As a nation Scotland seems hardened to the Gospel. I've had the honour as an evangelist to preach in different parts of the world, and I've found Scotland to be one of the hardest places to minister the Gospel. Yet, despite its hardness I always find ministry in Scotland a joy. It is truly a privilege to proclaim Christ here, and to work with the Saints who labour for the Lord on a daily basis.
This trip saw me being invited to Perth by Craigie Reformed Baptist Church for the purpose of getting to know the church and to preach three times (once on Thursday, twice on Sunday). In between those preaching engagements I was able to meet up with two brothers (Noman, and Chris) from JeremiahCry ministries for the purpose of preaching the Gospel in the open-air
Friday - 10 May
It was a day of strange weather in Perth. It went from sunny to rain, to sun, and then to rain again. By the time the outreach began in the afternoon it was overcast and threatening to rain (by the end of the outreach it was raining!).
Chris, Noman and I all met up at 2pm; before starting the ministry we went to look at St. John's church in the city centre. This church was where the Scottish Reformer John Knox preached nearly 500 years ago. The sermon he preached was against the Popish mass and idolatry. After Knox finished his message a Romanist priest stood up and tried to force the people to partake of the blasphemous mass but a young boy opposed the Papist, which earned him a slap from the priest for his efforts. This set the crowd in the church aflame and a riot broke out in which all signs of Popery were destroyed. Today Knox is scorned by the Scots, and his memory is something they would desire to forget. The church made him out to be a crazy man challenging the established 'church'.
After a small time of church history we returned to the high street in order to preach the Gospel. We found an empty shop front so we set up in front of that and began to preach. I was the first preacher for the day. My text was John 8:34-86. I spoke about how the Scots considered themselves to be free, but then I asked, "What is true freedom?" From there I spoke about the issue of slavery and how we are all enslaved to sin.
The people were apathetic towards the gospel. Some people listened, some mocked, some laughed yet we rejoice because the Gospel went forth.
After I finished preaching Chris began to declare the Gospel. He did a great job in speaking about how we know that God exists, but we choose to reject him. As he preached I handed out a few tracts to those who walked by.
One lady who heard me preach walked up to me and said, "I feel sorry for your son, I hope the government takes him from you!" (I mentioned my son in the open-air). I replied, "I don't feel sorry for my son, as he gets many chances to hear of Jesus, I feel sorry for you as you reject him". The woman stormed off in a huff after that.
As I continued to hand out tracts I encountered a lady who smiled and said, "I don't need one of those, I am an Elder in the Church of Scotland". I ignored the fact that biblically a woman cannot be an elder, but instead asked, "That's nice, but are you born-again?" She just grunted and walked away.
By this stage Chris had finished preaching, and Noman was about to begin. Noman did a great job in declaring Christ. I went back to handing out tracts as Noman spoke.
Shortly after Noman spoke an angry Scotsman approached. He was ranting that Noman couldn't be preaching here as this was his 'patch'. He was furious that we would dare preach the Gospel in this location. I spoke to him, and pointed out that we wouldn't be moving, and that legally we could do what we were doing. The man pulled out his phone to call the police, but in the end just walked off in a rage.
Chris was handing out tracts also during this time. He offered a tract to a man who declined it by saying, "No thank-you, I'm an agnostic minister." Chris seemed a bit stunned at that answer, so I called out, "How's that working for you?" The agnostic minister replied, "It is working quite well", to which I replied, "Yeah, until you die." The man walked away. I have no idea why a person would want to be a Pastor if he didn't believe the Gospel. From a purely pragmatic perspective why would you take a job that has long hours, and low pay if you don't believe?
By this stage the rain began to fall. As Noman finished preaching I offered a tract to a lady in her 80's and also her daughter with her. The older lady gladly took it, and said she would read it, but the daughter stopped and asked, "What is it?" I told her it spoke about the good news concerning Jesus. The daughter smiled, took the tract off her mum, then gave it back to me saying, "No thank-you. We follow the Good Book, but not Jesus." With that they turned and left.
Perth is such a hard city for Gospel ministry. There is such a potential here, but the labourers are few. Pray that the Lord will raise up and send workers into Perth to declare the message of Christ.
Saturday - 11 May
Something I've learnt about Scotland is that you cannot trust the weather! The day started off fine and sunny in Perth, but by the time I reached Glasgow (an hour away) it was cold, wet and windy. I was very thankful that I left my jacket in the car!
I met up with Chris and Noman again. This time the plan was to preach the Gospel in Buchanan Street (one of the busiest streets in Europe).
Noman started off the preaching. Rain gently fell as he preached, yet God was pleased to draw in a good size crowd and also some hecklers.
While Noman preached I had a good conversation with a man named James. James said that he had become a Christian a few years ago after an accident. This accident seriously hurt him, but he had come to forgive God, for he now knows that God wasn't able to stop the accident. I spent some time talking to James about the sovereignty of God, and how God controls all things. We then went on to talk about the attributes of God, which in turn led to the Gospel.
James acknowledged that salvation was by God's grace alone, and that one couldn't earn forgiveness. Yet, he still thought he wasn't a sinner, but rather he was a good person. Sadly, James had come to Christ for a little bit extra, and not as Lord and Saviour.
I reasoned with James from the Scripture and urged him to repent and seek the Lord. He took a tract and said that he would be reading his Bible after our talk. Please pray for him.
After Noman finished preaching Chris stood to preach. An atheist heckler began to let fly at Chris, but Chris was able to answer his objections by showing the atheist had built his argument upon a faulty foundation. During this time some Muslim hecklers began to challenge Chris. Chris responded to their claims by pointing out that if they were consistent Muslims, then they would become Christians.
Chris reasoned with them for a time, and presented the Gospel. He then finished the discussion and it came time for me to preach. Before I could begin these same Muslim hecklers began to engage me. I spoke to them about the Gospel and they asked if I thought Islam was wrong. I replied that I did think Islam was wrong. They asked if I thought it was of God, I said it wasn't of God, but rather the Bible says that Islam is demonic.
As I was talking I was interrupted by two members of the police. These officers approached and asked if we had been preaching. We replied that we had. We were then informed that people had been offended so we need to tone it down, they also said we were too loud. While they were doing this an atheist walked up to the police and told them that they should leave us alone as we have free speech. It is always nice when hecklers defend the preaching.
We asked the police officers to tell us what law we had broken (they couldn't), and we also asked, how does someone determine if something is too loud. The officers just kept saying, "Someone said it was too loud." We pointed out that we weren't preaching when they arrived, and that they had no way of knowing if we were too loud or not. They agreed, and said, "But a complaint has been made." We spoke about this for sometime, and we pointed out that the law was subjective, and not based on any legal basis. The officers agreed.
The police then spoke about how people were offended at our preaching. The two Muslim hecklers had complained and as such we were warned that if we said anything that offended Islam or Homosexuals we would be arrested. We asked what law said that, and again they couldn't tell us. I asked one officer, "If I say, the Bible says homosexuality is wrong, and I quote the Scripture, would I be arrested?" The police officer replied by saying he would arrest me for saying that, as it went against the lifestyle's of some people. I pointed out that the reasoning behind that statement meant that we could never say anything was wrong, since people live in different lifestyles, I also pointed out that he couldn't say we were wrong, as our lifestyle says we must preach. The officer again said the law is subjective.
I pointed out that in a court of law they would have a hard time convicting us since no law backed their position. He agreed, and said, "Perhaps you need to be arrested and then you can challenge the law." I replied by saying, "Okay, well get the handcuffs out, and we will challenge the law." The police officer seemed shocked, and they told me he wouldn't arrest us.
After about fifteen minutes of back and forth the police left. I recorded the whole conversation, so if anything happens it can be used as evidence.
When the police left, I stood and preached. I spoke from John 3 and dealt with the issue of why people hate Jesus and want to suppress the Gospel. While I was speaking an elderly man pushing a pram walked up to me yelling, "How dare you say I walk in darkness." I tried to engage him but he stormed off. I kept preaching for a little longer after that, but again the weather turned bad.
Even though it was a hard day, and even though we faced opposition, the Gospel went forth. For that we rejoice!
Pray for all those who heard the Gospel, and also pray for the police.
Soli Deo Gloria!
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