Kingdom values have helped bring radical transformation in society precisely when Christians understood their calling to be salt and light in the public square.
“We are very quick to criticise street preachers”, says British street preacher who faces a retrial at the end of July.
After having been found guilty of violating Section 5 of the Public Order Act earlier this year, UK street preacher Mike Overd faces a retrial on Friday 31st July.
Cleared of all charges in his first court appearance in 2012, the Taunton-based ex-paratrooper and his legal representatives at Christian Concern are confident that they will get another not guilty verdict at the end of the month.
Section 5 of the British Public Order Act has to do with offences related to causing harassment, alarm or distress by using threatening, abusive or insulting words and/ or behaviour.
We took some time to catch up with Overd to find out more about his trial and his message.
Question. Mike, thanks for taking the time to be with us on Evangelical Focus. Before beginning, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Answer. I have been a believer in my Saviour for ten years. I was saved from my lawlessness and the judgment to come by the blood of Jesus Christ and His great love for me.
Q. You have been in the news quite a bit recently in the UK. What’s been going on?
A. I have been taken to court on two occasions. I was found not guilty the first time in 2012. On the second occasion I was charged under three separate Section 5 charges. I was found not guilty on two charges but guilty on one.
Q. How did your most recent court appearance come about?
A. The local police have sadly waged a campaign over several months on this second occasion. They want to remove me from the streets even though I have broken no laws. Along with the Crown Prosecution Service, the police have not respected the first ruling in 2012. In fact, some of the local shopkeepers told me that the town centre Sergeant said to them: “We are going to get him off the streets” when there has been no legal reason to come after me.
I have been preaching on the streets of my hometown now for some seven years. The best the enemy –Satan- can do (by Satan I don’t mean the Crown Prosecution Service, the police or members of the public) is to find me guilty of using threatening or abusive words and behaviour to case harassment, alarm or distress.
Q. Is that what happened?
A. In reality what happened was that Mr. Darren Chalmers and I both claimed to be Christians but we disagreed about what the Bible has to say about sodomy. Chalmers then saw fit to lodge a complaint with the police. They took it up and presented it along with two other charges. Chalmers is a man who claims to follow Christ; but he is deep in the sin of sodomy and he’s proud of it.
Q. Looking beyond your retrial, why do you think there is such opposition to street preaching in Britain nowadays?
A. There is massive opposition to street preaching because we have rejected Christ and the Bible. I see it as very similar to when Israel rejected the true prophets and worshippers of God in the Old Testament. In a sense faithful preachers who take up God’s word to our streets are like the prophets of old. I don’t see much of a difference. We are crying out to individuals and to our country to return to God. At the moment we don’t face a great deal of physical persecution in our land when we go out to preach. But I believe this will change in the near future as God withdraws His grace. Some of us, however, have been badly beaten up when we have taken the Good News to the lost. Roland Parsons is one such man.
Q. Who’s responsible for this falling away from preaching?
A. I believe that we –as Christians and as the church- are partly responsible for where we are with such hostility towards those who really love Christ. We have not been faithful to God’s commands in how we love Him, love each other and love the lost. We have compromised in so many ways but many of us think everything is alright.
We are also very quick to criticize street preachers. We should mind our own business and focus on what the Lord has called each of us to do. It can get so bad out there on the streets that some Christians even end up criticizing street preachers publically and thus siding with the heathen their dislike of him/ her. People who claim to follow Christ side with the world against other believers! What is going on? If there is something bad going on out there then we should pray about the problem. Some of us forget that we might be the problem. This is a terrible witness to the lost. It gives the ungodly more arrows in their bows to come against the sons of God.
When the light of God’s love comes proclaiming salvation through His Son, darkness flees. Darkness doesn’t understand the message and so it attacks the heralds. We are one of the most secular nations on the face of the Earth and we’re even proud of it. In the past, we were a beacon of God’s word. There is still hope, though, as our Father in heaven is till calling faithful men to go and preach the truth about His Son.
Q. Why keep preaching in the midst of so much pressure? What is it that makes you keep going?
A. That’s an easy question to answer. I keep preaching because of my great love for my Saviour and my desire for the heathen and the pagan. My desire is for them to know their Saviour and worship Him alone. He alone is worthy of their adoration: not their families nor their cars nor their careers. Not their wives nor husbands nor hobbies nor whatever idolatry they may get into! Jesus alone should be the centre of their lives and I so desire them to know the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Q. Thanks for that. And could you give us a summary of what you preach on the street?
A. Repentance of sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I preach the Good News and the Bad News.
The Good News is that Jesus Christ came into this fallen world to save us sinners. This is perfect love and grace. He rose from the dead to prove all His claims as the sinless Lamb of God. We only deserve justice and justice demands that we be cast into hellfire for all eternity. He has given us perfect love and pulled us up from eternal destruction.
The Bad News is that none of us are good enough to earn our place in God’s heaven. If we reject His mercy we will perish in the lake of eternal fire instead of having eternal life with our Creator.
Q. Do you deal with sin in more specific terms too?
A. I explicitly open up what sin is. It is lawlessness. It is breaking of God’s commands. We break the first and second command every day in thought and deed so judgment must come from a holy God of love. When one is explicit about sin –especially sexual fornication which includes sodomy and lesbianism- all hell can break loose. I do this solely to appeal to people so that they can turn from their insanity and turn to the only One who can bring them forgiveness. People can believe it or not, but when I take on sin I major upon breaking the first commandment and lying as those sins to which most of us can relate. We are all guilty of not keeping them.
Q. At a general level, how do you see churches today in the UK? What’s your view?
A. I’d rather not think too much about that question. It’s too depressing. I am an ex-paratrooper and if my unit performed for the Squadron, Core, Queen and country like many of us do as believers, I would be ashamed to call myself airborne. I don’t have this shame as a Christian because my pride is not in the Catholic Church. It is in my Saviour so my head is held high as I look to the heavens for His soon coming. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are still pockets of light around our nation as faithful men, women and children continue to speak the truth.
I believe the biggest way we have fallen as the Bride of Christ in the UK is the fact of how we claim to love God and one another, but in reality, we do not. Many of us do not fear God. We court the favour and opinions of men in and outside of the church. We don’t love nor serve each other as the Bible commands. Many of us do not even know what this literally means and I look at myself first and foremost. If I was to ask my wife if she feels loved by me, what would she say? I have so many Christians hurt by each other with very little grace and love given to each other in the process. None of this had led the heathen to desire God and to be envious of our salvation.
None of this, however, has surprised our heavenly Father. He has got the victory and Jesus will have His bride adoring Him for all eternity. I also understand that in other nations around the world great revival is happening and many are being swept into the Kingdom of God. There is always hope because there is always Jesus.
Q. In your opinion, what are the big challenges for contemporary Christianity?
A. Wow! There’s a question and a half! First of all, I would say to return to being holy as our Father is holy. This is a challenge for the church as we examine ourselves. I believe if we get this right then the love and all the other beautiful characteristics of our Jesus will flow out of His bride to be a great representation of Christ to the lost. Also, to truly live the joy of our salvation! The joy of being known by God our Father and the delight of knowing Him, the One who loves us so much!
Q. Anything else?
A. I believe the biggest challenge that is now coming against the church from Satan and the world is the issue over sodomy and lesbianism. Sadly I believe we have already lost much of this battle in the land. When the Church of England compromised and tolerated Civil Partnerships for homosexuals, it sounded the death knell for marriage between a man and a woman. Our Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his Government have turned it into a thing of beggary and lesbianism.
There will soon come a time when the true Bride of Christ will find herself put into prison over this matter. I’m not saying: “Thus says the Lord”. It’s just what I am personally experiencing and what I see happening around our nation to other Christians who will not compromise their faith over this perversion.
Q. Thanks so much, Mike. To wrap up, if you could give a piece of our readers here on Evangelical Focus, what would you say?
A. Pray much and meditate on the Word of God. Truly fear God and let Him plant your feet as a true soldier of Christ firmly on the Rock! Pray that God gives you a massive conviction to know how much you are loved by Him then knowing this He can equip you to stand with no fear when push comes to shove. Desire to be gentle and kind like our dear Lord Jesus is to us. Be true to Christ as He is still so true to us. Truly believe the promises of God. His grace can give us this supernatural conviction. Our land needs us now like never before We are hurtling towards the end. Time is short. Make sure you are ready for He stands at the door!
Thanks so much Brother Overd. Great advice! We wish you all the best for your retrial and may the Lord be with you in every moment. Keep preaching in season and out!