This is my first report on the work in Hobart CBD so I will give you readers a brief outline of what has happened over the last 12 months.
After negotiations the council down here has allowed freedom of speech in Hobart CBD in one particular area of the Elizabeth Street mall. This allows preaching and limited tract distribution for 4 hours twice a week. While it is far from complete freedom it is an opportunity that we praise God for. Over 2014 a small group from the church I attend (Cornerstone Presbyterian) have been witnessing successfully in the mall. This has involved preaching, tracts and one to one conversations fortnightly.
The response to this has been strong enough to merit a longer weekly outreach which will happen each week on a tuesday. We will meet in the mall from 12pm until 5pm to use a bible table and hand out tracts and preach the gospel of God's grace.
This tuesday was quite good, we almost ran out of bibles. Despite a relatively windy day the bible table was quite useful with people stopping regularly from 12-3pm to chat and take bibles. I was able to share the gospel with one man who stopped by and also encourage the couple of Christians that came by to encourage me.
Preaching this week was a mixed response, I was preaching from Romans. Rm 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. It was a simple gospel message of salvation to all who repent and believe in Jesus, no matter who they are or what they've done. A small crowd gathered to hear and I was blessed with the presence of fellow believers in the crowd praying while I spoke.
At first no-one interacted with me but then one lady started to protest that what I was saying was nonsense (not the word she used...). I attempted to engage her on this but then quickly her boyfriend chimed in that I should shut up. This quickly escalated into a lot of them shouting and telling me to go away in foul language. I was worried that the guy might try to knock me down as he promised, but it was the lady who took a swing when I wasn't looking and got me on the jaw.
At that the pair of them took off and I had the undivided attention of a moderate group of people who had just seen me struck! Talk about God sent opportunities! I preached the gospel and pointed out that outside of Christ I and everyone listening were no different from this hate filled couple in the eyes of God. We all have hated God in our own ways and because of this need a saviour. I urged the listeners to turn to Jesus and trust in him and continued in that vein for some time.
This was made interesting by a gent who wanted me to stop because there were churches for this sort of thing. When I knocked him back on that offer he decided my crowd were all paid and it was all a set up. Just to emphasise the point he then went about offering people $50 a pop to leave so that I would stop! Despite the amusing diversion many stayed and listened as I expounded the gospel.
As the day came to a close the gospel had been preached, and many people had the word of God in their hands. And it don't matter what the proud one's say, because God sits in the highest place!
Praise His name.