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!
Brisbane Team (Night) (QLD)
Meets Fridays (7-10pm) & Saturdays (6-9pm) & Sundays (7:30-9:30pm) in King George Square.
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.