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.
At the Gold Coast last night we found more of a general openness to the things of God compared to recent weeks. And it was great to see that God brought along about 15 people for the team.
A few people on the team did some sketchboard presentations explaining the gospel which attracted a crowd to stop and look on.
One conversation we had was with two young blokes who said they have not given much thought about whether they will go to heaven. After going through the law and the gospel with them, one of them said, "But to tell you the truth I only live for today, I don't plan for the future at all."
So I asked him, "Do you work?" He said, "Yes." I said, "You work so that at the end of the week you get your pay cheque so you buy things next week, right?" "Yep", he said. I continued, "So shouldn't you plan for where you will go when you die particularly because you could even die today?" His mate then said, "He got you there." The guy conceded and said, "True, I am going to have really consider what you have said."
To God be all the glory!
Another interesting foray into the Lord's harvest field.
- A man of 25 years, Luke, needs our prayers that he would accept God's terms of reconciliation today. He was last seen reading his copy of John's gospel. His response was at the conclusion of a long chat that included many important things that he came to understand besides the way of salvation, e.g. the reliability of the Bible.
- a middle-aged man, Mr. A, who seemed hazy about why God should let him into His heaven. After some well-directed questions, Mr. A said that he did not deserve to go to hell for his sins. Why flee to the Saviour if you do not think God's wrath is upon you? His minister is being contacted to follow up.
- Karen, got the double treatment from two different team members. She claims to have received Jesus 18 years ago but does not understand God's Self-revelation, the Bible. Pray she acts upon the challenges put to her to ask God to enlighten her understanding and/or to see her pastor about joining a beginner's Bible study.
- a few religious types of the ABJs ( anything bur Jesus ) variety. For these and other who received tracts or had chats, please pray that God would stir those whom He is dealing with at this time, to pursue salvation seriously from now on.
Again we thank God for the privilege and pleasure of serving Him as we render all glory honour and praise to Him alone.
On Friday night, we were thankful to God for raising up a team of labourers despite of heavy rain and thunderstorm that was forecasted for the Gold Coast. As we started preaching the gospel, there was no sign of rain but rather a packed crowd of young and old at Surfers Paradise.
While the team was handing out tracts, a 10 year old brother and sister stopped by to receive tracts and the brother started reading the tract out loud in a serious tone of voice, "Are you ready to face your Creator?". He then told his sister, "I don't think I am ready!" He continued to read the whole tract as they kept walking.
After some time, they returned back to the "Free Bibles and Resources" table and wanted to know whether they can have a Bible. Before leaving with the free Bible, they stopped by with their mother to hear the open-air preaching. There was another girl around similar age group, who was sitting on a bench nearby with her mother attentively listening to the gospel being preached. She too approached us and took a tract and a Bible to read.
We praise God for bringing along these children and let us continue to pray that God will do a deep work in these little ones hearts. May the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be glorified above all. Amen.
Riverfire Outreach - Brisbane
We praise the Lord that on Saturday over 10,000 gospel tracts went out during our outreach in Brisbane city during Riverfire. We started in the late afternoon, and it was great seeing people receive the tracts, with some beginning to read the message aloud as they continued walking down the road.
After the fireworks, a bunch on the team took turns preaching the good news of the gospel with much passion. This was while the rest of the team continued handing out tracts and started getting into some gospel conversations.
Over the course of the outreach, we had about 25 people on the team, which we praise God for that He raised up labourers for us. We encourage you also to join a local evangelism team in your area, details here: http://www.operation513.com/street-evangelism-teams/
To God be all the glory that His gospel went out and we know it won't return void!
The team was blessed as God brought many labourers last night to proclaim the good news of the gospel at the Gold Coast. The first preacher of the night used a flip-chart to go through the law of God to bring the knowledge of sin and then the gospel, encouraging the packed crowd at Surfers to repent and believe in Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:30-31).
As the preaching went on for a while, the team had some interesting conversations with people that were listening to the preaching. One such conversation was with a young woman, who started weeping bitterly when she was confronted with the question, "if you were to die tonight, where do you think you will go - Heaven or Hell?"
She began to express her grief and said that, she is feeling grieved for all the sins she has committed and she realises that she is on her way to hell. She then continued to weep and said, she is amazed by how she is a sinner yet Christ died for her and loves her so much. She said that, she is worried about all these countless souls in surfers are hell-bound as many are not stopping by to listen to the preaching. She wanted to know what can she do to make them stop.
As we shared the gospel with her, we explained to her that we all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory (Rom. 3:23), and that before we can share the gospel with others, we ourselves must first repent and believe. We gave her a New Testament Bible to take home with her. She received it with much appreciation and said that, she is going to read it and sort her life out then make sure to share the gospel with everyone.
Please pray for everyone that have received the gospel tracts and have heard the preaching tonight, to come to repentance and accept the gift of salvation as Spirit of God continues to work in their hearts. All glory to God alone. Amen.
Hundreds of gospel tracts went out to people in Brisbane city today. We had 4 people on the team and had some really fruitful conversations.
One person we spoke with was named Kiowin. He was an Aussie bloke who said that he didn't think he would go to heaven because he wasn't brought up believing that, but he said that he was on the fence about whether God exists or not. After showing him how things made have a maker, so therefore the universe must have had a creator, he said, "That makes sense".
So we talked about the coming judgement and how we have sinned and fallen short of God's standards. Therefore we need someone who is perfect who can our punishment for us - Jesus.
Once the gospel was explained to him and he was also encouraged to count the cost of following Jesus, I asked, "So when will you come to trust in Jesus?" He said, "I will really need to consider this." He didn't have a Bible at home, so I gave him a gospel of John to start reading. Please pray that he comes to saving faith.
God is in control and He is building His church even in Australia. To Him be all the glory!