Pastors Peter Simpson, and John Sherwood were preaching the gospel in the centre of Uxbridge on August 4th, with vital assistance from Mrs Lesley Pilkington and two local believers. 

A young teenage boy came up to Pastor Simpson as he was preaching and attempted to make an insulting gesture to him with his backside. Pastor Simpson asked him what his objection to the Christian faith was, and if the action in which he just engaged contributed anything to a sensible conversation.

Pastor Simpson preached on Hebrews 9:27-28 : “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many”, and he emphasised that there is no opportunity for repentance after a person has died. There is no reincarnation or purgatory. All people only have this life in which to make their peace with God, and since no one can be sure how long he might have on this earth, each one must consider urgently their standing before the holy God, and that, as sinners, they need His mercy in Christ. 

The two pastors had a long conversation with a  very eloquently spoken vicar who said that the gospel tract being handed out was totally inappropriate, because it was too direct and simplistic in talking about faith in Christ as being the only way to escape from eternal condemnation. He argued that in our present day a much more sophisticated approach is needed, and that one should not start talking to a non-believer about heaven and hell.  

Pastor Simpson pointed out that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself seemed to have no such reservations when in Luke 13:3 He unequivocally declared, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”. The vicar insisted, however, that it would be better  to talk to non-believers about their personal needs, especially since many people in modern society are suffering from a sense of low self-esteem.  They do not have a good view of themselves and therefore need to be told about how much God loves them. 

The pastors replied that it was an act of love to people to tell them about the seriousness of sin. Yes of course one takes an interest people’s personal problems, but that is not at the heart of gospel preaching. It is reckless to tell non-believers who are going through life with no concern whatsoever about their sin and unbelief that they are already basking in God’s love and that therefore all is fine with them. 

The vicar sadly suggested that the style of preaching employed by Pastors Sherwood and Simpson and the content of the tracts were doing more harm than good. The preachers responded that 3,000 souls were converted on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) not by focusing on people’s personal problems and low self-esteem, nor  by telling them that God loves them, but rather by confronting directly with the prevailing sin in their lives (Acts 2:23).  

The time of witnessing in Uxbridge sadly ended on a rather sour note with four police officers approaching the witnessing Christians and telling them that the Scripture posters on display had to be removed, and that gospel leaflets could not be handed out because the area was now under a ‘Public Spaces Protection Order’. This order came into force by means of a new bye-law introduced by the London Borough of Hillingdon on August 1st.  The local Council did this under the authority of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014. 

Pastor Simpson immediately rang up the Christian Legal Centre in London and also went to the Council Offices in Uxbridge to lodge a protest and ask what on earth was going on. Needless to say, this assault on Christian liberties is going to be rigorously challenged. Displaying Bible posters and handing out evangelistic literature is an integral part of the gospel work, and it is utterly insulting for such activities to be associated with anti-social behaviour which needs banning. 

Let us pray that this matter will be quickly resolved so that the witness in Uxbridge carries on in the same way that it has been doing since 2018.