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