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Friday, 9 May, 2008
Leicester Square & Tooting Broadway (9th -10th May)
Last night I joined up once more with my good friend Phil for another evening of street evangelism. Unfortunately events of the day meant that we arrived too late at Tooting Broadway to spend any time there ministering. We hopped on the tube and headed for Leicester Square. Arriving just after 9pm I was excited to see the throngs of people who were out to party and have a good time. Leicester Square really is a great spot for street evangelism.
We made our way over to the spot that we have been using for the last three weeks or so - opposite the Empire Theatre against the railings. Artists line these railings doing portraits of people and caricatures. Up until now we have simply slotted in between them when a space has opened up. Last night we attempted to do the same, except this time a very disgruntled artist came up to us pleading with us not to do so, since that would cause a crowd to form, which would affect his business. This seemed ridiculous to me. I explained to him that we did not wish in any way to affect his business and that it was our right to stand there. I also explained that we have had no problems with the authorities in this regard. Just then a police officer headed our way so our artist friend approached the officer to complain. "Oh brother!" was my first thought. I went over to the officer and introduced myself. I presented our case and explained that we had not had problems before. The officer actually stood up for us and said there was nothing stopping us from preaching. However there was nothing that was going to deter this artist and he persisted to such an extent that the officer asked whether there was not some other area that we could use. We agreed and moved to another part of the square. I was feeling frustrated and annoyed and I confess that it did have me a little rattled. Still, I realised that we needed to learn how to handle these sorts of things, as we know that resistance will come.
My brother James arrived soon after and so we got ready to begin ministering the Word. Carl, who had also come through to join us, was still in a one-to-one conversation that he had started before we had arrived. I let him know where we would be so that he could join us when he had finished. Heading back to our "new spot" I stood up to preach. At first only a handful of people stopped to listen but as time went on more and more people began to take interest. After about ten minutes or so a group of young Muslim men entered into the fray. I knew things would now get interesting. As is the common practise the Muslims fired at me the typical questions. They were aggressive and forceful and very domineering. This is to be expected. It can be frustrating as they don't allow you to even get a word in when they are like this. However one young man, who called himself Adam (I discovered later that this was not his name) was far more reasonable than his friends and repeatedly told them to show me some respect and allow me to speak. I was grateful for this and I knew that God was working. It does seem that the majority of the Muslims I meet are simply out to attack Christianity in an aggressive way. Yet there are those who are more reasonable and willing to listen. Adam was one of those. (Let me point that we too want to attack Islam. The point I am making is the aggressiveness of their approach and the fact that they refuse to be reasonable. They ask questions but really their minds are already made up. Please pray that there will be those like Adam that will listen).
The majority of their questions and objections were aimed at attacking Christianity; again, this is common practise. I will say this. For all their efforts to shout me down they succeeded in bringing in a greater crowd. I was greatly encouraged by this and turned to preaching the gospel more earnestly to the crowd.
After preaching and answering questions and objections for close on an hour I came down off my step ladder. It was funny because Adam wanted me to carry on preaching! I told him that my voice would never be able to handle it. At this particular point I noticed that a young man was motioning for my attention. As soon as he started talking I noticed straight away he was from Australia. He seemed quite keen on talking with me. I discovered that he was most displeased with what I had been talking about. He said that he did not discount that there is a God but did not see how I could say that the Christian God of the Bible was the one true God. He felt that me saying Jesus is the way, the truth and the life is discriminatory. I tried desperately to reason with this young man but he seemed to have only one agenda. He was quite strong in his approach and I felt that his mind was already made up before he even asked a question. It was clear that he had some sort of Christian background, since he spoke of a verse in Leviticus that says a man who commits a homosexual act should be killed. I pointed out to him that the Old Covenant has been replaced by the New Covenant. This led to him saying, along with the Muslims who were standing near by, that the Bible had been changed and altered. I struggle to understand how they come to that conclusion. Jeremiah prophesied that God would make a new covenant with the house of Israel, a new covenant that surpasses and is far greater than the old covenant. (Jeremiah 31:31-33) God chose to do this, not man. It is recorded in the Word for us. Nothing has been changed by man, man has simply written down what God has directed him to write down.
As time moved on I got to speak with another Muslim from the group. He was quite a young man and one who had been quite vocal when I had been preaching. Now that it was just the two of us things were a little different. I told him that God's standards are infinitely higher than man's standards. This he agreed with. I told him that God is just. This he agreed with. I then said that if a human judge could not let a criminal (who was clearly guilty of a serious crime) go free, but rather must execute justice, how much more must God, who is the Just Judge of the entire universe?? For a brief moment I could see on his face acknowledgment that what I was saying is true. I could see that he clearly understood what I was saying. I think he realised that I had exposed the holes in his argument because he came back at me again with an explanation of how Allah is just yet at the same time is willing let the guilty go free. You see, if God is just He must punish sin. The Bible tells us that, "He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD." (Proverbs 17:15). Without a sinless, perfect substitute to die in our place, we would all end up in hell. Since we are guilty God cannot justify us, unless our guilt is passed to another. And this is why the Christian rejoices. "For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is the genius of God. In Christ both His wrath and His grace are satisfied. God's wrath is poured out, but on Jesus, not us. God's mercy is extended to those He wishes to save. He has demonstrated both His justice and His mercy. Both are satisfied.
There was another chap who had been listening quite intently whilst I had been preaching. His name was Paal. As we got talking I discovered that he had issues with the fact that if all we need to do is believe in Jesus and in so doing earn eternal life, then that means we can sit back and sin knowing that we're saved anyway. I explained to him that when the Christian repents and puts their trust in Jesus, they are made a new creation. God changes the disposition of their heart. The sin they once loved they now hate. Christians still sin, but there is now a wrestle that takes place inside them because of the Holy Spirit that has filled them. He seemed to understand this. I gave him a gospel tract and my contact details and he left shaking my hand. Please pray for Paal!
It was now gone 11:00pm and so it was time to head on home. My brother James was just finishing up a conversation with a couple of people and Phil was handing out tracts. Carl had already left a little earlier. As the three of us headed for the tube station we praised God for using us once more.
It was just myself and Antonio today at Tooting Broadway. Antonio is still a young Christian and so to see him on the street each week is a real blessing. He is not quite at the place where he is approaching people to talk with them but he is faithfully handing out tracts to the passerby's. When we arrived this morning a pastor from an Evangelical Anglican church, along with people from his church, were at the tube station ministering the gospel. I had met them once before and it was good to see them again. When we arrived the pastor was preaching and the members of his church were handing out tracts so we went about handing out tracts as well. I got talking with a young man named Nester. He listened as I shared the whole counsel of God with him. He understood what I was saying yet did not seem moved at all by the gospel. As he left he handed back the tract that I had given him. It is heart breaking to see this but God's Word does not return void and I can only pray that the Holy Spirit will work to convict him of his sin so that he will turn in repentance and faith to the Lord. I spoke briefly with the pastor from the Anglican Church before he left. He couldn't really stop to chat but we exchanged contact details and I hope to speak with Him some more. I stood up to preach and a few people did stop to pay attention to what I had to say. It is a completely different setting to Leicester Square but even if only a few people stop to hear the Word I will still rejoice in the Lord.
Once more a great weekend of ministry. As long as we have breath we must go on preaching God's Word.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Credit: Images from www.Wikapedia.org