We quickly took shelter, and we were a bit concerned to see that the streets were empty. “This is the famed Schoolies festival, where are all the Schoolies?” I thought, and inside of me I began to wonder if tonight was going to be a waste of time and energy.
Since it was so quiet we decided that now would be a great time to go and grab some dinner, and then hopefully, after we finished eating the mall would be a whole lot more busy. As we sat and munched on our chilli chicken burgers we noticed that a few more people started to come into the mall, and most of them were Schoolies. So quickly after finishing our dinner we grabbed some tracts and began to hand them out and talk to people.
Within seconds of handing out his first tract Ryan was engaged in a one to three conversation with some young guys. The guys he was talking to seem genuinely interested in all that Ryan was saying, and after listening for awhile they asked a few questions. Ryan answered the questions of these young men, and after some time they parted company. As the group left I couldn’t help but notice that none of them were offended, in fact it was the complete opposite, these guys were thankful that Ryan took the time to explain the gospel to them, and as they walked past me I could hear them still discussing amongst themselves about forgiveness of sin.
During this time I was just handing out tracts and having the occasional one to one conversation with people. It was still slow during this time so we were only able to hand out a few hundred tracts. But, during this time of tract work I was approached by two men, as I observed them coming towards me I knew they weren’t Schoolies, and by the way they were dressed I could tell they were Gold Coast City Council officers. One of them stopped me and asked what I was handing out, I replied that I was handing out gospel tracts that explain how we can be forgiven of all our sin. The man looked at me, and said “I have spoken to you before haven’t I?” When he said that I remembered that two years ago during Gold Coast Indy, he had stopped me for preaching, but when he checked the law he found that we had legal right to preach and witness. We spoke for a bit about what I was doing, and he told me that there had been another group of “preachers” in Cavill Avenue who had been causing trouble by abusing people and using a PA to scream “hate” at people. Then this local law officer said something quite interesting, he said: “The problem with Christians is that they don’t read their Book, and they certainly don’t live by it!” To which I sadly had to agree with him. It is such a major stain on Christianity, when those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ fail to read God’s Word, and if they do read it many of them refuse to live by the standards laid out in the Bible.
After speaking for awhile both council officers took gospel tracts and then left. I continued to talk and witness to people. Not long after speaking to council I noticed this man standing in the middle of Cavill Avenue with no shirt on, but with a red bandana on his head. I recognized this as one of the gang colours from not far from where I live, so I approached him and said “G’day”. The man was friendly enough and it turned out that he was from New Zealand originally, I spoke to him a bit about life, death and life in a gang. He was fairly open and wanted to talk, and he was especially interested in the words of Jesus Christ. So I began to witness to him and explain the gospel, when I got to repentance he didn’t like the idea of him having to turn from his sin, so I stressed to him from the Bible, that Jesus said “Unless you repent you will perish” (Luke 13:3). As far as this man was concerned the conversation was over, he wanted forgiveness of sin, but he wanted that forgiveness to give him license to sin all he wants. It was then that another group of young men approached all wearing the same red bandana. This man’s gang had arrived, and it was then that I found out that I was speaking to the gang leader. As his gang assembled around me, I quickly handed out tracts to all of them, and greeted them all. These guys were quite shocked as I wasn’t scared of them, but rather I was being friendly to them.
The gang leader said to his gang “This guy is a preacher, he is talking about heaven, hell and all that Jesus stuff.” The gang looked at me, so I asked them, “Alright guys, if you were to do die tonight where do you think you would go? Heaven or Hell?” The gang leader turned to me and said, “These are my guys you don’t talk to them!” To which I replied, “Mate, be quiet, you think you tough, but one day you will face God and give an account for all your sins. And on that day if you die without Christ you will end up in hell.” The leader seemed stunned, the gang seemed stunned, so I continued, “Now, you have heard the gospel and rejected it, so I am now going to explain it to your boys, and you will not interrupt, understand?” The gang leader at this stage was in shock, I doubt if he had ever had someone speak to him like that before. As I spoke thoughts began running through my mind, “Josh, you idiot! You just angered a gang leader, RUN before they STAB you!”
The leader turned to his gang and said, “Preacher is right, listen to what he says!” So all the gang turned to me and asked, “What is heaven about, how do I get there?” This opened up a door for me to present the glorious gospel of Christ to those who may never have heard it. While they looked tough, they turned out to be just like everyone else, in that they had done wrong, and they needed a Saviour.
As I was explaining the gospel to them, members from the Queensland Police came and surrounded us, I presume they were getting a bit nervous with having a gang assembled in the middle of the mall. The police formed around the group I was speaking to, and then they all took the tracts off the gang members, the police wanted to know what was going on, so they all read the tracts. The gang didn’t seem to mind as they were all still listening to me present the gospel. The police officers read the tracts and then gave them back to the gang, and for the next few minutes a group of police stood with a group of gang members and listened to the gospel also. This was such an awesome opportunity to have law enforcers and law breakers standing together at the foot of the cross, and hearing about Jesus Christ who died in the place of sinners. The police moved on at the end of the gospel, but a few of the gang members stayed behind and thanked me for telling them about Christ. Please pray for the gang and also for the police. May God grant them repentance and bring them to the knowledge of the truth.
The rest of the outreach was spent in handing out tracts and having many great conversations, the Schoolies were very open to discussing the things of God, and also many of them seemed to want to debate Christianity. This was good because as we provided apologetic answers to their questions many more seemed open to hearing the gospel.
Tonight was a great night with many hearing the gospel, and many thousands getting gospel tracts. All Praise to the Author and Finisher of the Faith!
Gold Coast Team (QLD)
Meets 7:15-10pm every Friday night at Surfers Paradise on Cavill Avenue.
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.