Operation 513 London Report (23rd April 2010)
Leicester Square in London continues to be our location of choice for sharing the Gospel with as many people as we can. Friday night was some night indeed. Arriving in the Square we opened in prayer and then set about getting ready.
As he has done in recent weeks Barney stood up to give a little intro before I stepped up to preach. As he was preaching some men in the crowd stopped to mock and sneer and poke fun at what Barney was saying. I was standing right next to them at the time and perhaps they were a little surprised when I stepped up to preach after Barney had finished. No sooner had I said a few words that one of the men who had mocked Barney starting to fly into a tirade of insults and abuse. He was incredibly rude and foul mouthed and was intent on doing nothing but attacking me and the message I was proclaiming. He could see that I had a Bible in my hand and began making wild accusations against the Bible, even though by that time I hadn’t even quoted a verse. It soon became very difficult to preach since he began to stir up the crowd against what I was saying, or at least was trying to say. It made me think of the book of Acts and the many times that the Jews stirred up the crowd against the apostles. This seemed no different. About twenty minutes in my Assistant Pastor, Stuart, arrived and his timing was impeccable. We were a bit thin on the ground and to have another man on the team was a great help. By this time I couldn’t continue preaching and so we all began to engage with people in one-to-one conversations.
The conversations remained heated as there were many people in the crowd that had become part of the “anger mob.” We all did our best to be gentle, but also firm. I personally had to defend my ground quite strongly and when someone squares right up to you, you can’t help wondering what his next reaction is going to be. There were police in the Square, which is normal, but I don’t think these chaps cared much about that. It was St. Georges Day as well, which is England’s National Day. Friday nights always result in alcohol consumption, but I think this night meant an even greater amount. I think this added to the fire. It struck me that I wasn’t scared at all. I certainly don’t say that to boast, but it is something I can honestly say. I had guys around me that were anything but peaceable, yet I had a sure confidence that God was with me and that should I take a beating then so be it. This was front line Gospel work and when we engage the world with the Gospel we shouldn’t be surprised when we meet with hostility. Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
As the evening progressed we all started to get the upper hand in our conversations, in the sense that we were able to diffuse the situation as we spoke calmly and firmly with people. I was called all things under the sun for believing there is a God, but I responded by showing them how foolish they were for believing that blind chance somehow engineered the universe we live in. They didn’t like it when I called them foolish but I think they were starting to see that we had some backbone and that we did have answers to the accusations they were mounting against us. Towards the end of the evening I got talking with a chap called Neil. He came up to me and said that he was part of the crowd that mocked and laughed at me in the beginning, but actually he really respected me for standing up and making a stand for what I believed in. He had grown up Catholic and had a lot of questions he wanted to ask. As we were talking his friend came up and started to be a real obstacle to our conversation. I have seen this so many times before. You will get one person who is genuinely interested but a friend they are with serves to be nothing more than a hindrance. What was quite interesting to see though was Neil coming against his friend, pleading with him to let me speak. At one point he said to his friend something very true: “If there is no God, why do we have good and evil, right and wrong? Where did that even come from?” I stood there marvelling. Here was a chap who wasn’t born-again, yet he could reason rationally enough to make this conclusion. I continued to talk with Neil for some time. He had many questions so I took his email address and said that I would contact him so that we could continue our conversation. I have since done so but he has not yet emailed me back, do pray that he would so that I can continue sharing with him God’s truth.
It was certainly some night. I can say on a personal level this is probably the most anger and hatred I have ever experienced towards the preaching of the Gospel. Yet we rejoice! Jesus said: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).
Soli Deo Gloria!!