Saturday, 8 March, 2008
Before heading out on the streets tonight I was pondering some things that had been said to me in the week previous. I thought about how some people view street evangelism as not being compassionate, so I prayed that God would give me greater compassion. I thought about how people say this sort of ministry doesn’t show fruit, so I prayed that God would let us see just a little fruit if it be His will.
The whole accusation of not having compassion I freely admit cut me up a bit, because I believe that those who engage in street evangelism are having compassion on those in society who the church seems to reject. Many of us would have heard sermons about going to the poor, since they are the down trodden of society and that they are the people group that Jesus spent time with, but the people that think this way don’t seem to realise that there is another people group that Jesus spent time with also, and that is the part of society that many street evangelists deal with daily, the society I am talking about are the drunkards.
While many people are happy to be involved in the social gospel of helping the poor, there are many who would not take the time to sit in the gutter next to a drunk and tell them about God’s amazing grace. Now I applaud those who share the gospel with the poor, but I appeal to them not to forget the other people groups as well. As Christians our mandate is to preach the gospel to the poor, the drunks, the rich, the upper class, the lower class, the working class, in short we are to preach Christ to all. This I think is a true sign of compassion, when we don’t care who we witness to, as long as we get to preach Christ!
Our job as those who engage in evangelism is not to sit by and wait for the lost to come to church, but rather we are to be pro-active in the gospel proclamation and go out to where the lost are and point them to the Way, Truth and Life! Our primary role is not to engage in social reform, while that is good it is not the main purpose of evangelism. The main motivation for evangelism is not even the salvation of souls, but rather it is that God may get glory!
As I walked along the streets of Brisbane all I could think of was “Lord, I long to see your name glorified! Father glorify your name!” Then coming to mind was the familiar scripture of John 12:28: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." (ESV)
As we set up that was our motive, to see God glorified! And as one focuses on that as our purpose for being, one soon realises that what people think about you means absolutely nothing, and that its not our job to seek fruit, but rather it is our job to seek God!
The first preacher up for the night was Andrew Hsu, the mall looked quiet but as he stood to preach one could hear the familiar sound of the call that sounds before any Operation 513 preacher speaks, and that was the call of SDG (Soli Deo Gloria!) This call reminds the preacher for who he is preaching.
While Andrew was preaching I was in back play with Ryan on the Bible table that has run out of bibles (good problem!) During this time I was approached by a man from India, I began to speak to him and it turns out that he is a Sikh. We began to discuss different religious viewpoints and he was very open to hearing the Christian message. So I opened my Bible and began to show him the scriptures that explain the gospel.
Firstly I spoke from Romans 3:23:
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Then I explained to him that we show that we are sinners when we break the Law of God, and we do that by lying, stealing, lusting, hating, blaspheming God’s name etc. After the man had an understanding of sin I took him to Romans 6:23:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The payment for our sins I explained to him was eternal death and punishment in hell. This made the man stop and think. He grasped the concept of eternal punishment as I explained to him how a lawbreaker must be punished by a good judge, then I swung around and showed him that God is the good judge of all the universe.
But, I pointed out that the rest of the verse talks about how one can have eternal life, and that is found only in Jesus Christ, this led me to Romans 5:6-8:
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
From this passage I was able to point him to how at just the right time Christ Jesus came to die for the ungodly, that is He came to die for liars, for thieves, for those who hate, and for those who lust. Basically Christ Jesus came to die for sinners like you and I. But, that is only part of the account, for three days later He arose from the dead and now He lives as King of Glory!
After explaining the cross to the man, and also the resurrection I then turned in my Bible to Romans 10:9:
“… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
One could see a light go on in the man’s eyes as he realised that there is life and hope in Christ Jesus. He understood how Jesus Christ took our punishment upon Himself, so that if we would trust in Him we would not perish. He also realised that contained in that trust in Christ involved a turning and forsaking of sin, and that in confessing Him as Lord meant that one no longer lives a life of sin, but rather lives a life the way God says to.
The man took our last Bible, and also an in-depth gospel tract. As he left I pleaded with him to repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation, since we do not know the day or the hour in which we will die. As he left I shared one last scripture with him, 2 Corinthians 6:2:
“…Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
Please pray for that man, pray that the gospel seed that was sown would take root in his heart, and that God would grant him repentance.
During this time Hsusy was preaching to a large crowd that had gather to listen to the discussion between himself and a humanist who was raving on about there being no heaven, no hell, and no God. Andrew did some good apologetics, and then swung in and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the crowd that had assembled. Many of those within the crowd took gospel tracts as they left.
Later on in the night it came time for me to preach, so I spoke about the reality of death and dying. But then old mate the humanist heckler returned to dialogue which I was quite happy to do.
We spoke for a brief time, and then other hecklers began to open up and scream at me. I did my best to present the living Christ to them, and also to answer their questions.
While I was preaching a group of young men approached and asked if I remembered them, at first I had trouble, but as they spoke to me it began to come back. These men had been in the crowd about a year ago, and some woman tried to beat one of them up. I was the one that stopped the fight then witnessed to the men. They remembered the conversation and still had the gospel tracts that I gave them. It was good to be able to share with them again, and this time we exchanged details and plan to stay in touch.
Surely God is great! He didn’t have to show us fruit but he was kind enough to show the team that we are indeed having an impact on our city! May His name be praised forever!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.
Brisbane Team (Day) (QLD)
Meets Wednesday afternoons 1-5pm in King George Square (near Adelaide St crossing).
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.