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Monday, 22 November, 2010
Monday 22nd November 2010
Today was the first day of Schoolies Outreach – the outreach where we spend a week evangelising at the Gold Coast during the year 12 end-of-school celebrations. For it, 5 of us booked a unit nearby to stay for the week.
After arriving at our unit, we headed out to the streets of Surfers Paradise at 7:30pm. There we met up with a few other people who were joining us for that night’s outreach. Once we had prayed together, we went out to our usual spot to hand out gospel tracts and do some preaching.
It was very busy, and as the night progressed it got even busier. Just after 9pm I decided to do some preaching, but there was so much ambient noise that it was extremely hard to be heard. There were a few people who stopped to listen, and I was able to bring them through the good person test. For them to hear me though, I had to speak very loudly, which was straining my voice. So only after about 20 minutes I stood down.
I had really good conversation with a Schoolie named Mark. I asked him first up whether he thought he would go to Heaven. He thought he would. So I asked him whether he had broke some of the commandments – like lying, stealing, using God’s name in vain, and lust. He had. I pointed out that the punishment for sin (even just one sin) is eternity in Hell. This concerned him, and so he commented, “How can I get to Heaven then, as I have had sex outside of marriage?” I then told him of the death of Jesus, how He died on the cross taking the punishment for our sins. I then instructed him that the way of forgiveness is by repenting (turning from sin) and trusting that it is only the death of Jesus why he can go to Heaven.
That all made sense to him, so I asked, “When are you going to repent and trust in Jesus?” He said he would go back to his hotel tonight and really ponder what he heard.
A few hours later I saw him again and he said to me, “What you’ve said is really stuck on my mind. I am heading home now, I’m going to repent tonight.” Please pray for Mark that his profession of faith may be genuine.
We handed out about 3,000 gospel tracts tonight between us all, and ended up heading home just past 1am. Even at that hour there were plenty of people still about.
Tuesday 23rd November 2010
After sleeping in, we headed back out on the streets at about 1:30pm. As we arrived at Cavill Ave, we saw the local law officers that were on duty. We prayed together and started handing out gospel tracts. During the day time, there are many schoolies about and most of them are bored and so they are willing to talk.
Not too long after starting to hand out gospel tracts, one of the local law officers came up to me, saying, “You know you are not allowed to hand out those.” I responding by saying that gospel tracts do not constitute ‘business advertising publications’, as they like to say it does. They said that they’ll come back later and if they see us still doing it, they’ll fine us.
We knew we were not breaking the law, but for convenience sake we decided to go on to private land to hand them out. This area had been recommended to us by a number of the local law officers over the past few weeks. The local law officers came back and saw us handing them out on private land, and although they could not touch us there, they decided to be annoying. They called up the centre management (the ones that own the land) and told them that we were handing out things on their land. They then went up to the security guard on duty nearby to get him to tell us to stop doing it.
At this point, we decided that it would be worthwhile simply having conversations with people, without using tracts to get into them. This worked very well, so we kept doing this for about an hour.
After going back to the unit for dinner, we returned to the streets at 7:50pm armed with thousands of gospel tracts. The ones were using mostly were the Good Aussie cards and the Big Money notes. I find that the Big Money notes work really well at special events, and so they were going out like hotcakes at schoolies.
At one stage, the local law officers that were on duty that night (they were different from the day time) came up to us instructing us to go on to private property to hand the tracts. I informed them that the local law officers that were on duty during the daytime did all they could to get us off private property. They were surprised and said they will have to look into that. But they said that we can’t hand out gospel tracts on public land. I asked them, “What exactly is wrong with them?” They firstly said, “Because it has a website on there.” So I asked, “If I take the website off, would it be allowed?” They said, “No, because what it comes down to is that you are still promoting something.” I said, “We are promoting the gospel of Jesus and you don’t pay for it.” They said, “That’s right, and you can’t do that on public land.”
Can’t promote the gospel on public land? Where have the freedoms gone that citizens of this country have always possessed? This council is overstepping the laws of this land and even their local laws. For there is no local law forbidding promoting in general. Under their local laws only promoting business, commercial and trade activities are forbidden without a permit. Yet they think that promoting the gospel is one of those activities? That is very hard to see.
We simply kept on talking to people and handing out tracts and the council didn’t do anything.
Wednesday 24th November 2010
Like yesterday, we decided to head out on the streets in the afternoon for a few hours and then to return at night time. As we were walking from our car, we saw the local law officers in their car driving past us, and we waved to each other. Once we reached Cavill Ave, we prayed together and then started having conversations with people like we were yesterday.
That night, I had an interesting conversation with a Pentecostal guy who had just gone to a Church service at Surf City (the local Pentecostal Church). From the outset, he was like shouting at me and standing really close, and so I asked him whether he was drunk. He said that he hadn’t had any drinks tonight. He then began to tell me of all this new revelation he has received from God, and I expressed my doubts to him about that really being from God. For God has given us the Bible, and in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 it says that the Scriptures are everything we need to be equipped for every good work. This man at this point started getting angry and then began speaking in gibberish and moving in a very erratic way. For the whole conversation he was spitting as he spoke, and as he got angry it got worse.
Then he began swearing and blaspheming. So I said to him that he should not say those things, for the Bible says that no unwholesome language is to come out of your mouth (Ephesians 4:29). He responded by saying that he can say and do whatever he wants and God doesn’t care. I told him he needs to repent, for Jesus said “Unless you repent you will perish” (Luke 13:3). I asked him again, “Are you drunk?” He said yes this time. “So you lied before?” I asked him. He said, “So?”
This really set him off. He began getting really angry, he started swearing more and said, “How can you judge me? You can’t judge me!” I said, “Yes, I can. In fact, I am commanded by God to judge you. It says in 1 Corinthians 5 that you are to judge a man who says he is a Christian and is not living accordingly.” At this point he was really angry, and he was not far off hitting me. But right at that point, a security guard who heard the man getting angry came to him and told him to move on. He said, “Leave these guys alone, they are just trying to share their beliefs.”
Thursday 25th November 2010
The schedule for Thursday was the same as the previous days, a few hours of outreach in the afternoon and then more outreach from 7:50pm in the evening till after 1am. The time we were leaving each night was getting progressive later and later each day, because even past 1am, it is still very busy. All of the official Schoolies concerts have finished for the night by that time, but the Schoolies just seemed to linger about for quite a while after that.
With the Big Money gospel tracts we were handing out, I found that quite often people would simply see me holding them and ask for one them. Usually they would then ask what it is about, and so that was a great opening to share the gospel with them.
Please keep Rio in your prayers. I was able to share the gospel with him this night and it really impacted him. Please pray that he repents and trusts in the death of Jesus alone for his salvation.
Friday 26th November 2010
When we were out on the streets during the afternoon, we encountered some Jehovah’s Witnesses. They thought that what we were doing is good, despite our differences in theology. That wasn’t reciprocated by us, as 2 John says that someone does not abide in the doctrine of Jesus, they do not have the Father. For the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God, instead they believe He is Michael the Archangel.
As soon as they heard that we believe Jesus is God, they instantly brought up their stock standard response to John 1:1, even before we mentioned that verse. They try and argue that the verse is lacking the definite article before the word for ‘God’, therefore they say Jesus is only ‘a God’ and not the God.
However, what is wrong with that interpretation is that it ignores the rule in Greek that if everyone knows what thing you are referring to, you do not need to supply the definite article. Every Jew reading the gospel of John knew that there was only one God, therefore John did not need to supply the definite article.
What really shows the Watchtower’s hypocrisy in their New World Translation (the Jehovah’s Witness Bible) is that only 5 verses later in John 1, the word for ‘God’ is there without a definite article and they do not render it ‘a God’ there, instead it is simply rendered ‘God’. These 2 guys had no idea how to respond to this.
I then pointed to John 8:58 which says: ‘Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”’ The Pharisee’s hearing Jesus’ statement would immediately know what he was referring to, and that is the burning bush back in Exodus. When Moses asked God, “Who should I say to Pharaoh has sent me?” God responds with, “Say to Pharaoh, ‘I AM has sent you’.” Therefore we know from that Old Testament background that when Jesus says that He is the I AM in John 8:58, He is proclaiming to be the very God of the Old Testament. This is further confirmed by the reaction of the Pharisee’s, verse 59a says: “So they picked up stones to throw at him.” Why? Because if you said that you were God in those days, you were stoned to death.
These 2 JW’s were stumped; they had no idea how to respond. We stressed the importance to them of getting it right as to who Jesus really is. At least one of them, we could tell, from our conversation was questioning the validity of the New World Translation. Please pray for the two gentlemen that God would open their hearts to receive the true gospel message.
After the conversation, Anne-Marie made the point that cults seem to do apologetics training so that their members are trained in how to respond to objections. Yet why is it that most Christian Churches do not offer apologetics training for their whole congregation? Especially since we have the truth! That’s just some food for thought.
At night we had a large team out that we decided to split into a few different locations in Cavill Ave. The Friday night is the last night of Schoolies, so it is the night where everyone goes out to Cavill Ave to celebrate for one last chance. It was very busy, so gospel tracts were flying out left, right and centre.
The local law officers that were on warned us that we cannot hand out gospel tracts on public land. I chatted with them a bit and they said the central reason why we can’t do is because it is still the handing out of something, even though it is the gospel on there. The council themselves have been so inconsistent this week. Some officers saying we can’t do it on private land, while the rest encouraged us to do it on private land. Some officers say it is wrong because it’s promoting something, others say it is because it is the handing out of something. Which one is it?
After chatting with them a bit, they warned us that if they found us still doing it when they returned, they would fine us. We simply kept doing it and they saw us and did nothing. The other council local law officers that were on tonight walked past us and one of them said to his partner, “They’re only handing out gospel tracts” and they walked straight past.
Later on, I had a chat with a girl who works for the Worship Centre in Carina. She had an understanding of the gospel, but was wearing a shirt that had a basically naked woman on it. I told her that she should not be wearing that sort of shirt as it can cause people to stumble. And Jesus warned that it would be better if a millstone was tied around the neck of a person and they were thrown into the sea than they cause a Christian to stumble (Luke 17:2). She said, “It wouldn’t cause anyone to stumble and I don’t really care”. To try and prove her point, she said she would come back after she had asked a sample of guys whether her shirt invoked lust.
She did return later with some of her friends from her Church. They were saying that the Bible is wrong in many areas. They tried naming a few areas, but none were any real contradictions. They then asked what I thought about homosexuality. I said that the Bible clearly states it is a sin. They all got angry that I would suggest that. Then they started saying that people don’t need to get legally married to have sex with someone. I warned them that they needed to repent and trust in Christ to be forgiven. Because no real Christian can live in an open lifestyle of sin.
It was a great week of outreach at Schoolies. By the end of it, my voice was clearly strained from talking so much. Plus this is due to the fact that on the streets because it was so noisy we’d have to speak loud just to be heard even in a one2one conversation. We handed out over 10,000 gospel tracts between us and many great conversations were had.
To God be the glory!
Saturday, 27 November, 2010
Another cold winters day in Essex, Mark Torrington and I hit Brentwood to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Most of the time out we spend handing out tracts but, we had a few conversations with people. I came across one elderly man who was a JW, he said that heaven will be on earth and you have to be hooked up with the 'organization' to make sure your going to get there. He was very difficult to talk with, but I managed to show him from scripture that Jesus Christ is God. This was done by reading Psalm 102 v 25 - 27 which was written to "Jehovah" and then turning to Hebrews 1 v 10 - 12 and seeing that the verses are applied to Jesus the Son. He was not very interested in debating this, He preferred to talk about belonging to the correct organization.
The other conversation Mark and I had was with a group of three young boys who came up to us and were asking about the tracts we were handing out. They understood the Law and the demands it makes on humanity and this led into the finished work of Christ at Calvary.
Later we were joined by another member of our church, Peter Ruck. The day was a success in that the Gospel was proclaimed to many members of the public.
Saturday, 20 November, 2010
After a long break from evangelism, the Essex team have resumed their Saturday afternoon outreach!!! I (Andrew) was joined by Nina and Roman, at first and then came Ingrid and her daughter Elyske too. So a healthy total of 5 hit the town high st. handing out tracts and attempting to instigate conversations.
I spoke to about 4 or 5 groups of teenagers during the afternoon. Each group consisted of 3 to 6 kids. We discussed God's Law and how we all have broken it, then leading into repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. I was impressed that the kids hung around to listen to me talk as some conversations took about 10 - 15 mins. I am also most impressed by people that feel mere belief will dictate what reality will be, eg. "I don't believe in Hell, so I wont go there...".
Ultimately God grants repentance, so we continue to pray for those we had a chance to speak to today.
Friday, 12 November, 2010
Tonight was very busy at the Gold Coast. There were no special events on; there were just lots of people about. The team met together at 8pm, spent a bit of time fellowshipping and then we prayed. The two council local law compliance officers that were on duty came up to us and said “Hello”. They then asked us where we would be preaching tonight. We said we’d go in the middle of the Mall where we were last week. They responded, “Ah it will be quiet night for us tonight then. We’ll have to try find some other people to fine then.” Then they walked away.
We moved to the preaching spot and I stood up to preach first. I spoke about goals – how some people have it their primary focus in life to get that next promotion, that next car, that next house. Others focus on finishing that university degree, or completing school. Many people all that they do is focus on things that do not have eternal value. They neglect to think about things that really matter – such as where they will go when they die. I then went on to speaking about the judgment that is to come, and the fact that our sin makes all of us deserving of eternal condemnation in Hell. But that then lead itself into the cross, how Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. But to receive this forgiveness, a person must repent and believe the gospel.
There were a few hecklers that asked a number of questions. Such as, “What is wrong with sex outside of marriage, I thought it was for procreation?” and “Why are there different religions?” I responded to these questions and a decent-sized crowd began to form. I was also able to bring a few people through the good person test.
After I got down from the soap box, John got up and faithfully preached for about an hour. During this time, the rest of team were handing out gospel tracts all around the area. At one stage, the council local law officers came to where we were and sat down to have a drink at the restaurant nearby. They were watching what we were doing. We were wondering whether they would come up and fine us for handing out gospel tracts, for we were not doing that on private property. But they didn’t do anything. Praise God!
As the night rolled on, Cavill Mall just seemed to die. It was no longer bustling as it was earlier in the evening. So we decided to move down the bottom of the mall to continue to hand out tracts for the last 20 minutes of the outreach where there were more people.
Once in the new area, I handed out some tracts to a group of young blokes and started up a conversation with them. These guys seemed not to care about the fact that they deserve eternal torment. The loudest of the group had many things to say, and I was able to respond to the questions he had. This conversation lasted about 20 minutes, and I made sure to point the guys to Christ for forgiveness of their sins.
At this point, we came around as a group again and I closed the night in prayer. However, Trevor and Des were still chatting to a young man. While I was praying, one of the blokes I was chatting to came over and listened in as we were praying, occasionally mocking. At the conclusion of the prayer, Rick and Glenda continued to witness to the man for about 20 more minutes, while I was able to speak one on one with another person in the group I had been chatting to. He had a number of questions such as, “If we are all from Adam & Eve, how are there people with different skin colour today?”
After all this, most of the team departed for home. However, Trevor stayed on chatting to the same man he had been talking to, and then another that joined in, till 2am in the morning. The man was suicidal and so Trevor was able to calm him down and point him to Christ for forgiveness of his sins.
To God be the glory!
Friday, 5 November, 2010
Most of the team tonight were running a little bit late tonight. But soon after we arrived, the two Gold Coast City Council local law officers that were on duty tonight came up to us. They were friendly and offered us the suggestion to preach on private property near the centre of the mall and they said they wouldn't touch us then. We thanked them for the suggestion, and after praying together, we moved to that spot.
One problem with that spot is that it is very close to where noisy buskers are. But thankfully tonight, there were no buskers around there at all. Praise God! We used the spot because it is a good place to do it, not because it is in reality illegal to do it elsewhere. Plus it saves the hassle of having to deal with council fining us.
Blake was the first man to get up and preach. After about half an hour, the two Council officers returned and said to me that the team cannot hand out tracts on public land, that must be done on private property too. I asked them, "Do you consider these gospel tracts to be business literature?" One responded with, "It is actually a big debate at council whether it really is or not." So I asked, "Why would you fine us if the council is not even sure whether it is business literature?" He responded, "I have my own leanings on the issue. But we have been instructed to fine you guys if you keep doing it. So I suggest moving on to private property to hand them out."
It is more restricting to be confined to the private property area only to hand out tracts. For the flow of traffic isn't always constant there, so we still handed out tracts anywhere, since we know it is not illegal to do that (despite what some of them might say).
After Blake preached faithfully for a while, Ryan F preached. He had a few hecklers, one was a drunk man who started getting very close to him. He then pushed Ryan off the soapbox and was shoving him a bit. I stepped in, trying to get the drunk man to settle down. After a little while, he eventually moved along. All this commotion caused a large crowd to gather crowd and so Ryan got back up and kept preaching.
About this time, I was chatting to three young people. One was a Buddhist, one an atheist and the other a Mormon. It was difficult speaking to them all at the same time, because they had all different objections and questions about the message. The Mormon fellow was particularly interested in chatting to me and had never heard of the reasons I was giving why Mormonism is not true. So he decided to write them all down and come back to me next week after he had investigated the issues.
Trevor, Des, and I preached till the end of the night. There were a decent amount of people listening and some hecklers. We all spoke amount the sinfulness of sin, the judgement to come and the message of the cross.
To God be the glory for another great outreach!
Friday, 29 October, 2010
It had now been five weeks since our last fine from the council for sharing the gospel of Jesus on the streets of the Gold Coast. We had hoped that we wouldn’t have any problems this week too. But things don’t always go to plan.
We had about 12 people on the team tonight, which was great. We have found that since the fines, the team has been growing. Praise God! We can echo Joseph’s statement in Genesis 50:20 - What the council meant for evil, God has used for good. It always seems that way in Church history too. In times of persecution, that is when we see the most rapid growth of the Church. The Church is also purified too, because the tares (those that aren’t truly Christians) don’t want to stick around when their life, well-being, or finances are at stake.
After prayer together, we moved to our usual spot – the place where Cavill Ave meets Orchid Ave. As soon as we got there, we saw two local law officers not far off. We knew we were not breaking the law doing what we usually do, so Trevor got up to preach. He spoke of the glories of Calvary and called people to repent and trust in Christ. The police at one stage came up and listened and then moved along a drunk that was being a nuisance.
After Trevor preached, John stood up and preached too. The local law officers came pretty close to listen and we overheard one of them say, “We can’t touch them there.” So they went away and had a chat together. They then decided to head to the police station.
Not long after, they returned with three police officers. It reminds me of the Scripture when Jesus was arrested by a group of soldiers, and he responded, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me?” (Matthew 26:55) It is funny that the council think they need a whole group of police officers to protect them. Who do they think we are? Maybe they haven’t realised that we are not a bunch of thieves or drunks, and they don’t need to waste police resources like that, when the police have enough on their plate already.
The council local law officers pulled Trevor and John aside and fined them both $375 for making public addresses in a mall. The funny thing is, is that they were not even in a mall. We were purposely on Cavill Ave, instead of being in Cavill Mall. I tried to explain this to the council before they fined us, but they wouldn’t even let me speak. Later on after they fined us, I was able to explain that to them and show them the law. One of them responded, “Oh woops.” But they didn’t revoke the fines.
So we asked them, “Why did you fine us this week and not the past four weeks?” They said, “Because we were wondering what would happen with courts. But the boss said just this week that we should continue fining you guys because you’re still breaking the law.”
So even though the council officers knew we broke no law this evening, they still fined us. It seems like it’s because if they didn’t, their boss would be unhappy with them. It definitely does seem like the Gold Coast City Council is specifically targeting us as Christians. Even though we are still not breaking the law, they continue to fine us. This is unacceptable.
That is why we are appealing all the fines. The council said they will keep fining us, but we will persevere. They seem to just be out to stop us. That is why we need your support. Taking all these fines to court will be expensive. So please prayerfully consider donating towards this very important endeavour. The freedom is share the gospel at the Gold Coast is what the issue is; that is what we are fighting for.
I asked the council local law officer, “What exactly is a public address?” He responded, “We have no idea, which is why we are going to the courts to let them decide.” That is crazy. How can they fine us for something they don’t actually know what it is themselves?!
Please pray for this situation. Pray that God would be glorified in it and at the end of it, Christians on the Gold Coast would have the freedom to talk about Christ.
Till 11pm, Des and I preached. It was Des’ first time preaching in the open air I believe, and he did well. Many gospel tracts were handing out tonight and lots of people were spoken to about the gospel.
To God be the glory!
Friday, 8 October, 2010
Rain, rain, rain. It had been bucketing down for a few days leading up to this week's outreach, and it didn't look like relenting at all. Even though it was raining, we thought it would still be a good idea to have the outreach, as there are still lots of people around when it rains.
8pm rolled around and a decent number of us met and prayed together, before wondering up Cavill Ave. We decided not to do any preaching tonight due to the rain and the lack of undercover areas for that. However, in front of all the shops there are large awnings, so we decided to go into three different locations under these awnings to hand out tracts and talk to people about the gospel.
At one stage, the local law officers came up to one of the members of the team and had a chat with them. The officers were acting really friendly, and did not fine us. They said it is alright for us to hand out the tracts in front of the shops, as they said that is private property instead of public property. But in their view, a few of us were not on private property and yet they did not fine us. It does seem like they have changed their tune a little, from the constant fining they were doing. Hopefully we'll see the existing fines being dropped soon. Although the latest communication from them is that they said we should expect to receive our summons to appear in court soon (please consider supporting us in this endeavour).
All sorts of interesting people were about. One person whom Bekk and I chatted to was a professing Christian, but he had very weird beliefs. He was saying that we're all children of God and that since most people are good they'll go to Heaven. So I responded by pointing out that if someone is not a Christian, they're actually a child of the devil (1 John 3:10). I also then pointed to passages like Romans 3 which talk about the universality of sin; that we've all sinned. He denied this, saying "Look around at people, do you think they're bad people?" I responded, "Yes, in God's sight. For we have all broken His law, which makes us deserving of Hell." I then tried to direct the conversation to the cross, but the man got angry that I would say everyone is a sinner and he stormed off.
The theology that is getting taught in some of the Churches in the area is horrendous, as evidenced by this man. Please pray that these Churches will come back in line with what the Bible actually teaches.
Another good conversation I had was with a Nepali man named Tilik from the local pizza shop. It was a bit difficult to talk to him because he wasn't fluent in English. His thinking had definitely been influenced by the Jehovah's Witnesses, who have been chatting to him a bit in the past. But I was able to share the good news of the gospel - that even though we have sinned (eg: lying, stealing, lusting, hating, etc), there is forgiveness if a person trusts in Jesus' death on the cross as they only reason they will go to Heaven. I said I would order a Nepali Bible and give it to him next week and chat further.
To God be the glory for another great night of outreach!
Friday, 1 October, 2010
Having received $375 fines the past three weeks for handing out tracts and preaching, we were wondering whether it would happen again this week. We knew we weren't breaking the law, so we decided to keep handing out tracts like we normally do. Regarding preaching, we had an idea - to preach outside of Cavill mall, to see if that would change anything. We picked the spot where Cavill Ave turns into Cavill Mall.
We each took turns preaching from the soap box and there were a decent amount of hecklers and people listening. It was extremely busy tonight, and for some strange reason there seemed to be a lot more drunks about.
When I was preaching I noticed the local law officers a distance away. They saw us preaching and handing out tracts and then came straight past us. Instead of fining us like they have in previous weeks, they left us alone. In fact, they took a tract themselves.
The change of heart could be that they recognise they would have no legal leg to stand on in court. Praise God for his answer to prayer.
However, they are still continuing the court case against us. Please pray that God would soften their hearts and draw them to salvation. We are in need of your support. Having legal representation does not come cheap, so please prayerfully consider whether you would be able to donate any amount of money towards helping us pay for these costs.
The outcome of this court case could have drastic effects on the proclamation of the gospel in this land.
Friday, 24 September, 2010
This is an update on what has been happening at the Gold Coast for the past three weeks (10th, 17th, 24th September).
On the 10th September, we were doing our outreach like we normally do in Cavill Ave each Friday night - handing out tracts, talking to people and doing a bit of preaching. When reasonably early in the night, we saw two council local law officers taking photos of us and writing down notes. After they had done this for about 15 minutes, they went up to some police that were nearby. Soon after, both the council and the police came up to us.
The council local law officers said that they were giving us all fines for $375 each. We asked why and they said, "For the person that was preaching, he was a doing a 'prescribed activity in a public place without a permit'. For the rest of the team, fines were received for 'distributing business advertising publications'. No warnings were given, they straight away just came up and fined us, saying "We were sent from the council to fine you guys."
The person that was preaching at the time tried to find out exactly what he was doing wrong. The police said that he wasn't doing anything wrong. But the council local law officers insisted that he was, because they said that doing a public address is against the council laws, however they could not show us where it says this.
Regarding the fines for handing out tracts, the council officers could not explain how the gospel tracts we were handing out could be classed as 'business advertising publications'. One of the council officers recognised this and so on the fine(s) that he wrote, he did not include the word 'business'. But the thing is, is that there is no law against the handing out of advertising publications, only business ones. But even under the definitions section in the Gold Coast City Council law local 5, 'business advertising publications' means "a publication that publicises any business, commercial or trade activity."
None of the tracts advertise any business, commercial or trade activity; so we can't be breaking that law. The tracts simply contain the message of the gospel - that a person can be completely forgiven of their sins through Christ's death on the cross.
We are appealing all the fines because we are simply not breaking the law they think we are breaking. Please pray for us during this time.
The following Friday night (17th September), we received about 3 more of the same fines for the same reasons.
The following week after that (24th September), we received only one fine - for preaching. It's possible they now realise that they have no legal leg to stand on regarding the handing out of tracts. For we advertise no business, commercial or trade activity.
We will continue to be faithful to our Lord and still have our outreaches at the Gold Coast every Friday night despite the risk of fines (for we are not breaking the law). If you are in a area, please come along. Contact us for more info.
For all the fines we will have to go to court, please keep us in prayer during this time. If you think you will be able to help us on the legal side of things, or even the financial side of things (to pay for court/legal fees), please do contact us! Thank you.
Our liberties in sharing the gospel are being suppressed here at the Gold Coast. If we do not fight these fines, Christians in the Gold Coast (and it may extend to across Australia) will not be able to share the gospel as freely as they have enjoyed in the past.
Please pray, and get in contact with us if you think you can support us in some way. Thank you!
To God alone be the glory!
Saturday, 28 August, 2010
This will just be a quick report to let you know what is happening:
We started our outreach at 8pm and I got up to preach at our usual location in the middle of Cavill Mall. There were quite a lot of hecklers, and I was having a good discussion with them. But after preaching for about 30 minutes, a busker then began setting up his stuff about 5 metres away from me. Then a guy in an Elvis suit (a different person) started playing his music next me, but I just kept preaching. This Elvis guy attracted more and more of a crowd to hear the gospel, which was good.
He stopped playing and then immediately two undercover police officers came up to him, asking him what he was doing. He said that he wanted to listen to this other busker and said that I was preventing him doing that.
The undercover officers then told me to stop preaching and talk with them, saying "Bring your stuff, you won't be coming back." Without even discussing with me at all, they had made up their mind that they were going to move me on.
The police officers were very angry right off the bat and were not interested in discussion. I asked them why I was being moved on and they said that someone had complained that I was stopping someone enjoying someone else's lawful activity. So I asked, "Is what I was doing, unlawful?" They responded, "No, it's not."
This raises the interesting question of: 'Why does that other person's lawful activity have higher priority over mine? Especially since I was there first doing that activity, and secondly the vast majority of people that were there wanted to listen to me rather than the Busker.' It seems like, since one of the lawful activities that were happening that night was preaching, it immediately has the lowest priority out of any other activity.
So I had to move on, but the rest of the team kept going. Blake and David Richardson preached later for quite a while, and did not get stopped. Later in the night, 8-10 police officers came swarming the group, informing them that they could no longer hand out gospel tracts since it says on one of the tracts "the wages of sin is death", they said the tracts are offensive. At this time, David Richardson was preaching and they police went around to the crowd asking them whether they didn't like the preaching, so they could shut him down. Thankfully, none of them didn't like the preaching, so Dave kept going.
Please keep us in prayer that we don't have any more hassles from the police in the coming weeks and months.
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