Ryan Hemelaar, Southeast Queensland leader of Operation 513, is no stranger to adversity. When the pandemic hit, the organisation’s street preaching tactics were suddenly out of the question. But they quickly pivoted, and just a few months later, the Gospel is a massive hit on TikTok.
Talking to Neil Johnson on Vision’s 20Twenty, Hemelaar explained how he’s been arrested multiple times for preaching in the Queen Street Maul after it was outlawed by the Brisbane City Council. Operation 513 pushed back against the Council’s attack on free speech, taking their challenge all the way to the High Court.
“Ultimately the High Court didn’t actually rule in our favour in that regard,” Hemelaar said. “But what I found is it meant the Gospel spread out further. So not only did it bring in more labourers to help share the Gospel for their teams, but it also enabled us to move location slightly as well.”
To their surprise, they found that operating in King George Square and surrounding areas, they reached more people, and often had longer conversations with those who were sitting down. “God works everything for His good, and for his glory. And so even when people try and oppose the Gospel, it usually makes the Gospel spread out further.”
When COVID-19 presented them a new challenge, Hemelaar and the leadership team at Operation 513 simply started thinking about how God wanted them to use this moment. The streets were empty, but cyberspace was full of people looking for answers. So they took their evangelism online.