When we arrived in the city centre we were greeted with a barrage of noise. At one end of the street was a busker playing loud South American music through an amplifier, and then in the middle of the street was an opera singer who was singing at the top her lungs with amplification. All in all it was very noisy in the town centre. After walking the street we found a location between the buskers that we thought would be the best location. We didn’t have any amplification so we had to rely on our natural voices….
When this week began I didn’t expect that by its end I would have been arrested twice for preaching. It all started on Wednesday when while preaching in the Perth High Street, a member from Police Scotland stopped me from preaching and said that I was being arrested for breach of peace. (Police Scotland later denied arresting me, but the mp3 recording we have of the incident has the Officer confirming I was arrested).
But all that seemed like nothing when compared to what happened on Saturday.
This afternoon I was joined by two brothers from Glasgow, and our plan was to share the good news of Jesus in the city of Perth. This outreach had been planned for some time, so it was good to finally get together and witness for Christ.
When we arrived in the city centre we were greeted with a barrage of noise. At one end of the street was a busker playing loud South American music through an amplifier, and then in the middle of the street was an opera singer who was singing at the top her lungs with amplification.
All in all it was very noisy in the town centre. After walking the street we found a location between the buskers that we thought would be the best location. We didn’t have any amplification so we had to rely on our natural voices (this was going to be hard due to the noise!)
Noman from Glasgow was the first to stand up and preach. As he did this I handed out some tracts, and had a few discussions. A few people had seen the report in the paper about my arrest so they were interested to see what we were doing.
After Noman finished preaching, I stood up and preached for about twenty-minutes from John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
It was a hard open-air as at times I couldn’t even hear myself speak due to the noise coming from the buskers. I had to wonder while I was preaching how the Christian message is classed as a “breach of a peace” but loud music isn’t?
After I had finished preaching Jedidiah stood up to preach. It was just before this that we noticed Police walking past, but not doing anything. A Police car drove in and parked not far from us, the officers got out and went into a shop.
Jedidiah preached for about ten minutes, and after this I thought it would be good to preach again. My text this time was 1 Timothy 1:15 – “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”
I started my message by saying that the Bible says this is a statement we should listen to and trust. For it declares that Christ is the Saviour. I then went on to ask the question, “But who is Jesus Christ?” I explained from the Scripture who Christ is, and how He is God Almighty who came to save sinners.
I never got to explain what sin was, as a lady asked a question about why I am preaching. I read to hear from Mark 16:15, but before much more could be said the two police officers came out of the shop and walked up to me.
The female sergeant asked me to stop preaching. She told me that complaints had been made, and people were upset with what I was doing. I asked her what law I was breaking, and she said I was in breach of the peace. Around this time the sergeant noticed she was being filmed by my friends. She objected to this, and demanded that they stop. Since it is not illegal to film police in Scotland they continued. This was done because we have been told that legally we need to document what happens. It is for our protection and also for the police protection.
The sergeant kept insisting that the filming stop. When it didn’t I was asked to get into their car so they could talk to me. At this stage I hadn’t been detained or arrested, but I was talking to them of my own free-will. I declined their request to get in the car. At this the sergeant told me that I was being detained, and with that both officers grabbed me by the arms and forced me towards the car.
As I was being manhandled towards the vehicle some in the crowd erupted in cheers. This is terribly sad for two reasons:
1) They don’t realise that their civil liberties are being eroded. If they stop a preacher for preaching, what’s saying that those cheering one day won’t be allowed to express their opinion?
2) How sad it will be for them on the day of judgement when they stand before the Lord Jesus to give an account of their sin, and then to hear that they laughed at and rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As the police pushed me towards their car, I again addressed the crowd quickly. Once again I spoke of Christ coming to save sinners, and declared that Christ is to get glory. The constable pushing me into the car actually inflicted some pain on my arm, and I told him that he was hurting me.
Once inside the car none of my witnesses were able to hear the conversation. I did have my mp3 recorder on, but the police have seized that for evidence. However, I did have a second recorder that got the incident inside the car.
The sergeant told me that I was being detained for breach of the peace. I asked the sergeant why she targeted a preacher without amplification when two buskers were amplified and making much more noise. She replied by saying that people had complained about me.
The sergeant then said I would be given a fixed penalty notice (a ticket / fine) for breach of the peace, and that I would have to cease from my activities. If I had accepted this it would mean that I would not be legally allowed to preach. Biblically I could not accept such a condition as that would mean going against God’s Word. I replied that I would preach again. At this the sergeant placed me under arrest for breach of peace.
From there I was driven through the High Street in the back of the car to the Perth Police Station. Once there I was processed and put into a jail cell.
I hadn’t been the cell overly long when the desk sergeant came and told me that he had reviewed my case. He said I was going to be charged, but there were two ways in which this could be done. I either sign bail and be released, but that meant I wouldn’t be allowed in the city centre of Perth. This was unacceptable, as that would mean I couldn’t perform my pastoral duties or preach.
The other option was to not sign bail, and be kept in custody until I could see a magistrate on Monday, and then a decision would be made as to my future. I refused to sign bail, and as a result I was left in my cell.
The police did allow me to have my Bible in the cell. When I first arrived I sat and began to read from Philippians. I took heart from Paul’s words, and pray that it would be true for me: ”But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:12)
The rest of my time in the jail was spent singing hymns, praying and reading all four Gospels. As strange as this may sound, I had peace in the jail. I knew God was in control, and I could not help but worship Him.
I was detained by police at around 1515hrs, and finally at 1830hrs I was allowed to speak to my lawyer by phone. After talking to him, I was placed back in my cell until 2100hrs, when I was released.
The question is, “Will I be charged?” I don’t know. At this stage I am a free man while the Police lawyers consider the possibility of charging me. They have seized my mp3 recorder of the whole incident as evidence (I hope to get that back soon).
Just as an endnote, there is a video going around which people are assuming was recorded on the day I was arrested. Media has used this video on their websites. This video was filmed on the Thursday, not the day of the arrest. It is also heavily edited. I preached for about twenty-five minutes, and out of that they produced a three minute clip. I would suggest that those watching it take that into account before they make a judgement call on the open-air work.
At this stage the whole situation has been handed over to Christian Concern. They have the audio, and video of the arrest. I m leaving the legal action up to them.
Please pray for us as we continue to preach Christ in Perth, and throughout Scotland.
[Editor’s note: the link to the original source for this article is broken and has been removed. Also, one or more original URLs (links) are broken and have been removed.]
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