Today Essex OP513 team visited a town called Harlow. Historically Harlow has had a rough reputation with approximate rates of 10% unemployment along with 30% of its dwellings being council housing. I have often thought about preaching up there because low socio-economic communities can be impacted greatly by the Gospel. We found the shopping precinct and was met by Chuck Bosio. We prayed and I preached first. People listened and tracks were taken.
After my address a gentleman asked what my stance was on homosexuality. So I read Him 1 Cor 6:9 and Rom 1, he then said it was a refreshing to hear a person stand up and endorse the Biblical view, because he was a Christian who has had to leave a church which has begun to embrace homosexual conduct as permissible. Chuck preached while Josh and I handed out tracts.
Then Josh preached and began to get into conversations with few different gentlemen. Slowly the crowd built up until there were quite a number of people looking and listening. The crowd did get a bit raucous at times with various individuals screaming or being unreasonable to chat with.
Community Officers and Police arrived but none of them approached us or told us to stop. In fact a young girl in the crowd screamed out "Jesus is a pedophile" and Josh replied with "that is racial and religious hate speech". The Police in the crowd quickly pulled the girl aside and rebuked her for saying such blasphemy! It brought to mind the words of Jesus in Mark 9.40 "For the one who is not against us is for us" while perhaps my context is not accurate I was still praising God that the cops actually defended our cause!!
The crowd eventually dissipated and we finished up only to be approached by two Harlow council officers which began to give us grief. We debated with them about the right to preach whenever and wherever we wished on public land and they got very frustrated with us. I think a further follow up by our lawyers may be required. Over all the day was a success with the Gospel preached accurately and boldly. SDG