Today marked the first day of Schoolies for 2009, and we knew there would be lots of young people about at the Gold Coast. The Schoolies celebration is where about 35,000 year twelvers who have just graduated, spend about a week at the coast partying and hanging out with friends. Unfortunately, many of them spend their time getting drunk and doing all sorts of sinful activity. And since they are at a pivotal point of time in their life and often don't have much to do at Schoolies, we knew that this was a perfect opportunity to share the gospel with them.
So Blake, Lucy, Peter, and I arrived at the coast at 12pm and firstly had a time of prayer. We then got stuck into handing out gospel tracts. For the schoolies event, they had set up a lot of fences surrounding the Schoolies-only party area and there was a fence blocking the concrete block we usually preach from. But there was still an elevated concrete platform to the right of that spot that they had not fenced off. So we decided that that is where we would do some open air preaching that day. I brought a soap box and set it up at that location.
I then stood up to preach, speaking about how undoubtedly many school leavers at the Gold Coast have planned what they are going to do next year, and even what they are going to do this next week. But I pointed out that even though we have all these plans, we are never guaranteed that we'll be able to carry them out, as we could die at any moment. I then recounted the parable of the rich man building bigger barns to store his grain, which lead onto talking about eternity. I then spoke about the Day of Judgment to come, the fact that we've all sinned, and thus need the Saviour's forgiveness by His death on the cross.
After stepping down and tagging Blake in to preach after preaching a while, a Schoolies event security guy came up to us saying that we cannot preach here or hand out tracts. We asked why, he thought it was some council law, but we let him know that there isn't any council law against doing this. He then suggested for us to just go to the event security headquarters to ask them why they instructed him to tell us that weren't allowed to do this.
After finding the place where they were, they basically said that they have no authority to stop us doing what we're doing and so they said that we can keep doing it.
So after returning to the preaching area, I stood up to preach again, and within minutes two event security came up to me saying that I can't preach here. So I explained to them that we went to the event security HQ and that they themselves said they cannot stop us. I also then explained that we are here every single week. At that point, one of the security said, "No you're not, I've never seen you here". As he was saying that, a council cleaner was walking by, so I said, "Go ask him, he sees us every week." Then they responded, "But people don't want to hear you...Fine, do what you want." As they were walking away, a schoolie walking past called out, "Hey, you're the guys that preach here every week!"
So I resumed preaching and another schoolie shouted out, "Oh I saw these guys here last year!" (even though they didn't know about the conversation I had with the event security). At that point a very vocal schoolie began asking all sorts of questions which attracted a large crowd, and said that he loved having the discussion taking place. After answering his questions, I pointed him to the cross and exhorted him to repent and trust in the Saviour's death for forgiveness. During this, one of the event security guys returned and listened to the preaching for about 15 minutes before walking away.
After this, Blake did some further preaching as well. By this time it was 3:15pm, and we had run out of gospel tracts. This week was the first week we had the 3 new business-card size gospel tracts, and this week I gave the 'Good Aussie' card a test run and it worked great. I would ask people, "Did you get your good Aussie card?" and almost everyone was like, "Aussie? I'm an Aussie, I want one!" And even those who were not Aussie took one because they thought it was an Australian souvenir card. This tract is highly recommended.
At 3:30pm, Luke, Rhoi, Doug, and Greg arrived at the coast with lots of gospel tracts. While fellowshipping and handing out tracts, two police constables came up to us saying that we're not allowed to tout. I agreed, but then pointed out that we are not touting (that is selling products), instead that we're simply handing out Christian literature free of charge. They said that we're not even allowed to do that. I then pointed out that council has no problem with us doing what we're doing. As the conversation progressed, it turned from one where they were telling us to stop, to warning us that other police might tell us to stop and that they thought schoolies might not want to receive one. As the police were walking away, a Gold Coast City Council local law officer came up to us wondering what the police said, and he told us that it's perfectly fine to hand out gospel tracts. He just encouraged us to pick up any tracts that people might have dropped on the ground.
Soon after this, Blake and I left the four new arrivals to continue handing out tracts while we headed back to Brisbane for the team that was on that night in the city.
It was so evident today that God is truly sovereign. Whenever we ran into problems with authority trying to stop us proclaiming the gospel, God provided a way for it to continue.
God alone belongs all the glory!