Friday night saw yet another record turn-out for the team. We had some people join us for the first time: Geoff and Sam (friends of my church and just visiting before they head back to Australia), Petra (a friend of Jannah and Elyske) and Rhys (my younger brother). The rest of the team was as follows: my brother James, Carl, Wesley, Andrew, Steve, Ben, Susi, Jannah, Elyske and me.
After meeting in Café Nero for a time of devotions and prayer we headed up to the square to begin our ministry. Quite a few were new to street evangelism so I primed the team as to what we were about and what the evening would entail. I then stood up to preach and used a recent atheist bus advertisement as my springboard into the spiritual. The advertisement reads: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." I explained that God is not the source of worry in this world. Worry comes ultimately from sin. We trust in ourselves and we trust in others, however the Bible says without faith (in God) it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). I had only been preaching for about five minutes when a police officer approached and asked to have a word with me. I came down of my stepladder and we spoke together for a minute or two. His concerns centred on the idea that my message could offend some and lead to a breach of the peace. I responded by saying that I never aimed to be offensive or antagonistic and that it was still lawful for me to exercise free speech according to the law of the land. I asked him if I had broken the law and he told me that "technically" I hadn't, although there was the issue of the council and its laws. I told him I had been coming to Leicester Square for almost a year and it had never been proven to me that I was in breach of any law. He allowed me to carry on preaching but warned that if there was a breach of the peace he would have to take action.
Every Friday night we come out I am aware that the message we breach could well upset some people, which could lead to them complaining to the authorities. If a breach of the peace does happen it needs to be made clear where exactly the threat is coming from. In a court ruling regarding this issue the following statement was made: "A judgment as to the imminence of a breach of the peace does not conclude the constable's task. The next and critical question for the constable, and in turn for the Court, is where the threat is coming from, because it is there that the preventive action must be directed." We ought to conduct our speech in such a manner that it does not seek to offend and that it does not carry a deriding tone. Even so, the message of the gospel is itself an offensive message, simply because it exposes sin. People will always react negatively to the light of the gospel (because they love darkness) and so offence will arise. There is nothing we can do about this. God has commissioned us to preach His message. It is His message that saves and so that is the message we must preach.
After I had finished preaching we set about to talking with people one-to-one. It was such a joy to see everyone get stuck in. I made myself available just in case those new to the team needed any help. After a little while I got talking with a young man named Zack. He believed in evolution, although he also believed in his own version of God. His version was certainly not the God of the Bible. We talked for a little bit about the logic behind the need for a Creator God. Unfortunately we did not talk for long as he was pulled away by his friends. I managed to hand him a booklet entitled "Is there really a God," which has the gospel at the back. Please pray for Zack.
Afterwards I got talking with two young ladies. One was a Muslim and the other did not believe in God. I rationalised the existence of God first and foremost and then explained why Christianity is the answer, simply because it presents the only viable solution to man's greatest need. We have sinned and in the scheme of God's justice that means we are guilty. Our only hope is for someone to serve the punishment in our place. There is only one perfect substitute and His name is Jesus Christ. To this they responded by saying it was wrong that I was trying to enforce my beliefs on others. I explained that I was not trying to force anyone against their will; I was simply offering the Christian message and making a case for it being the truth. They understood this and left with an in-depth gospel tract, thanking me for talking to them. Do pray that the Lord would bring them to salvation.
After connecting with the rest of the team to see how they were doing I decided to stand up and preach once more. I began by talking about the greatest book the world has ever known. I gave the facts but kept the answer hidden with the intent to create a curious interest to those listening. Some did stop to listen and at one point cried out for an answer to the question. As soon as I told them it was the Bible they scoffed and walked away. It was as if I had something to offend them. It's startling how much of an offence the Bible is seen to be, a book that offers a love that cannot be equalled.
After I had finished preaching we continued to speak with people one-to-one. I had the opportunity to speak with a young man who had lost his faith in God after his mother passed away about four months ago. He had grown up Catholic and told me that he still visited his priest in order to receive counsel and advice. We could not talk for long but he gave me his details and said it would be fine if I contacted him to continue our conversation. His name is Sam, do pray for him and also that I would be able to continue talking with him.
Wesley had been finding it a bit difficult to talk with people and so I was very happy to see him in a conversation after I had talked with Sam. It can be disheartening at times when you try and approach people with the gospel and they turn you away every time. The Bible tells us that many enter the path that leads to destruction, and only a few find the path that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). Still, we preach the gospel to every creature, knowing that God saves sinners through the preaching of His gospel.
Praise God for a wonderful night of ministry. It was a blessed time indeed.
Soli Deo Gloria!