An Interview with Sidewalk Evangelist John Barros
By John Barros
What is nicer than seeing police knock down doors and haul out evidence at Orlando Women’s Center abortion mill? The sheriff actually let me help put up the crime scene tape. Place is swarming with undercover cops. Thank you Jesus. This is so awesome! Furniture, paintings, ultrasound machines – everything being loaded onto a truck.
The above is from John Barros’ Facebook page. John is a missionary to the preborn at Orlando Women’s Center who does sidewalk counseling and preaching five days a week.
This is so amazing what is going on here today! People I forgot all about, who chose life for their babies, are coming down here to say thanks because they saw that the place is closing on TV.
Orlando Women’s Center is a place the used to kill babies. It’s not killing babies anymore because the police swarmed in here today with giant moving vans and movers. They completely wiped out everything that is in here. They took out all the tables, chairs, beds, ultra-sound machines, televisions, office furniture, computers – everything is gone.
They did it because they were collecting on a $36.7 million lawsuit judgment that James Pendergraft had against him. The attorneys for the girl that won the judgment had attached everything inside the building. So the sheriff came in and got it all out for them.
The lawsuit was over a girl who had come here for an abortion. The people who worked here gave her too much of a medication that she should not have received. She ended up getting very sick and she ended up going to a hospital that doesn’t do abortions. The baby was born very early and has multiple physical and emotional problems. James Pendergraft had paid over $100,000 dollars of the judgment, but that’s nowhere near the amount he owes.
I got here early this morning and the police had already kicked in the back door before they opened. They began the process of moving things out. The abortion clinic workers were coming down here. The police wouldn’t let them in except to get something they had inside. They would have to have a policeman with them. They systematically removed everything in the building.
I am ecstatic! I’ve been sitting on a wall next to this clinic for three years every single day. To see something that so many people have prayed for come to fruition is beyond belief!
Pendergraft was here and was trying to get on every single television station to try to plead his case. He said that the furniture in the clinic was not his and belongs to someone else. Then he said that this case was a long time ago and has nothing to do with the way he does things now. Blah, blah, blah!
There is no way that this place is open for business tomorrow. There is not one thing left in there. We are planning to have a praise and thanksgiving celebration here at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.
Pendergraft has four other abortion mills. They are already referring people over to the EPOC center on Virginia Avenue in downtown Orlando. The plaintiff’s lawyers are planning to take the assets of EPOC too. The problem is getting these things done through the courts because Pendergraft has several dozen corporations.
We need to give God thanks and praise for closing this place. We need to pray that it stays closed and that James Pendergraft’s kingdom of abortion clinics keeps tumbling down until he is totally out of business.
Pendergraft looked highly upset this morning. He was really angry with the fact that this happened. No one knew this was coming. It came down fast! It reminds me of God’s judgment. We can go on and on and we don’t see judgment hit. Then all of a sudden, bam! It’s there! That is what happened today.
The police officers were here when I arrived and one asked me what I was doing here. I told him that I come everyday. Dr. Collins next door allows me to use his property for sidewalk counseling. Then I asked him if he knew what they do here.
I told him that on Wednesdays they give late-term girls a shot and it begins labor, and they give the baby a shot to kill they baby. And then they march the mothers in the parking lot for up to three days, and then they bring them in and have them deliver their baby in a toilet half full of water. In Randall Whitney’s own court testimony, he spoke of the babies moving around in the water.
He was disgusted. Then he said, “Well then, I don’t think you’ll mind helping me to put this crime scene tape up.’
And I said, “It would be an honor.”
For three years, I’ve been out here every single day, Monday through Friday from 7 am to 4 pm. Today it is about 94 degrees and about 90 percent humidity. Tomorrow I am coming here just because a lot of people will not know that this place is not open any longer. Good conversations can come out of that. Then I can offer them hope and help. I can lead them to a crisis pregnancy center or people that can help them.
I talked to every single news station in Orlando today. I was able to share the Gospel with them and about the horrors of what this place was. They said they would put it on the news. One of the young ladies from Univision was visibly moved to tears when I shared what happened here.
This judgment was from a court case. And we fully understand that God uses secondary causes to do His will. But the workers wanted to blame me this morning.
They said, “It’s your fault now that women are going to have to go to a hospital and pay $3000 to get a D&C done.”
I said, “You all know that’s not what was happening here!”
They just cursed at me and left.
I was here all alone when everything was coming down, but then I was able to catch my breath and get my heart to quit beating out of my chest, I posted on Facebook what was going on.
Thankfully, some of the other end sidewalk counselors from around the city came by to congratulate me on the closing of this clinic. Of course, it is not me. It is a court case that did it. The beautiful thing that happened was that some people saw it on the news who had chosen life and who had kept their babies came down here. They wanted to tell the reporters about that side of what happens here – about life and about God moving in their hearts. It’s about God changing hearts and bringing life.
The reporters were flabbergasted because thought that I was the stereotypical abortion protester with “Babies are murdered here” signs. But this is more of an evangelistic work. It has been a beautiful day. There have been people coming by who had seen it on the news, but had never been here. They came to pray and brought me water and Gatorade. It have just been beautiful.
I live out here every day. It has been like a stinking Stephen King novel. Nothing makes sense. Everything is upside down and backwards.
Then all of a sudden the police swoop in and judgment and justice are meted out. Wow! I can’t believe it. I am sitting here and my heart is about to beat out of my chest. I just can’t believe what happened here today – still I don’t.
Tosh 4.2: Christians Arrested in Winter Park’s “No-Free-Speech” Buffer Zone”
WINTER PARK, Florida (www.forerunner.com) – On Saturday, May 18th, 2013, I was arrested on Aloma Avenue in Winter Park, Florida, a four lane highway in a residential area, and charged with “Picketing Where Prohibited.”
This is what has happened up to this point.
The City of Winter Park passed an ordinance in August of 2012 that appears to ban residential picketing in the City of Winter Park. At the commission meeting, the Mayor Kenneth Bradley voted against the ordinance because he stated it was unconstitutional. Several attorneys attempted to enlighten the city commission regarding the errors in the ordinance. However, the city commission passed the new ordinance with one member, Tom McMacken, stating he did not care if it was unconstitutional.
The ordinance was adopted in response to a residential “Awareness Campaign” last August by a group of Christian evangelists who wanted to distribute literature and march through a neighborhood where the president and CEO of an abortion clinic lives.
In response to a court challenge, Larry Brown explains on 10/22/12 what the anti-picketing ordinance actually does and does not do.
When the no-free-speech ordinance was challenged in court as written, the Winter Park city attorney explained that “picketing” is very narrowly defined in the ordinance. He said that “picketing” may still allow marching and speech within the buffer zones created by the ordinance. However, the attorneys challenging the ordinance argued it is still confusing as written.
There is a group of pro-life evangelists from the Orlando area that has been trying to seek clarification of what is allowed and is not allowed under the ordinance.
Here is a video of our first encounter with the police after the ordinance was enacted on April 13th, 2013. In this encounter the police do not threaten arrest, but say that anyone in the buffer zone could be “subject to arrest” if the city “made that determination.”
Dr. Pat McEwen explains to a freelance reporter what happened during the first challenge.
Dick Maxwell explains what we were trying to accomplish in the first challenge. This is followed by the response of the Winter Park City Commission at a meeting in which they seem confused as to what the ordinance actually does.
Here the police explain that we can march back and forth in the buffer zone but cannot stand in the buffer zone even without signs. Still they repeatedly refuse to threaten us with arrest. This is in contradiction to what they told us two weeks before. This time they say we can march in the buffer zone. But this begs the question. If we are not holding signs that target a residence, how do they know what constitutes the “buffer zone”?
Here is the third challenge. This time the city police arrest us on the spot and threaten those who are marching in and out of the buffer zone with arrest.
On May 18th, 2013, a larger group of 25 in the area of Aloma Avenue were conducting a similar pro-life campaign as the one held last August. Some were testing various aspects of the ordinance. The enforcement has been confusing because the city’s officials make contradictory statements about the ordinance. The Winter Park city attorney has stated in court that picketers could move through the buffer zone. But city police officers have stated picketers could not enter the buffer zone.
As part of my vocation, I work as a Christian missionary and videographer and have produced several DVD presentations and other media on a variety of topics, including the “sanctity of life” issue. I was present not as a “picketer” on Aloma Avenue, but as a videographer trying to bring greater awareness to this issue. I was standing with a group of three people who were arrested.
I held a video camera, Professor Pat McEwen read a blue leather bound Bible, Cheryl Bischoff had a sign that said “Celebrate Life” with a picture of some cute babies. Whether picketers could move through the buffer zone or not, I was not in violation of the ordinance under any interpretation because I was recording the video and was not picketing. Because an attorney had already challenged the ordinance in a lawsuit that was dismissed in March, the picketers were seeking clarification on what the anti-picketing ordinance actually does. The reason I had a video camera was to record the various contradictory statements by the police.
The ordinance was confusing even to the SWAT Team who were called out to arrest us. (Winter Park utilizes a multi-city SWAT team that is on call on weekends for various reasons.) On May 18th, we were doing the same thing as on the previous occasions when the police refused to threaten to arrest anyone. This time, the police over-reacted to a peaceful gathering. The SWAT officers could not find a copy of the ordinance in their system, which delayed our processing. They apologized for that repeatedly. One of them confided to us that he agreed with what we were doing in principle. The arrest report also contains “evidence” that does not apply to the terms of the ordinance, such as a complaint by neighbors who were not the target of any of the picketers. They also could not come up with a name for the law we violated, so they settled on “Picketing Where Prohibited.”
The arrest report (click to enlarge) claims we were “warned three other times” on 4/27/2013. It also includes a complaint of “vehicles honking” from a neighbor across the street outside the “buffer zone” where we were arrested. It is unclear from the report which resident made the complaint.
Orange County Florida’s public website (click to enlarge) mistakenly records that each of the three of us arrested were being charged with a “prostitution offense.” It is later corrected to “picketing where prohibited” in response to our complaint.
To add insult to injury, when the charges were entered into public record on the Orange County Clerk of Courts, each of us was mistakenly charged with “Prostitution.” This is simply beyond words. Although the mistake was cleared up in time, this false information could be viewed on the Internet at the Clerk of Courts website. The “guilt by association” has been damaging to each of us.
In short, I was merely videotaping an event to record the statements of the police to see if they could clarify what appears to be an unconstitutional ordinance. I was not picketing under the definitions stated in the ordinance. The City of Winter Park and Orange County behaved in a confused and incompetent manner. In my view, each of us was arrested even though all three of us were obeying the ordinance. I believe it was necessary to video record the challenge and it was our right to do so under the First Amendment.
This is not persecution
Although we might be tempted to despair and call this “persecution,” this is nothing compared to what Christians have to go through on a daily basis in communist and Muslim countries around the world. It is light suffering compared to the over one million babies who are killed each year by having their arms, legs and heads ripped off while they are still in the womb.
I don’t like focusing on the first amendment rights of Christians while a much greater atrocity of going on. However, this is necessary to do while we are still free in this nation. To remain free, we need to challenge tyranny wherever it begins to rear its head. Challenging the culture ought to be the normal experience of Christians, especially in the times that we now live.
“You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matthew 10:18-20).
The church is tasked with preaching three messages that can get Christians jailed or killed. Look up the following scriptures and it you are willing to understand (he who has ears to hear) and obey, it will change your life.
- There is another Temple (a challenge to man’s religious system)
John 2:19 ; Matthew 27:39-40.
- There is another King (a challenge to Caesar) Acts 17:5-8.
- There is another God (a challenge to man-made gods) Acts 17:22-34 ; Acts 19:28-34.
The simple reason that the First Congregationalist Church of Winter Park, the Winter Park City Commission and the residents of Aloma Avenue felt as though a small group of peaceful, gentle Christians were turning their city upside down is simply because we came preaching that there is another Temple, another King and another God.
Above are Robert Massaro and Madeline Pots. (Click to enlarge). They live on a four lane highway. They have been saying since last August that they are fighting for their lives after their recovery from surgery. Our awareness campaigns are disturbing because cars honk at us.
Madeline lied in a city commission meeting, saying: “They had huge banners and posters, very graphic posters. They were shouting scripture. They were yelling and waving to cars. My husband appealed to them to quiet down, which they didn’t do until there was a police presence. They positioned their young children along Aloma Avenue, literally inches from the curb.”
Of course, you can see from the videos that this is sheer exaggeration. They also looked fairly spry and healthy for two people fighting for their lives. Robert runs Sunseye Inc., which sells new age/pagan paraphernalia — cauldrons, Goddess oils, incense, Goddess cards. Madeline is known around Winter Park for her Gothic Folk ukelele artistry. At each Awareness Campaign, they came out to engage with us and each time Christians attempted to share the Gospel with them and explain why we were there.
“Do not worry about how or what you should speak”
As we were processed through the Orange County Jail, which took about nine hours in total, I had the opportunity to preach to about a dozen jail workers and inmates. Along each step of the way, I did not have to think of what to say, but people were either drawn or repelled by simple things that the Holy Spirit prompted me to share.
For example, I had to give my religious preference when I checked in.
I asked: “What have you got?”
I looked at the list and I picked “evangelical” — I explained what it meant. I said it means that you believe that “You must be born-again.”
Soon I had about seven of the processors gathered around me wanting to know why I’d go to an abortion clinic CEO’s home and get arrested. We talked about the murder case in Tampa that had been in the news that week. Federal law says that killing an unborn first trimester child is murder. We also talked about God’s Law, what is means to be “born-again,” and whether the death penalty is commanded by God.
My bunkmate (for all of three hours) was a 43-year-old crystal meth dealer who I tried to sympathize with. When I bonded out, he felt he had to give me his cell phone number.
On my release, the processor asked me me to repeat my name, DOB, and reason for arrest.
I said, “John Rogers, 6/24/62, Standing for Jesus on a sidewalk.”
The woman asked me to repeat that and smiled.
The jail officer asked me if I was insulting the woman at the desk.
I said, “No, just the opposite. I am praising God.”
He said, “What if she doesn’t believe in God?”
“Well, either He dies exist or He does not exist … and He does exist!”
“How do you know? Have you seen him? Have you touched him?”
“Yes! I know His presence!”
“Oh really?” he said mockingly.
“If you could feel the presence of God right now, would you believe in Jesus?”
“Don’t preach! You’re preaching to me!”
“No sir, you asked me a question and I elaborated.”
“Don’t preach in here! You are preaching!”
That was my whole point. That’s why we were arrested. But I didn’t want to be arrested again on my way out. So I left it at that.
An Eyewitness Account by Dr. Pat McEwen
Jay Rogers, Cheryl Bischoff and I were arrested Saturday, May 18th, 2013 on the public sidewalk of Winter Park, Florida, outside residence of the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, Jenna Tosh. Cheryl was holding a small sign with a picture of a beautiful baby and the words “Celebrate Life!” I was reading silently from my Bible and praying. Jay was filming. Without warning all three of us were arrested. The charge was “picketing where prohibited.” Yes, in the United States of America this happened to gentle Christians on the public sidewalk.
We were not picketing. We were not targeting anyone, but that meant little to whoever had ordered the arrest. The arresting police were the SWAT Team (not geared up, but with the SWAT insignia on their uniforms and all the paraphernalia in the trunk). They treated us very kindly. They seemed to not like what they were ordered to do. We were transported in separate cars (Jay in one, Cheryl and I in the other).
Our arresting officer was interested in “who” we were and “why” we were there. When Cheryl said she was “just” a professional housewife, he replied, “Don’t ever say just! That is the highest calling for a woman. I could never do all my wife does as a mom. She amazes me.”
After we were booked at Winter Park police station, we were transported to the Orange County Correctional Facility (where we held a memorial for Caylee Anthony during our national event). There we had the opportunity to witness to Orange County correctional officers and inmates.
At one time, Jay had a big crowd of the intake officers around him asking questions about why we do these things. He looked like a teacher holding class. Cheryl and I were “working the crowd” of inmates in the holding area until we were bonded out.
Cheryl and Jay were released about three hours before me. I was arrested at 10:23 AM and was out by 11:20 PM. At first, I fretted a bit wondering what the “mix–up” was when I was left in the holding area while Cheryl and Jay were released (we had all already paid bond). I did not want to pay bond and still stay in jail all night. Then I had an epiphany. Realizing that God does not make mistakes, I started to look around for the reason I was left behind.
The holding area began to fill up with Saturday night drunks. Then they brought in eight new people from a transport from New Jersey. I saw a woman crying and looking so lost. She was one of the transport people. She had been for four days in shackles sitting up in a transport van with only restroom breaks. Her paperwork said “no bond” and she just lost it. I walked over saying it was lonely where I was sitting and did she mind if I sat near her. We talked in the holding cell and then we were both taken “upstairs” and given our bed rolls for the night.
I finally spoke to her about her bond problem. I told her I had an lawyer who paid my bond for my whole life. That caught her interest and after a bit she surrendered her life to the Lord. Then about half an hour later I was released. I called her mother-in-law (who is taking care of her two children) as I was out and told her when she would go to trial. I will keep contact with her.
When God says, “Go …” and we obey, then He will do wonders.
The three of us are not heroes. We were just doing what all Christians are expected to do, “Go therefore and make disciples …” (Matthew 28:19).
“But be doers of the word and not hearers only” and practice “pure and undefiled religion … to visit orphans and widows in their trouble” (James 1:22,27).
So come on Church, let’s take the battle right to the source of the evil! See you at the gates of hell!
The Day Free Speech Died in Winter Park, Florida – Part 2
By Michele Herzog
Could it really happen in America? Could three citizens be arrested on the public sidewalk for reading a Bible, having a camera and holding a “Celebrate Life” sign? I want to believe that this could not happen in the country I love so dearly, but yesterday it did.
The city of Winter Park Florida thought that these three American citizens were dangerous enough to call in the city SWAT team to body search, handcuff and arrest fellow pro-life evangelists and friends Jay Rogers, Professor Pat McEwen, and Cheryl Bischoff. They were then taken to the Orange County Jail for booking.
Editor’s note: The Winter Park SWAT team is often used on weekends to respond to calls as a matter of routine. We don’t know for certain that they thought these peaceful Christians were “dangerous.” Or did they? And why did they have to bring a machine gun? Of course, that makes the story more interesting!
Why did this city find it necessary to go to such measures to arrest three Christians on a public sidewalk? Let’s go back to last August when a group of peaceful Christians took to the streets and held a public witness in the neighborhood and residence of the newly promoted CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, Jenna Tosh. This particular center performs on an average of over 100 abortions per week!
Almost immediately city commissioners of Winter Park went to the aide of Jenna Tosh and passed a 60-day emergency ban on residential picketing that targets a specific home. Later commissioners approved in a 4-1 vote an ordinance that would make the ban permanent, but not without a packed house of concerned citizens expressing their utter dismay and opposition to this ban that prohibits free speech. Mayor Ken Bradley was the only dissenting vote, expressing his opposition to the ban citing it as unconstitutional.
Since then, pro-lifers have gone back to publicly witness and share the truth of abortion in the neighborhood with police coming, telling the Christians they must leave, but never with the threat of arrest. The police on both occasions seemed to be confused as to what the ordinance really enacted.
This led to yesterday’s Awareness Campaign leading to the arrests of my friends, who love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul. While they sat in the jail, we all stood outside of the jail holding signs, worshiping the Lord and praying that God would protect our brother and sisters in Christ and use them for the time they would be behind bars in jail, and that He did!
This is only the beginning, but I believe with all my heart that this is what Jesus meant when He said to be the salt and light of the earth. Please pray with us down here in Central Florida that God will use these unjust arrests to bring God glory and to challenge this ordinance that bans American citizens from their first amendment rights of free speech!
City Attorney Larry Brown and the Winter Park Police try to explain
WINTER PARK, Florida (www.forerunner.com) – On October 22, 2012, Winter Park City Attorney Larry Brown gave details explaining what the city’s anti-picketing ordinance actually does.
The city and the city commissioners have been sued for the recently enacted anti-picketing ordinance which simply prohibits picketing within a 50-foot buffer from private residences. Picketing is defined as “standing, milling about, loitering” in front of someone’s residence while you’re protesting the specific people inside the residence. The ordinance doesn’t prohibit marching, parading. It doesn’t prohibit general expression. It just prohibits the focus right in front of someone’s home. – City Attorney Larry Brown
Now if someone could just explain this to the Winter Park City Police and the City Commissioners!
Compare this with the following explanation on April 13th, 2013 by the Winter Park Police.
The police got it partly right and partly wrong. The police say in the video that they had been on the phone with the city attorney all morning trying to understand the ordinance. They understood that “protesters” cannot picket inside the buffer zone. They also thought that no one can “loiter” outside the buffer zone. Either City Attorney Larry Brown was not telling the truth or they were confused.
Here is how one pro-life evangelist explained his understanding of the ordinance and how the City Commission responded:
Now fast forward to three weeks ago, April 27th.
Again they get it wrong. But they are less wrong this time. This was the second challenge to the “no-free-speech” buffer zone ordinance. Two weeks prior to this the police understood that we could not picket in side the buffer zone. They also thought that we cannot “loiter” outside the buffer zone.
This time they gave us a little more. They said we can march back and forth inside the buffer zone and camp out outside, but we cannot stand still inside the buffer zone even if we did not have signs targeting the residence.
This got a little confusing for a next door neighbor who thought that we were going to jail because we were outside her home.
It remains to be seen what would happen if someone stood outside the 50 foot buffer zone targeting the Planned Parenthood CEO and another person stood in front of that residence targeting the next door neighbor in the video 50 feet away from her property line.
In conclusion, I don’t blame the police or anyone in Winter Park for being confused about this ordinance. It is confusing. The best thing to do with the First Amendment is to just leave it alone. We can’t have freedom inside our homes unless we have the freedom to demonstrate our First Amendment rights outside.
Stay tuned for Tosh 4.0.
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