Pastors Peter Simpson and John Sherwood were lifting up the Name of Christ in the centre of Golders Green in north London on March 3. The witness was situated near to some traffic lights, which meant that cars and buses had to queue up right by the place where the preaching was occurring. This created the situation whereby people in buses waiting at the lights were able to hear what was said, along with those waiting in cars, especially if they lowered a window just a little, or if it was already lowered.
Opposite the location of the witness there is also a bus stop and because there was a tube strike on the London underground upon this day there were more people than usual waiting at the stop the sound of the preaching was able to reach across the road and it is hoped but by God’s grace summer list were able to take in the precious words of gospel truth being delivered. The posters displaying Bible texts also caused to those in the buses and the cars to turn their gaze towards the preachers.
At the beginning of the witness, which included a book table, a group of Orthodox Jewish schoolboys gathered around the table and asked what the pastors were doing. It was explained to them very briefly that they were encouraging people to put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Then, without entering into any further conversation, one of the boys abruptly said to the preachers in the most direct manner, “We hate you “. It is not clear whether the other boys endorsed this comment, but no one else repudiated it. The boy was told in response by the pastors : We do not hate you, but we love you, and moreover, the Bible teaches that we should even love our enemies. It was also pointed out that the injunction to love one’s neighbour, and not to harbour hatred against him, is in fact an Old Testament teaching to be found in the book of Leviticus (19:18).
At this point a car came to a halt at the traffic lights near to the witness. A middle-aged man quickly got out, and he appeared to be a schoolteacher or some senior figure. He certainly seemed to know the boys, because they immediately obeyed him, as he quickly shunted them away from the booktable without saying a word to the Christian ministers. He even held up the traffic for a short while in order to do this. He would not have heard the comment from one of the boys saying, “We hate you “.
It is not clear why he was so anxious for the boys to move on. It could be that he simply wished to defuse the situation, but there was actually no situation to defuse. So it may have been the case that he simply did not want the boys to be speaking to the Christians. It was a shame that these youngsters so quickly left, because the pastors would have loved to have had a friendly discussion with them about the things of God and about what the Bible teaches.
A man came by and spoke to the pastors in a very mocking manner, saying that the message was all myths, fables and fairytales. An attempt was made to point out to him the seriousness of God’s judgement, but he continued to be totally dismissive of the Christian revelation. Pastor Sherwood then referred him to the thief on the cross who also derided the message and refused to repent. By doing so, he squandered the very last opportunity in his life to be forgiven and to enter into God’s presence.
Prayer was offered for this man at the conclusion of the witness that he would not spurn the gracious opportunities being presented to him to flee to the Saviour. Indeed, may many others who heard in Golders Green also take the path, not of the mocking thief, but of the other thief crucified alongside the Lord. May many emulate him in humbling themselves, confessing their sin and trusting in the Saviour who died to pay the penalty for the sins of the world.