Saturday, 5th December 2009
The air was dripping with the sounds of Christmas, everywhere you turned you could see decorations, trees and festive lights. Playing throughout the Queen Street mall, were Christmas songs of every description. It was plain to all those present that the holidays were here. As Louise and I walked towards King George Square we happened to pass under a seasonal walkway with the words “Love, Peace, Hope” written upon on its steal structure. But, how was it, that this city could associate such words with Christmas, yet forget that we cannot know real love, peace or hope apart from the babe that was born some 2000 years ago in a little manager in the little town of Bethlehem. As we neared the square we saw the Brisbane Christmas tree, and all around it were many people taking photos or having their photos taken. The celebration was on, yet many of those who celebrate the birth of Jesus do not realise that the Christ of the cradle is also the Christ of the cross.
The city had changed in the two weeks since I had last been here, in fact I myself found my life had changed for the better. As today was the one week celebration of being joined with the most beautiful lady in the world. Just the week prior I had said my vows and exchanged rings with Louise. Tonight was my first night on the streets witnessing as a married man, and I counted it an honour to have my lovely wife with me. This coming together in marriage had put my weekly routine out, so I must apologise to our readers for not being able to get all the normal weekly reports done. It was said by the atheists that the reason we have not been writing reports is because we have been beaten in recent weeks by them. Let me assure them and also those reading that this is not the case, in no way have we been beaten back by those holding to atheism, in fact by them coming out and debating us, we have found that our faith has deepened, and that we are now more assured of the truth of Christianity when it is compared to the foolishness of the atheistic worldview.
As the outreach began for the night, we found ourselves meeting in our normal location in King George Square. There we spent some time in fellowship, prayer and reading the Bible. It was during this time that we saw our main heckler for the night, for strolling across the square was one with whom we have debated many times before. He walked across the square in his black leather jacket and as he strode with an air of arrogance we knew he was in town for a debate. Upon seeing him I called out “G’day Alex!” This greeting was met by Alex holding up two fingers showing his disdain for us.
It was nearing nine o’clock when we made our way to Queen Street for the evening of preaching. By now the weather had changed slightly and instead of it being dry, we found that a few drops of rain had began to fall. This played havoc with our Bible table, for it is impossible to have a display table with tracts, apologetic booklets and Bibles out if the weather turns bad. Then to top it all off a strong wind began to blow down the mall. This in course blew the literature off our table and into the street. Eventually the rain stopped and we came up with ways of limiting our material from being swept away with the breeze.
Around this time Ryan came up to me and told me that Alex the atheist was in town to debate me. This is something I did not want to do. I did not want to give Alex the attention he so eagerly craved. My mission for the night was to preach the gospel and that is what I intended to do. But of course, we knew that any preacher would have to deal with Alex first. With this in mind I decided that it would be best for Ryan to go first and then Dave. The logic in this was that by putting up our two strongest apologists when it comes to atheism we would hopefully wear Alex down to the point where the gospel would go out all the more freely.
Ryan was the first preacher up and as expected within seconds Alex came in yelling his one word objection. It seems that if Alex yells out his disbelief long enough that must make it fact, since it is rare to see Alex engage with the arguments presented by the preachers. Ryan did a splendid job of countering Alex and refuting his objections. By now a second heckler had arisen, it was our old friend and regular heckler Wayne the agnostic. Wayne is in many ways different to Alex, he is much more reasonable and much nicer when it comes to talking to us. While Alex is of the militant camp, Wayne is more open to discussion and reason.
Sadly I didn’t get to listen to all of Ryan’s apologetics and preaching of the gospel, for I saw that over near the camera was a man who had taken an interest in Louise. So I wandered over to him and I heard that he was voicing his objections to our preaching. It was not so much the content that he disapproved of, but rather it was the manner in which we did it. He believed that we should not be doing street ministry for this kind of outreach causes wars and murder. While that may sound strange, in his country religion had caused war and murder. The man was Irish and his fear was that at any moment the Roman Catholics and the Protestants would start a fight. I assured him that while such things may happen in Ireland, we are yet to see that occur in Australia. But the man couldn’t understand this, his worldview was one of if religion is preached then it will cause violence. I assured him that it was people that caused problems, sinful, unregenerate people who hated God and if those same people killed in the name of religion then they did not know the Christ of Scripture. The Irish man wouldn’t budge, he changed his argument to say that it may not happen in Australia, but since we are preaching not far from two Irish pubs we had better except a war. My reply was one that shocked him and I am afraid may of offended him. I said, “If any Irishman comes to Australia and starts any sort of religious war, then he should get on an aeroplane and go back to where he came from!” The Irishman didn’t like that too much, but my position still held.
By now Wayne had walked over and was kind of listening to the going on. As the Irishman argued that there would be a religious war kicking off soon, Wayne interjected and stated that he believed that if I was pushed far enough I would support the killing of people of different religious opinions be it Roman Catholic or otherwise. I argued that under no circumstances would I ever support the killing of someone who disagreed with me in regards to God. While they may be wrong, as Christian I am told to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute us, under no circumstances am I commanded to kill them. Wayne’s reply was, “It was normal, reasonable human beings that built the gas chambers in World War Two, they killed people.” To which I replied, “You’re right, they were normal sinful, totally depraved sinners who made such things, that is why humans need to come to Christ and become a new creation, then those things would not happen!” Wayne just shook his head and walked away, it was at this stage that the Irishman had lost interest and wandered away.
By now the preachers had changed and David was up engaging Alex and answering objections from the crowd. A good size crowd gathered around to listen as he shared the message of the Gospel. Alex intensified his objections as Dave explained that even though we have sinned against God, in love He sent Christ to die in the place of His elect, so that if we would repent and trust that by Jesus dying, and rising again we could have all our sins forgiven. The hatred for God and the gospel flowed from the mouth of Alex. He objects and tries to make out that as an intellectual the belief in God is not plausible, but in reality it is him suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. Alex hates the fact that God exists, that He is ruler and Sovereign over all. He especially hates the cross, for it is at the cross that God bled and died for the sins of His people, and three days later He arose again defeating sin and death. The sinful man hates such things and will object to it, for it shows that he is a sinful human in need of a merciful Saviour.
During Dave’s preaching a drunk man entered the crowd and began to head butt people. It didn’t matter who they were he would just walk up and ram them in the back. They could be atheist, Christian or just a onlooker, they were all targets to this intoxicated man. I stepped in and encouraged him to walk away. This resulted in him head butting my shoulder and then letting out a groan. Somewhere around this time the police were called in to deal with him, and it was then that his friends intervened and took him away before he could be arrested.
Dave finished preaching around 11:30pm, and it was then decided that I should up and preach. Both Alex and Wayne were waiting to heckle. So I stood and began to preach about Christmas, and how we should remember that Christ came to save His people from their sins. By this point Alex had opened up and began to heckle. His arguments were basic at best. He claimed that somewhere along the lines nothing made something and here we are today. I found the best apologetic for this was to simply quote a Julie Andrews song from the Sound of Music, “Nothing came fro
m nothing and nothing ever will!” As Alex tried to prove the unprovable I was more convinced of the stupidity that is atheism. It is true when the Scripture says “professing themselves to be wise they became fools.” No amount of evidence or countering would prove Alex, for his mind is made up and he has hardened his heart. However, God is still Sovereign, He is in control and salvation is all of His sovereign grace. Please continue to pray for Alex, pray that God would grant him the gifts of repentance and faith. But, also pray for Wayne and his son, who quite regularly heckle. Pray that Christ will reveal Himself to them, and that they would repent and trust in Him.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.
Brisbane Team (Day) (QLD)
Meets Wednesday afternoons 1-5pm in King George Square (near Adelaide St crossing).
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.