Last Friday I prepared to be the Supervisor Street Chaplain in Fremantle. Which means you do not actually go out.Rather you greet the Chaplains and pray with them. Then you go home. All day I had read the Bible, probably about twenty or so chapters. A lot of prayer also. It was a day of spiritual disciplines. When the Lord calls me to do this I sometimes get apprehensive at what is going to happen. In this case I had no apprehension as I was not going out - only supervising...so I thought...
At the last moment I decided to wear my Street Chaplain polo shirt to greet the chaplains. Wanting to make a good impression to the Police prior to starting. When I arrived at the Station one of the Chaplains was a no show. I was going out whether I liked it or not. God had known this all along, I hadn't.
We prayed before leaving the station and were cursed by someone across the street. "YOU GUYS ARE F%$#$^ GAY!!" He shouted it, whoever he was, more than once. We sensed it as more than just physical, but also a spirtual rebuke. I quickly quoted blessed are you when you are persecuted or insulted. After the prayer ended the abuser was gone, however, I felt something was going to happen tonight. Potentially something not good.
We headed into the night. My fellow Chaplain was a new recruit, this his second time out. I tried to prewarn him to get a control of fear and trust God. I even told him Satan was going to test his faith tonight. When I said this i had no I idea what was coming, God did...
About an hour later standing on the cappuccino strip, at maybe 11pm, eight or more police cars turned up. They seemed to arrive almost instantaneously. As I turned and looked at this strong show of force I then saw about 20 of the Tactical Response Group (TRG). Sort of like the Police's special forces. I knew something very serious was going down. I also sensed a very powerful spiritual presence.
As I scanned the street I then saw why. Six or so very ominous looking bikers. Shaved heads with pony tails, heavily muscled and tattooed. These men were the focus of nearly 50 police. As i looked at them I sensed something very powerful in them. Something from the other side. The Darkside. The men were taunting the police, one appeared like a coiled spring of negative energy. They wanted trouble.
We moved toward the TRG. Already my partner's courage was being tested. After 3 years as a Street Chaplain The Lord has had me face many dangerous situations. So did 11 years in the Army . However the Lord knows with bikers I would feel trepidation. They instill fear in the best of us. Tonight however the fact I spent the whole day in the bible and a whole day of prayer, i was calm and at peace. God had prepared me without me being aware. Again if I had been aware I probably would have been anxious.
It all made sense now. The day of spiritual disciplines, wearing the street chaplain polo, the other chaplain not turning up. The penny dropped. God wanted me there to pray.
We stood amongst the TRG and began to pray silently for peace. Almost immediately the bikers started to walk down an alley way. 20 heavily armed TRG behind them with two Street Chaplains as the vanguard. None of the other crowd of revellers pursued. I suppose the whole scene was quite surreal.
I admit I like the adrenalin rush of it all. God has even rebuked me for such. He did so through a movie called The Hurt Locker, where a soldier starts to love his job and the excitement of his near death experiences. The end caption is "War is a Drug". God clearly told me you are like that jack. Don't be.
As we walked my partner lagged behind. Fear was really working on him. It was understandable. Here we were following six fearful looking bikers and 20 TRG officers down an alleyway/mall. It wasn't really the natural thing to do! It was, however, the supernatural thing to do.
At one point I turned to my partner and prayed out loud. I wanted him to hear the prayer so he could agree to it. When two come together in His name He is there. What is agreed to on earth is loosed in heaven. What I asked for to be loosed was powerful.
In a very authoritative voice, with power, I asked that an Arch Angel would come now! I don't usually pray such things. Ever. We pray to the Lord and the Lord decides what He wants to do. We are never to worship angels as they are part of the creation just like us. If we worship them its idolatry. When John met an angel and bowed the ANgel yelled at him GET UP, I am a servant just as you are DONT worship Me! We are not to call on them either (directly anyway). I thus called to God and asked for an Arch Angel in Jesus' name. Jesus at one point states to Peter that if he wanted to he could call 12 legions of angels (that's 60,000!). I jsut wanted one. But a BIG One.
We didn't see the sky light up, nor did we see a lighting bolt or Michael (the Arch Angel) standing resplendent in armour. We didn't even 'feel' anything. Not even a slight breeze much less a hurricane. No nothing theatrical like that.
Something amazing did happen though...
The bikers left. Almost instantly they walked away and left the whole area. It was over. The Police knew it also. They turned to leave and witnessed two street chaplains nonchalantly leaning on a wall and lamp post right behind them. No one said a word. I couldn't help but think, surely one of those officers knew we were praying for them. I have no doubt God knew. More seeds planted.
Bikers, Police, Angels and Street Chaplains. Coincidence or God incidence?
I will let you decide - I already have.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Fremantle Street Chaplains has commenced. A new territory, unfamiliar pathways, uncertainty and even trepidation. After patrolling Northbridge for three years the area became home. We fear the unknown, once known, we lose the fear. I sat praying for most of the day prior to this first night in Fremantle.
You want to make a good first impression, to the police, the general public, taxi rank security personal, bouncers and store owners. The Chaplains are always under scrutiny.
That day whilst praying I studied anatomy (part of the requirement of a nursing degree). Specifically the brain and the brain stem and...the Cerebellum. To be honest, prior to nursing, I never really knew we had one let alone tell you the function and the ramifications of it being damaged. After completing study and prayer, in addition to reading Ephesians, I ventured out.
At the Police station a new Chaplain was welcomed. Whilst new to chaplaincy, this lady was a veteran to mission, an experienced YWAM senior. Another senior Street Chaplain joined us, in addition to a towering Fijian man with a handshake of iron. The team was complete.
We introduced ourselves to the on duty Police Sergeant who proceeded to give us an incredibly informative welcome, complete with street level information concerning the area. Already you felt part of the team. All this on the very first night? This was not the case three years ago in Northbridge. We all sensed the Lord's hand and felt the many prayers being offered for this new chapter.
We left the station encouraged and gathered together for our own prayer. The streets were empty. It was Easter Friday, almost a full moon and the sombre message of Christ crucified seemed to spill over into the cold lonely streets. The pubs and clubs were all closed. The quiet setting was a wonderful opportunity to give a spiritual and physical tour of my new town. After living here for three months I knew every corner and had prayed in them. The stillness allowed the team to bond and settle as we patrolled. We ventured much further than the cappuccino strip. Later we would see the Lord's direction in this.
We headed to the large Anglican church (a spiritual area, however, one where there seems to be much violence and disturbance at night). The large trees in the adjoining park have a surreal feeling about them. Fremantle is an incredibly spiritual place for the aboriginal people (or rather it used to be). It is home of the Noongar people's original spiritual gatherings. Sometimes thousands would gather here. Under the bows of the majestic giants in the area you wonder at what spiritual dances were potentially made amidst their arms.
Today the remnant of this people is one submerged in the pain of past genocides, stolen generations and ongoing racial prejudice. May God use the Chaplains to heal some of this pain. No sooner had we entered the park than my feelings were confirmed. A man had been violently mugged and his laptop stolen.
We approached him and offered compassion. He quickly related how two (white) men had assaulted him (he had been punched hard in the chin) and had ran off with his laptop. The area has WiFI available so students and backpackers often sit outside till the late hours contacting home. This particular man was homeless though and was using the net to email his estranged daughter. He had contacted the Police who were now looking for the thieves. As we waited with the man the Police arrived in their van. Walking over to them it was the first connection of Police seeing the Chaplains actively involved in helping someone. Amazingly we were at the scene of the only real incident of the entire night! God's guidance for certain.
A moment later God would show His guidance even more.
As we stood alongside the man the Chaplain phone rang. It was the Police Sergeant. He asked how our night was going and what the streets were like? A phone call from the police on our very first night in a new area? In Northbridge we waited a full long year for that first call! God is moving fast in Fremantle!
The Lord's prompting was obvious, as this Sergeant called we were standing with some of his men and the mugged man! Coincidence? A million to one. We told Him we were with the mugged man (knowing He would have know of the incident) immediately he asked if we could walk him back to the station allowing his men to continue patrolling! We readily agreed. We were part of the team and being used - again on the first night within the first two hours.
As we turned to head to the station and ambulance arrived! I jokingly said to the victim all we need now is a helicopter for you. The police and the man laughed. It was obvious a lot of attention was focussing on this man's plight. Shortly God would reveal why...
The ambulance officer diagnosed the man much more effectively than a first year student nurse (much to my own humbling). On questioning the victim, he mentioned how he felt a cold sensation in the base of the rear of the skull. I was almost in shock. Not four hours earlier I had read that an unexpected blow to the head can cause damage to the cerebellum (exactly where the victim was pointing to). Here I was standing beside what was potentially an incredibly serious injury. I knew the Paramedic was thinking the same thing.
He checked the man's pupils to discover one fully dilated and the other not. One large, one small. Something, other than drugs, was wrong. He was taken immediately to hospital. As the victim left he turned to us and clasped his hands as if in prayer and whispered 'thank you'.
We debriefed back at my apartment, everyone was shown the opened anatomy book sitting on the dining table. Open to the brain stem and the cerebellum. We were all amazed. The Lord Jesus had made His presence felt in more ways than one.