“Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness” - John Calvin
The ground upon which the city of Brisbane city rests, is another walking ground of men and women dead in thier trespasses and sins. Thier "Romans 3" misunderstanding of God, and love for sin, is proof that they hate thier maker. Oh how we ought to plead with God for thier salvation, if he be pleased to grant them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.
Andrew Walkington was the first preacher up for the night, and he did a good job expounding the gospel to a gathered crowd of individuals.
Myself (Josh Mitchell) and Andrew Hsu were the last two preachers, and we were discovered by quite a few drunken sorts who slandered us, and were hypocritical in their attacks upon the both of us. None the less we persevered and did our best to answer questions presented, and to preach the gospel in the light of the truth of Creation, and His revealed word.
The team were used greatly of God tonight, with many reports of successful witness encounters with all sorts of people from various cultures, backgrounds and so on. Praise God for the faithful members of Operation 513, to strive to preach the gospel in this dark city of Brisbane. May the lamp of the name of Christ one day be lifted high in this place, that the darkness of sin should flee for fear of He who is light: Jesus Christ.
To God be the glory, great things he hath done, and shall do for the glory of His great name, may we be quick to encourage each other, lest we be hardened through the decietfulness of sin.
God sure used His christians tonight in preaching the gospel. It was a good night with many conversations being had. A lot of people hearing the true gospel for the first time in thier life. God even brought two new people out to witness tonight, so that was pretty cool, both to meet them and observe them in action.
I chatted a ex-lutheran young man, who did not understand the gospel properly. After explaining the gospel clearly, that man began to say he was just having trouble believing. Having a little experience recently on this particular issue, I cut to quick and pointed out his loved his sin. He readily admitted that this was what he was having trouble with and the source of his unbelief. He didn't like God judging him. I pointed out how many sins he had committed over the last five years, and there was thousands and thousands. The young man said he would think about it tonight and read his bible.
Glory to God to be used by God, for the glory of God :)
Please pray for those that God used us to witness to tonight. S D G
Saturday, 12 January 2008
Another week and another battle to fight, as I approached the battlefield of Brisbane city I was rather excited about the outreach. Tonight would be my last night in Brisbane for a few weeks, since I am going to the United Kingdom for two weeks of outreach over there.
The mall seemed quiet as I made my way to King George Square, but looks have been known to be deceptive. We met as usual, prayed, and read the Bible as a team. Then once 9pm rolled around we were into the mall for the preaching.
Ryan was the first preacher up for the night, this also was his last night, since he will be in Thailand on mission for 5 weeks.
While he was preaching, I was on the Bible table. While I was waiting for people to approach two Korean students came up to me and asked if they could have a Bible in English so that they might learn to improve their language skill. I gladly gave them Bibles, and also gospel tracts. Hopefully, as they improve their language, God would grant them repentance.
At 10:15pm, it was my turn to preach. So I started off by declaring the majesty of God, and then I noticed a couple of people stop to listen. I did a call out and engaged them in open air discussion. It turned out that one of them was an atheist, and he wanted to talk about the existence of God. So engaged him in an apologetic over how we know that there is a God.
An atheist attracts an atheist. All of a sudden I had two atheists, but this second one claimed to have been a Christian before seeing the ‘light'. He wanted to debate over some alleged contradictions in the Bible. I enjoy this kind of debate, because often times many people in the public have these questions, and as ministers of the Word we need to be able to answer their questions.
We covered a lot of ground in regards to the existence of God, and then I got to use my favourite argument against atheism, and that is the argument from morality. For if there is no supreme being then, there cannot be any moral absolutes. The atheists I was dealing with argued that the law gave us morals, yet the law came from peoples morals. I pointed out that was circular reasoning.
By this stage another atheist had joined the mix, so it was me trying to dialogue with three atheist at once. I do have to say that they were all very polite, and they were men who had spent some time thinking about the subject. It is always refreshing to debate someone who knows why they hold to a certain position.
I presented arguments to them from teleology, cosmology, and morality, and slowly the arguments made ground. Finally after realising that since they didn't know everything, there could be evidence for God, they admitted that no longer would they hold to the atheistic world view. Two of them declared themselves agnostic, and took some literature, and the third declared that he now believed in God, and wanted to learn more about Christianity.
During this time two young men were ripping up Bibles and tracts, then throwing them at me as I preached. The ground around me was white like snow from all the destroyed Bibles. The police came and then in front of the people watching the officers made the two men pick up everything, they then issued them a move on order and allowed us to continue.
The night finished strong with many hearing the Gospel. Please be praying for all who heard the truth.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday, 5 January, 2008
The day was strange for me, I felt tired, and I felt like doing nothings. So in my ‘wisdom' I decided to go out on the streets, but not preach. One would think that I would learn, but I never do. Whenever I have said ‘no' to preaching, I have always ended out declaring the gospel.
It was good to have Andrew Hsu back from his trip to Taiwan, so since he hadn't preached in awhile I thought it would be good to put him up first. However, this changed when Josh Mitchell arrived on the scene. It was Josh's schedule week off, yet for some strange reason he appeared in the city. So we put him to work right away and got him up on the Brisbane box declaring the gospel.
The night was fairly quiet, and there wasn't many people in the mall. Josh Mitchell did a good job, and then it was time for Andrew to preach. Hsusy got up and declared the gospel in his normal fashion. But I didn't get to hear all that much of his message since I was in a one to one conversation behind the preacher.
At around 10:45pm, Andrew thought it to be good to make me preach for the night, I tried every excuse to avoid preaching, but Andrew wouldn't buy it. So I got up thinking that it was a quiet night, so I will do a ten minute message then stand down. But God had other plans...
I was going to do my "Booze Sermon" based on Proverbs 20:1, but before I could get into it, I had a couple of hecklers opening up on me. So I dealt with them to the best of my ability. Yet as any preacher knows, a heckler is a magnet for more hecklers.
As I finished with the first two hecklers I got fired upon by a young man who had many questions and statements in regards to the hypothesis of evolution. This topic interests me from an apologetic mindset, so I engaged him on that topic. But like most people who hold to evolution, this man didn't realise that there is a lack of evidence when it comes to macro evolution.
Every time I would ask for evidence he would avoid the questioning, or change topics. During this time another regular heckler was standing beside me yelling abuse at myself, and blaspheming God.
The crowd was growing as the debate raged over Creation and Evolution. I particularly like dealing with this topic, since it is so easy to swing from Creation into the fall, and then into personal sin. From there it is but a small jump to declare the Gospel.
Mr. Evolution would only cite his year eleven biology book as evidence, but he wouldn't tell me what part of the book supported evolution, nor would he tell me what evidence the book presented.
The crowd had given birth to other hecklers, so I was busy trying to deal with four people yelling at me all at the same time. Upon being asked to wait there turn three of them agreed, however, the fourth would not.
The questioning then turned to "how do we know Christianity is true?" They also stated that it was just made up by a few guys who wanted to make a quick dollar. So again we entered into the apologetic realm and answered the questions in regards to that. Then as the hecklers have done in week previous, they asked about the historical Jesus, and if there was any evidence for Him. I do find it quite amazing that these questions always appear, and no matter where one preaches a heckler has to ask that question.
I built the historical case for Christ, but the vile young man next to me wouldn't accept it. I pointed out to him that non-Christian historians actually record about Christ, and that they all had bias against Christianity, yet he wouldn't accept history.
He then started to do his ‘apologetic' to the crowd that had gathered. He tried to make the case that if he believed his shoes to be alive, and if he wrote a book about it. Then would that become a religion, and would that become truth? I replied to him that it may cause some people to worship his shoes, however, it wouldn't make it true. Moreover, I stated, it would be highly improbably that your opponents would write historical accounts saying that your shoes are alive. Yet the opponents of Christianity wrote about Christ Jesus.
By now a young islander named Ricky appeared on the scene, I had already spoken to him earlier in the night, so I engaged him in the gospel. The crowd listened, as I explained the love of God towards sinful humanity, and how we didn't deserve mercy. As I spoke you could see the conviction in the eyes of Ricky. Yet, throughout my talking to him, people tried to drag him away. He stayed firm and listened to the whole gospel, and thanked me for presenting it. - Please pray for him!
By now it was after midnight, so I wrapped it up. A few people took in-depth tracts, so pray that God will use the gospel presented tonight to change their hearts.
As I was packing up I was approached by Mr. Evolution, who wanted to talk more about Creation and evolution. So we discussed that to a deep level, and I made the case for the existence of God from a morality view point. Sadly the man couldn't see his own circular reasoning, it is always hard to witness to a blind man who wishes to stay blind. But we can rejoice in the fact that God is the Sovereign one in all matters.
Sunday, 6 January, 2008
The heart rate was up, and the nerves were pumping as we made our way to the Gold Coast. Exactly one week ago we were arrested for witnessing, but we knew we had to return to preach once again.
The weather was threatening, but for a time it held off. Josh Mitchell was the first and only preacher of the day, and God blessed the gospel with bringing in some of the largest crowds we have seen on the Gold Coast.
I was on the camera and I was expecting the police to appear at any time, and at one point a police officer stopped, looked at the crowd and then kept walking.
After an hour of preaching, the heavens opened up and God sent forth the rain. Many of the listeners wanted to learn more, so they took good in-depth gospel tracts.
Tuesday, 8 January, 2008
Each year in January, the large Pentecostal youth movement "Planet Shakers" roles into town. And each year thousands of youth attend the event in order to ‘party for God'. In the past I have worked as security at these events, but the things I saw as a guard, made me realise that we needed a Gospel witness in the place.
I arrived at 1pm, and met up with Keith and Josh Mitchell. Since I was known to the security it didn't surprise me to see that they were already watching me and following me, while I was at the event.
We decided that we would head across to the Southbank parklands, and do some witnessing over there, while the conference delegates were on break. When we arrived I did a Way of the Master radio interview with a youth pastor for a Salvation Army church. He knew the Gospel, but he couldn't verbalise it, so we helped him to the best of our ability to understand how to present the gospel in a clear and logical fashion.
After this, we decided we wanted to hand out some tracts, since the youth were not getting a biblical message inside, but rather they were getting from the conference preachers, nothing but false assurance and demonic lies.
We started to hand out tracts, and many of the youth thanked us for the tracts, and many even stopped to talk.
Now you need to picture this, we are on public property, away from the convention centre where the event is being held. Then from around the corner we are approached by a group of Planet Shaker security guards, who come to complain about us witnessing. They formed a circle around me, and tried to intimidate me to stop witnessing, so I pointed out to them that since we are on public property they can't actually stop us. This caused one of the security guards to snatch a tract out of my hand, and start to call me a hypocrite. I asked why I was a hypocrite, and he stated: "Because you say there are none good, yet claim to be good". I replied that I did not claim to be good, and nor would I even claim such thing, since after all the scripture says we have all sinned, and none of us do good.
He declared that he didn't like what I was saying, and I replied that he didn't like the Bible then. He just laughed and said that he was a Christian, and what I was saying is lies. So I asked him what part was lies. He couldn't answer but just spoke about how they are true and we are wrong.
Before I could respond, I was approached by Mark Penny, who is one of the top guys from Planet Shakers. I only know Mark from last year, when he tried to stop our witnessing, but in the end agreed to let us continue.
This year he and I chatted about general things, and then he encouraged us to keep up the good work. He then left stating that we could hand out tracts outside the venue. I later found out that the security guard that was with him told everyone that we are JW's.
That night we decided to go into the free night session to see what was happening in the realm of Pentecostal youth. To be perfectly honest I was sickened by what I saw. The band whipped the crowd into an emotional frenzy, then Russel Evans got up and told everyone to listen to him, and got the crowd doing waves around the auditorium.
After this they had some slower ‘worship' songs, that always seem to focus on ‘me' instead of God. After the crowd was all emotionally stirred up, it was time for the offering. The man doing the offering, told us that if we want to give our heart to Jesus, then we need to give in the offering. Since where our treasure is, there is our heart.
He then went on to use the Creation account to prove that God wants you to create space in your wallet, so that He can fill it with money. Then he promised healing, wealth etc to all those who obeyed.
I was outraged, how could a thief be allowed into the pulpit, how could a money hungry charlatan be allowed to minister to so many people. The only verse running through my mind was 2 Peter 2:3.
After the showmanship was over the ‘evangelist' Reggie Dabbs, came out and did another show to the people, and started the chant of "bye, bye, bye, bye" and we were told to say this to all our hurt and pain. He then declared that we should say "shut the front door" when pain tries to come back to us.
The message he preached, was nothing more than psychological dribble. He spoke about Jesus Christ coming to help you with your sorrows, and how He came to make you feel better. This is NOT the Biblical gospel! If Jesus wanted to make you feel good He could have sent you a hallmark card, He didn't have to die! The Gospel is about God saving sinners who don't deserve mercy. Yet Planet Shakers seem to miss that point.
I was heart broken as thousands stood to pray the prayer of "bye, bye, bye, bye".
Thursday, 10 January, 2008
Today we returned to Planet Shakers, since thousands of youth were getting a false gospel, we knew we had to do something to make sure they understood the true gospel.
We began by handing out tracts, thousands were going out, and many pastors were coming back and thanking us for the tracts that we had given out. People even wanted to pray for us, since they were excited to see people declaring the gospel.
But then... two of the top Planet Shakers organisers approached, and one of them lied to Keith, and then tried to snatch all the tracts off him. Keith pointed out that we were on public property and that he couldn't do that. The man then assaulted Keith by grabbing him, and again Keith warned him that was assault. The man just ignored, and told him that he would make us move.
The other Planet Shaker leader then began to yell at all the youth that they shouldn't take these tracts, since they are wrong and the message on them is not true. I replied that we were not a cult, but rather we are from Baptist churches, and that the message on the back is from the Bible. The youth stopped, and didn't know which way to go, so I called out "get the information that Planet Shakers doesn't want you to have!" This resulted in many youth eagerly taking tracts. The first leader then started to take them of the youth as they walked past, so I went and circled behind him, and gave them tracts again. This made him keep moving further and further back until he realised that we outnumbered him, and that he could not stop the gospel tracts.
A bunch of youth swallowed the lies of the false prophets from Planet Shakers, and began to rip up the tracts saying that the message was false, yet when questioned on which part is false they could not answer.
After awhile, I went and spoke to the first Planet Shakers leader, and asked him what part of the message does he disagree with. He was stunned, so I asked him "why do you hate the gospel?" He replied that he didn't and that he did agree with what the tract said, this led to me asking him "why then did you try and stop the youth from having it? All you have done is created a situation in their mind where they now believe the gospel to be false!"
The man apologised, and was sorry for trying to stop the gospel. He stated that he agreed with all the tracts message, and that he also believed that message to be truth. He then apologised to Keith for lying and assaulting him.
I must say, that based on the fruit that Planet Shakers produce, then I would have to declare them as nothing more than an anti-Christian, anti-Gospel, religious party. In which the Bible is not respected, but rather the words of the leaders are taken as truth.
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown intothe fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. - Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV)
Soli Deo Gloria!
The sense of the festive season was still in the air as I arrived in Brisbane City for our weekly Operation 513 outreach. As I walked through the Queen Street Mall, I noticed that it wasn't all to busy, and that few people were hanging around. I presumed that it may have been due to the fact that in two more nights the city would be full due to the New Year Eve celebrations.
The team met in our normal spot in King George square for a time of prayer and thanksgiving to our Heavenly Father, then after prayer we spent some time as a group reading through the Scriptures. It was good to have some old friends from Sydney with us tonight as we ministered the Word.
At 9pm we made our way to the Queen Street Mall, and began to set up for the outreach. It was then that I decided that I would be the ‘strike' preacher, that is, the first preacher of the night. Normally I don't like going first, since my preaching style plays a lot of hecklers, and the first preacher of the night normally gets not many hecklers.
I started off by talking about how in a couple of nights people will make New Year resolutions, and how many people will break their resolution within hours of making it. Then I asked how many people would make the New Years resolution of "I will not die in 2008!".
From there I asked the question of ‘How many people died in the past year?' and ‘Are you assured of surviving 2008'? By God's grace a crowd began to gather, so I then opened up the Scripture and gave the crowd a biblical perspective of life from James 4:13-14:
"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (ESV)
Then I established with the crowd, that we could die at any moment, and it did not matter how old one was. Once people were thinking about death, and thinking about eternity, then I spoke about why we die, and how originally there was no death, but through sin and rebellion against God, sin passed to all people.
I had a couple of hecklers during this time, and they brought up one of the most ask questions that we have had in recent weeks, and that was the question of "prove there was a historical Jesus". I have enjoyed these questions, since it has made me study more the historical documents outside of the Bible that testify to the life and death of Jesus Christ.
After I stood down from preaching I had a good conversation with a young man who was an intellectually. He was really interested in knowing more about the historical Jesus, so I spent some time doing a bit of an apologetic work with him, and then brought it back to the Lord Jesus Christ, and how He only is the only one who can save sinners.
The rest of the night was fairly quiet until just before midnight, when a drunk Irishman decided to start abusing and threatening Josh Mitchell as he preached. So I moved into position behind Josh Mitchell to give any support if the situation got violent. The Irish man saw me, and then started to threaten me and generally abuse me. I was happy to let him threaten me since he was allowing the preacher to continue without interruption.
While he was yelling at me he did hit me once in the stomach, so I warned him if he did that again then I would get the police. He apologised, but then denied hitting me. After about ten minutes passed he started to hit me again, so this time I grabbed his arm and pushed him of me. He then started to shout that I assaulted him, so I sent one of our guys down to the get the police. The police arrived, and arrested the Irish man. I must commend the members of the Queensland Police in Brisbane for doing a fine job in tough situations!
Sunday, 30 December, 2007
The news reported gale force winds, and heavy rain for the Gold Coast, but we decided that we would still go out and witness to those who went to the beach to see the six metre high surf.
Upon arrival it was raining, so Josh Mitchell and Ryan started handing out tracts while Dave and I kept an eye on the teams equipment. Once the rain stopped we noticed the crowd rush to the beach front, so we went to where we normally preach and began to declare the gospel.
Josh Mitchell and Ryan Hemelaar went first, and they preached even though we were being pounded by strong winds, and sand being blown from the beach. A few people stopped to listen, and a couple even heckled. After about twenty minutes the heavens opened up and the rain began again. So once again we took cover, after about five minutes of rain it stopped so again we went back to the beach front.
This time it was my turn to preach, so I jumped up and preached from Hebrews 9:27, and how it is appointed for us to die once and then judgment. A small crowd gathered, and a heckler opened up on me saying that there was no historical evidence for Jesus. So as I did the night before I made an apologetic argument for the historic Jesus Christ.
It was hard preaching in gale force winds, so after about twenty minutes, I tagged Josh Mitchell in to preach. He was preaching for about ten minutes when it began to rain again, but this time we kept preaching, and there were four young men sitting on a seat listening to the gospel, and they were asking some good questions.
Let me set the scene for you. Picture one preacher, addressing four listeners. Behind the preach stood Ryan and I. It was onto this scene that things got nasty.
As I stood behind Josh Mitchell I noticed two Queensland police officers approach us. By the way they came towards us we knew they were coming to speak to us. However, speaking seemed to be the furthest thing from their mind.
They split up and went either side of Josh Mitchell, and as they did this I noticed the rank of a Sergeant and a Constable. They then both grabbed an arm of Josh Mitchell and pulled him down from preaching and forced him to his knees.
At no stage had they said about any law being broken, but they just decided to bring the preacher down. Josh Mitchell complied with their forceful actions, and as they stood him up I noticed that in his left hand, he was still gripping the Bible. The police turned to Ryan and I and asked if we were with him. We answered that we were so they ordered us to follow them to the Cavill Avenue police station.
Josh Mitchell was restrained the whole distance of the walk from the beach front to the police station, and we were all at a lost to what was going on.
Upon arrival at the station Josh Mitchell was taken into the holding area while Ryan and I waited in the waiting room. Before they took Josh away he requested that I come with him to be his witness for the interview. This got be pushed in the chest by the Sergeant and then yelled at.
Once the Sergeant and Josh Mitchell had gone I turned to the Constable who was not behind the front counter and I asked him for his name and details. The officer refused, and would not say anything. So I asked again, this time he gave me his name and rank. I then proceeded to ask for the Sergeants name, and all the constable would say is "his name is Sergeant".
I was also ignored by him when I asked what law we had broken. Since the police were not being forthcoming in what we had actually done wrong, I said that I would be making a formal complaint. And I began to write some notes down in my note book. It was then that I got the greatest shock of the whole situation.
While my back was turned the Constable came out from behind the counter and grabbed me by the neck and upper arm and slammed me into the wall. I called out that this was assault and he replied "Tough!" He then dragged me by my neck further into the station at the same time yelling "You're under-arrest!"
I was then manhandled down the hall way into the holding area where I was reunited with Josh Mitchell. None of us resisted what was going, but we were both breaking that God's will be done.
Since I was under-arrest, I asked for a lawyer, and it was then that the police became rather abusive and made offensive sexual comments towards us. During this whole time they never once told us what law we had broken, however, they did make many offensive comments against Christianity.
For about fifteen minutes we were in the holding area, and finally the Sergeant changed and became a lot more friendly. He told us that he would release us without charge, and that we could go free. But he still wouldn't say what we had done wrong. We were however, ordered to leave that part of the Gold Coast or be arrested again.
We left the area and straight away began to write our notes out so that we had an accurate record of what happened. We also took the time then to make a formal complaint to the Crime and Misconduct Commission, who are now investigating.
Please pray for the conversion of those two Queensland Police officers, and that God will get the Glory!
Monday, 31 December, 2007
New Years eve! As we have done for the past two years we went to the big city party in Brisbane city, not to party with them, but to declare the Words of Eternal life.
Josh Mitchell was the first and only preacher of the night. He went for well over one and a half hours, and the whole time a large crowd was gathered. Then as the midnight hour approached we got ready to preach as the people began to leave. All our tract reserves ran out that night as hundreds of people got the gospel.
2007 is finished, and 2008 is beginning. Pray that God will be glorified all the more in the New Year!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Tonight was an interesting night, it started off by looking like it would be a real busy night, but during the preaching the crowds dwindled down to a few people walking through the mall.
The first preacher up for the night was Ryan, and before he began preaching we had a regular heckler circling for a bit of a show. While Ryan was preaching the heckler kept opening up on him in regards to the Old Covenant and the need of a blood atonement. Ryan put up a decent apologetic, but the heckler was not interested in being reasonable, so he kept on arguing the same point.
Earlier in the night Andrew Hsu had told me that he wasn’t going to be preaching, yet when this heckler opened up he got the ‘preachers itch’ and had to jump up to deal with the heckler. This heckler and Andrew have a background of confrontation. They have debated each other in times past so Andrew used this to his favour when he debated this guy again.
Andrew was up for sometime, and while he was preaching I got surrounded by a group of scantly clad women who were trying to entice myself and another male listening to go off to the club with them. I refused and shared the gospel with them, but the other man who was listening was led off as a sheep to the slaughter.
After Andrew stood down from preaching, Josh Mitchell jumped up and preached the night home. During this time I was having a good conversation with one of our hecklers who has been present for the past six weeks. Over the weeks he has shown a great hatred for the gospel and Christianity. Tonight however, we were able to talk. He was open to hearing the Biblical message and he even took a Bible. Please be praying for this young man.