Tonight was a great evening. We began by meeting for a time of fellowship and devotions at Cafe Nero. It was wonderful to have a good turn out and everyone was excited to be out to share the Gospel.
We arrived in the Square and I began to get things organised for the night. Andrew was not with us, which meant that the preaching fell to me only. Our ministry is now quite facetted and along with the open-air preaching we also have the sign-boards that we use, along with the many gospel tracts that we hand out. Below and to the left is a picture of Lesley using one of the sign-boards, with the question: “Ask me the meaning of life.”
The boards work really well and the result has been that many conversations have been initiated by them. Our aim is for people to hear the Gospel, whether it be through an open-air preach or through one-to-one conversations. Of course, open-air preaching leads into one-to-one conversations and it’s wonderful when the two work together like that.
Street evangelism is very dynamic and each Friday night is always different. Often it’s a case of waiting to see how the evening plays out. That said, I do believe it important to have a structure to the evening. To this end I have decided that the open-air preaching ought to take place first. This is because it is a team exercise. When the preacher stands up to preach it makes a huge difference for him to have a “mock crowd” in front of him. People draw people and it is the aim of every open-air to draw in a crowd. In addition to this, the Christians in the crowd have the responsibility of observing those who take an interest in the preaching so that they can engage them in one-to-one conversation. This was the plan for Friday night, although events transpired in such a way that we had to abandon the plan. This is not a bad thing and it cannot be prevented, the key point is that we do have a plan for the evening so that we are focused and directed in what we are doing.
As I was getting ready to preach a man approached me and asked if I had preached yet. I was a bit surprised and so I asked him how he knew that I would be preaching. He said that he had seen me preach five times previously and that he had taken photos each time (the camera he had used was in his hand). I told him that I was almost ready to preach but had a few more things to do. He seemed pleased and asked if I could give him something to read as he waited, as he could see that we had various tracts and booklets, etc. Just before I stood up to preach he came to ask me about something he had read in the booklet I had given him. I had given him a Gospel of John and in the front of the booklet it says the following: “The Bible is the greatest work of literature, the most accurate record of ancient history, and the most profound book ever written.” He took issue with this and argued that the Bible could not be completely accurate and trustworthy, since it had been written by sinful man. I realised that the preaching would have to wait and that I needed to address his objection. I looked around and was pleased to see that my team had begun to engage people in conversation. The man I was talking to introduced himself as Patrick and as we continued to talk I recognised him from having spoken to Susi the week before. He seemed to believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life and that they had played a role in human history. As we were talking another man came up to us and pushed his way into the conversation. This can be a tricky thing to deal with and it does mean that you have to take control of what is happening, to the best of your ability.
The man who had joined our conversation asked concerning Andrew and I realised that they had spoken before. He had in his hand what appeared a Muslim booklet/tract that quoted various verses from the Bible, which called in to question the Deity of Christ, etc. He was becoming very difficult to deal with and I repeatedly had to ask him to be fair and allow me to respond to what he was saying. Patrick noticed too that he was not being fair and asked him the same. It did not help and eventually I had to say to him that I would no longer be talking to him, since he had no desire to be fair but instead wanted to dominate the conversation. I found it interesting when he said to me that he was not a Muslim and in fact did not hold to any religion, yet he seemed intent on showing Christianity to be full of supposed errors. My biggest concern was Patrick. I had given him my best attention and hoped that he appreciated this and also that he understood my decision to walk away from the conversation. I could no longer continue my conversation with Patrick without the man’s interference. Perhaps I could have tried something different and should I meet with him again I will certainly do my best to take greater control.
By now it was getting quite late but I still felt I had sufficient time to preach. Leicester Square has recently been transformed into an amusement park and so it’s a lot nosier with far more distractions. It makes open-air preaching certainly more of a challenge. I decided to still give it a go. Some other Christians had come to join us and I asked one of them if he wouldn’t mind standing by me as I preached. After a little while some people began to stop and listen. A young lad by the name of Francis saw it as an opportunity to have some fun at my expense but I played off of that and managed to turn it around a little bit. He didn’t quite like the fact that I caught him out with regards to his sin but he stayed to listen and I was pleased that he did. A little later another young man stopped to listen and he asked some genuine questions concerning the claims of Christianity, as well as the credibility of the Bible. I attempted to answer his questions as best I could and when he moved on he came and shook my hand and thanked me for my efforts. I had hoped that he would have stuck around but sometimes a person only wants to have their questions answered before they move on. It could be the beginning of the Lord drawing this man to Himself (John 6:44) and I do pray that the Lord would do just that. Unfortunately I did not get his name but please do pray that the Lord would continue to work in his life.
After I finished preaching we all continued to talk with as many people as we could. It was a very cold night but praise be to God that we were able to talk with a good number of people. After a little while we gathered together to talk about the night. Rowina seemed very excited and came to share some news with us. It turns out that during the open-air preaching two men who had stopped to listen are in fact father and son but had not seen each other in 17 years! The father had been arrested and sent to prison and so they had completely lost contact. Now, 17 years later they had been reconciled after stopping to listen to the Gospel being preached on a cold winter’s night right in the middle of London in Leicester Square! We also learned that the father became a Christian while in prison. How good is God?! I was speechless as I listened to Rowina. We serve a great God.
Tonight truly was a great evening. We praise the Lord for His faithfulness.
Soli Deo Gloria!