Sunday, 13 July, 2008
Keith and I had been in Sydney for the past few days getting ready for the big outreach to coincide with the Roman Catholic World Youth Day. Over the past couple of days we had done outreach locally in and around Sydney, and even hooked up with Yorke and his team in Manly for a bit of outreach. But today was the first day in which we were able to engage with those who were in Sydney for the Pope.
In the morning we went to church at Castle Hill Baptist Church, and heard a brilliant exposition of Hebrews 12:1-2 by Rev. Ian Deane. Then after that we headed into the CBD of Sydney to do some witnessing in Hyde Park.
By the time we fought the Sydney traffic, we realised that we only had one hour to witness in Hyde Park before he had to go back to Castle Hill to fulfil a prior commitment. So we set to work witnessing and handing out tracts as fast as we could. Hyde Park was full of Roman Catholic's who were all there for the big celebration. Tracts were going out really quickly and the majority of people thanked us for the tracts. The interesting thing is that we even have priests and nuns lining up to take the gospel tract from us, and then as they left they would pronounce a quick blessing upon us.
We had been witnessing for awhile when this man came up to me, and started to yell "THOU ART PETER!" I looked at him blankly and was thinking "I am not Peter, I'm Josh." But he kept on yelling "THOU ART PETER!" It appeared that this was the only few words he knew. For the next few moments he just kept repeating these same few words, and then said "Do you believe that?" I replied that if he was talking about Matthew 16 and Jesus saying those words to Peter then yes, I would agree. But however, if he meant that to mean that Peter was the rock upon which the church was built, then I would strongly disagree. The man then went nuts yelling at me, that the Roman Church was the only true church, and that all others were imitations. I tried to reason with him but he just stormed off saying "THOU ART PETER!"
By now Keith had joined me, he had been witnessing to a Roman Catholic who kept stating what the Greek text said, so I Keith asked her to show him in the Greek where she got her info from. It soon became clear that she didn't know the Bible, nor the Greek.
We went back to handing out tracts as fast as we could as many people were coming up and grabbing tracts from us. People seemed grateful for the tracts, and many people were excited about the gospel being handed out. Then Jeff had a woman start screaming at him for handing out tracts, and then she came up and engaged Keith. Keith was very patient with her and kept asking her "What part of the message do you disagree with?" She couldn't provide an answer, and after a while she left.
After an hour we started to leave, and make our way back to Castle Hill. On the way to the train station Keith spotted a large group of ‘pilgrims' standing along George Street so he rushed over to them to try and give out some tracts. The pilgrims were all standing in a big circle, and when he got to them they freaked out a bit as these ‘good' Roman Catholics were all smoking marijuana.
Keith then turned his attention to a Scientologist who was handing out literature. They spoke a bit in an apologetic realm, and then the Scientologist started to yell at Keith; "You're hacking my brain!" Keith left him with a tract, and then we made our way back to Castle Hill.
It was a good hour of witnessing. Between three of us in one hour we were able to hand out over 2000 tracts!
Monday, 14 July 2008
Today we return ed to Hyde Park. We arrived at about 11am, and began to hand out tracts as quick as we could. Like the day before it was packed in the park. As we were witnessing I noticed that SBS had set up a television crew and they were interviewing people about World Youth Day. I was approached by the host and asked if I would be willing to be interviewed, I quickly agreed. But when they heard I was from Australia they didn't want to talk. As they only wanted to speak to foreigners. So I called Keith over and pointed out to them that he was actually Irish. They were then interested in interviewing him.
Keith began the interview, and he made sure that he constantly got to mention the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was asked questions about Rome, and he answered from a Biblical worldview and kept on stressing that salvation is not of works, but by grace alone.
While Keith was being interviewed some Samoan pilgrims came alongside me and started to say "They shouldn't interview him, he is a protestant!" So I simply asked them what was wrong with Protestants. They replied "They don't have Jesus, they aren't real Christians." This of course led into a discussion. I started to ask them about what they believed, and as soon as I started to talk a Catholic seminary student joined in the mix. He was quick to attack Biblical theology, but it didn't take long for me to counter his arguments. So he left me and engaged Keith who had just finished his interview.
For the next hour we spoke about many topics, from Mary, the mass, the Bible, the church, the pope, and also salvation. By the end the group of Samoans that I was talking to had realised that there own works would never merit them salvation. But rather they had to flee to Christ alone to save them. After talking they all took tracts and then posed with us to have our photo taken.
We then headed down to the entrance of Hyde Park and began to hand out tracts to everyone who walked past. Like yesterday priests and nuns were lining up to take tracts, and they were once again very grateful. But this all seemed to be the calm before the storm. After handing out tracts for awhile an American Catholic priest approached me, and read the tract. He then came back shoved the tract back into my hand and said "That's anti Catholic!" So I asked what part was anti Catholic, since Roman Catholicism and the Pope were not mentioned in the tract. He looked at it again and said, "It is anti Catholic, as it says you are only saved by faith alone in Christ alone!" I pointed out to him that everything stated in the tract was backed up by Scripture, so how would he reply to those verses. He agree that everything in it was biblical, but the church however has a different teaching. When I tried to engage him in apologetic discussion, he quickly backed off and started to tell everyone not to take our tracts as they opposed Rome. So this time a bit louder I asked him with everyone watching "Which part opposes Rome, and what part of the Bible do you disagree with?" People stopped to look, then quickly took tracts. The priest chased after them trying to get the tracts off them, so I said to him as he was leaving "God's judgment will be a lot harsher on those who try to keep people from the Kingdom!"
The priest stormed off so I continued to hand out tracts. Things once again went along fine. Although after awhile some New South Wales police officers arrived to say that they had received complaints about the tracts. So we gave all the police tracts and they read them. After reading them they all agreed that there was nothing wrong with them, and that we had the freedom to keep handing them out. In fact some police stayed for awhile and were encouraging us to go and engage the atheists on the other side of the park in debate as it would be interesting.
Tracts were going out at a rapid pace, and by now Ryan had arrived from Brisbane so he also started to hand out tracts. Every now and then we would get people stop and engage us in debate over Roman Catholicism, and they all seemed to use the same arguments over and over again. But most of the people we spoke to left thanking us.
By now it was getting late in the afternoon. And we had handed out thousands of tracts. Then things took a turn for the worse. Another local ‘evangelism' ministry joined us on the streets, and they also were handing out tracts. Since I knew the team leader I believed that I could trust him not to do anything that would cause trouble. I was proven wrong on this matter. He decided to enter into the big Roman Catholic Cathedral where they had a ‘Saints' body on display and tract up everyone in the Cathedral. This of course got him in trouble with the police, and also caused a very irate Roman Catholic to follow him. The problem for us was that he came to us to brag about his exploits. In my opinion the thing he did was rank stupidity and it endangered the whole outreach. It was then that Keith and I noticed that the angry Roman Catholic was on the phone to the police now making a complaint against us.
During this time a bunch of young Roman Catholic girls approached and were screaming at us that we were Protestants. And their leaders were yelling for people not to take tracts, and to rip them all up and throw them on the ground. This brought the police down, who told the Catholics that we had every right to hand out tracts, and that they had no rights to encourage people to destroy property and litter. The Roman Catholics quickly apologised.
Once again these Roman Catholics maintained that our tract was unbiblical, but when challenged to show us what part was wrong, they couldn't.
We put up with them for a few minutes, then the police arrived who had been called by the irate Roman Catholic that had followed the other guys from the Cathedral. Because of his complaint the police asked us to stop handing out tracts until such time as they could investigate what was happening. The police were very friendly, and were real apologetic over stopping us, but they indicated that someone had called to make a complaint.
Keith and I chatted to the police, and all the police were reading our tracts, so we were fine with that. As it gave us a chance to minister to these officers of the law. But things changed when the guy who had handed out tracts in the Cathedral entered in to find out what was happening to "his team". The police told him to go away as it had nothing to do with him. And Keith and I weren't to amused as we weren't "his team" and because of him, we were being stopped from witnessing.
Then the police received a call from headquarters and they were informed to issue us a move on order. Which means we weren't allowed in the Sydney CBD for twenty four hours. As they issued the order they also apologised, and made sure to stress that this order came from higher up, and was not due to them. We thanked the police for their time, and also informed them that we had no problems with them as they were just doing their job.
So we packed up our tracts, and left. The day had been very productive although it was shorter that we had planned. It goes to show that on outreach you must watch out for "glory boys" who seek to do something ‘daring' (stupid) in order to have something to brag about. It was because of one guys stupidity that a whole outreach was shut down. The worse thing was, that he isn't apart of Operation 513 but rather he leads a different ministry. We got shut down but he didn't.
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Since we got shut down yesterday, and because we still had twenty four hour ban on us, we decided to have a bit of a sleep in, and then head across to Manly to do some witnessing. Our ban ran out at 4:30pm, so all we had to do was stay out of the CBD till then, and after that we could witness all we wanted to.
After meeting up with a new bloke who wanted to join us, we head over to Manly and began to hand out tracts and witness. Within minutes of getting there we had a bunch of American Roman Catholics start to engage us. One of them was getting rather angry at me, that Keith believed that he was going to hit me. We spoke about church history for a bit, and this man even though he claimed to be a theology student didn't know much about history nor theology. So we examined his beliefs in the light of Scripture. He kept making statements so we challenged him to provide biblical evidence for what he was saying. Of course like most Roman Catholics he knew more about Tradition than he did about Scripture.
After witnessing at Manly for a time, we caught the ferry back across the harbour to the CBD. Upon arriving we noticed that the opening mass was underway, and literally thousands of people were walking along the harbour. So we set up and started to hand out tracts as fast as we could. Many people took tracts, and soon it became clear that we probably wouldn't have enough tracts for the night. While we were handing out tracts one of the police officers from the day earlier approached us and said "G'day" once again he apologised for yesterday and encouraged us to keep going.
After a while we headed up to Barangaroo where the opening mass was being held. Upon arrival near the entrance we spoke to the World Youth Day security team, and they told us where we could stand. They were fine with us being there as long as we didn't block traffic. We agree with their terms and made sure that we were spread out so that no one could accuse us of blocking the flow of pilgrims.
As the Mass ended we were surrounded by a great sea of humanity, and many thousands upon thousands of tracts went out. The traffic flowed freely so we were having no trouble. The whole time we were right next to the World Youth Day security post. After a couple of hours of handing out tracts four police officers approached me and the Crown Sergeant who was leading them started to yell at me and snatched all my tracts out of my hand. The police officer then started to blast me for standing the walkway handing out tracts. I pointed out to him that World Youth Day staff told me to stand there, and he replied "I don't care, this is my turf I am in charge of it!" He said many complaints had been made against us, so he was going to shut us down. I asked him what law we were breaking, and he didn't answer. So I said "I have constitutional freedom to do this, so if I am not breaking any law I will continue." The Crown Sergeant then grabbed a tract and began to read it. As he read it, he started saying "This is hate speech!" So I asked what part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is hate speech, he indicated to the part that said "going to church won't get you to heaven." So I pointed out that is what the Bible says, he maintained that it was hate speech, and that I couldn't hand them out. I stood my ground, and said that since no law was broken I would be continuing to hand them out. He snapped at me that I couldn't and then said "I am detaining you under the World Youth Day laws." This surprised me since only two hours earlier the Australian Government overturned the World Youth Day laws stating that they were unconstitutional. I pointed that out to the Crown Sergeant, and he just replied "Tough!" It was then that I said I would be making a formal complaint over this matter, and he just laughed saying "Go ahead, they can't touch me, I am above that!" To which I replied "You may be above this legal system, but you aren't above God's, and He will all you to give an account one day." This made the Crown Sergeant mad, and he ordered me to sit on the wall of an Anglican church and not move less I be arrested. But before I would move I asked him for his details, and also for the details of the other police officers. The Crown Sergeant refused at first, but then gave me his name, but wouldn't tell me his station. So I turned to the three constables and asked them for their details. The crown sergeant ordered them not to give me their details, and told me I wasn't allowed to have them. To this I replied "By law, you must give me your details." He just laughed and started to turn away. One constable quickly gave me his badge number before the Crown Sergeant stormed off.
So I was confined to sit on the wall of an Anglican church. Immediately I called my Barrister and started to ask him on how to proceed. He pointed out that the police had just broken the law, and they couldn't confine me to a wall. After speaking to him for awhile another police sergeant walked past, so I asked her about the law, and why was I detained. She told me that I had been detained for "incitement" but I pointed out that the Crown Sergeant said "World Youth Day laws and hate speech", she was a bit shocked at this, so she read the tract and said "I have no problems with this, you can continue to hand these out". Upon hearing this (in the presences of witnesses) I headed back out to hand out gospel tracts.
While I was sitting on the wall, I got to see what some of the priests and nuns were doing to our tracts. Some burnt them, others spat on them. Still others urinated on them. All this and these people are supposed to represent God's Church! The Roman Catholic Church revealed itself that night as being a church that is corrupted and a church that hates all those who aren't opposed to it.
I rejoined Keith and Ryan, and we were able to hand out thousands of tracts. As we looked at our stock level we saw that it had nearly reduced to nothing. But then the Crown Sergeant entered back into the scene. He stood right near us and watched every move, after awhile a bunch of American Catholics started trying to stop us from handing out tracts, all the while holding an American flag. We challenged them on what Freedoms the American people held dear, they responded "Freedom of Speech", so we asked why they would stop us from having Freedom of Speech in our country when over 100 000 Australian soldiers had died to give us that freedom? The Americans over the course of this outreach were the worse behaved. They shouted "Freedom" then opposed those who didn't agree with them. This is really sad, but it is clear by their actions why most of the world hates the USA.
The Americans stood in the middle of the road (blocking traffic) yelling at people to rip up the tracts and throw them in the bin. The shocking thing was the Crown Sergeant was encouraging them to do it also. So I turned walked up to him and said "Sir, you told me that if I am in the road I would be arrested, yet you are allowing them to do it, why?" His reply was "One rule for them, and one for you!" To which I replied "So, one rule for Catholics and one for Protestants?" He just grinned, and then said "They are sick of your propaganda and protestant c**p!" This stunned me that a member of the New South Wales police would discriminate against me in regards to religion, so I turned my phone on a called a friend so he could hear it. I asked him to repeat it, and when he realised that I was recording he refused to say much. This was a clear display of Police corruption, this Crown Sergeant openly opposed those who were Protestants, whoever thinks that Rome has changed need to spend a night in Sydney to see how the antichrist (pope) has the police wrapped around his little finger.
During this time a group of Catholics approached Keith and said that we need to watch out as they would be waiting at the foot of the hill to beat us up when we left. We continued to hand out tracts despite the opposition from the American Catholics and also the police. And by God's grace His Word still went forth!
As we were leaving we asked for police protection due to the Catholics saying they would get us. The Crown Sergeant refused to assist and told us to go down the hill and talk to someone else.
We made it out of the city safely, and it was a good feeling to know that God had seen fit to allow His Word to go out even though people tried to stop it!
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
Today was the final day of outreach for us in Sydney. We began the day off by meeting up with some friends, and then heading to an Anglican church to attend a Bible study. This church had been doing Bible studies all week about why Roman Catholicism is wrong, and each day they had a testimony from those who had been Catholics but had left the false church.
After attending the study for an hour, we headed out on the streets to witness. We made our way to Hyde Park as it was a hive of activity. Yorke and Jeff were already present handing out gospel tracts, so we joined them for a time.
Today seemed to be a day of debates. Within minutes of arriving I was engaged in a debate with three Catholic priests from the USA. One of them kept yelling "Shut Up!" While another priest was telling me that the priest is the mediator between God and man. This interested me, so I handed the priest my Bible and asked him to please read 1 Timothy 2:5, as he read it I asked "According to the Scripture, who is the only mediator?" He replied "Jesus Christ" and then went silent. Before leaving he thanked me for showing him that verse and said that he needed to study out some issues now. Please pray for that man.
After finishing the discussion with them, I turned and was engaged in debate with two Mormon missionaries. These men were out pushing that we must have good works in order to be saved. So I spoke to them on that topic for awhile, and I illustrated how that we do good works not to be saved, but rather to be saved. After explaining this to them I showed them to Ephesians 2:8-9. The senior missionary wanted to leave the discussion, but the junior missionary was very interested. After talking for awhile the junior missionary said "I agree with you, the Book of Mormon is wrong." This statement caused the senior missionary to drag him away. Please also pray for him.
Once again I turned, and this time I was in a debate with a traditional Roman Catholic who was a fan of having the mass sung in Latin. We had a good discussion in regards to the Bible and salvation. He didn't like the state of the modern Roman church, and wanted it to return to the traditional teachings. We spoke at length about salvation and then parted on good terms.
By this time I was starting to feel like this was the day of debate, then before I knew it I was once again locked in a discussion. This time with two Franciscan Monks. These men were very polite, and were very well educated in the Bible. We discussed a variety of issues from the immaculate conception of Mary to salvation by works or by grace. It was a great time of chatting, and we all left on very good terms.
I spent the rest of the day handing out tracts, and I thought that perhaps I wouldn't need to debate anymore. But then once again an angry American priest appeared, so I engaged him in debate while his French friend yelled at Yorke in French. After talking for awhile about Jesus being the bread of life, it became clear that this priest did not know his Bible. So I used the Scripture to show him the gospel, the priest quickly stated "I must leave, and go um... pray now." Then left.
The rest of the day was quiet, with many tracts going out.
At the end of the day we tallied up the total number of tracts handed out in three days, and we estimated that over 30 000 tracts were given to those at World Youth Day. Please pray for all those that received the gospel!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Special Outreaches (QLD, Australia)
Australia Day (26 January)
ANZAC Day (25 April)
Christmas Outreaches (December)
New Years Eve (31 December)
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.