Article Link - http://hardcorefaith.com/archives/2086
Persecution. Many years ago, around the time I first became a Christian, I heard a preacher talk on this very issue. He spoke about our brothers and sisters around the world in places like Africa, Thailand, China, etc. were being persecuted daily, and as he spoke I remember thinking what a great message. However, my only thought after he spoke was, “I wonder what persecution would look like here in the Western World?”
Since that time there has been some persecution against the Christian church in the areas of freedom of religion and freedom of speech. For instance, some pastors and preachers have been arrested in North America, Britain, Australia, and Sweden, for speaking out against the practice of homosexuality. An example of this would be the Swedish pastor, Ake Green, who was arrested and charged with hate crimes. His hate crime? Calling homosexuality “abnormal” in a church sermon. He was subsequently sentenced to one month in prison. (Source here)
I came across a video clip a few days back that proved to be challenging, yet inspiring. It shows a team of street evangelists helping to feed the homeless (they took seven hundred hot dogs, three hundred eggs, hot chocolate, cookies, and Bibles to a downtown drop-in center) and preaching the Word of God to them. The video opens with the pastor and several members of Street Church Ministries being hassled by the police. It then shows them being forcefully arrested and taken to jail. And where did this happen? On the streets of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The following is taken from the Street Church Ministry website: “For several years Street Church Ministries has been in a battle with Calgary city authorities over its insistence on publicly preaching the gospel to people on city streets and in city parks. On February 7, (2009) members of the ministry were dragged from a preaching platform by police, and three members were arrested, one while he was videotaping police actions. Artur Pawlowski, lead pastor of Street Church Ministries, said the city’s “ruthless targeted attacks” threaten freedom of speech as well as the organization’s ministry to homeless people.”
I have posted the actual video of the arrest below. You know, most believers in the Western World wouldn’t know what real persecution is. Sure we might be called names and people might not invite us to their parties because we go to church and believe in Jesus, but for the most part we are free to worship when and where we want. And let’s face it, many Christians wouldn’t dream of sharing their faith outside of the comfort of the church environment like the determined and faithful believers in this video clip. So I am posting this video as a testimony - a testimony to the kind of witness that we read of in the scriptures, a witness that I’m glad to say is alive and active in our world today.
I’m sure you’ll agree that these guys are Hardcore, and that at the end of the day is what this website’s all about - real faith in a real world!
A follow up statement from the Street Church Ministry website: “In the middle of Louis’ sermon, five police officers physically removed Maurice Boyer, Wendy Osiowy, Azmy Yacoub, Louis Formaz-Preston, and Artur Pawlowski from the back of the Street Church truck. Artur and Maurice were unlawfully arrested and charged with obstructing a peace officer. Maurice was dragged by several officers, slammed face down on a car, like a common criminal. Artur was escorted by two officers and had his hands cuffed behind his back. At the same time, David Pawlowski was recording the behavior of the police officers, while standing on a public sidewalk, only to be arrested and slammed onto the hood of a police cruiser, his hands cuffed behind his back. The Street Church cross and pickup truck were towed and impounded. The three of us were taken to a police station and placed in three separate rooms. As I was sitting in one of the rooms, I heard Maurice shouting JESUUUUUS!
Then from the other room, I heard David responding and the only thing that I could think of was again Peter and John in prison singing and preaching. So we started singing. The echo from the concrete walls was so great that after the fourth song the door opened with great vigour. The same police officer that arrested us appeared saying that we are not allowed to speak or sing, to which I replied, “You’ve got here Street Church”, and started singing again. He slammed the door. Later on, I found out that he tried to scare Maurice as well. Maurice replied, “you’re not my boss, my Father is my boss”.
When we finished all the songs we knew, we started preaching. At first it was me, then came David, and finally Maurice finished it off the preaching very loudly. Then we sang some more. Then we prayed for all the officers, their children, their families, that God would bless them, keep them, save them, open their eyes and ears and that He would not count this sin against them, for they did not know what they were doing. Then we started singing a third time. When we were singing the song “King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus prince of peace…” the door opened again. The police officer was advising us that we were disrupting the whole building and that they couldn’t work. I kept singing. Five minutes later a young officer came saying that they were going to release us. Within about a half an hour all of us were out on the streets again. Praise God. God sent us there to let those officers know that there is a living God.”
Now is that Hardcore or what?
Christian St John M.Div, BChM, ACS
Picture and video taken from StreetChurch.ca