SOS Ministry Newsletter - October 2008 Newsletter Archive Main Page Home
Battle For Berkeley - Part 1
Dear Christian Friends,
A year ago, four people staged a protest against our Christian preaching in Berkeley. The news media were invited, and it resulted in large articles in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Oakland Tribune, the Berkeley Daily Planet, the Valley Times, and the Daily Cal (Berkeley student paper). I have known for several months that Berkeley was planning to change their noise ordinance in response to these complaints.
On September 14, I was searching the internet to see if I could find out about the proposed law. I learned that a new law would go for a first reading at City Council the following Tuesday. As I read the law, it was obviously designed by lawyers to stop our Christian outreach. The worst change in the law was limiting the number of permits that would be granted at any location to nine per year.
I knew that people opposed to us had been getting permits for the sole purpose of keeping us from getting permits. One person got permits at Telegraph and Haste every Saturday afternoon from May to August for that reason. Under this law, someone would only need to apply for permits every day from January 1 to 9 and nobody else could get permits there the rest of the year.
Read the Noice Ordinance Click Here To Read
I called the permit officer who told me this new regulation would presently affect only two locations, Telegraph and Haste, which we use, and 42 Shattuck Square, which was the site of the Marine Recruiting Station that Code Pink protested at. Because of their protests, the Marines left Berkeley.
I spoke with a Christian friend about this new law. He encouraged me to contact labor unions, letting them know that this law would interfere with their right to picket a business using a bullhorn. So I called and emailed several dozen labor unions and radical protest groups, letting them know about the new law.
I prepared my own message in opposition to the law. People are only allowed two minutes to speak, but if someone else yielded their time to them, they could have four minutes. So I prepared 2 four minute messages, one for me and one for Larry DuBois to give. The other two house members came for the purpose of yielding their time to us.
Thirty minutes before we were to leave, I found the night’s agenda on the internet. I noticed there was another new law amending the Traffic Ordinance. This law was also designed especially to stop our Christian outreaches. It required a permit to put anything on the sidewalk, including an amplifier or box of tracts. It also put so many requirements on these permits that it would probably be impossible for us to comply. (Nothing could be set within 2 feet of a tree well, within 3 feet of a planter, within 10 feet to the front or rear of any bicycle rack, or 3 feet from the side, etc. Telegraph and Haste has several bicycle racks, tree wells and planters.) I hastily prepared a response in opposition to this proposed law.
Read Traffic Ordinance Click Here To Read
All four house members attended the meeting. The mayor decided to discuss three laws together these two laws and a third law regulating street events. Instead of allowing people to yield their time, he gave everyone three minutes. I had to read part of my message, and give it to Dan to finish.
About a dozen people that I contacted came to the City Council meeting to protest the new law. As a result, the City Council decided to table both proposed laws. They wanted to contact groups like the ACLU to get their input, so they could avoid legal challenges and address free speech concerns.
It was a great victory. It gives us more time to preach the gospel in Berkeley. However, we expect that these laws will be revived in another form in an attempt to stop our Christian outreaches. Please pray that God will keep open the doors to preach the Gospel in Berkeley and provide us with legal help and godly counsel to know how to proceed.
Paul’s First Sermon
Continuing our series on preaching in the Acts of the Apostles, we come to Paul’s first recorded sermon in Acts 13. This sermon was given in the synagogue in Antioch in the province of Pisidia, in south-central Turkey. The congregation consisted of natural-born Jews, proselytes (Gentile converts to Judaism), and “god-fearers” (Gentiles with a serious interest in Judaism).
Paul’s message was very similar to messages we had previously heard from Peter and Stephen. Paul began with a brief overview of Jewish history, showing how Jesus was the promised Messiah, who was rejected by his own people. “Of this man’s (David’s) seed has God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus.” Because the Jewish leaders did not recognize the Messiah, and did not understand the prophets, they fulfilled Old Testament prophesies by condemning the Messiah. “But God raised him from the dead.” Again, Paul strongly emphasizes the resurrection. He concludes with a warning from Hab. 1:5: “I will work a work in your days, which you will not believe, though it be told you.”
There was considerable interest in his message, and many of the congregation asked him to continue the following week. “And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.” But the Jews, instead of rejoicing that there was so much interest in God’s word, were “filled with envy.”
“Then Paul and Barnabus waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you, but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, we turn to the Gentiles.” The Gentiles were glad, and many believed. But the Jews stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabus, and drove them away. “But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.”
As I study this sermon, I am struck by its similarity to previous messages. Like the previous sermons, Paul’s message focused on how Jesus had fulfilled prophesies, that the Jews had rejected God by rejecting Jesus, and how God showed that Jesus is Messiah by raising Him from the dead. The Gentiles were extremely receptive to this message, and many were saved, while the Jews rejected the message because they were filled with envy. They didn’t like it that God would accept Gentiles who simply trusted in Christ without being forced to be circumcised and keep the Jewish law.
ON THE STREETS
On August 9, Steve Longacre and the James Croci band ministered with us at UN Plaza. Many people gathered to listen to the music and we prayed with a few people. On August 22, we witnessed at the Sony Metreon, an entertainment complex in downtown San Francisco. Tom and Jenny Burnowski played music, joining us for the first time in 10 years. They brought their new baby Elizabeth, their seventh child.
On August 23, we had two outreaches. Dave Goins and Paul Coca played at Justin Herman Plaza in the financial district and Factor 11 played at Union Square. Justin Herman Plaza is a difficult place to minister, because there is a row of street vendors between us and most of our audience. Several of us preached there, including Martin, an evangelist visiting from Uganda. Many people stopped to listen to Factor 11, a band led by Spencer Scheer, a Jewish believer I have known for over 30 years. Besides being an excellent musician, he is also a lawyer and accountant. Larry D. and I both preached, and people seemed to be quite receptive to the gospel.
Click on Photos to enlarge
Note: Outreaches are subject to change. Call (510) 531-5325 or 541-9903 (cell phone) to confirm outreaches or for more information.
Friday October 3, 10, 17 7:30 - 10 PM Witnessing in San Francisco neighborhoods.
Sat. October 4 and 11 San Francisco Evangelism Outreach. 1-6 PM Fisherman’s Wharf. (Jefferson St. between Powell & Mason).
Sat. October 18 Berkeley Evangelism Outreach. 12:30 PM 4:30 PM Telegraph & Haste St.
Ministry News and Needs
Thank you again for your prayers and financial support for this ministry. We purchased 900 New Testaments at 50 cents each. We need to purchase a lighter generator since nobody in our house can lift the 90 lb. one we now use. It will cost $1000.
We have two openings in our Oakland ministry house. We are looking for men in their 20’s or 30’s who are spiritually strong, have administrative gifts, and are committed to evangelism. We need to train younger believers in evangelism to reach a new generation and help us continue this work of evangelizing San Francisco and Berkeley.
Our CD of the Month is Street Legalities by Scott Crawford. We need to understand our rights of freedom of speech and assembly. Those rights are being threatened. Pray for the upcoming presidential election and vote. And above all, we need to preach the Gospel while we can.
Yours in His love,
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