I love Italy, and I will never forget Milan. There’s a good reason for that.
We arrived at our hotel around midnight, and I was able to get eight hours sleep. The team gathered with the local helpers in the hotel lobby in the morning, and off we went for another day’s filming.
We laid the foundational teaching for the program (the philosophy of this world) and then got a really good interview with an Italian couple. We then went by train to “the Duomo,” a famous and huge square in the heart of Milan. When we arrived, I could hardly believe my eyes. There was a magnificent church building with amazing structures surrounding a square, with about ten thousand people milling about . . . another open air preacher’s dream.
I excitedly set up the soap-box, and announced that Trish was going to try to escape from the straight jacket. A crowd of about three hundred people packed around and I preached the gospel, using the straight jacket as an illustration of how the chains of death hold every human until they come to Christ. I thanked the crowd, and finished.
Suddenly a large unshaven man with longish gray hair approached me and started raving in Italian. For some reason he was as mad at Carol as he was at me, and pushed her arm so that she was standing next to me. Our interpreter said that he was a top police officer.
When he demanded to see my passport, I told him that I had left it at the hotel. I gave him my driver’s license and Carol gave him hers. He was still angry and marched us towards some police cars and started talking about the need to have permission to film. He turned to Carol and insisted that she had taken his picture and he threatened to confiscate her $5000 camera for 20 days. The normally quiet Carol was so upset by that she almost passed out. She gestured frantically and insisted that she didn’t take his picture. Scotty showed up, heard what was going on, clicked on the camera and showed the officer the pictures. Thankfully, there were no photos of him.
When he asked where my passport was I told him that I had left it at the hotel. When he asked which hotel, I couldn’t tell him because I had no idea as it was our seventh in seven days.
He then started talking about seizing all of our HD cameras. I was all the while using a soft answer, even though he insisted on speaking to me in Italian. It was strange because he went on and on in Italian when there was no interpreter there, knowing that I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. All I said was “Gratzi.” When he walked away for a few moments, I asked Scotty to pray. He thanked God and asked Him to touch the man’s heart. To be honest I was excited at what was happening. If there’s no Pharaoh, there’s no opening of the Red Sea. Besides, I knew it would make interesting television.
When I told him that we were Christians he started to become reasonable. By now we had been held by the police for more than an hour. Then everything changed. We were told through the interpreter that the whole thing could be solved if I would pay a 198 Euro fine.
I was quite happy to pay the fine, but after another 15 minutes they took me across to the police car, wrote out my full name, address, etc., and asked me to sign forms. I gladly signed the one where I admitted that I was a “transgressor.” I admitted that more than 35 years ago.
EZ came across and told me that Val had gone to the police a month or so earlier when he scouted the area. He had been told by the police that we could use professional cameras, without a permit. He related that fact to the officer.
Then I was told that they had waved the fine. We posed with the top police officer for photos (the same one that was insisting that Carol took his photo), gave him tracts, and left. How prayer changes things.
Later on Tony (our sound-man) told me he recorded the entire incident, because I was still wearing the tiny microphone when they took me away. The incident has made the Fourth Series so much more exciting. I can’t wait to see what God does tomorrow in Switzerland.