On Friday evening we had much to thank God for! The Lord truly blessed us with a wonderful time of outreach. Early that morning I received an email from a photography student (Hollly) who mentioned she was doing a project on street preachers and would like to come out and photograph the team in action. I was surprised by her request but saw no reason to say no and so replied saying that it would be no problem.
By the time I reached the cafe later that evening I was encouraged to find Holly waiting for us. Shortly after the team began to arrive and before long we were a good 10 people plus. Holly had a few questions she wanted to ask, in particular what we do on the street and what we say to people. As it turns out Holly is not a Christian and so this was a wonderful opportunity to not only answer her question, but also share the gospel with her. I laid out the gospel as carefully as I could, not speaking to her directly as I might do when I normally witness to someone, but in such a way that she would have a firm grasp on what the gospel is. I was certainly praying for her as I did! I was so encouraged to see her taking notes, and although she was doing this for her project, I was in awe of how the Lord is able to use such diverse ways to bring people into a hearing of the gospel!
As Leicester Square is under some serious new development in preparation for the 2012 Olympics, we have moved to a new location. We are now very close to China Town, which is barely a ten minute walk from Leicester Square. It has proved to be a great location for witnessing and a wonderful spot for open-air preaching too! Although in the area of China Town, there are still plenty of English people about, and it is still typical London in that there are people from every nationality you can think of.
As we were setting up I was thrilled to see that we had a really large team out. We must have been at least 20 people in size. Not all made it to the cafe, but instead joined us at our new spot. I stood up to preach and before long a good size crowd had formed. This was helped by a passionate heckler who really went out of his way to make his voice heard. I do like it when a heckler speaks up as he helps to bring in a crowd. Unfortunately the heckler we had on Friday night, while bringing in a crowd, was also a real handful as it was clear he was determined to be a hindrance to me and the preaching of the gospel. He did this in quite an annoying way by parading in front of me as I addressed the crowd. I have to admit this is something I find difficult to overcome and probably the biggest frustration I have experienced while preaching open-air. Some hecklers stand within the crowd and heckle, that is fine, but when they intentionally come forward and parade in front of you it is very difficult. It was not all bad though. At one point he turned to the crowd and said, “I bet no one here wants to hear this guy,” pointing to me. To my delight a number of people in the crowd responded by saying, “We do!” (Unbeknown to us a party of roughly 15 Christians, on holiday from Wales, were in London and just happened to be passing through as I was preaching. You’d almost think God was somehow involved!) This was great in that it helped to disarm him, although he did not withdraw entirely.
Although he was a significant hindrance, I was able to speak past my heckler to the crowd and share the gospel. After I stepped down from preaching we all got involved in talking with people one-to-one. Holly was taking loads of snaps, we certainly kept her busy! I was so encouraged to see a number of the young girls on the team talking with her and quite a few shared their testimony with her as well, which was just brilliant. Do pray for her. The Lord certainly brought her to us and it really is so wonderful that she has been exposed to the gospel in such a clear way. In the picture below you can see Ymkje sharing the gospel with Holly.
While we continued to speak with people I noticed that our angry heckler was still circling, even though I had finished preaching. I discovered later that his girlfriend is a Catholic and they often have rows over the existence of God. It was clear that he was venting and is angry with God. When God’s Word is preached there often comes hostility, and it is precisely because the gospel is the truth that there is this hostility. Please pray for him.
Holly stayed for quite a while but left with much to think about, I’m sure! I told her we’d love to stay in touch and that she must let us see her project when it is finished!
At the end of the evening we came together in prayer and thanked the Lord for all He had done. It sure was a full evening!
Soli Deo Gloria!