This week has been a sharp spike in interest in the work in the mall. We had many people gather to discuss the gospel and biblical matters. We also nearly ran out of bibles on the bible table, a problem every evangelist should have!
The afternoon began as many have, with quiet discussions around the bible table. Mr S. dropped by to have a quick chat before heading off to other commitments. My discussions with Mr S. have become quite cordial, something that I am immensely grateful to God for!
After finishing chatting with Mr S. I began to preach the gospel and I was working my way through a passage of scripture when an aboriginal man started shouting at me that I should stop preaching about God on aboriginal land. Apparently God and Jesus are not welcome in Australia, and according to this man I was being disrespectful of his people by preaching as I did. I responded to him as best I could, seeking to show him that race and nationality do not remove our responsibility to our maker. I also urged him to consider the fact that many in the aboriginal communities of our land are Christian (75% according to the ABS census done just recently). There have even been elders come out in opposition to the activism of “Invasion Day” saying aboriginal Australians should be seeking to reconcile not foster division and hatred. None of this had any effect on this particular man and he continued to spew hatred towards God and threatening me if I did not stop preaching. All this obviously concerned some people listening because one lady called the police because she thought I was in danger. They came and spoke with the man off to one side leaving me free to continue preaching.
I rejoiced when I looked around at the large crowd that had gathered to witness the spectacle and doubly so when members of the crowd began to ask their own questions. It began with a question regarding other religions – what do I think will happen to them (with particular reference to Islam as some Muslims had walked past). This I answered with the words of Jesus underlying His claim to be the only way to God and asking in return if He was right or wrong? Not receiving a reply I urged the questioner to consider all that Jesus did that made it urgent that we believe Him, He was God in flesh and proved it beyond all doubt.
At this point the police spoke to me briefly about avoiding violence in the mall, something I assured them I was ng very hard to avoid if I could. They then left me to continue preaching, taking the aboriginal man with them.
The questions continued from there for the rest of the afternoon until I had to pack up and head home apologising to the unanswered questions. The questions were fantastic, biblical questions that allowed me to glorify both God and the gospel.
One set of questions in particular was regarding the role of biblical law in the Christian's life. My questioner claimed we had to fulfill all the law in order to be right with God, not only believe in Jesus through faith. This question was fantastic as I could speak about the full salvation that Christ had won on the cross and how we are freed from the demands of law which we could never fulfill. I went to Galations many times to underline God's thoughts on this false gospel. Praise God He gave us the law which has delivered us to Jesus who sets us free from from bondage to both law keeping and sin!
As I said many bibles went out as did much literature. Praise God that He is so kind to us here in Hobart and sent to gather the people to hear the way to life. May He use what was said and what was taken to be read!
Please continue your faithful prayers for the people of Hobart and for our work in the mall.
To God be the glory through Jesus the Son!
As we began our outreach in Brisbane city last night it was wonderful to see City Hall lit up in gold to represent the glory of God. The council had agreed to light up City Hall and the Storey Bridge in gold for that purpose in connection with the National Day of Prayer and Fasting.
It provided us with the opportunity to let people know of that and transition into talking about eternity.
God brought in a team of about 10 of us and it was a fruitful night. As we began walking back to the car at the end of the night, a young man named Mossid came up to us and wanted to find out how he could go to Heaven. It seems that God that had prepared his heart to hear the gospel.
We talked for a long while and he came to profess faith in Christ. He said he wants to come along to next week's outreach because he wants to now share what he has heard with others.
To God be the glory!
It was a fruitful day of outreach on Wednesday in Brisbane city. We had 5 of us on the team.
We got to chat to a variety of different people including Henry who was a Chinese man who said his culture doesn't believe in God so he has never given it any thought. As we talked, he was listening intently and took a New Testament at the end.
I also got to briefly see a young man named James who I witnessed to firstly about a week or two ago in Brisbane city, then on the Friday night following, he happened to be at the Gold Coast so I got to continue the conversation with him.
He has come to realise his sin and says he has been hanging out with the wrong crowd. I encouraged him to make sure he counts the cost of repenting and trusting in Jesus. For it would be worse for him to put his hand to the plow and then look back (Luke 9:62).
That is one of the reasons we don't lead people in a "sinner's prayer", because they need to really count the cost first. Plus we don't want them to think they are saved simply because they prayed a prayer.
Please pray that God will save James and all the others who heard the gospel today.
To God be the glory!
The gospel went out again in Brisbane city on Saturday night. We started with two of us, but not long after praying we had a team of about 15. Praise the Lord!
There were plenty of gospel conversations that were had with people, with some conversations lasting well over an hour. One person in particular had his mates waiting for him as he was interested in finding out more about Christianity and talking with someone on the team.
So I started chatting to his mates - one was an atheist, one who hadn't given any thought to eternal matters, and one who was a professing Christian who appeared to be living life his own way.
After speaking with the atheist and the professing Christian for a while, they went and sat down on a seat while I continued to talk with the man who hadn't thought much about eternal things. His name was Tony.
He came to grasp the message of forgiveness through what Jesus has done for us on the cross and not our works. He had some good questions and wanted a Bible, so we gave him one. Please pray for him as he counts the cost of coming to faith in Christ, and please also pray for the others who heard the gospel throughout the night.
To God be the glory!
A cooler day today but so too seemed to be the general response to God's only Way of sinners becoming reconciled to Him.
However, God has His own way of presenting the claims of Christ, e.g. a young girl who had previously been given a tract and had had the gospel explained to her, had time to be briefly challenged before her bus came.
There was also another young lass who was very unclear initially but was taken through to the point where she knew she deserved eternal condemnation. As we walked the 10 steps or so to her bus, I was able to point her to the sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ and have to be content to pray for others to meet her and complete the gospel message and challenge.
Dave, trained in a Roman Catholic institution, was told that this was the Biblical message that Protestants proclaimed. At the end, he was pleased to be prayed for.
Our pleasure is to serve the only One worth serving and that through the Mediator He has given us Thank God that He saves a people for Himself, e.g. Rom. 9:25,26. Let us pray that God will be merciful to many at this time in this land He owns (as well as the whole created order).
The Melbourne Team has now been meeting on Friday nights for around 4-5 months and though we have not kept up with our reports, there has been some great stuff happening. The team averages 6-8 people each week with a committed pool of around 10 workers. We meet to pray around 7pm and then head out to preach for 2 hours, usually as pairs doing "walk up" type witnessing. Here are some highlights from the past couple of weeks (apologies for the very long post):
As many of you know, On Friday 20th January, a deranged man drove his car into Burke St mall and struck and killed a number of innocent people. As a result, the mood the following week was very different. Usually Burke St Mall is dominated by the sounds of very talented musicians busking and groups of people having fun, but this week things were very subdued. There was an astonishing collection of flowers left outside the GPO building as an impromptu memorial. We set out to preach and at first we were a little gun shy because of the mood, however we found the events of the previous week caused many to think about mortality.
Simon spoke to John and Tracey (pictured). John had a Catholic background and so Simon spoke to him about the relationship between works and grace. The Mall is very multi-cultural and we meet people from all over the world. Andrew spoke to a couple of different French groups and to a couple of Nepalese guys whose girlfriends got bored and walked away! He also spoke to a group of pastors from New Zealand who tragically could not between them articulate the gospel.
The best conversations of the night happened near the Memorial. Andrew and Elise spoke to Luke and his friend Naomi who were reading cards left with the flowers. They were both very open about eternal matters and Luke was really keen to read the Bible for himself. Andrew gave him a Bible and pointed him to the Gospel of John as a starting place.
The best conversation of the night was with Raj, a Sihk guy who works security for a shopping complex on the Mall. The team has now spoken to him a few times and given him a Bible. He regularly asks great questions but at the same time he seems to be grasping for objections and trying to find reasons not to believe.
There were many great conversations this week. Canaan and Amanda were able to share with Milee, a young lady who had been put off Christianity by her family and with John a catholic and his Mormon wife, Anne. Simon and Troy talked with Louis a spiritualist, and Arkash who was from a Hindu background. Andrew chatted with James, a Navy guy with an Anglican background who was employed in some sort of confidential role!
This was Simon's last night with us before he flew out to serve with MAF as a missionary pilot in Arnhem Land. We were sad to lose him but encouraged that he will be preaching the gospel wherever he goes.
Canaan chatted with a young man name Finn who was raised Catholic. He was very agreeable so it was a little difficult to see if he really held certain beliefs or was merely being polite. He had a right view of God's justice in punishing sinners and the need for forgiveness, even to the point of saying that he would be deserving of Gods wrath if he died. Unfortunately, he just seemed a little apathetic about it all.
There were huge numbers of tracts handed out that night (compared to normal for our small team) but comparatively few conversations.
The night started with a group of Mormon missionaries and a group of people giving out free hugs. The free hugs were nice enough, but the givers could not come up with a consistent motive for why they felt this was important. Andrew was able to share with one of them about the Gospel.
The Mormons were interesting. Canaan and Amanda spoke to 3 and Andrew and Elise spoke to 3. Andrew was able to speak to them about the integrity of the holy books as a reason to trust the Bible but reject the book of Mormon. He then transitioned to the differences in our respective understanding of atonement and about how Jesus had completed the payment for our sins, not just contributed to it. The young Mormon missionaries were intrigued by Ephesians 2:8-9 but then the leader of the group (from Canaan's conversation) burst in and declared that they all needed to head back now and that this conversation was pointless. Andrew declared that it was anything but pointless because one of us was clearly wrong and our souls were at stake. This angered the leader who left while the young Mormons lingered to read Ephesians 2:8-9 from their own preferred translation.
Andrew, Nick and Elise met Sergio (middle of photo) from Brazil who knew the right answers but seemed to lack a lot of fruit. Andrew challenged him about what true repentance looks like.
Canaan and Amanda finished the night chatting with this young couple who were quite friendly and reasonable. The guy was taking things in and seemed to be thinking through the Gospel rightly. The lady had a lot more objections, but it was nice for her to question back and forth and give her answers on things.
There are many wonderful things happening on the Melbourne team and we promise to write updates more often! Please continue to pray for us!
Soli Deo Gloria!
God gave us a steady flow of people to converse with including:
The tracts seemed to go out more quickly than at other times but it was not from the Pokemon players whose eyes were fixed to their screens as they trudged by. By God's grace, maybe one day they will be doing the Heb.12:2 gaze in adoration.
On the way to the bus stop where we evangelise, Ryan had a conversation with a J.W. bus driver. I saw this and began praying for him while he tried to get a gospel conversation going, and it prepared me for what lay ahead. However the J.W. was more concerned that it was the last days (which means they believe they have to put in more hours than usual), than wanting to discuss about matters of eternity.
We were then able to pray for God's work and went forth to the few people there - as many as our sovereign Lord had arranged to receive tracts and/or engage in 1:1s, e.g.
Jamie, a young Christian lady who could not defend the faith. If someone were to ask her ,"Why should God let you into His heaven?", she could not explain her faith. Going through the law and gospel, she responded most joyously. She received a sample of tracts, and was referred to our website, Jamie said that she would teach her friends how to defend the faith. Pray they respond in like enthusiastic manner.
Lorraine, an expert in creating a 'god' she could handle including Jesus as Mediator, karma and every other belief that she liked from various religions! Pray she reads the tract and God deals savingly with her.
Dana, a teenager who seemed to grasp the message and Ryan challenged her to count the cost. Jesus has told us what a lukewarm 'Christian' can expect - Rev. 3:16.
As always, what God did but did not reveal to us, is to the praise of His glorious grace. We are thankful that He enables us to serve Him in this manner and we are quick to give Him all the glory and praise.
We were lower in team number's yesterday for our outreach in Brisbane city, but we knew God was with us. And He also saw fit to bring along a new labourer who hasn't done much evangelism before, praise the Lord.
Across the afternoon several hundred gospel tracts went out to people and dozens of evangelistic conversations had.
One such conversation was with Doug. He said he was an atheist, but after hearing that since the universe had a beginning therefore logically it must have had a creator, he backed down on his atheism and said that he was happy to believe in a creator that is outside of space and time, but as long as it's not God.
He said, "You will never guess why I don't want to believe in God." I replied, "It's because you don't want him to tell you how to live, right?" He looked shocked and said, "How did you guess that? I just don't want a God to tell me what I can and can't do." What he said reminded me of Romans 1:18-20 how by nature we suppress the truth that we know about God in unrighteousness.
We chatted further, and I asked him, "What good is enjoying the momentary pleasures of sin if you end up in a place of pain and suffering forever later on? It's like having a cup of pleasure in exchange for an ocean of pain. Definitely not worth it." At the end, he thanked me for the conversation and said he would think about it.
No matter the response, it is always a success when God's word goes out. To God be the glory!
For times and locations of our evangelism teams, see: www.operation513.com/street-evangelism-teams
At the end of our outreach at Woodridge yesterday we were rejoicing that God's word never returns void, but accomplishes everything He wants it to. We had a team of five of us and God brought along dozens of people across our path throughout the afternoon who were open to talking about spiritual things.
It is interesting to see three examples yesterday of people coming from different stages of belief - Firstly, Troy, he was a man who said that he knew God existed but said that he loves sinning. After he heard the gospel yesterday, he said he would count the cost of coming to faith in Jesus.
We also talked to a young man named George who thought he was already saved, but turns out he was trusting in being a good person to get him to heaven. By the end he realised that he needed to trust in Christ alone for his salvation.
And later on, we talked with a man named Elijah who hadn't really given much thought to the things of God, but was quite open. He said he would really think about what he heard.
We sow the seed, but God gives the growth. We are nothing, but God is worthy of all praise. So to God be the glory!