Reflections on 2008 – Looking Into 2009
What a year that was, a year of great victories and great challenges. 2008 was a year of sifting, raising us up, and touching our hearts along with the hearts of those who opposed us. 2008 was a year of preparation. For those who live for prosperity, in other words those who have money as their god or their prestige positions as their identity, 2009 will be the starting year of turmoil. For those who have endured hardship and have persevered, 2009 will be a year of breakthrough. God resists the proud, uplifts the righteous, and gives grace to the humble.
Let’s turn back the clocks to the beginning of 2008.
To start with, we lost Siemens Park. We moved back to Triangle Park. At our April festival, surrounded by police and bylaw officers, we received several summons and tickets. Triangle Park was then closed. The stated reason? First City officials said it’s an archaeological site (we had a huge laugh at this with the reporters). Later, the plan evolved into building a road through both parks (Siemens and Triangle). So basically, that’s how we ended up running full services at the steps of Calgary’s City Hall. The services also acted as a protest against the injustice of a court approved injunction preventing myself and anyone involved with Street Church Ministries from using any form of amplified sound within Calgary’s city limits (meaning can’t listen to radio, TV, cell phone, sound on a computer, etc). The injunction remains in place to this day.
In May, we commenced a vigil and one day over twenty officers, police and bylaw officers, stormed a peaceful assembly confiscating Christian materials, Bibles, DVDs and, ironically, enlarged tickets that were exposing City officials corruption. One of the statements we were making in our protest was that when a person’s rights are stripped away, one right at a time, it can ultimately end up with gas chambers and dictatorship. For that, and for our stand, volunteers were harassed, physically attacked, and pictures of holocaust atrocities were also ceased. I guess we were too convicting with our statements.
Then came Calgary’s Stampede Parade, “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”. After meeting with high ranking police officers and the Stampede Parade organizers, for a few hours, we received, after three years of standing our ground for democracy, the right to march (displaying the name of Jesus). This time, we received permission to enter the parade. Dressed in costumes as musketeers and maidens, with horses, carriages, and flags, we marched. There were over 400,000 people lining the streets of Calgary, watching the name of Jesus lifted high, and our entry and the name of Jesus was broadcast Internationally. In the end, we received an award, the “Best Mounted Group Award”. What a complete turnaround, from being chased by authorities for a few years, to a total acceptance of our entry. Jesus always rewards His faithful and obedient children.
This is the best location we have ever had. Not only are we able to touch the lives of the poor, but also we have the opportunity to speak to the lives of the rich and the powerful, along with the politicians who work at, or visit, City Hall every day. Twice a week, we bring the Ten Commandments, the name of Jesus, the cross, and feed thousands of needy people, barbecuing for them and providing for the needs that anyone, that comes, has. Through our line ups, we have seen young and old, from children to 80-90 year old seniors, hungry and looking for hope. Jesus commands us to share the good news with everyone, but also to manifest His love, with tangible provisions. Remember, you need both. Love is action. Jesus never said, “I love you” and walked away. He said, “I love you”, and manifested His love, feeding people, healing people, speaking life, and through death on the cross, have gave us victory.
The gate of the city is historically where all politicians and people of influence came to discuss and debate, bringing justice to their people. I guess now God wants to bring this back. Over a hundred years ago, the builders of Calgary’s City Hall so believed in the importance of the Bible that they built one right into its foundation. Our forefathers wanted the city to be truly a city of God. Today’s leaders forgot that, accepting every form of wickedness instead of ensuring that God’s ways were upheld. They became hypocrites, praying at their city council meetings having God’s name on their lips, but having their hearts far from Him.
Inside City Hall, they have emblems of witchcraft, and masks of death, and other different forms of idolatry. God spoke to us that Satan has entered the hearts of the politicians. Now, after years of rejecting the gospel and the mercy of God, Calgary has become the most violent and dangerous city in Canada. Violence against the homeless is the worst in all of North America.
The judgement is set, unfortunately when God was knocking on the hearts of Canadians, and particularly Calgarians, they either ignored Him, or openly opposed Him. This is what God has told us will happen; many more people will lose their jobs, there will be even more violence, and difficulties, and it doesn’t matter how many billions of dollars the government will throw at the problem, it is not going to go away. They can make a temporary patch of the problem, but it will not disappear. The judgement has already started with the house of the Lord. God’s children are primarily responsible for the nation’s downturn. We are to speak up and to stand up; we are commanded to be a voice for the Lord. Apathy, cowardice, self-centredness, and indifference crippled our churches ability to be salt and light, and in many cases churches have become a stumbling block to salvation.
So now, God told us that we didn’t have to go through turmoil, but because the church refused to listen, the whole country is going to suffer. Many pastors will lose their jobs and many buildings, including church buildings, will go into foreclosure or be put up for rapid sale. During this time, God is going to separating His true shepherds from career pastors and preachers. As we told you in previous letters, there will be great famine, shortage of food, contamination of water, shortage of power and heat, and the weather is going to act very unpredictably. Many ministries will have to shut their doors. Preachers instead of recognizing the hand of God, shaking people’s lives for the sake of salvation (because otherwise without the turmoil and difficulties they would not be willing to listen), will turn into beggars prostituting themselves for the sake of finances.
Some endeavours are only for a season, some are only man’s ideas, but the ones that are God’s will endure. What we are to do as preachers, is to let the people know about the end times tribulations and the second coming of Christ, instead of focusing on how we can get money out of people’s wallets. This should never be our concern or focus, it is God’s. Already, we are in a time when many are struggling, and this is just the beginning. Let us all focus on Christ Jesus our Lord, King, and supplier.
God said to us, “Why are you focussing on what man has done, what man is doing, and what man will do, when you should be looking at what I have done, what I am doing, and what I will do.” Let us become true servants in the hands of the compassionate and loving Father. In other words we need to do our best and let him do the rest. Through obedience, faithfulness, and willingness, knowing that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, that strengthens us.
Lawyers and Courts
In a ministry such as ours our last focus should be fighting in the courts instead of taking care of the poor and the homeless, yet for far too long, that is one of the things we have had to contend with. So far over seventy tickets, even though we have not used amplification for eight months, the last one being received on December 24 (Christmas Eve). What was our terrible crime? A Christmas Festival, feeding thousands of Calgary’s poorest citizens with tripple-a steaks and, behold, giving them a message of hope in the name of Jesus. When we arrived, can you believe it, the City Hall was taped, like a crime scene, preventing citizens from entering a public building. City officials were also there with a camera ready to capture our crime. But, don’t be discouraged when there is great opposition, there are also great victories. Just look at David and Goliath.
Often difficult circumstances can bring the best out of us. I personally was humbled at that festival when a few other volunteers also received tickets for helping the poor. Their response is what struck me. When I offered to take responsibility for the tickets, they smiled telling me, “No way, this is like a badge of honour. I am going to put it on my mantle and pray for the oppressors every day.” Praise God, what a heart and what an attitude. With more people like that we could conquer this country back for righteousness.
God spoke to me about four months before Gerald Chippier resigned that they had sold us and made a deal with very powerful people to give us away as a favor. Obviously this was the case. Soon after receiving the word, they left us in the heat of the court battle. May God forgive them for not fulfilling their word. God is so faithful. Even when we were abandoned by men, God had not forgotten us. Soon after, we received not one, but two law firms that represent our rights. Last year, we appeared before the judges over a dozen times. That gave us the opportunity to speak into their lives. Sometimes, we were able to share with a court room filled with criminals. It reminds me of the apostle Paul, when God sent him before the rulers as a witness. You see Jesus loves the poor, but He also loves the rich.
We preached to the Premier of Alberta, Ed Stalmach, about the dying people on our streets, the rights of the poor, and of the persecution, only to find ourselves with a bigger enemy, the Premier himself. A righteous Premier would hear of the injustices and would step in to help, but our Premier sent in the dogs to try to finish us. Fortunately, although our Goliath got bigger, our Lord is way bigger than them all. Some say that I embarrassed the Premier when I addressed him because afterwards he started to stutter and couldn’t say a word. But an honest man would not be embarrassed by this, but rather ready to take action to address the state of the poor and help those dying under our bridges.
During our time at City Hall, we were able to address the chief of police, the chief of the firefighters, city bureaucrats on different levels, and I am telling you, they all heard the name above all names and that Jesus died for them, that He rose again, and that they can have life in Him. We prayed with thousands of people at the steps of city hall and hundreds accepted the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and made a choice to turn from their sins. We prayed with Ralph Klein, ex-Premier, and Maurice shared his testimony with Him. We had an opportunity to speak at public meetings, reminding citizens that there is a living God. In chambers, at a city council meeting, I was able to lift my Bible and remind our Mayor, Dave Bronconnier (the oppressor and persecutor of Christians and the poor), that God himself warns us not to oppress the widows, orphans and the poor. I pleaded with all of them, fourteen aldermen and city executives, not to put a heavy burden on Calgary’s citizens. My pleas fell on deaf ears. They raised taxes anyway, by 20%, and corruption, constant harassment, and persecution continues.
Hear me now, what God spoke to us through a prophet of God. The city of Calgary is going to be brought to its knees. Their god, mammon, is going to be struck down, and the prideful and arrogant city bureaucrats are going to suffer for what they did to the poor and to this ministry. God said, “The violence will not stop and the trouble will not go away until the City repents and apologizes to us and returns all the funds that were wasted on defending the ministry’s rights.” When you look at us, you see just men, sinners saved by grace, but in God’s eyes this is a ministry that forwards, and stands for, His kingdom, and the King is mad! Let’s pray that God would be merciful to those who have risen against Him.
Now to summarize, just imagine two hundred and sixty truck loads of food, clothes, and different other necessities distributed to the poor, in 2008. On average, three hundred to five hundred people were fed at each service. Lately, we have seen a huge increase in numbers attending our services. Now more than ever before God’s people need to show compassion. Even though the needs are bigger, God still gives all that is needed by the hands of his people.
Through TV, radio, and other type of communication, sharing the hope through Christ Jesus. God only knows how many have been touched. But it is easily in the millions, when you include the Stampede Parade coverage and our weekly TV program. We were able to send missionaries to Poland to preach, teach, and help in prisons, a few churches, and at a camp. The fruit of that mission trip has already yielded many blessings.
When we look at our little group, it always reminds me of Gideon’s army, when God pared them down to a small group that he could use to demonstrate His power and majesty. When, last year, many left us, we grieved their absence but then God showed us Judges 7:2 – “You have too many men, I cannot deliver Midian into their hands or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved Me’… Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back.” And then later on in Judges 7:4 – “There are still too many.” God sifted them at the water, and only the ones that He wanted stayed. What a great victory came out of it. A few people, faithful to God, fearlessly accomplished the impossible. Why? Because, God is the God of the impossible.
Thank You to Our Supporters and Volunteers
We want you to know that this ministry lives for Jesus’ glory, and any kind of support that we receive is used to forward His kingdom and lift His name the highest way possible. If you participated, you have sewn into the lives of countless thousands, for now and for eternity. God says, “if you give to the poor you lend to God”. “Great is your reward in heaven”. Never forget that. With God, and with you, we are truly accomplishing the impossible, but this should not surprise us, after all He owns it all, we are but stewards. The hearts of men, and their lives, are in the palm of God’s hands. We should always remember that we don’t fight against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers of this dark age.
If you are interested in sewing into God’s kingdom, you can see the needs for the ministry at our website (www.streetchurch.ca). Also, we would like to encourage you to visit our website regularly to see our updates, and video footage, along with our new project that we believe that God, through you, is going to release – our radio program (Voice Radio – A voice crying out in the wilderness). The radio documentary that was done on Street Church in Poland was a great success, won awards, and was broadcast nationwide with amazing listenership.
This year, we plan to support “Voice of the Gospel” Poland by sending children from orphanages and disabled children to a summer camp where the love of God is preached. Wouldn’t that be an awesome blessing? Let us know what you think.
God opened new doors for us. In March, we are going to preach in Ontario at churches and universities. Pray that God’s will, will be accomplished. Our young people need the truth more than ever before. For those that once walked with Jesus, and went back to their work, John 21:3 stated, “I am going out to fish, Simon Peter told them, and they said we will go with you. So they went out and got into the boat, but that night, they caught nothing”. Once you put your hands to the plough, don’t look back. Instead of trying to catch earthly perishable things, always focus on eternal everlasting souls.
Just for encouragement, in the first few days of 2009, God gave us over ten decisions for Christ.
If you are a pastor or a believer with a growing desire to reach the lost, may we encourage you to rise up for Christ, come out of your churches and join us on the streets, winning new souls for Christ?