It was a grim looking day as Anna, Jim, John, Luke and I all headed over to Manchester for the latest of the Northern outreaches. The rain was coming down and the wind blowing cold. Despite this the fellowship was warm as we drove and continued that way for the day.
In Market street we set up and discovered to our frustration and dismay that the wind was just strong enough to pick up tracts and even bibles and scatter them over the street periodically. None the less we persisted with the bible table to give people opportunity to have the word of God for free. Geraldine (a manchester local) joined us and we prayed together and then began to tract the area.
Jim noticed a little further down the mall that there was a line of people gathered for a signing by "Jordan" (for those who don't know of her, she was a soft porn model for british tabliod magazines). Jim preached to the people gathered using as his theme the proverb "Beauty is fading and charm decieving..." and procede to speak on the process of aging and death. There were no hecklers that opposed him but people unable to leave as he spoke so he was brief and gave an excellent gospel presentation. Afterwards many people took tracts and some people nearby who also heard took them too.
Over the period of the day many tracts went out and it was encouraging to see people steadly taking them despite not wanting to stop and talk. John was keen to preach so he was next up and preached from beside the bible table to the passing crowd. John is a solid preacher and despite people not stopping to listen there were nearby store employees that came out to listen for a little. Next up was Dale who had joined us from Cumbria, he preached well and often referred to the bible to confirm the truth of his message. A couple of one to ones began while he preached but again few people stopped for long. It is encouraging when people do stop but we know that God will use to good effect whatever people hear as they pass.
During this time I noticed that Anna was speaking to a couple that had listened to the preaching. Anna was working hard with him and he was trying in every way he could to show that the law was not applicable to him. He even went as far as to say that for some people it could be ok to commit sexual acts with small children and rape also. It never ceases to amaze me how far the hard natural heart of man will go to justify it's rebellion.
I preached next and spoke on the thought that truth is only relative, most people walked by but a couple of young guys stopped to speak to me. While I was doing the good person test with them we were interupted by a very angry lady who told me to leave them alone and that I was wrong to speak to them about God's law. I said that they and she were free to go if they wanted and rebuked her for hypocritcally condemning me for being faithful to God's word. The young guys left and I continued to preach about the great news of God's salvation in Christ. The guys came back toward the end and though they didn't hear the full message they did take tracts and thank us.
Around this time there were a group of people show up, most of them were from a local evangelical church in manchester. They have been coming to market street for a long time now and hand out literature (mostly using material from J.C. Ryle). Overjoyed to see other evangelistically minded people the others in the team and I went and encouraged them. As it was getting towards lunch time we headed off for a bite to eat and a rest for a half hour.
When we came back from lunch we found another group of evangelists in the mall and setting up a little down from them we had a very productive time and many of us had great conversations with people.
We set the table up again and now there was a little more interest as a couple people came by to ask if they could have some literature. This produced a couple of good conversations and Jim spoke for almost an hour with one man. The young guy was a catholic and was open to speak about assurance of going to heaven and the sacremental system. He and Jim parted on good terms and hopefully many good seeds were planted. I also spoke at length with a couple of young girls and urged them also not to trust in anything they could do to be right with God, rathter to trust fully in Jesus Christ and what He has done.
A couple of Christian guys came up to the table and spoke to us and it turns out that their church in Stockport have been using the law and gospel approach as per Way of the Master as we do. We encouraged them as best we could and pray that God would give great fruit to their efforts. They likewise urged us on in our ministry and I for one was most encouraged.
Dale preached again during this time and did a great job succinctly giving a gospel message and preaching the great news of Christ crucified to redeem sinners. After he finished there were a group of people just loitering around the front of the table so I jumped up and preached to the gathered crowd. Hamish and his two friends quickly came over to speak with me and we had a great conversation going through the good person test and the gospel. They were very open to hear the gospel but despite having broken God's law they hoped they would get into heaven anyway. I reasoned with them that a human judge could never sweep crime ‘under the carpet' so why do they suddenly expect God to be able to do the same? I stood down to speak with them further but as I did so an atheist man interjected and in the strongest terms began to deny the existence of God. This would harden the hearts of the young men to the gospel so I placed aside speaking with them temporarily and debated with the atheist for a short period.
He had no interest in the gospel or anything to do with God but only to assert the atheistic perspective. This is increasingly the case with atheists we encounter at the moment, militant atheism is here to stay it seems. Praise God that there is also so much material available now to show that the faith of the atheist is misplaced. Evolutionary science is increasingly an embarrassment to those who propound it, atheism as a philosophy has an equally embarrassing history, and at it's heart atheism is based on an assumption of absolute knowledge (impossible from a human stand point).
Hamish and his friends were still standing close by as Mr Atheist left and the discussion had an impact on them if not on him. They were more than happy to hear what I had to say after watching the conversation. Praise God that He gives a way into every heart for His word. I gave them the gospel message and urged them to read the bibles they had at home. They took tracts and thanked us as they left.
The rest of the team where still in one to one conversations when it came time to leave and it was a pity to leave such a fruitful field of work. All in all it was a wonderful day's work for the Lord, praise His name and may many be drawn to Jesus as we hold Him both dear and high.
Soli Deo Gloria!