Battle Log

Gold Coast Team

Friday, 5 November, 2010

Posted by Posted 13 November 2010, 2:51 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

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

Posted by Posted 1 November 2010, 11:45 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

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.

John preachingAfter 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.

Ryan preachingThat 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

Posted by Posted 25 October 2010, 12:30 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

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

Posted by Posted 15 October 2010, 5:18 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

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.

Thank you.

Friday, 24 September, 2010

Posted by Posted 30 September 2010, 4:34 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

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

Posted by Posted 3 September 2010, 5:33 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

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.

Friday, 23 July, 2010

Posted by Posted 1 August 2010, 3:23 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

Ryan preachingJohn preachingRyan preachingStatue man listening and someone else videoingGlenda witnessingBlake preachingBlake preachingTrevor witnessingJosh witnessingRick and Glenda witnessingAs we arrived outside Hard Rock Cafe at the bottom of Cavill Avenue, there was already a busker there playing loud music. So we had a quick time in prayer together and then decided to move more towards the middle of the mall. On the team tonight we had about 10 of us.

Last week at the end of the night we found a great place to preach, because it was an area that was not as open as the stage. So we moved there and I got up to preach and had a number of Muslims heckle me, however they wouldn't stick around for very long.

All the people in the restaurants across from me could hear the message, and a few of them began shouting something in response. It was clear they were against the message of the gospel. One of our team members over heard the restaurant manager call the police to complain about us. However, the police only came about an hour later. At this stage, John was the one preaching. He is a pretty good preacher, but he's not that loud. So that meant by the time the police arrived, the preacher couldn't really be heard at the restaurants at all. So the manager of the restaurant looked a bit silly complaining about a guy who wasn't that loud at all.

But the police went up to John and told him only to move along. We could tell that they didn't want to move him along, but they thought they had to because of the complaint they received. Right after this, we decided to move 20 metres down the Mall to another great spot that wasn't facing the restaurants. Blake then got up to preach. The police did return but had no problem with us being there.

After Blake preached, I got up to preach again. Quite a large number of Muslims gathered round to listen and asked some very interesting questions. Some of their questions and objections consisted of "The Bible has been changed!", "When did Jesus say that He was God?", "When Abraham was going to sacrifice his son, God provided a substitute. Why couldn't God provide a substitute for Jesus when he was going to the cross?", "If Jesus is God, how could He die?"

A number of videos of the interaction I had with these Muslims is below:

Ryan preachingThe Muslims were very appreciative that their questions could be answered, and said they would be back next week.

To God be the glory!

Friday, 16 July, 2010

Posted by Posted 20 July 2010, 12:17 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

Ryan preaching in Cavill AveJosh Williamson preachingJeremy preaching - hecklers pretending to bow downIt's getting to that time of year again, where it seems as though every second person at the Gold Coast is a Muslim. From July to about September, lots of people from the Middle East travel to the Gold Coast for holidays and so that is why it is essential to have Arabic gospel literature on you.

When we arrived outside Hard Rock Cafe, a busker was playing already there with his loud amp. So after a bit of fellowship and prayer together, we made our way to the middle of Cavill Ave. We thought it would be a good idea to begin preaching at the same stage as we preached last week.

Craig Ireland witnessing to bunch of people

I was the first man up, and started off telling a true story about something that happened to someone in the UK just earlier that day. Bekk let me know about it right before I preached. There was a lady in the UK who had been battling breast cancer for years and just today she had been told that she has beaten it. She would have been thinking, I've beaten breast cancer, nothing will be able to stop me now. But on her way back from the doctor's office, she ran off the road in her car and drowned in a river. Death came so unexpectedly. I told this story to show that death could happen to anyone at any time and that is people should be thinking about eternal things.

I transitioned from that to talking about how what we do here matters forever. And since we have all sinned, by breaking God's laws, we are all deserving of Hell. But I then spoke of the cross and how if someone repents and trusts in Christ's death alone for their forgiveness, they would be saved. I noticed there were quite a number of Muslims listening, so I stressed that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and that in no other religion can a person have forgiveness of sins.

After I stepped down from preaching, a young Muslim man came up to me saying, "I have no problem with what you are doing, but you shouldn't say Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Because I wouldn't say to you Islam is the only way." I responded, "The reason why I say Jesus is the only way is because He is. That means that if someone dies a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu or part of any other religion, they will end up in Hell. For example, imagine if there was a blind man walking towards a cliff listening to some music, would you not go up to him and warn him off the cliff ahead (even though he may not want to be interrupted from his music). I would, that is the loving thing to do. In the same way, the loving thing for me to is to warn you and others who are not Christians that they must repent and trust in Christ alone to be saved." The man seemed to understand my point. I then discussed with him why Christianity is true as opposed to Islam.

Josh was the next one to get up and preach. God has blessed him with a really loud voice, and so he could be heard quite clearly even at far distances. However at the end, Josh commented that the stage is not a very good spot to preach, because it is so open and so your voice doesn't rebound. He found his voice was hurting even after 15 minutes. Also people seem to think that they can't heckle when we're on the stage.

We then moved further down the mall, where it was less open and Yarran preached solidly for about three quarters of an hour. After this, Jeremy faithfully preached for about 20 minutes. Since the night was rolling on, he had lots of drunk hecklers. At one stage, a guy who came up to Josh while he was just talking to someone else punched Josh in the stomach. Then moments later he went up to Jeremy who was preaching and pulled him off the soapbox. Josh and I immediately went up to him to get him to stop pulling Jeremy and we told him to move along. Jeremy then got up again on the soap box and started preaching again. At one point, some hecklers even pretended to bow down before Jeremy.

The rest of the team did a great job handing out gospel tracts and talking to people.

To God be the glory!

More photos from this outreach

Friday, 9 July, 2010

Posted by Posted 17 July 2010, 6:14 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

Ryan preaching at Surfers ParadiseGlenda witnessingBlake preaching at Surfers ParadiseRick witnessingRyan witnessingRyan witnessingThe past two weeks we have been hassled firstly by the police, and then last week by the council. But in the end, both gave us permission to be there and do what we do. Praise God! So we were thinking that we wouldn't have to deal with them tonight and we didn't.

For when we met together for a time of prayer, one of local law officers from week was walking around with a different local law officer. That new officer was about to say something to us about us handing tracts, when the other officer tapped him on the shoulder saying that we were alright.

In our usual spot, a busker was already playing. So we decided to move up to the middle of the mall in a big open area and preach there. So I set up my soap box and started preaching. I had a few hecklers, mostly Muslims. One of the Muslims seemed a liberal, not even believing that Jesus existed! After showing him why it is indisputable that Jesus lived, they all got stuck on the idea that Jesus died on the cross. This is strange, because Muslims think that Jesus is coming back in the future and then He will die. So why they get all up in arms about Him dying 2000 years ago is beyond me.

The spot where I was preaching was fairly decent, with lots of people in hearing range. But after I got down, we decided that preaching on the permanent 'stage' was probably a good idea too. So Blake got up and preached faithfully about the cross of Jesus. As did another guy named Ryan after him.

After this, we noticed that there was a guy in the middle of the mall who had decent crowd around him. We thought he must be a busker. I decided that it would be a good idea to preach closer to him, so the crowd could hear the message too. As I was getting up to preach, the man in the middle of the crowd and the crowd too started moving towards me (probably heading past me). But as they were right at me, Rhoi wolf whistled and said, "Everyone, listen to this man" (pointing to me). Then I began preaching, and went through the good person test with the man who had attracted the crowd (he was wrapped in plastic). So this meant I had the man and all the crowd now listening to me. Praise God how it worked out! I was amazed. I preached about how there is a judgement to come, and since we have all sinned we need forgiveness that is only offered in Jesus.

Ryan open air preaching at the Gold Coast

This is a video filmed a little after that happened:

After it all settled down, Luke got up and preached a location further down the mall and almost immediately had some atheist hecklers. This was perhaps Luke's first time preaching in the open air, and he did a great job.

Luke preaching

To God be the glory for another great night!

More photos of this outreach

Friday, 2 July, 2010

Posted by Posted 17 July 2010, 5:32 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

Ryan preachingThis was now the second week having the Gold Coast team on a Friday night instead of Saturday afternoon. We thought we shouldn't have any problems with police tonight, after they gave us permission to preach last week.

It was a drizzly night, however there were still lots of people about. The good thing about the rain is that it kept the buskers away. So this week we didn't have to try and compete with them.

On the team tonight we had: Josh, Blake, Jeremy, Bekk and I. We began preaching the gospel and had a few hecklers. However, while Josh was preaching the rest of us were handing out gospel tracts and then two council local law officers came up to Bekk and I. They said that they have no problem with the preaching, however the handing out of gospel tracts they considered touting. I asked how that could be so and pulled up the Gold Coast City Council local laws on my phone, and went to the one that defines touting.

“tout” means to approach another person and publicise either verbally or in writing a business, commercial or trade activity. (Local Law 5)

So I told them that under the Gold Coast law, handing out of gospel tracts is not considered touting. One of them responded, "But I still think it is." I said something to this effect, "You a local law officer, and so you can only make judgement based on what is the law, not based on what you want the law to say." They said, "Look, get approval from the council to do it and then that will be fine. Then we can know you are not handing inappropriate materials behind our backs as well as these gospel tracts." I responded, "We have tried investigating it with the council, and other local officers we have talked to say it is not illegal, therefore it is not possible to get a permit for something that is not illegal. Moreover, how will getting approval stop the possibility of someone handing out something different behind your backs?" They couldn't really respond and just said, "We are giving you an order to stop handing them out or we will fine you."

I then let Josh know about what they said. And Josh thought it was the silliest thing he has heard! He wanted to go up to them and hand out tracts right in front of them, but they had already left. But a bit later we made a strolled up the mall, and found them in a restaurant. So we decided to hand out tracts outside the restaurant they were in so it would be hard for them to miss us.

They then came up to Josh and Jeremy and said that they couldn't hand out tracts because they thought it was touting. Josh said, "Really? According to Gold Coast law it's not. Go ahead and fine us, and we'll make sure to take it to court. They were like, "Na, we don't want that." In the conversation, they kept changing the reason why we couldn't do it - from 'touting' to 'people could slip on it if they step on it'. Then they decided to call their local law HQ, and they asked the person there about handing out of Christian literature. The person on the phone (who was loud enough to hear) said, "Handing out of Christian literature is exempt from the touting law." At this point the law local officers' manner changed dramatically and they began being friendly, probably realising that we could report them for hassling us and trying to make us to stop doing something that is not illegal.

We were very happy with the outcome, and so began handing out tracts even more fervently in the remaining minutes left of the outreach.

We have now received approval from both the police and council, so hopefully next week we won't have any hassles.

To God be the glory!

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