After the events of last week – with Joshua being arrested – one may find it hard to believe that tonight would be completely opposite to last week. But it was. Just earlier in the day, the Gold Coast City Council finally gave to us a permit to preach in the mall. The permit allows us to use a PA system and covers both Friday and Saturday nights. Praise God for how He works!
The funny thing is that on the permit itself it makes a distinction between material that contains Biblical messages and material classed as business advertising publications. Yet the majority of the fines that we have received from the council have been classed under ‘Business Advertising Publications’, and yet in all those instances where we were fined, it was for handing out gospel tracts – that is, material that contains messages from the Bible!
So it seems absurd that the council would still take us to court for these fines. Yet the latest we have heard from them about it is that they will be. They estimate it will go to court in late March-early April.
The council has recently notified us that they have dropped two of the fines because of incorrect fining. Both of these fines were for preaching. The rest of the fines (compromising almost entirely of fines for handing out gospel tracts) they are still pursuing. They said that after a person elects to have their fine heard in court, it usually takes only about 4-6 weeks before that happens. Our fines were all the way back in August-September last year and yet we are still waiting for them to bring us to court.
I think they won’t actually bring us to court - for the whole reason they did it in the first place, I suspect, was simply to intimidate us – hoping that we would stop our outreaches. That is why they made sure to fine us the maximum amount they could – $375 each. But I could be wrong, they may take us to court and if that happens, it should be an easy win.
This evening I was actually running late, so when I arrived everyone was already witnessing in Cavill Mall. When I arrived, we set up at one of the preaching spots allocated to us and I stood up and preached. We didn’t have an amp with us this week, but hopefully by next week we should.
Next preacher up was Blake, who after only a short while had a bunch of hecklers. This attracted a sizable crowd and so Blake made sure to preach the news about the death and resurrection of Jesus faithfully. While he was preaching, the council local law officers came up to me and they were happy that we finally have a permit. That actually surprised me that they’d react like that.
The permit only goes until 10pm and so as that time was approaching, Blake stood down and we moved to outside the mall. Ryan Francis then got up to preach – he spoke about the need everyone has for the Saviour. For God has appointed a Day of Judgement to come – and the only way to be forgiven of our sins is by trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross and repenting. After this, I then preached again till the end of the evening.
The council local law officers saw us handing out gospel tracts and said that we can't do it. I said that when I met with council this week, they said to hand out gospel tracts is to not break any of their local laws. In fact, they even said preaching anywhere outside the mall is fine too. So we kept doing it and they didn't fine us.
Praise God for His faithfulness and opening up the opportunity for us to preach in the Mall. Ideally, permits shouldn’t be required for that to happen, but regardless thanks be to God for the permit.
While all this preaching was going on, the rest of the team was faithfully witnessing one2one with people and handing out lots of gospel tracts. Please pray that God will grant repentance to all who heard or read the gospel this evening.
Gold Coast Team (QLD)
Meets 7:15-10pm every Friday night at Surfers Paradise on Cavill Avenue.
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.