Warwick Outreach (July 2017)
It was a beautiful winter's day here in Warwick (Queensland, Australia). The mornings are a little cool at minus 3, but it warms up to the low 20s for a pleasant temperature to hand out gospels tracts.
For a couple of weeks in July each year Warwick puts on an event called "Jumpers and Jazz" where locals dress up the trees with jumpers, beanies, scarves and colourful knitted crafts and fill the streets with live jazz bands which brings in many visitors from surrounding areas to enjoy the festivities and is a great opportunity to share the gospel.
We located a good spot and started handing out our tracts and it wasn’t long before I struck up a chat with a man and his wife after handing them one of our “What will matter to you in 150 years time” tracts.
They both agreed that they wouldn’t be here and be long dead and buried and I said, "Have you thought what happens when you die?" He said, "You just go into the ground." I found out during the chat that he said that he was a born again Christian for twenty five years - many years ago but now he isn’t and doesn’t believe in Jesus and that we are all gods.
I addressed those issues and quickly moved onto the gospel but half way through the commandments they said they had to go. So I asked them to read the tract and remember that they had to stand before a Holy God in judgement one day and give an account of their lives to Him.
There was a few more conversations that arvo and we got to hand out about 150 tracts. Scripture says that God’s word does not return void but accomplushes what he has sent it to do.
All glory to our God and King!
Today’s outreach began somewhere a little different. We assembled together at the Gospel Cafe, a labor of love on Margaret Street which was opened by a young married couple a few years ago and is presently staffed by a number of dedicated volunteers.
We were met by Gavin, a long-time volunteer whose extreme past is only matched by his extreme love for God and others today, having met Christ much later in his life. He introduced us warmly to the other volunteers and spoke on the swags, Bibles, coffees and listening ears that he and his team generously provide to people who walk through the doors of the Gospel Cafe.
After praying with Gavin our team split up and headed out, Gospel tracts in hand. We had two newcomers with our team, Steph and Alex and so we paired them with experienced evangelists.During the outreach, we had a fairly quiet time. There was one “God bless you!” from a Christian as they saw our work though people in general seemed to be rather ambivalent to the Gospel.
Looking back a significant number took tracts from us and while we may not see the visible fruit of our labor we know that the invisible work of God in people’s lives often occurs at home, in traffic or even 100 meters up the footpath from us as people read about Jesus and God engages their lives in a profound way.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' 43 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 44 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”45 Mat 5:43-45 ESV
Our work in Hobart continues amid ongoing slander and attempts to gag us. It is also amid much encouragement and joy in the faces and voices of Christians who continue to love and pray despite the hatred.
Mr S. is still hard at work to stop the preaching of the gospel if he can. None the less we will continue to share the message of salvation through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus. We will continue to pray for Mr S. and the rest of the lost in Hobart. And we will continue to trust that God will glorify His name in this land.
When Mr S. has his pro-same sex marriage stall up, we gather to pray for his salvation for at least a brief period. We also appeal to God for the many other concerns for friends, in our churches, in our country, and world. We praise the eternal God who controls all things and works all things to His purposes and glory.
There are some who support Mr S. and are opposed to our work and the preaching of the Gospel in the Mall. As Christians, we should never be surprised to see opposition to Gospel work, it was promised by our Lord. But we should always return praise and thanks to our God when He brings much needed encouragements. And God is faithful amid difficulty, encouraging us both in the mall and through messages online. There has been an outpouring of support for the team in the mall, and for my pastor Campbell and I. Frequently these encouragements have come at exactly the right time to counter the negative responses and raise our spirits for the fight once more. Thank you to all the wonderful people who have voiced your support and encouraged us to keep preaching the gospel and fight the Anti-discrimination charges. We have been and we will.
These last couple of weeks have provided many opportunities to share the gospel, in the mall, on the streets, and in conversations. I have been blessed with more people than normal for this time of year coming to talk at the Bible table and stopping to chat after the preaching. I’ve been blessed to speak of our Lord to journalists and on radio, I am humbled that our Lord is willing to use me in this. Praise His name that the Gospel goes forth no matter what!
There are two particularly great conversations that I’ve been part of recently:
Mr S. (not the heckler) – He stopped to chat after I handed him an “Are You A Good Person” tract. We started with the idea of heaven and God, are they real and is it reasonable to believe in them? Mr S. is an atheist/agnostic and so I could appeal to the science that points us to the presence of God and the history that shows He has spoken to us. We then discussed and debated for some time about various theological issues. It was a friendly debate and I was able to share the Gospel repeatedly during it. Mr S. and I parted with smiles and handshakes. A week or so after Mr S. came to the bible table and we had a great conversation again, this time talking around other questions he had and getting to know each other. I encouraged him to come again and talk any time and I hope he does. Praise God for opportunities to share with others the great hope we have in Christ. Please pray that Mr S. will come again and we can talk more of Christ.
Ms E. Ms T. and Ms P. – These three young ladies were sitting at the tree next to Speakers Corner whilst I was preaching and I approached them afterwards. They began by saying that they disagreed with most of what I was preaching. So, I asked them why it was that they disagreed. This developed into a very long discussion of the Gospel and Christian ethics. I was able to share some of the supports for the Gospel they’d heard me preach and reasons we should believe in Jesus. There were times they obviously disliked what they heard from me, especially around same sex marriage issues. But the discussion remained friendly and we parted on good terms. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to talk with them again. Please pray that God would soften their hearts and mercifully draw them to Jesus Christ.
There has consistently been people sitting in the cold to listen to the preaching at this time also. Something that is very uncommon in the cold Hobart winter weather. Praise God that He gathers people to hear the way of salvation, may many be drawn to Jesus Christ and put their faith in Him.
On Tuesday for our outreach at Woodridge, we had a large team out and as a result we were able to spread out further by some on the team walking around the area in search of people who needed to hear of Jesus. Thankfully there were many around!
A stand out conversation was with a government worker named James. He said he thought about Heaven and Hell a lot but really didn't know where he would go. He thought he was a pretty good guy, but wasn't sure.
After a short discussion, James had raised the selfishness of humanity that he had seen through his job and also was a little frustrated that he worked hard to get places and yet there are people who get to live great lives without ever working hard. On both points, we were able to explain the parallels with what he felt and humanity's rejection of God. God has given us many good gifts, life being the best and yet we use the very gift God has given us to mock Him.
Secondly we shared that we deserve God's justice. We deserve punishment and judgement and yet God in His love, willingly suffered the penalty we deserve so that we can be free. Christians are people who have received a right standing before God and all the blessings of being children of God with no work or merit of their own but entirely of Christ.
Please pray that James is able to understand God's immense love in salvation and to cry out in surrender and trust in Christ! Praise God that He brings people across our paths who so desperately need him!
Tonight the team had the privilege of serving their Saviour in bearing witness to Him in Queen St Mall, Brisbane.
The team interacted with quite a number of other Christians who were meandering through the mall on their Saturday night. It was a real encouragement to the team to have these Christians encourage them to press on and many of them said they were keen to consider sharing the gospel with people as they returned to their homes.
One person on the team got up to preach with the sketchboard and spoke about how humanity in an attempt to find true freedom, rejected the freedom they were given and replaced it with the illusion that we are in control. It was explained that this rejection of God and His design for us, earned us Hell but that God in His immense love, gave up His freedom and willingly became a servant, to suffer a cross kind of death, that we could have freedom from sin and judgement.
When the sermonette had finished a young man named Alex from the United Kingdom, who was in Brisbane for 1 day, came up to a team member to discuss about the Bible.
Alex had grown up in a Christian home, had studied Theology and Philosophy but as a result sat in the unknown. He wasn't sure he could trust the Bible and yet couldn't really argue against it.
He had many ideas and thoughts and a whole host of questions. As the conversation drew to a close Alex seemed less against God and more willing to submit to God's truth. So we suggested a local Church he could attend that was only 200m away from where he was staying the night. While explaining the service times, the pastor of that very church walked by.
The pastor and Alex were introduced to each other, which seems like God's sense of humour played out in providence. This was quite an exciting moment and the conversation continued a little after that.
Please pray that Alex would attend church tomorrow and that God by His Spirit will speak through His exposition of the Word, the very words of God, that Alex may for the first time understand the gospel and come to a surrendered faith in Christ. Please pray also for the many other people who the team had the pleasure to speak with about Christ and His saving work!
It was encouraging to see that during our outreach last night at the Gold Coast, the team were so engrossed in various gospel conversations, that it meant we finished half an hour later than we usually do. We had 15 labourers on the team.
One conversation we had was with a man holidaying from Dubai who is in the police force over there. He said that Dubai is such a city of sin, worse than the Gold Coast. He was raised in a Muslim family, but he has been living life his own way and so when he was asked if he will go to Heaven when he dies, he responded, "No I think I will go to Hell."
He said, "After I spent a night out in Dubai, I feel guilty for the things I've done and it worries me where I am going to go after I die. But I think if I just say sorry to God and clean up my life I think I'll maybe spend 40 years in Hell and then go to Heaven afterwards."
I explained to him that that is not how it is going to work. Because Jesus told a story in the Bible about a rich man who went to Hell and a poor man who went to Heaven, and when the rich man wanted someone to come down to him to cool his tongue because the anguish he was in, Jesus describes that there is a great chasm between Heaven and Hell so that no one can pass between the two places. That means, where you go after you die, you are there forever.
Moreover, I explained, imagine a criminal stood before a judge and said, "Judge, yesterday I murdered that person, but today I am really sorry and I won't do it again. So please let me go. Would that work?" He replied, "Of course not."
"That is why the only way is if we have a perfect person who can pay our fine for us, which will satisfy God's justice on our behalf and therefore allow us to enter Heaven. That is, Jesus - who is God, and died and rose for our forgiveness. As he was hearing this, this man was beginning to grasp the gospel and asked a number of good questions. He was happy to take a gospel of John to start reading. He asked, "Will you be here next week so that I can come back and talk further?" "Yes definitely", I said.
To God be the glory!
The outreach at Sunnybank today went from one extreme to another. At one end of the spectrum there was polite conversation, then at the other end we had a group of drunks decide to start smashing the Free Bible table.
The afternoon began quietly enough with us handing out tracts and trying to engage people in conversation. One elderly couple walked past a person on the team and were rather hostile. Upon being offered a tract, the elderly man took it, and then threw it back saying, “I have a living faith in the Lord Jesus, which I doubt you have!”
I asked the man where he went to church and he identified a local Anglican church. I then asked, “Sir, I’m a Baptist Minister, why do you believe I don’t have faith in the Lord Jesus?” He seemed stunned and replied, “OH! I thought you were a cult!” The man and his wife then apologised, and informed me that they also attend a Bible study at a local Baptist church.
Then he said something that was truly sad. He said in 70 years, he has only ever been approached by Christians three times in public in order to talk about the gospel, but the cults had approached him many times. We all agreed that this shouldn’t be the case, and that more Christians need to take Christ into the public arena.
Shortly after this I was able to get into a good conversation with a Muslim gentleman from Sudan. He was extremely friendly, and was dissatisfied with those who follow Islam in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East. We chatted about the Lord Jesus, and then he brought up about the Bible being corrupted. In my pack I had a booklet that dealt with that topic, so I gave it to him and encouraged him to read it. He said he would, and we parted with a handshake.
During this time we had a group of white drunken yobbos come by. They were walking in the traffic and generally making a nuisance of themselves. When they saw the Chinese Free Bible table they began to overturn it and start smashing things up. I quickly stopped this, called the Police and then began to clean everything up. As they left the scene, a fellow Christian was able to give them tracts. Please pray the Lord saves them.
It was a productive afternoon with many tracts being handed out and conversations had. It was also encouraging to see that six people took copies of the Gospel of John in Chinese. May the Lord Jesus rescue many.
Eden came to Woodridge yesterday to play Pokemon Go, but he went home considering the claims of Christ. He was one of the people we spoke with during our outreach yesterday in Woodridge. He said that he never thinks about eternal matters, and doesn't have a Bible.
But as the conversation went on, he saw his own sinfulness and how he didn't deserve Heaven, but then came to grasp the gospel as he heard of Christ's death and resurrection for his sins.
He said, "I think I should trust in Christ today". He mentioned how he doesn't live in the area and never usually comes to Woodridge, but he decided to stop by Woodridge this particular afternoon to play Pokemon Go, and I said to him, "I don't think it was an accident that you stopped by today, it was all in God's plan and in His timing so that you would happen to be walking by at this time and we'd have this conversation." We gave him a gospel of John to start reading and recommended a local church.
Please pray for him and the dozens of others who we witnessed to throughout the afternoon. To God be all the glory!
At the outreach at Capalaba Bus Station on Monday afternoon there were 4 team members out and a whole host of conversations were had!
Capalaba is a very interesting place, some people are incredibly hostile, they will often yell, "Don't you dare talk to me" and yet the person sitting right beside them will be happy and open to hear about what God has done to save sinners.
An early conversation was with a woman named Chloe, she had no hostility but was completely open. It was a scary conversation in some respects because this woman who was in her early twenties had never heard of Jesus. You read that right, she had no idea who He is, who He claimed to be, when He had lived or what He had done. The only thing she knew about Him was His name, Jesus Christ.
There was great pleasure taken in explaining what sin is, who God is, the resulting penalty for sin and yet that God, through Christ had provided a way of salvation. Chloe left with a Gospel of John and said she would have to consider it that night.
Another man the team talked to was named Jordan, who is also in his mid twenties, at the beginning of the conversation he was saying that he was pretty sure Heaven and Hell didn't exist but after only 15 minutes of discussion he was asking how a sinner could be forgiven and be right with God.
This was probably the most encouraging discussion of the afternoon, he hopped on the bus pondering the question, "Will I continue to live for myself and suffer God's justice in Hell, or will I acknowledge that I am a sinner in desperate need of salvation and surrender in trust to the God who punished Himself on my behalf?"
There were a whole host of other conversations, so please take the time to come before the Lord in prayer pleading on behalf of these people and all those talked to that God would graciously grant them repentance!
Please also ask God to bring back these same people next week for follow up conversations and discussions! And finally may you lift up the team in prayer that God may equip and empower them by His Spirit to keep boldly proclaiming the gospel.
The gospel was proclaimed on Saturday night in Brisbane city by the team of about 10 people that showed up. Through the preaching, listeners were asked whether they thought they were a good person, but unfortunately no one is since we have all sinned, and therefore that is why we all need the forgiveness available only through faith in Christ.
It was great to see the team engage in many gospel conversations, including two new people on the team who have never evangelised on the street before. They stepped out of their comfort zones to share the gospel with people.
I think this principle holds true: The amount a person will enjoy coming out evangelising will depend on how much they are prepared to step out of their comfort zone. If a person doesn't really want to do that, they'll find evangelising maybe a bit boring. But when we ask God for courage and then step out of our comfort zone to approach people and strike up a conversation about eternal matters, it won't be long before we are in a gospel conversation with someone, and it is so exciting! We will go home rejoicing at the end of the day!
And even for those of us who have evangelised for years, we still need to each time ask God for help for boldness. And when we step out in faith, God blesses our efforts for His glory.
We encourage you to come along to one of our outreach teams, details are listed here: www.operation513.com/street-evangelism-teams