Today in Brisbane was the big celebration of the Buddha's Birthday. So we decided to go pay a visit at Southbank where there were thousands of people there worshipping and celebrating this idol. Upon arrival we began to hand out a few tracts, people were very receptive and even asked for more tracts. But that was about all the positive we experienced.
While I was waiting for Andre a man from the Buddhist association approached and told us to leave the parklands (which is public property), when I pointed out that we had legal right to use the park, just as much as he did he ran off to get the police. A female senior constable came over and order Andre and I to stop handing out tracts as it is "illegal". I asked her what law said I couldn't do it, but she didn't give an answer. The police officer once again told us it was illegal to hand them out and the Buddhist organizer was very happy until I said to him, "Mate, you guys are advertising yourself as multi-faith, now surely it wouldn't look good if the media finds out that you banned a bunch of Christian ministers..." The man quickly changed his tune, but the police officer wouldn't. She then told me to put my tracts away as it is against the law for me to carry them in my hand. At this point I had enough, so I encouraged her to arrest me for carrying tracts and asked what law exactly said that I couldn't hold gospel tracts in my hand. She didn't answer but walked away and called for backup.
Since we weren't under arrest Andre and I wrote down all the details of the officer, then walked away. Knowing full well that we were being watched by surveillance. Andre and I met up with Ryan and Ben, within seconds of meeting a security guard arrived and ordered us to leave the parklands. I refused, and asked on what grounds he could order us off public lands. He stated that we had been observed handing out tracts since police had told us to stop. At this point I knew he was lying, so I asked him to prove his case. He then claimed to have personally seen us do it. Once again I asked him to produce the evidence, since the whole parklands is under CCTV maybe he could produce a tape. After talking to him for a bit the security guards story changed, no longer had he observed me handing out tracts but rather he had seen someone else. This of course then gave him no grounds to expel me from the park. The Security guard decided it was best to call the police. While we were waiting for the Queensland Police to arrive the guard told us that it is illegal to carry gospel tracts in our hand, as it is the same as carrying an open bottle of alcohol or a gun. In all my time of evangelism I have never heard of the gospel being referred to in the same breath as carrying a loaded firearm in public.
The QPS arrived and they stated that we couldn't hand out tracts, but we didn't have to leave the park and also they said it was legal for us to carry tracts. We decided to avoid any more hassles that we would go position ourselves on the bridge to the entrance of the parklands. This walkway proved very fruitful as everyone going to the Buddha Birthday Festival walked past and got a gospel tract. By the end of the day thousands of tracts had been handed out.
To God Be the Glory!!
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.