The last two weeks have been a real mix of interesting interactions, both around the bible table and during the preaching. I normally begin the day with the bible table set out and give people an opportunity to approach me and discuss and take literature. Later in the day I will get up and preach for a period of about an hour.
While the time around the bible table is quieter than the preaching with less hecklers, I love the opportunity it provides for the less bold to come and talk. This week I managed to sit down to pray for only a couple of minutes at a time. Praise God my prayers were constantly interrupted by the very people that I was praying for! Most people were repeat visitors and we were able to continue our conversations from previously.
Mr M. stopped by, he is a skeptic who enjoys discussion with Christians and stopped shortly to discuss with me again but could not stay long.
A couple of young ladies stopped to chat, one of them had previously attended my church but had since stopped attending. Both of them appeared to be heavily influenced by the new age movement, speaking of meditation and the like, voicing doubts about the bible, and insisting that God is only love. I gently spoke with them of the seriousness that we must have when God says that he doesn't love our sin but loathes it with a holy and consuming hatred. I urged them to listen to the warnings and the promises of the bible. It is wonderful to consider the love of God when he is our father, but we must first come to him the way he calls us, through faith in Jesus.
A young satanist who has heard the gospel many times also came with a question. How could Eve be a woman given the bible says that she was made from the side of Adam a man? I pointed out that God is the ultimate geneticist, and to remove a Y chromosome and duplicate the X to "change Eve's sex" would child's play for him who made the DNA code in the first place. This seemed to satisfy him but of course he said he would come back with other questions and left unchanged by the information.
Please pray for all these folk, they need the Holy Spirit to give them life and bring them to Jesus in faith. Pray that God would act in mercy for Hobart. Pray that his ministers in this city would be faithful in proclaiming the gospel whenever they can.
The preaching has been very busy and I have very slowly been preaching through the first chapter of Romans. Many people react strongly to this book of the bible, not surprisingly as God speaks bluntly of our sin and his hatred of it and of the saviour Jesus Christ.
Last week a group of homosexual youth gathered together to condemn my "hate speech" and protest that I was doing the wrong thing in many ways. Mr S. (a regular atheistic heckler) as he often does joined in encouraging them to heckle as much as possible. Interestingly many of them stayed to talk after I had repeatedly shared the gospel and given apologetics on the God given model for human sexuality - marriage. We talked sitting on the ground for around an hour and went our separate ways on good terms. One very telling moment was when a young man said that I was advocating a homosexual genocide. I turned to the rest of the group and asked them if I had said anything even remotely close to that. They all said no and one young lady said that I had repeatedly underlined that I loved homosexuals and that was why I was preaching the gospel. This was a turning point in the conversation and from then on I was able to more freely share with them. One of them even showed an interest in meeting to talk further.
This week I spoke of the vile nature of sin and how it pollutes our lives and even when we struggle against it we can never break free of it in our own power. I also spoke of God's hatred of this sin and the natural consequence that will come of continued rebellion and rejection of God. I also spent a little time discussing the glorious world that God has put us in and how every scrap of it proclaims God's divine nature and eternal power. This lead to a group of hecklers responding to my words. Many arguments were put forward but always answered with an eye to the cross, which is always the real issue, even if it is unsaid.
One of the most interesting moments was when Mr S. asked me to list the three things that keep me from doing evil. I said that first my relationship with God does, then his commands do and lastly the love for my neighbour that he has given me does. What keeps Mr S. from evil? Nothing. It is purely his choice. It is not often that an atheist is as honest as this so I thought an application of this principle would be good. Here is how I put it : Say Mr S. and I get really angry, so angry that we want to kill each other. The person who determines my moral position on murder is utterly unmoved by my temper and murderous rage, God still hates murder no matter what I think. The person who determines Mr S.'s moral position on murder it currently considering doing it and so of course is very much swayed and changed. Atheism provides no hope of any restraint of evil deeds and more than that it provides no hope of any endurance in good deeds.
There were many hecklers and the gospel was preached many times and my day ended with a couple of hours sharing with a young marxist who had heckled earlier. While the team were talking to others in the crowd, we talked at length. I encouraged him to turn to Jesus as marxism will ultimately let him down, as will any lesser thing than God himself.
Please continue to pray for Mr S. and the many hecklers that come to speak to me, they are people with a great need. Pray that God would show them his glory, their sin and the wonderful saviour our Lord Jesus Christ.