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!
Gold Coast Team (QLD)
Meets 7:15-10pm every Friday night at Surfers Paradise on Cavill Avenue.
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.