On Wednesday, the team headed into Brisbane city for an outreach, and we were blessed to be joined by three new labourers on holidays from Germany. Once they arrived, they said that they were terrified. But I encouraged them by saying that that fear will drive you to prayer to ask God for help, for courage and for strength.
And it was so great to see that it wasn't long before they were handing out gospel tracts to whoever walked by and even got into some gospel conversations.
Over the course of the afternoon well over 500 tracts were handed out. One conversation we had was with a young man named John who was very receptive as he heard the gospel and said, "Today I want to trust in Jesus."
After talking further, I asked him if he has a Bible at home and he said, "No, but I am sure I can get one somewhere." I then gave him one and he was very thankful. I encouraged him to find a good local church, and gave him some tips on how to do that.
To God be all the glory!
Just recently there has been a newspaper article published in our local rag that painted the outreach in Elizabeth Mall as the cause of arguments, noise and loss of business. Myself and the team were also painted as disingenuous hucksters only out to manipulate people. Mr S., the SSM protesters and the local shop owners were painted as angelic figures that were either "silently protesting" our outreach or the victims of our malicious actions. On reading this I shrugged my shoulders and began to pray and urged others to do likewise as we continued to work for good whilst painted as evil. Following the article, though it will never reach the newspapers, God provided this week a clear refutation of this biased nonsense.
As I said in my last post the Hobart team has faced a lot of aggression and noise from SSM supporters and from Mr S. (we're still praying for both sets of you guys!). Whilst this was going on it was tempting to think that there was something to the accusation that we were the "troublers of Israel" as such. There was a lot of nasty interactions and it certainly was quite noisy some days, with even local buskers getting into the act with drums and banjo's to boot.
Yet this last week there has been almost no SSM protesters (barring two girls who thought destroying my sign was a good pass time), and Mr S. has been absent. During two afternoons there were three preachers at work, and seven to eight Christians supporting them in prayer and conversations. Yet there were no angry exchanges whilst preaching was happening or afterwards, no violent outbursts from the Christians, Muslims or Sikhs that stopped by to listen and chat. There was none of the previous weeks of angst and outrage. There were great conversations and frequent occasions where we urged others to repent of sin and trust in Jesus. There was preaching the peace-making gospel of faith by grace in Jesus Christ our great God and Saviour. There were even bibles given out to people who asked for a copy.
As I said this is unlikely to make the papers, peace and godliness don't make good copy... But it certainly encouraged me to not that the negative commentary of the secular press is baseless when examined in practice. There is also encouragement in that shining the light of Christ in the dark of Australia's streets is being reviled. The God-haters of every age have reviled those publicly preaching the word of God, why should now be any different?
Praise be to God who sits enthroned on high! Holy, Holy, Holy are you, your glory is over all the earth!
Warwick Rodeo Outreach
It was a great day with perfect weather to share the gospel with the people of Warwick (QLD, Australia) and the many people who travelled from surrounding country areas to join in the events at this year's Rodeo. The Rodeo started on Monday and finished on Sunday and is a highlight for Warwick and is held on the last week of October each year.
The street parade was held on the Saturday and it was the best place to pass out some gospel tracts as crowds gathered along the streets as well as in the park where there was a large community markets with many stalls.
As the event was announced at the church we attend there was a call for prayer and workers for the day, and we were very thankful to God for the prayers and 11 workers to hand out tracts. As we met and prayed together there were some who had never done this before that felt the fear that is a natural feeling that we all get when we begin this work, even after years of handing out tracts we can allow this feeling to stop or hinder us, but we know what Jesus wants us to do, and that is to allow Him to help us to trust that He will give us the words to speak and to obey the call to go spread the good news.
After praying we split into groups and started in the park just before the street parade. We handed out to stall keepers and people browsing in the markets and had such an easy time giving out the Big Money tracts.
One of the children in our group gave to a local school that had a stall and as she walked off the kids came running and asking for more to give to their friends. This gave a boost to the young believer and her fear became less and as the day went on she was giving out with more courage...so praise God for how He works in us and through us.
With almost 2500 tracts given out in the time we were together it was a blessing to have a few short conversations and plant some seeds that we pray will take root and grow unto salvation.
Thank you to all who prayed and stepped out in faith on this day.
All Glory to our God!
We handed out a conservative tract estimate of at least 1000 tracts. The weather forecast was not good, with lots of rain predicted. When I mentioned this in a prayer request, a friend replied that even soggy people need the Gospel.
The Halloween Evangelism Outreach was held in downtown Auckland CBD on the corners of Queen & Victoria streets, from 15:00 to 20:30. One of the team members (Howick Baptist Church) and her two young daughters arrived just before 15:00 and were very helpful in handing out tracts to start with. She unfortunately had to leave at 17:00.
Two more people from Papakura Baptist Church arrived around 16:00 and helped cover two more of the intersection’s corners. By the time they had to leave the rest of the team arrived around 17:00 to 18:00 (one more from Howick Baptist; and four from South City Reformed Baptist Church, including their Pastor).
Four of the team open aired (videos to follow). I used 1 Corinthians 15 and Psalm 51 as the basis for my message, while another friend on the Love of Jesus; we had a couple of 1-on-1 conversations; personally had two: please pray for Shane & Duncan. Shane basically had a catholic/ pharisaic upbringing and very angry about God allowing suffering etc- admits to just wanting to argue, but thanked me for listening; Duncan views God as a dictator, leans towards buddhism and not open to talk really- presented the Gospel as best as I could. Duncan earlier tried to tell me that preaching from the bench was illegal according to Auckland council, to which I politely responded that until they tell me so themselves, that I would continue. I have since been informed that is perfectly legal; and in fact, council and police have passed us in the past without even commenting.
Thank you again to all who participated ( Patrick Gailer, Abraham A Oseterika, Rowena Charles Siale, Carlene Pryor, Joel, Alfie, Jonathan Scanlan ... hope I did not miss anyone :) and everyone who prayed.
The following is feedback from Joel Jacobs who handed out tracts for the first time in Auckland:
It was really encouraging to be part of the outreach.
One of the things I found really helpful was to see that people are quite surprised and curious especially to listen to the preacher.
And they seemed quite compelled to take a tract especially when there was preaching. Because they really want to know more about the powerful verses that were proclaimed.
Another friend, who also open aired, remarked that they found the outreach a real eye opener; recounted a heckler (Andrew) who basically only seem interested in arguing; and that they were concerned about the number of other churches also out evangelizing, but who don’t have a Biblical grasp on the Gospel.
Everyone seemed eager to have another outreach. Psalm 67.
It seemed a mainly 'black and white' day at the bus stop today. There were those who compressed their lips as they indicated they were not in a talkative mood - mainly older citizens. But also. there were teens who confessed to be Biblically ignorant but took tracts and seemed to accept the challenge to take the Bible seriously for it deals with God's way to eternal life or an eternity of personal misery. Pray that they do 'check it out'.
One young man reckoned that he was too bad to be saved. However he heard God's good news. While he seemed unchanged, we pray that as God's word does its work, Is. 55:11; Heb. 4:12, so his conscience is awakened so that he breaks free from his current fatalistic stance.
We thank God for conversations had, tracts distributed and all our imperfect works with all our imperfect prayers made acceptable through the offices of our Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the praise of God's glorious grace.
The 2 teams today mainly operated from the shade of the trees on the east and west sides of the point. Amongst the visitors, we dealt with quite a few polite Maoris as they came up from the swimming zone on the western side. In one of the the eating areas, there were many Asians who were mainly using their phones instead of conversing with one another. Approaching the 'headman' one team was asked what they wanted. It was explained that it was about being reconciled to God. He said that they were not religious. It was pointed out that if God's message was true that eternal life was involved. They needed to consider the message. Many tracts were distributed before that team moved on.
There is a prayer request for a Miss T who was raised in a Mormon household but was not committed herself. She was informed of the 'false jesus' of the Mormon cult and how the Bible alone was God's revelation. Now she has been shown/told the law and gospel. Pray that she seeks the true God and Saviour and God grants her the grace to repent and believe.
We give all glory to God that we were able to do what He enabled us to do: give out His Word without compromising His truth.
The last couple of weeks in Hobart mall have been a mix of enjoyable events and difficult events. We have been praying that all of them would be to God’s glory regardless of how it may feel going through it.
There has continued to be a lot of interest in all aspects of the outreach and we have seen Bibles and tracts going out and people gathering when we have preached. There has also been the wonderful blessing of other preachers coming to join Karl and I in preaching the Gospel!
Danny has been visiting from time to time and praying for us for many months but has recently begun preaching in the mall. It has been wonderful to have his very friendly and inviting yet firmly Biblical style added to the team’s voice in outreach. Ryan and Bec Hemelaar also visited this last week from Brisbane and kindly sacrificed some of their holiday time to join us in outreach. Ryan’s preaching took me down memory lane to my times in Brisbane Mall, and I am sure took many in our mall to the cross to see their need and God’s great love.
One of the blessings of preaching is the conversations that are generated afterwards. These last weeks we have seen this again and again. There have been steady stream of Christians coming and encouraging both me and others in the team to continue in the work.
Also, there have been many opportunities to witness to non-Christian people who come to talk. With the big media focus currently on SSM, there has been many opportunities to affirm God’s love for homosexuals and His call for them to repent and trust in Jesus. Praise God He is drawing some to listen, may the Holy Spirit soften their hearts and turn them to trust in Jesus.
Whenever the Lord brings opportunities to witness you may be sure that opposition will spring up to counter the Gospel. Not all opposition is persecution but there is a point were opposition tips over into persecution. Lately I have had plenty of cause to wonder if that point is getting reached in Hobart’s Elizabeth Street Mall.
Over the last couple of months my Church, the outreach team and I have all faced severe opposition. This has taken the form of legal action, foul mouthed protesters, slander, food thrown at us, two assaults, and once the theft of our things. When these things happen, it can be quite intimidating, occasionally it will hurt and often will make you angry at the injustice of it. But as Christians we are not to be guided by our emotions, rather we are to be guided by scripture.
So how should we respond to intense opposition and even violent opposition? There has been much ink spilt on this topic by others wiser than I, so I will keep my comments brief.
Regardless of what comes, we do not lose heart, for the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through His grace in the Lord Jesus Christ. Weather in life or in death, in abundance or affliction matters not, only let God be seen and glorified is our cry!
On arriving, I spotted a young lady with a portable tract stand but facing away from me. Suspecting she was a J.W., I asked the Lord to send her to me if He wanted me to speak to her. He did. Nadia from Denmark, a pleasant lass who had multiple Bible translations on her phone, including the J.W. 2013 updated 'new world' version. We agreed that the only source of absolute Truth is the Bible.
- We discussed their addition to Scripture, Col. 1:16 "For by Him all other things were created..." and how this changes the meaning of what God had said and requires Jesus to be categorized as a creature. Of course this is heresy and invokes the curses for adding to Scripture.
- We agreed that Rom. 1 condemns the exchanging of God's truth for a lie and the worship of creatures instead of the Creator. Since I worship Jesus as God and she believes that Jesus is a creature, then I should be sent to hell? She rejects hell as not justice but cruelty from God who is loving. I asked her: If I reject Jesus whom God says "This is My beloved Son. Listen (listen so as to obey Him) to Him, then I, a finite creature have offended the God who is infinite. Surely I can never pay off my debt of sin and so must spend eternity in God's prison?
- The positive challenge came from Jn. 5:23 "that all may honour the Son just as they do the Father..." Nadia stated that she would look into this verse that calls for equal honouring of the Father and the Son. Pray that she does, and although she might do so in order to have an answer for the future, ask our sovereign Lord to overrule this and be pleased to draw her to the Saviour.
There was a young lad whom Ryan saw reading a tract as he approached (none of us had given him one and we had just started but God has His way of getting His word where He wants it). Following a lengthy chat for the lad was full of questions, his bus arrived. Pray the Lord stirs Him to check out the good news.
What will the Lord do with the tracts handed out and the conversations had, even the one Lee-Anne had with a vegan who burst out ranting when she would not accept that she needed to stop killing animals ( he thought her vinyl handbag was leather) or maybe he did not like the challenge of God's good news? God alone does what is righteous in every encounter. We praise Him for using us in our frailties and we delight in ascribing all glory to Him alone.
God is building His Church and when the last of the elect is welcomed into the everlasting kingdom, then...? Glory!
Today there were some people who professed saving faith but struggled to explain why they thought God would welcome them into His presence. So we handed them tracts and explained how Jesus satisfies God's legal requirements on behalf of His people so that as one comes to seek mercy from God, trusting in Christ and His perfect saving work, God is pleased to glorify His Son by granting the mercy of the remission of all one's sins and bestowing the gift of everlasting life.
The idea of not depending in some way on one's own efforts to please God is just as difficult today as it was 500 years ago. The only remedy for one's old nature is the regeneration that God the Holy Spirit alone bestows.
Please pray for Ruth, a SDA lady to whom Lee-Anne spoke last week, asked for prayer. She needs a firm grasp on the gospel.
There were some usual question marks,
- like the satanist who stated that nothing would change her unbelieving mind;
or - like the atheist who did not want anyone controlling him but himself!
God granted us another day in which He went before, and with us, and after us, doing His glorious work and to Him alone we ascribe all honor and praise along with our thanks for using weak vessels such as we are. (p.s. When He has completed His work in us, we shall be spotless, blameless. Wow!)
The Melbourne team was out on the streets again on Friday night, here is a quick video update from the team leader.