Having met up with Antonio on Friday evening at Tooting Broadway, Phil and I hopped on the tube and headed to Leicester Square. (Antonio stayed behind to hand out tracts to all those coming in and out of the tube station.) We arrived at 8.30pm and immediately met up with Andrew and Virgil. We opened in prayer and spent a short while handing out tracts and talking with people. After about twenty minutes or so I stood up to preach.
At first only a handful of people stopped to listen. People came and went, but then after about fifteen minutes or so a young man by the name of Chris stopped to heckle me. In return I started heckling him (well, not really, I simply engaged in open debate) and in about five minutes the crowd grew from about ten people to about thirty people. Oh the drawing power of a good heckler! Chris openly professed to be a good person and so I took him through the law of God and showed him that just like the rest of us he has fallen short of the glory of God. I reiterated to the crowd the predicament we all in and that we all desperately need a Saviour. This allowed me to expound on the amazing grace of God, fulfilled with the coming of His Son Jesus Christ, who substituted Himself in our place so that we could go free.
At one point a Muslim man began asking me questions about prayer, particularly whether or not God answers our prayers. I told him that there are three responses to our prayer requests: yes, no, or not yet. He had a book on prayer, presumably a Muslim book. He came right up to me and asked me to read a section from it to the crowd. He was quite insistent and at one point I felt rather intimidated. I took stock of the situation and gathered my thoughts as to how I should deal with it. The Lord very graciously helped me to think quickly. I turned to the man and, holding my Bible in my hand, said, "Sir, I am not here to promote that book, I am here to promote this book. If you wish to promote your book then get your own little stepladder and stand here next to me and promote it." At this he went rather quiet and was at a loss as to how to respond. The crowd thought it was very funny and although it was not my intention to embarrass the man it did serve to remove him and win the crowd to me even more. In open air preaching winning the crowd and keeping the crowd is your main task. Your ultimate objective is to preach the gospel so that the people may be won to the Lord.
After I finished preaching I got talking with a Muslim man called Farrukh. He was not aggressive and so that made talking to him much easier. He was, however, loaded with some preposterous notions concerning Christianity and the Bible. He repeatedly attacked the Bible, saying it had been changed and was corrupt. This has become a very common objection that I seem to continually encounter. I will in later posts, provide answers to these objections, evidence that shows the Bible is actually the most authentic book in all of antiquity and that it is not full of error at all. I was able to get Farrukh's email address, so I will be writing to him to show him the overwhelming evidence that supports the veracity of the Bible.
The rest of the team had all been chatting with people and handing out tracts. Open air preaching is wonderful in that after the preacher has finished many one-to-one's can take place. We left a little after 11:00pm. It had been a good night!
Saturday morning came around and once more we took the gospel to the people of tooting. Andrew, Antonio and Barney, Phil and I made up the team. It was great to have Barney with us as he can't always make it, however whenever he's with us he certainly sets to work! After I had preached we all set to talking with people and handing out tracts. I spoke for a short while with a young man named Ian. He'd had a Christian background and certainly had a fair amount of knowledge concerning the Bible. One of the objections he put before me was that the Bible is in affect contradictory because it shows a very different God in the Old Testament compared with how God is presented in the New Testament. I explained to him that this is based very much on the two different covenants we see in the Bible. The Old Covenant, found in the Old Testament, is broken by God's people, and so He makes a new covenant with His people (Jeremiah 31:31-34). "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). Ian was quite pleasant to talk to and he seemed willing to listen. He mentioned that he would like to talk some more so I took down his details and told him that I would send him some information to help him with his questions.
We all had a good afternoon talking with the people of Tooting. Barney, in particular, spoke with a number of people and very kindly wrote up a report of those conversations...
I spent 45 minutes talking to an atheist who openly rejoiced in his sin. Initially he was very confrontational, ridiculing Christianity and the Bible. I was forced by his approach to deal with a couple of individual issues he raised (e.g. Adam and Eve as real people), but I was then able to move him on to consider his own sinfulness before the Creator's law and the saving work of Christ. Towards the end, he was much more open to considering the gospel, but still far from Christ and also, sadly, unwilling to meet again.
I spent a while talking to a Muslim student. She gave the standard Muslim objections to the Bible, which I quickly dealt with and then we used the law to discuss our sinfulness in God's sight and the sacrifice of Christ which deals with sin. She was particularly intrigued as I explained that the Old Testament prophets point to sacrifice, as the answer to sin rather than good deeds, something Muslims know nothing of despite animal sacrifices during their festival of Eid. She has agreed to attend a church service with my wife and I, pray that she does.
I spent some time talking to a group of 6 Muslim teenagers. After talking about our failure to meet God's standards from the law, I explained that arguing from your good deeds on judgement day would not do any good and gave the example of a normal law court. They agreed that they were therefore likely going to hell, but didn't seem worried as apparently they have been told hell will not be eternal, but rather will be like Catholic purgatory (i.e. paying for sin for a while then heaven afterwards). I will have to research this as no Muslim has given this as an objection to me before. Anyway, I explained that the Bible does teach hell as eternal punishment and (continuing the law court example) that Christ's sacrifice is the payment of our fine.
They were not convinced, but one gave me his email to follow up.
All in all, a great weekend of ministry.
Soli Deo Gloria!