Toronto police arrested a street evangelist Tuesday night for preaching on a street corner in the city’s gay village. They released him Wednesday morning but instructed him not to go to the homosexual district or any Pride month events.
Pastor David Lynn of Christ Forgiveness Ministries gathered with about 12-15 other Christians on a street corner in Christ-Wellesley Village. His made the stop as part of a preaching tour through all 22 districts in Toronto. Another ministry that was present, Torch of Christ, shared a video of the entire event on YouTube and Lynn’s ministry shared a shorter, edited version.
As the group joined in a circle to pray before Lynn started preaching, a crowd of onlookers started to gather around them. Lynn started preaching on a microphone with a portable speaker, saying, “God is good, God is really good. We are here to offer free information about Jesus to all who would like free information.” The video then cuts to a group beginning to confront Lynn about his preaching. Lynn said he was tolerant of everyone and asked if they would be tolerant of him as a Christian. One man said he did not want Lynn to “spew” his beliefs right on top of them and another said Lynn was disturbing a peaceful neighborhood by preaching with a microphone.
By the end of Lynn’s time preaching and interacting with the crowd, those opposing him grew more aggressive. Several onlookers held up a large gay pride flag in front of Lynn. When he would try to walk to get around the flag, others would block his path. Others in the group sought to shout Lynn down.
Police officers came up to Lynn and told him he would have to stop preaching. Lynn put down the microphone and tried to preach without it, but the crowd started yelling so that he could not be heard. Eventually, a number of officers showed up and arrested Lynn for disturbing the peace and for not complying with their demands. One of the arresting officers, whose uniform sported a patch with a Canadian flag set against a gay pride flag backdrop told CityNews “The difficulty becomes when that expression on loudspeaker and using screaming and insulting language results in people responding in a negative way.” He said the resulting confrontations “put everyone at risk.”
David Hoffman, an evangelist who wrote about the event for the Christian Post, disagreed with the officer’s characterization of Lynn’s message. He said, “Throughout the video, it is surprising to see the reaction of those who were listening to Lynn’s preaching. The more love he poured out, the more hate and resistance he received. As anyone can see if they view the video, Pastor Lynn was respectful and kind throughout all of his time preaching. As he shared the Gospel, he also made statements like ‘We are here to tell you that we hate nobody.’ He emphasized God’s love again and again.”
Lynn’s group has been targeted by police for street evangelism before, but it is unlikely to stop them from sharing the good news. One member of the group told CityNews“We believe that it’s worth the persecution against us. We believe that it’s worth the arrests.”
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”
Photo courtesy: Matthew Lai/Unsplash
Video courtesy: Chrsit's Forgiveness