Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Pastor Arrested Sunday Following Worship Service

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Canadian Pastor Artur Pawlowski, who kicked police out of his church when they tried to shut him down on Easter weekend, was arrested Sunday for holding an "illegal in-person gathering."

Pulled over by several police cars and a swat team after leaving the Sunday worship service, the pastor and his brother were handcuffed in the middle of the road and hauled away to jail.

In a statement, the Calgary Police said the arrest was "lawfully enforced" and they had a court order to arrest the two men following the church service.

No, this didn't happen in the United States, but is it only steps away? 

And it's chilling.

It reminds me of my experience in old Soviet-dominated Poland.

Be informed, not misled.

After leaving the church this past Sunday, Pastor Artur Pawlowski and his brother Dawid Pawlowski were pulled over by at least 5 police cars and a swat team.

They were arrested, according to a statement put out by the police department, for holding an "illegal in-person gathering as per COVID-19 limits set by a new court order."

The arrest took place on a freeway or main highway blocking traffic and certainly drawing attention.

As seen in the video, the brothers knelt on the road and refused to walk on their own during the arrest.

This was not the first time the police had attempted to shut down the pastor and his church.

Over Easter weekend, police appeared in the church during a worship service with the intent to shut it down. The pastor confronted the police, telling them they were acting like "Gestapo" and told them if they didn't have a "warrant," to leave. They left.

I talked a little about the incident the next day on our live radio program.

Fox News interviewed the pastor the following week. The interview is about 7 minutes and 59 seconds and includes video of the police entering the church and the pastor strongly resisting. I recommend you watch it because it gives context to the pastor's response---then and again Sunday.

How much power over religious freedom should the state---any state---be given?

Thomas Jefferson said they should be given none. In his letter to the Danbury Baptists, he assured the church that he and the other Founders of our nation had created a "wall of separation" so the state could not meddle in the affairs of the church.

That wall of protection in the US has been inverted and is used to restrict the church and control its activities. As we all know.

But this incident is in Canada, not the U.S.

That's right. But we should feel the chill. Canada is not a third-world country on the other side of the world. People living in Blaine, Washington, and other border cities, are very aware of just how close Canada is---geographically and culturally---literally steps away.

I'll come back to "steps away" in a moment.

The Calgary Police Service claimed that law enforcement "recognizes people's desire to participate in faith-based gatherings as well as the right to protest," but that it is seeking "to ensure everyone's safety and well being."

Is the perceived common good more important than religious freedom in a free society? In this case, it is. 

The legal order the police were acting on says, "This order imposes new restrictions on organizers of protests and demonstrations requiring compliance with public health orders including masking, physical distancing, and attendance limits."

With certainty, we can assume the police are not approaching "peaceful demonstrations" with the same sense of urgency in Canada or the U.S.

These people were worshiping God, not breaking and burning things that didn't belong to them.

My point here is not primarily about the so-called "science" that is supposedly leading these kinds of laws---in Canada and the U.S.---but the willingness to be heavy-handed on religion, and the reluctance to be on demonstrators who actually are a threat to the public in their breaking, looting, and burning in cities across the world.

The police statement says the Pawlowski brothers "have both been arrested and charged with organizing an illegal in-person gathering, including requesting, inciting or inviting others to attend an illegal public gathering, promoting and attending an illegal gathering."

My personal experience in Pawlowski's native country--Poland.

Pastor Artur Pawlowski was born on March 28, 1973, in Kozuchow, Poland. Born and raised there. When he was 16, his parents fled Poland and the death grip of Soviet communism that was then choking the life out of the country and its people. His family went to Greece, then in 1995, they immigrated to Canada where he became a citizen on February 2, 2004.

My first trip to Poland was in 1974. My close friend and long-time soloist on the "Haven of Rest" radio program, the late Truitt Ford, was with me. We met up with a close friend of mine from Seattle, whose family had also left Poland and legally immigrated to the U.S. and had become citizens.

I was scheduled to speak around the country. Truitt sang at the meetings.

Our first service was in Warsaw. First Baptist Church. The pastors I was working with were from several different denominations. They told me to expect the presence of Gestapo types in our services and not to be surprised when they sat on the front pew with tape recorders.

That night the church was full. So was the front pew. Gestapo always do what they were created to do. They didn't disappoint.

My pastor friends also told me that if I preached about the biblical teaching on the "judgment of nations," I could expect to be arrested---but because I was from the U.S., I could expect to be released in a day or two. I had not planned to preach on that subject anyway.

The next day we were in Krakow. While Truitt and I were taking a walk downtown that afternoon, I saw someone across the street who looked familiar. No, they weren't from Los Angles or our church in North Hollywood---they had actually attended the service the previous evening. All three of them. They were on the front pew. The same guys.

And they were in the church that night---and every night. Except for one. That night we were taken to an old, mostly abandoned warehouse district in the city. A couple of cars were parked in the general area, otherwise, it was deserted. Seemingly.

As we walked up the creaky staircase to a second-floor, I honestly wondered if we should even be there, but I trusted the men of God we were with. As we entered a large room without chairs or seating, there were close to two thousand people standing quietly gathered to worship God. It was then the pastors told me we were in an unannounced "illegal" meeting.

And that I should open my heart to the people. There would be no Gestapo types in this place. Most likely.

I remember that experience as though it was yesterday. While in the country, Truitt and I stayed in the home of a pastor who was the overseer or lead pastor of a fellowship of evangelical pastors across the country.

I'll call him Rev. "S". Some of his sons are today still working to advance the gospel in Communist-dominated countries. Sometimes violating their anti-Christian laws.

His "home" was a two-room flat, plus a bathroom, on the 4th floor of a building that had to be hundreds of years old. It was home to him, his wife, and his 4 sons. And now, Truitt and me for a few days.

During those few days, Pastor "S" told me about the extreme resistance and oppression from the Soviets. How they created rules directly aimed at disrupting and canceling any kind of church meetings. And any advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

One day his wife suggested he show me his back. Reluctantly he removed his shirt. From his neck to his waist, his back was covered with layers of scars from beating upon beating upon beating. The charges against him were usually for "organizing illegal gatherings." Or preaching from Scriptures that were deemed illegal by the state.

I can hardly write about this experience without tears.

Each night we had peas, cheese, and goat's milk for our meal. The goat was tied up near the entrance to the building, the peas were growing in a small garden spot near the goat.

And each night we "knelt" in prayer around the table, thanking God for the food we were about to eat. And all His other blessings.

The night before we left, Pastor "S" told me he kept somewhat informed on what was happening in the United States.

Then he said this. I will never forget: "Gary, sometimes I fear that America is only a few steps away from losing its freedom." He said, "it happens subtly when people are distracted and misled, or forget God."

This is the cultural environment that Pastor Pawlowski was born and raised in. The environment his family fled.


The personal experience I shared happened in 1974. I would return to Poland several times over the next few years. 

This is the social environment Pastor Artur Pawlowski grew up in, and in the time in which he was growing up in Poland. Perhaps this can give us a better perspective on his passion for freedom and his strong resistance.

He's seen it before. So have I. If my friend Pastor "S" saw this coming to America nearly 50 years ago, how much more clearly should we see it coming today?

The people of Poland eventually rebelled---millions rebelled against the Soviet Union. That led to freedom from the Communists.

Laws are being written, not only in Canada but in the United States with the expressed purpose of silencing the Christian church and her moral voice of biblical truth. 

And laws are being written and approved that not only silence the pulpits but silence Christians and their testimony to the power of the gospel to deliver and restore the most perverse and destructive behaviors of sin. And those who do speak publicly are increasingly being met with new laws that punish them for believing and speaking such things.

We are indeed only a few steps away. 

In the 1980s, Poland took a stand and ultimately freed themselves from their oppression.

Corrie Ten Boom often shared how she along with her sister, while in prison, would sing the little song, "Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross...lift high the royal banner, it must not suffer loss."

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Bold. Be Prayerful.