Gold Coast Team (QLD)
Meets 7:15-10pm every Friday night at Surfers Paradise on Cavill Avenue.
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.
This particular Friday, Justin and I decided to make our way to the Gold Coast a couple hours earlier than usual, and continue our outreach till the usual time of 10pm. When we arrived we read through Matthew 10:24-42. In this passage Jesus commands not to have fear of men three times, a very good passage that counters timidity. With this in our minds and after praying, we walked to Cavill Ave.
Greek Orthodox young man
We handed out gospel tracts for quite a while, and then both started getting into some conversations with the people there. One chat I had was with a Greek orthodox young man. I asked him the question about whether he thought he was going to Heaven. He said, “Yes, because I try to do my best.” I then brought up Matthew 5:48 where Jesus commands us to be perfect. What that means is that trying to do our best will not be enough, God demands perfection and He cannot have any sin dwelling in his sight. But the problem is that we have all sinned against God.
I then asked the man, “Have you ever lied?” “Yes”, he said. I asked, “Ever stolen anything?” “Yep.” “Ever looked at a woman with lust?” “Every day”, he said. I then asked, “So if they are some of the standards on which God will judge you on the day of Judgment, would you be innocent or guilty?” He recognised his guilt, that he had not lived well enough and knew he was deserving of Hell. So I then explained the message of the cross to him, and that if he truly repents of his sin and trusts that the only reason why his sins are forgiven is because Jesus died for him, he would be saved. I also mentioned that Jesus then rose from the grave on the third day. I tried to stress with him that faith alone is what saves, not works.
But this is where he disagreed. He said, “how come James says that faith without works is dead. Therefore what saves a person is faith plus the things they do.” I explained that what James is talking about is that a genuine faith will produce good works, and a fake faith won’t. A fake faith won’t save, a real one will. But it is not the good works that save at all, it is the faith in Jesus. I then brought him to Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
This passage clearly teaches that faith alone saves, in no way can works contribute to our salvation. But he kept trying to go back to “faith without works is dead”. I would have to say that that verse in James’ epistle is one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible. For if people simply read the verse in context of the whole book, and then in the context of the whole Bible, it is very clear that the verse does not contradict Ephesians 2:8-9, or Romans 4, Galatians 2:15-21, etc etc.
Eason the Taiwanese
The next chat I had was an encouraging one with a Taiwanese guy called Eason. He is in Australia on a working visa and does not know much about Christianity. Right from the start he thought he was going to Hell because he has done too many bad things in his life. So after briefly touching on the issue of sin and the day of judgement, I was able to present him with the gospel which he has never heard before. I explained how Jesus, who is God in human flesh, lived a perfect life on this Earth, and yet was crucified on the cross in order to pay for sins, rising from the dead three days later. So that if he repents and trusts only in Jesus for his salvation, he would be forgiven.
This seemed to make perfect sense to him. So I asked him the question, “When will you repent of your sins, and trust only in the death of Jesus for your forgiveness?” He said, “Right now.” That was so exciting to hear. But I wanted to make sure he truly understood what I was saying, so I asked, “If God asked you, why should I let you into Heaven, what would you say?” He responded, “It’s only because of the death of Jesus!” I got his contact details and he’s able to meet up in the following weeks to go through the Bible together. Praise be to God. Please pray for him.
"Love the tracts, but it's missing one thing"
During this chat, there was a guy who came over and asked for one of my tracts that I had in my hand. I gave one to him and then he walked off. After I finished the conversation with Eason, this guy returned and said that he loved the tract, but it’s missing one thing – Acts 2:38. I knew immediately when he said that what his viewpoint was, he thought baptism was a requirement of salvation. I asked him, “Why do you think baptism is a requirement of salvation?” The only verse he could think of was Acts 2:38, and pointed out that lots of people in the book of Acts got baptised.
But Acts 2:38 does not really support the idea that baptism is a requirement of salvation, for verse 37 says that the people were “cut to the heart” and thereby implying that they were already beginning to believe what Peter had said up to that point. So in Luke’s (the writer of Acts) accounting of Peter’s sermon, he does not deem it necessary to record about Peter saying that you need to have faith (for he may have explicitly said it), for that is obviously implied based on everything Peter has said up to this verse. Therefore, Acts 2:38 should in no way be interpreted as saying that baptism is a requirement of salvation. It is something a Christian should want to do, but it’s not a requirement.
I then asked the man how he deals with texts like Ephesians 2:8-9. He had no answer. I then told him in the apostles’ day how the Galatian Church was saying that circumcision is a requirement of salvation (Gal. 5), and Paul says that is a completely different gospel and those who are teaching it he wishes they would be eternally damned (Galatians 1:8). So in the same way, if anyone adds baptism as a requirement of salvation have a completely different gospel.
His response was that those letters were written to people who were already baptised, instead he thinks we should just look to what the book of Acts says. That does not explain away those verses even in the slightest, and this man did not want to talk for much longer. I just tried pleading with him to not add works to salvation, but to trust only in Jesus alone for his salvation.
The Jehovah Witnesses - "144,000 only go to Heaven and that's full now"
Next I had three conversations not long after each other with three different groups of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The conversations all went in a similar fashion.
One of the longest was with a lady in a wheelchair and her husband. I said whether they thought they would go to Heaven. They said, “No, I’m going to live on the Earth forever.” I asked, “Who goes to Heaven then?” “The 144,000, and that number filled up in the 1930s”, she responded. I asked, “Where’s that in the Bible?” “Revelation 14”
So I asked her, “I’ve read that chapter before, and did you know that in verse 4 it describes the 144,000 as being ‘those who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins’. What that means is that the 144,000 are just male virgins, right?” She responded, “Oh, no there are women in that number too.” I asked, “How can that be when it clearly says that the 144,000 are those who have not defiled themselves with women for they are virgins.” She said, “That must be symbolic then.” I said, “Hold up, why is that detail symbol but yet the number of 144,000 is exactly precise and not symbolic? Do you see how what you’re believing in is inconsistent? Also, the fact that the quality of being a virgin is repeated twice in different ways more shows that it is not to be taken symbolically.” She said, “Um, I’ll have to look that one up.”
I knew that she would simply go back to the Watchtower and believe any explanation they could give her even if it was not good. So I challenged her, “As a Jehovah’s Witness, are you allowed to read theological books not published by the watchtower.” She didn’t like admitting it, but ended up having to admit that she is not allowed.
So I asked her, “Could the Watchtower ever be wrong?” She said, “Yes, they can.” So I said, “Then couldn’t the Watchtower be wrong regarding who goes to Heaven, who the 144,000 are and issues like that?” She responded, “Oh no way, they’ve done lots of study into this issue. They can’t be wrong.”
The problem with that is that the things that the Watchtower says they have been wrong about in the past were the very things they said they were certain about beforehand (eg: dates regarding return of Jesus, etc).
I then asked whether she believed in a real Hell. She said that she did not because how could a loving God punish people forever. So I brought her to Matthew 8: 11-12 -
“I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
I explained that that passage clearly teaches that there is a real place of conscious torment and suffering. I then brought her to Luke 16 – Lazarus and the rich man, which makes the same point. She had no idea how to respond, and said she would have to really do lots of research in this. Please pray that she would, and instead of blindly believing the Watchtower, may she read God’s word instead.
Overall, a wonderful night was had by the team. Justin had a few conversations, and Greg and Judy and her daughter were able to join us as well for a few hours. To God be the glory! Praise God that His Word never returns void!
Sorry for the lack of recent reports here on the Battle log for the Gold Coast team, just reminding you that the team meets weekly even if no report gets put up. So if you are in the area and would like to join us, please feel free to contact me.
This week when we arrived to Cavill Mall, both of our locations were taken. So we decided to pray and move outside the mall to preach. That was interrupted by a busker who decided to start setting up his amplifier right next to us. Rather than cause a conflict, we decided to move back to the mall, but both locations were still occupied. It had been this way for an hour and a quarter already. Soon after, one of the locations cleared up and so we started preaching there.
John was the first person to preach there and he did a great job proclaiming the predicament that all of humanity is in, and that is we are deserving of Hell forever because of our sin. He then went on to explaining the cross – that if a person repents and trusts in Jesus, they will be forgiven. After John preached, Ryan got up to preach.
While he was preaching, a person from the Coffee Club came up to asking us to turn the volume of the amp down. So we decided to turn the volume down on it a third and even face the speaker completely away from the coffee shop.
But minutes later the police arrived because that shop complained and they told us we have to move to our other spot, and that we are not allowed to continue preaching here, even though we have a permit for this location. The police officers were not reasonable and were saying that a person shouldn’t have to hear our message if they don’t want to. I pointed out that we are compelling no one to stand here and listen to us.
At this point, I was just holding a camera in my hand and they really didn’t like it. They said we’re not allowed to use the footage for anything. I asked them what law says that. They said, “Look it up.” The reality is this, that if a person is in public, he can record with his camera as much as he wants and do anything with the footage. Another one of the police officers then said that they will now start seizing the cameras off us. That is theft. The only legal time a police officer could do that is if the officer reasonably suspects that the camera is evidence of the commission of an offence.
We decided to move to the other location, even though the police had no right to tell us to move, but we did so under duress. We started preaching at the other location and the police just stayed nearby for the next hour. At one point, the police signalled to myself and Ryan to go towards him. He then said to go with him with the camera. The police officer said, “Bring the camera because I will want this on camera when I seize the camera from you”. So at this point, I refused to go with him. Ryan went with him and the police said to him that we could still be heard at the local shops. Ryan pointed out that the busker that was playing was incredibly louder than we were, moreover, being able to hear a busker or preacher at a local shop does not mean we are too loud.
It was clear that for at least one of the police officers, the problem they had with the preaching was the message. They did not like hearing about sin or about Jesus. The police think that they can do things that they have no right to do. We were gathered lawfully for the preaching and they told us to move. So we have since charged one of these police officer’s with disturbing religious worship under the Criminal Code. Hopefully this will send a message to the Queensland Police Service that they should only act how they are legally allowed to act.
Despite all the events that took place, the gospel was preached and God was glorified.
To God be the glory!
This week we had a new amplifier, which was donated to us from the Corneloup family in Adelaide. We knew this amp would be much better than the one we had last week. So after praying together, we moved to our preaching spots. The one near the end of the mall was occupied by a busker, so we decided to use the other one. Preaching using the amplifier is especially good for those who ordinarily preach quite softly. Even they could be heard quite a distance away.
At one point, a person came up to me saying that they would like to use the spot we were at to do a circus show. I said we’d move only if the other spot we have been allocated is available. He came back reporting to us that the other spot is available and so we started moving down there.
When we arrived at the other spot, there was a busker there still with his stuff set up. He was the one he had been there all night. I spoke to him saying that he can’t stay there all night, for under their permit conditions they can only be in the one spot for 45 minutes. He argued that there were no other available spots, so he decided to stay there. I made a deal with him that we could have about half an hour of preaching here, and then he can resume doing his show there. He agreed.
Jeremy got up preaching first (without the amp). Another busker (who does not like Christianity) saw us preaching and became enraged that we were preaching there, for he claimed that was a usual busking spot. He didn’t believe us that we had been given a permit from the council to preach there. So he decided to call the police.
By the time the police arrived, I was preaching and they went over to speak to the angry busker. Then the police (four of them) came over and spoke to me. They said that we had to turn our amplifier off because they claimed that someone at a nearby coffee shop left the coffee shop because they didn’t want to listen to our preaching. I mentioned to them that our permit allows us to use an amplifier. They asked to see the permit, I replied, “Ok, but what is your name first?” The police officer that was speaking to me refused to give me her name and purposely covered up her name badge so I couldn’t see it. She then said that the council local law officers are just minutes away so they’ll just wait for them.
Once the council arrived, they had a chat to the police and then came over to us. They said to turn our amplifier down a bit because of a condition on our permit is that noise cannot unnecessarily go to nearby shops. We said that we’d comply, but we’re not going to turn our amp off as the police said we had to. The police then denied they ever said that. They were clearly lying. The police are supposed to uphold justice, how can they do that if they lie about what they said?
We continued preaching, but then the busker who doesn’t like Christianity started setting up his amp right opposite us in the mall and playing his music really loud. He was basically drowning us out, so we had to move to our other location, which was available again.
The rest of the team had lots of good conversations and handed out lots of gospel tracts.
To God be the glory!
Since the permit we have been given from the council allows us to preach in Cavill Mall from 7pm-10pm, tonight we decided that we would aim to arrive at Surfers at 7pm. Usually the team starts at 8pm and goes till 11pm. This proved to be quite difficult for most people on the team, so it was closer to 8pm by the time basically everyone on the team had arrived.
But with those of us that did manage to arrive by about 7pm, we prayed together and got straight into it. The first spot right at the bottom of the Mall was occupied by a busker and so we went to the other spot in the middle of the Mall. Then John started off the preaching. There were lots of people around tonight and therefore the background noise meant that it was very difficult to hear John.
At about 8pm, Jeremy arrived with his small PA system. So we set that up and I stood up on the soapbox and started preaching with it. The PA did amplify my voice, but I found I still had to shout into the microphone for it to really work. One other downside of using a microphone is that people are less likely to heckle, since they know that they don’t have a microphone. But with that said, a guy did come right up to me and I was able to have a discussion with him in the open air, and I was able to put the microphone in front of him when he spoke, so that the audience could hear his responses too.
After I stood down from preaching, Jeremy got up a preached without the microphone. He thought that without it he would be louder. Only a few minutes later, he had quite a number of people asking him questions, focusing on “How can Jesus be the only way?”
At this point, one of the Gold Coast council local law compliance officer’s that was telling us last week that we still can’t hand out gospel tracts on public land said, “You know how we were having that argument last week about the handing out of those things, and well, I was wrong. I sought clarification and it is perfectly fine for anyone to hand out those materials.” Praise God! Now the local law officers shouldn’t bother us anymore!
I then asked him, “So then, doesn’t that throw out the basis for the fines we have received?” He said, “Yeah, well I don’t deal with those. That’s someone else’s responsibility.” This local law officer was one of them that fined us the very first time back in August last year. It was good on him for acknowledging that he was wrong to say that we couldn’t hand out gospel tracts.
Hopefully now the fines will be dropped, because surely they wouldn’t want to bring us to court over them, now that we have had so much correspondence from the council saying that it’s okay to hand out gospel tracts on council land (and that was the very thing we were fined for!).
After Jeremy preached, Blake got up and used the PA and preached the gospel faithfully. During this time, I checked out the other location to see if it was now unoccupied. The other spot is brighter and busier and so is the preferred location. And I found no busker there and so I communicated to Blake that we should move to the other spot and so after a little while he finished up and we all moved to the new location.
At the new location, I decided I would preach again and within minutes there were quite a number of hecklers about me. I ran through some of the 10 Commandments with them, in order to bring the knowledge of sin to their minds, and then I told them about the punishment that God will pour out on people for their sin. This then led onto the great news of the cross – how forgiveness is through Jesus if we are to repent and trust in His sacrifice on the cross as the only reason that we’ll go to Heaven. A lot of the hecklers understood the message but openly admitted that they would rather keep on sinning than come to Christ. It is really sad when I hear that, but yet at the same time, everyone by nature is exactly the same. By nature, we loved our sin more than God, and yet God did not abandon humanity, He sent Jesus to die for the sins of the elect. Praise be to Him!
A crowd of about 50 people gathered around to listen to the preaching and they stayed for quite some time. In fact, once 10pm rolled around there was still a large crowd gathered and most wanted me to continue, but we couldn’t do so at that spot because our permit runs out at 10pm.
After this, the rest of the team got into conversations with the people standing there, and a young bloke came up to me asking me some questions. His name was Liam and he was telling me about his mum and how she has had cancer for two years. He used to be very active in the Church, but since the cancer he has become angry at God and is now living a lifestyle of sin. He was asking why God hasn’t taken the pain away that his mum is experiencing. His whole Church was praying for it too, and so he was shocked that God still hadn’t done it. So I explained to him about the natural consequence of living in this world is that even Christians experience the effects of the Fall, and that is pain and death. I then spoke about how God can do what he wants and is not compelled to heal someone simply because a group of people are praying for that person, and about how God will have a good purpose in letting it continue (even though we don't know what it is). I then spoke about the hope that he can have during this time, that since his mum is a believer, if she does die, it is simply the Lord taking her home.
I then addressed this man’s problem. After asking how someone gets to Heaven, it was clear that this bloke didn’t understand the gospel. So I began sharing it with him – but he didn’t like hearing it. In fact, at one point he said that he just had God tell him that I should stop talking to him and instead I should be sharing the Word with other people. I expressed my doubts to him about that ‘revelation’ that he had just received. The Bible is our source of revelation from God, and the Bible says I am to preach the gospel to everyone – that includes this man, as he did not understand the right way to be saved.
After sharing the gospel with him, he ended the conversation saying that he won’t repent of his sins and trust in Christ. Please pray for him, that God will soften his heart towards the gospel.
There were 22 people on the team tonight. Praise God for each of these people and the zeal He has given them. Lots of gospel tracts were handed out and many wonderful witnessing conversations had.
To God be the glory!
After the events of last week – with Joshua being arrested – one may find it hard to believe that tonight would be completely opposite to last week. But it was. Just earlier in the day, the Gold Coast City Council finally gave to us a permit to preach in the mall. The permit allows us to use a PA system and covers both Friday and Saturday nights. Praise God for how He works!
The funny thing is that on the permit itself it makes a distinction between material that contains Biblical messages and material classed as business advertising publications. Yet the majority of the fines that we have received from the council have been classed under ‘Business Advertising Publications’, and yet in all those instances where we were fined, it was for handing out gospel tracts – that is, material that contains messages from the Bible!
So it seems absurd that the council would still take us to court for these fines. Yet the latest we have heard from them about it is that they will be. They estimate it will go to court in late March-early April.
The council has recently notified us that they have dropped two of the fines because of incorrect fining. Both of these fines were for preaching. The rest of the fines (compromising almost entirely of fines for handing out gospel tracts) they are still pursuing. They said that after a person elects to have their fine heard in court, it usually takes only about 4-6 weeks before that happens. Our fines were all the way back in August-September last year and yet we are still waiting for them to bring us to court.
I think they won’t actually bring us to court - for the whole reason they did it in the first place, I suspect, was simply to intimidate us – hoping that we would stop our outreaches. That is why they made sure to fine us the maximum amount they could – $375 each. But I could be wrong, they may take us to court and if that happens, it should be an easy win.
This evening I was actually running late, so when I arrived everyone was already witnessing in Cavill Mall. When I arrived, we set up at one of the preaching spots allocated to us and I stood up and preached. We didn’t have an amp with us this week, but hopefully by next week we should.
Next preacher up was Blake, who after only a short while had a bunch of hecklers. This attracted a sizable crowd and so Blake made sure to preach the news about the death and resurrection of Jesus faithfully. While he was preaching, the council local law officers came up to me and they were happy that we finally have a permit. That actually surprised me that they’d react like that.
The permit only goes until 10pm and so as that time was approaching, Blake stood down and we moved to outside the mall. Ryan Francis then got up to preach – he spoke about the need everyone has for the Saviour. For God has appointed a Day of Judgement to come – and the only way to be forgiven of our sins is by trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross and repenting. After this, I then preached again till the end of the evening.
The council local law officers saw us handing out gospel tracts and said that we can't do it. I said that when I met with council this week, they said to hand out gospel tracts is to not break any of their local laws. In fact, they even said preaching anywhere outside the mall is fine too. So we kept doing it and they didn't fine us.
Praise God for His faithfulness and opening up the opportunity for us to preach in the Mall. Ideally, permits shouldn’t be required for that to happen, but regardless thanks be to God for the permit.
While all this preaching was going on, the rest of the team was faithfully witnessing one2one with people and handing out lots of gospel tracts. Please pray that God will grant repentance to all who heard or read the gospel this evening.
We had about 16 people on the team tonight – maybe the largest it has ever been. It is great to see how the Lord has been raising up new labours all the time to share his Word.
Ryan Francis started the preaching for the evening and did a great job proclaiming the Biblical message about our sin, the coming judgement, and the greatness of the Saviour. After about 20 minutes of preaching he tagged Joshua Corneloup in. Joshua has a very loud voice, which enabled more people to hear the message.
After about fifteen minutes, the council local law compliance officers that were on duty for the evening came up to Joshua and asked him for his ID. Joshua explained that he didn’t have any on him. But the council did not seem to believe him and so they said they were going to get the police.
Once the police arrived (two officers), they came up to Joshua and said, “Can I see some ID on you? Mate pull it out.” At this Joshua honestly responds that he doesn’t have any on him. He said the council will be giving Joshua a ticket. Joshua repeats that he doesn’t have ID on him. The Senior Constable then said that he will be coming to the police station.
The Senior Constable then started grabbing Joshua with both his hands, and then attempted to steal the camera off him. At this Joshua says, “No, you are not having my camera mate.” Both police officers then grabbed Joshua, and so Joshua then gave the camera he was holding to me and I gave it then on to Jeremy. One of the police officers then pulls hand cuffs from his back pocket and looked like he was going to put them on Joshua, but he ended up not doing that.
The police asked for Joshua’s name and he gave it immediately. The Senior Constable then said, “You’re coming to the station with me.” Joshua asks if he is forced to come. The Senior Constable responds, “You are under arrest.” Joshua asks, “Am I under arrest?” The Senior Constable says again, “You are under arrest.”
At this point both police officers manhandled Joshua down Cavill Ave then onto Orchid Ave. Once on Orchid Ave, Joshua says, “You’re hurting my arm.” The Senior Constable did not respond and so Joshua repeats what he said. Then he said, “That’s hurting my arm.” The Senior Constable said, “Walk!”
Joshua said that he didn’t want to be forced to walk. The Senior Constable then hit Joshua’s arm very firmly and shouted at him, “Stop resisting! Stop resisting or you will be thrown in the watch house.” The police officers then put him a against a wall, the badgeless officer then let go of him but the Senior Constable still had Joshua’s arm twisted behind his back. The way the officer forced his arm to go did seem very painful.
The badgeless police officer pulled to the side, indicating to the Senior Constable that he wanted to speak to him. But the Senior Constable did not move, saying something about the fact that we were filming. So the badgeless police officer walked over to the Senior Constable and whispered something to him. And then I heard him say to the Senior Constable, “Just come over here.”
The Senior Constable responded by saying, “No he’s fine. We’ll take him back to the station.” The other officer said, “You sure?” The Senior Constable responded, “Yep, I am happy with that.” The other officer said, “Ok, if you’re happy.” They then proceeded to manhandle him again towards the police station. At this point, Joshua instructs Jeremy and I to leave now. The Senior Constable then points to Jeremy and shouts, “Oi, you there! Come here! Come here!” and starts moving fast towards Jeremy.
The police officer then grabs Jeremy’s arm and says, “Give me the camera. If he wants to sue me, he can use that camera as evidence!” Jeremy tried giving me the camera, however at that point the police officer then starts very forcibly grabbing his other arm and then proceeded to snatch the camera out of Jeremy’s hand. The Senior Constable then gave Jeremy a very forceful shove on his chest.
At this point, I feared for my own safety. If a police officer used that much force to get the video camera off Jeremy, I thought I was next, because I was still filming with my camera at this point in time. I didn’t want the footage on my camera to be erased as well.
The Senior Constable then tried to temper with the camera, most likely in order to delete it. He then proceeded to talk with Jeremy for the next ten minutes, while the other officer held Joshua’s arms. As the minutes went on, more police officers arrived so that there were now six officers around Joshua. After about ten minutes of waiting around there, two undercover police officers then manhandled Joshua to the police station.
In the end, Joshua was released without charge and was fined $375 by the council for preaching. We had a chat to the local law compliance officers after all this and they insisted that preaching is forbidden on all of the Gold Coast council’s land. It says nowhere in their such a thing, it just seems to be these particular council workers that really do not like the gospel.
After this, I started preaching back on Cavill Ave and the council officers just walked past and did nothing. After walking past a few times, they commented to Trevor that they won’t fine me because I already have a fine that is still to go to court. I don’t think that’s the real reason. The real reason is because they know that to preach the gospel on public land is to not break any of their own local laws.
With all the hassles, the gospel was still preached and many people received gospel tracts. So to God be the glory!
It was looking to be a very busy night, as it was very difficult to find a car park. We ended up having to park about a kilometre away from Cavill Ave. However while we were walking towards Cavill, it started to rain. I knew this would make things a bit quieter, but after 5 minutes the rain subsided.
When we arrived we found the rest of the team and then we all prayed together. Prayer is very important in evangelism, because salvation is completely the Lord’s work, not of any human effort. After concluding our prayer, we sought out a place to preach.
We chose a spot just outside of Cavill mall facing into it, and I got up to preach. However, after about only ten minutes of preaching, a busker with an amp set up nearby and started playing loud music. So we decided to move to the corner where Hard Rock Cafe is and start preaching there. However, soon after, rain starting tumbling down again, resulting in us moving undercover to preach.
At this point we did see the council law local officers on duty, but they did not approach us. After realising that the spot we were at undercover was very quiet, we decided to move a busier spot. The spot was great and quite a few people were stopping to listening to the preaching. But after a while, a security guard who in past weeks has repeatedly tried to stop the message of the gospel proceeding told us to move away. But the thing is that we were not even in the front of the shop that he was guarding. But to prevent a scene, we moved a few metres further away from him.
The council numerous times saw us and walked straight past us. Usually they come up and threatened to fine us if we continue handing out gospel tracts and preaching on public land. We always do continue, since we are not breaking the law, and for months now even though they do see us continue, they haven’t fined us.
After I stepped down from the soapbox, John and then Ryan Francis got up to preach. While Ryan was preaching, a large crowd was starting to gather and quite a few people listening had questions. So Ryan was able to answer their questions and then direct the discussion back to the gospel. That if a person is to repent and trust in Christ’s death alone for their forgiveness, they would be forgiven.
Questions that kept getting raised from hecklers included, “How do you know the Bible hasn’t been changed? What about other religions?” etc.
Many gospel tracts were also handed out by the rest of the team, resulting in some good conversations. Please pray that God will convert those who heard the gospel or received a tract this evening.
To God be the glory!
Bekk and I were running quite a bit late tonight, but thankfully Trevor was there and was able to lead the team in prayer and then get stuck into the outreach. So when Bekk and I arrived, John was already preaching. The team let me know that the council had already gone past threatening to come back and fine those handing out tracts on council land.
Not too long later, two council local law compliance officers came back and started talking to a few members of the team. They were simply saying that handing out gospel tracts on council land is to distribute business advertising publications. However, that is simply not true. So we simply kept handing out tracts like we had been doing.
The gospel is not anything that can be sold, bought, traded or used for commercial purposes. The gospel is the message about the death of Jesus who died on the cross to forgive the sins of all those who would repent and believe, then rose from the dead on the third day. It is good news that everyone needs to hear. Anyone who tries to stop the message of the gospel being spread will have to give an account of their actions on the day of Judgement. The Scripture says “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)
During this whole time, John was still preaching – speaking about the great news of the cross. He ended up preaching for about two hours! Praise God for the passion God has given him for the gospel.
At this point I decided I would preach, but do it about 40 metres from where we were. For the area is brightly light and the awnings are a bit higher. I started preaching on Mark 4 where Jesus calmed the storm – in light of the recent floods in Brisbane, I spoke about how there is someone who has control over all the nature – Jesus.
After only a few minutes, there were a few people heckling me. One women in particular was arguing that Christianity is simply a copy of existing religions prior to it. This is not a new argument; I hear it quite often from atheists. The way they try and argue it is to point to similarities between Christianity and other religions before it, and then they say ‘See it must have been copied!’
So I responded to this lady by pointing out that there are hardly many similarities between Christianity and prior pagan religions. The claims of similarities are often based upon some traditions that now tied with Christianity – eg: there being 3 wise men, or Jesus being born on the 25th December – which they allege is similar to other religions. But the thing is that none of those things are actually mentioned in the Bible, they are just Christian tradition.
I then provided another argument that even if I granted her premise that there were some similarities between Christianity and prior pagan religions, the question needs to be asked, “What exactly does that prove?” Does it prove that Christianity must have copied from these other religions? No not at all. Similarity does not prove copying. I gave an example of two textbooks that might have very similar content, yet it doesn’t mean they copied from each other. They might have just done the same experiments, bringing up the same results and thus have the same conclusions.
This lady knew her basis for not believing Christianity was crumbling, so she quickly walked away. But this discussion did cause a quite large crowd to gather, so I was then able to preach the gospel to them all. The lady returned a bit later, and tried arguing the same point again, but to no real avail.
There were all sorts of other questions that other people brought up. I would respond to them and then direct the discussion back to how we have all sinned, and so deserve Hell forever, but Jesus died on the cross for all those who would repent and believe.
When speaking about sin, I would mention some of God’s laws – using it to bring the knowledge of sin to people. But what I find really interesting that in Australia, since we have such a drinking culture, whenever people hear that God says drunkenness is a sin, most Aussie’s are shocked. They wonder how on Earth God could forbid it. So many people in this country have, as the Apostle Paul states, “seared their conscience with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2). I pray that God will grant many Aussie’s repentance and faith before it’s too late.
After preaching for about an hour, I stood down from preaching and as a team we prayed together to finish off the night.
Monday 22nd November 2010
Today was the first day of Schoolies Outreach – the outreach where we spend a week evangelising at the Gold Coast during the year 12 end-of-school celebrations. For it, 5 of us booked a unit nearby to stay for the week.
After arriving at our unit, we headed out to the streets of Surfers Paradise at 7:30pm. There we met up with a few other people who were joining us for that night’s outreach. Once we had prayed together, we went out to our usual spot to hand out gospel tracts and do some preaching.
It was very busy, and as the night progressed it got even busier. Just after 9pm I decided to do some preaching, but there was so much ambient noise that it was extremely hard to be heard. There were a few people who stopped to listen, and I was able to bring them through the good person test. For them to hear me though, I had to speak very loudly, which was straining my voice. So only after about 20 minutes I stood down.
I had really good conversation with a Schoolie named Mark. I asked him first up whether he thought he would go to Heaven. He thought he would. So I asked him whether he had broke some of the commandments – like lying, stealing, using God’s name in vain, and lust. He had. I pointed out that the punishment for sin (even just one sin) is eternity in Hell. This concerned him, and so he commented, “How can I get to Heaven then, as I have had sex outside of marriage?” I then told him of the death of Jesus, how He died on the cross taking the punishment for our sins. I then instructed him that the way of forgiveness is by repenting (turning from sin) and trusting that it is only the death of Jesus why he can go to Heaven.
That all made sense to him, so I asked, “When are you going to repent and trust in Jesus?” He said he would go back to his hotel tonight and really ponder what he heard.
A few hours later I saw him again and he said to me, “What you’ve said is really stuck on my mind. I am heading home now, I’m going to repent tonight.” Please pray for Mark that his profession of faith may be genuine.
We handed out about 3,000 gospel tracts tonight between us all, and ended up heading home just past 1am. Even at that hour there were plenty of people still about.
Tuesday 23rd November 2010
After sleeping in, we headed back out on the streets at about 1:30pm. As we arrived at Cavill Ave, we saw the local law officers that were on duty. We prayed together and started handing out gospel tracts. During the day time, there are many schoolies about and most of them are bored and so they are willing to talk.
Not too long after starting to hand out gospel tracts, one of the local law officers came up to me, saying, “You know you are not allowed to hand out those.” I responding by saying that gospel tracts do not constitute ‘business advertising publications’, as they like to say it does. They said that they’ll come back later and if they see us still doing it, they’ll fine us.
We knew we were not breaking the law, but for convenience sake we decided to go on to private land to hand them out. This area had been recommended to us by a number of the local law officers over the past few weeks. The local law officers came back and saw us handing them out on private land, and although they could not touch us there, they decided to be annoying. They called up the centre management (the ones that own the land) and told them that we were handing out things on their land. They then went up to the security guard on duty nearby to get him to tell us to stop doing it.
At this point, we decided that it would be worthwhile simply having conversations with people, without using tracts to get into them. This worked very well, so we kept doing this for about an hour.
After going back to the unit for dinner, we returned to the streets at 7:50pm armed with thousands of gospel tracts. The ones were using mostly were the Good Aussie cards and the Big Money notes. I find that the Big Money notes work really well at special events, and so they were going out like hotcakes at schoolies.
At one stage, the local law officers that were on duty that night (they were different from the day time) came up to us instructing us to go on to private property to hand the tracts. I informed them that the local law officers that were on duty during the daytime did all they could to get us off private property. They were surprised and said they will have to look into that. But they said that we can’t hand out gospel tracts on public land. I asked them, “What exactly is wrong with them?” They firstly said, “Because it has a website on there.” So I asked, “If I take the website off, would it be allowed?” They said, “No, because what it comes down to is that you are still promoting something.” I said, “We are promoting the gospel of Jesus and you don’t pay for it.” They said, “That’s right, and you can’t do that on public land.”
Can’t promote the gospel on public land? Where have the freedoms gone that citizens of this country have always possessed? This council is overstepping the laws of this land and even their local laws. For there is no local law forbidding promoting in general. Under their local laws only promoting business, commercial and trade activities are forbidden without a permit. Yet they think that promoting the gospel is one of those activities? That is very hard to see.
We simply kept on talking to people and handing out tracts and the council didn’t do anything.
Wednesday 24th November 2010
Like yesterday, we decided to head out on the streets in the afternoon for a few hours and then to return at night time. As we were walking from our car, we saw the local law officers in their car driving past us, and we waved to each other. Once we reached Cavill Ave, we prayed together and then started having conversations with people like we were yesterday.
That night, I had an interesting conversation with a Pentecostal guy who had just gone to a Church service at Surf City (the local Pentecostal Church). From the outset, he was like shouting at me and standing really close, and so I asked him whether he was drunk. He said that he hadn’t had any drinks tonight. He then began to tell me of all this new revelation he has received from God, and I expressed my doubts to him about that really being from God. For God has given us the Bible, and in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 it says that the Scriptures are everything we need to be equipped for every good work. This man at this point started getting angry and then began speaking in gibberish and moving in a very erratic way. For the whole conversation he was spitting as he spoke, and as he got angry it got worse.
Then he began swearing and blaspheming. So I said to him that he should not say those things, for the Bible says that no unwholesome language is to come out of your mouth (Ephesians 4:29). He responded by saying that he can say and do whatever he wants and God doesn’t care. I told him he needs to repent, for Jesus said “Unless you repent you will perish” (Luke 13:3). I asked him again, “Are you drunk?” He said yes this time. “So you lied before?” I asked him. He said, “So?”
This really set him off. He began getting really angry, he started swearing more and said, “How can you judge me? You can’t judge me!” I said, “Yes, I can. In fact, I am commanded by God to judge you. It says in 1 Corinthians 5 that you are to judge a man who says he is a Christian and is not living accordingly.” At this point he was really angry, and he was not far off hitting me. But right at that point, a security guard who heard the man getting angry came to him and told him to move on. He said, “Leave these guys alone, they are just trying to share their beliefs.”
Thursday 25th November 2010
The schedule for Thursday was the same as the previous days, a few hours of outreach in the afternoon and then more outreach from 7:50pm in the evening till after 1am. The time we were leaving each night was getting progressive later and later each day, because even past 1am, it is still very busy. All of the official Schoolies concerts have finished for the night by that time, but the Schoolies just seemed to linger about for quite a while after that.
With the Big Money gospel tracts we were handing out, I found that quite often people would simply see me holding them and ask for one them. Usually they would then ask what it is about, and so that was a great opening to share the gospel with them.
Please keep Rio in your prayers. I was able to share the gospel with him this night and it really impacted him. Please pray that he repents and trusts in the death of Jesus alone for his salvation.
Friday 26th November 2010
When we were out on the streets during the afternoon, we encountered some Jehovah’s Witnesses. They thought that what we were doing is good, despite our differences in theology. That wasn’t reciprocated by us, as 2 John says that someone does not abide in the doctrine of Jesus, they do not have the Father. For the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus is God, instead they believe He is Michael the Archangel.
As soon as they heard that we believe Jesus is God, they instantly brought up their stock standard response to John 1:1, even before we mentioned that verse. They try and argue that the verse is lacking the definite article before the word for ‘God’, therefore they say Jesus is only ‘a God’ and not the God.
However, what is wrong with that interpretation is that it ignores the rule in Greek that if everyone knows what thing you are referring to, you do not need to supply the definite article. Every Jew reading the gospel of John knew that there was only one God, therefore John did not need to supply the definite article.
What really shows the Watchtower’s hypocrisy in their New World Translation (the Jehovah’s Witness Bible) is that only 5 verses later in John 1, the word for ‘God’ is there without a definite article and they do not render it ‘a God’ there, instead it is simply rendered ‘God’. These 2 guys had no idea how to respond to this.
I then pointed to John 8:58 which says: ‘Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”’ The Pharisee’s hearing Jesus’ statement would immediately know what he was referring to, and that is the burning bush back in Exodus. When Moses asked God, “Who should I say to Pharaoh has sent me?” God responds with, “Say to Pharaoh, ‘I AM has sent you’.” Therefore we know from that Old Testament background that when Jesus says that He is the I AM in John 8:58, He is proclaiming to be the very God of the Old Testament. This is further confirmed by the reaction of the Pharisee’s, verse 59a says: “So they picked up stones to throw at him.” Why? Because if you said that you were God in those days, you were stoned to death.
These 2 JW’s were stumped; they had no idea how to respond. We stressed the importance to them of getting it right as to who Jesus really is. At least one of them, we could tell, from our conversation was questioning the validity of the New World Translation. Please pray for the two gentlemen that God would open their hearts to receive the true gospel message.
After the conversation, Anne-Marie made the point that cults seem to do apologetics training so that their members are trained in how to respond to objections. Yet why is it that most Christian Churches do not offer apologetics training for their whole congregation? Especially since we have the truth! That’s just some food for thought.
At night we had a large team out that we decided to split into a few different locations in Cavill Ave. The Friday night is the last night of Schoolies, so it is the night where everyone goes out to Cavill Ave to celebrate for one last chance. It was very busy, so gospel tracts were flying out left, right and centre.
The local law officers that were on warned us that we cannot hand out gospel tracts on public land. I chatted with them a bit and they said the central reason why we can’t do is because it is still the handing out of something, even though it is the gospel on there. The council themselves have been so inconsistent this week. Some officers saying we can’t do it on private land, while the rest encouraged us to do it on private land. Some officers say it is wrong because it’s promoting something, others say it is because it is the handing out of something. Which one is it?
After chatting with them a bit, they warned us that if they found us still doing it when they returned, they would fine us. We simply kept doing it and they saw us and did nothing. The other council local law officers that were on tonight walked past us and one of them said to his partner, “They’re only handing out gospel tracts” and they walked straight past.
Later on, I had a chat with a girl who works for the Worship Centre in Carina. She had an understanding of the gospel, but was wearing a shirt that had a basically naked woman on it. I told her that she should not be wearing that sort of shirt as it can cause people to stumble. And Jesus warned that it would be better if a millstone was tied around the neck of a person and they were thrown into the sea than they cause a Christian to stumble (Luke 17:2). She said, “It wouldn’t cause anyone to stumble and I don’t really care”. To try and prove her point, she said she would come back after she had asked a sample of guys whether her shirt invoked lust.
She did return later with some of her friends from her Church. They were saying that the Bible is wrong in many areas. They tried naming a few areas, but none were any real contradictions. They then asked what I thought about homosexuality. I said that the Bible clearly states it is a sin. They all got angry that I would suggest that. Then they started saying that people don’t need to get legally married to have sex with someone. I warned them that they needed to repent and trust in Christ to be forgiven. Because no real Christian can live in an open lifestyle of sin.
It was a great week of outreach at Schoolies. By the end of it, my voice was clearly strained from talking so much. Plus this is due to the fact that on the streets because it was so noisy we’d have to speak loud just to be heard even in a one2one conversation. We handed out over 10,000 gospel tracts between us and many great conversations were had.
To God be the glory!
Tonight was very busy at the Gold Coast. There were no special events on; there were just lots of people about. The team met together at 8pm, spent a bit of time fellowshipping and then we prayed. The two council local law compliance officers that were on duty came up to us and said “Hello”. They then asked us where we would be preaching tonight. We said we’d go in the middle of the Mall where we were last week. They responded, “Ah it will be quiet night for us tonight then. We’ll have to try find some other people to fine then.” Then they walked away.
We moved to the preaching spot and I stood up to preach first. I spoke about goals – how some people have it their primary focus in life to get that next promotion, that next car, that next house. Others focus on finishing that university degree, or completing school. Many people all that they do is focus on things that do not have eternal value. They neglect to think about things that really matter – such as where they will go when they die. I then went on to speaking about the judgment that is to come, and the fact that our sin makes all of us deserving of eternal condemnation in Hell. But that then lead itself into the cross, how Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. But to receive this forgiveness, a person must repent and believe the gospel.
There were a few hecklers that asked a number of questions. Such as, “What is wrong with sex outside of marriage, I thought it was for procreation?” and “Why are there different religions?” I responded to these questions and a decent-sized crowd began to form. I was also able to bring a few people through the good person test.
After I got down from the soap box, John got up and faithfully preached for about an hour. During this time, the rest of team were handing out gospel tracts all around the area. At one stage, the council local law officers came to where we were and sat down to have a drink at the restaurant nearby. They were watching what we were doing. We were wondering whether they would come up and fine us for handing out gospel tracts, for we were not doing that on private property. But they didn’t do anything. Praise God!
As the night rolled on, Cavill Mall just seemed to die. It was no longer bustling as it was earlier in the evening. So we decided to move down the bottom of the mall to continue to hand out tracts for the last 20 minutes of the outreach where there were more people.
Once in the new area, I handed out some tracts to a group of young blokes and started up a conversation with them. These guys seemed not to care about the fact that they deserve eternal torment. The loudest of the group had many things to say, and I was able to respond to the questions he had. This conversation lasted about 20 minutes, and I made sure to point the guys to Christ for forgiveness of their sins.
At this point, we came around as a group again and I closed the night in prayer. However, Trevor and Des were still chatting to a young man. While I was praying, one of the blokes I was chatting to came over and listened in as we were praying, occasionally mocking. At the conclusion of the prayer, Rick and Glenda continued to witness to the man for about 20 more minutes, while I was able to speak one on one with another person in the group I had been chatting to. He had a number of questions such as, “If we are all from Adam & Eve, how are there people with different skin colour today?”
After all this, most of the team departed for home. However, Trevor stayed on chatting to the same man he had been talking to, and then another that joined in, till 2am in the morning. The man was suicidal and so Trevor was able to calm him down and point him to Christ for forgiveness of his sins.
To God be the glory!