We knew we will have to do this with a skeleton crew tonight, we just didn’t know how slim the skeleton was going to be.
Ryan is away this week, backsliding... er... holidaying with the family. Since most of the people who come in fortnightly have all showed up the week before, we knew there isn’t going to be many of us in the team this week...
It is nine o’clock, and team consists of me, my lovely wife and Rachel. Alex our regular not-so-friendly neighbourhood Atheists is within sight. This is going to be interesting...
Of course, this is where I tell you how my brilliant leadership just kicked into hyper-drive and Andrew the Fearless arisen to the occasion and saved the day. No, that didn’t happen. Instead, Craig Island and his crew showed up just in the nick of time. Yes, God providentially provided and Andrew did not break down into tears like a little girl.
We operated this night without the Bible table; everyone is to carry their backpacks so no one needs to watch the bags. By this time Nick has showed up as well, Dan is on his way to reinforce us and usually a few more people would show up throughout the night. We have enough so that I can preach without worrying too much about the safety of the girls. So off we go...
The mall is a little quiet for the Australia Day long weekend; I step up to the soap box and started to preach. A couple of teenagers, some looks to be drunk, have started to gather around me. I started to walk through the Law with a young man named Benny, who claimed to be a Christian. Initially Ben tries to say the right things, but when I was turning up the heat on him about breaking the law of God and the coming judgement, he did not like it. His knowledge of the Bible, and therefore the Gospel is absolutely abysmal. Benny and his mates keep referring themselves as Christians yet they were clearly intoxicated and were completely hostile to the Gospel. I couldn’t help but think that our modern evangelism endeavours are cranking out false “believers” like these young people with alarming rate. They have been to an outreach concert, walked the aisle and signed a card and now are reassured that God loves no matter what they do. As Benny and friends walks away, while I tried to explain to them the good news of the Gospel, it appears that they would reject it because they want to carry on with their sinful life style; I pray that God will save them out of His mercy.
Meanwhile Alex has been relatively civilized this week. From memory he did not engage me during the first half of the night. I stepped down after about an hour. There are now some one-on-one witnessing going on. By now the crew number has grown to about ten people and all of them have someone they were talking to. Nick has expressed that he wanted to open air preach. I do believe this is his first time and he is very keen to do so. I agreed to put him on and he stepped up to the soapbox.
Nick’s first open air went quite well. Later he commented after viewing the video that his volume was very low, it was loud enough to get Alex interested. In his usual form Alex started heckling Nick and while Nick was able to hold his ground he was not able to overcome Alex’s domineering style. I swapped with Nick and I wouldn’t say I won the contest, to Alex I am way too much of a fundamentalist dinosaur to satisfy his intellectual tastes; unfortunately to me, Alex’s arguments remain very much the same week to week. Our engagement usually ends with Alex finding someone more interesting to talk to. I don’t blame him, all I do is keep reminding him that God is going to have a day of reckoning with all men, Atheists or not. He knows the Law, he knows the Gospel, he can say many things on that great and fearful day but he won’t be able say that he is ignorant of the good news. We still pray for him, he doesn’t like it but we still pray for him.
As I stepped down from the soapbox the second time and the time is approaching midnight. A very polite young man and his girl friend were sitting next to where I was preaching. He stopped me and asked me a genuine question: “Why are there people who uses religion to their own personal gain?” He was asking that because he came from a religious background, and he has witness major hypocrisy in the church he was involved with and the scandal had to do with money. It was a very pleasant conversation as I get to explain that many who profess the name of God are not true believers. God will one day deal with people who have abused religion as a way to personal gain, if not in this life then on the day of judgement. In fact God will deal with all injustice that took place in this world finally and completely when that day comes. I turn the table on the young man and I asked him: “How will you personally do in the court room of God?” This leads to a fruitful conversation where I was able to show him God’s justice, walk him through the Law and finally present with him and his listening girlfriend, the Good News of Christ dying and saving sinners. When that conversation is over, it is past mid night. The crew had finished what they were doing and we were ready to leave the mall.
Despite a shaking beginning, the night ended with many people witness to. We pray God will be merciful and save those who have heard the Gospel tonight.
To God be the Glory.