Tuesday we had some great gospel conversations with people at Woodridge (QLD, Australia).
One guy we witnessed to was named Em. He had been to church a number of times in his life and they had told him that to get to heaven, you need to cleanse yourself of all your sin by living righteously. Em admitted though he wasn't living God's way. So we talked about how we have all sinned and how even if we cease sinning, God cannot ignore the history of our sin.
We then went on to explain that Jesus came to pay for our sins and how we need to trust only in Him for our forgiveness. But Em didn't get it. So we explained the gospel another way to him, but he still didn't understand it. Since he had always been taught something different, grace was such a foreign concept to him. We had to explain the gospel some ten times before he said "I get it now!"
We encouraged him to repent and count the cost of following Jesus, but at the same time, not to delay. At the end of the conversation, Em said, "You know what, I was actually on my way to a party, but after this conversation, I am now just going to go home instead."
Glory to God that His word is so powerful!
Monday is not my normal day in the mall as it is not possible to get a permit to speak in the mall on this day. It was also a very cold and windy day. I dress for the cold on these days and I suspect the locals think I am a visitor from Queensland. Truth be told after a couple of hours in the wind I am normally chilled to the bone. There was opposition from store owners and police today but I wont focus on that as there were some great encouragements also.
I tried a couple of different spots around the CBD today and preached a couple of times in Elizabeth lane. The first time I preached on Luke 7:11-17 on the raising of the dead man at Nain by our Lord. I urged people to see that they are like the dead man on the bier, in desperate need of the life that is found in Jesus alone. I urged people to give up on their own strength (they have none) and to stop looking at the wrongs of others (they are sinners too). Instead I called people to love and follow Jesus who asks us only to love and follow Him, humbly repenting of the sin we all have.
There was a group of people that gathered to hear and as always is the case when people are listening to the word, satan raised up distractions and opponents. One foul mouthed lady cursed both Jesus and God and then began to abuse and curse (literally) me in the name of satan. Another local atheist who has "been studying me for years" tried to herd people away from this obvious threat to the secular world view he wants to maintain. Despite this and in part because of this opposition a group of young people stayed until the end of the sermon and encouraged me for standing and preaching. We had a good chat afterwards.
Over the course of the day I handed out almost 150 tracts and almost universally there was smiles and politeness from even those who would not take a tract. I pray that the witness of a Christian smiling and wishing people a good day when they decline will have an impact even if they don't take a tract on that occasion.
Praise God for using a cold and opposition filled day to bring the gospel to needy sinners!
It appears that there is a seasonal cycle in Hobart. During the warm and dry months of the year there is little issue with outreach in the CBD. Unfortunately during the wet and cold months there is increasing opposition that arrises.
Much of this opposition surrounds the use of Elizabeth Lane, a small side street off the mall near speakers corner. According to the by-laws this lane is not a part of the mall but there is almost continual conflict regarding it's use. The conflict comes from two different stores within the Lane who are radically opposed to the practice of street preaching and tracting. Interestingly the other store in the lane have told me that they have no issue with our work as long as I don't picket their front doors! (something I have no desire to do to anyone)
This conflict has involved verbal abuse, security guards using stand over tactics, council officers called to remove me, and police called to arrest me. The stated reason does not stack up with the behaviour of the stores. Their claim is that outreach interferes with their stores and it distracts and drives away their customers. Yet they have friendly relations with a distracting local artist who regularly sells paintings in the same area of the lane. Also one of these stores has repeatedly complained about the Christian busker in the mall and to the best of my knowledge have made no issue with other buskers. I find it difficult to see this as anything other than anti-Christian intolerance or at very least intolerance of publicly expressed Christianity.
I am seeking legal advice and mediation on this issue with the store owners. I want to see an end to these hostilities while maintaining religious freedom in the city and my hope is that the issue will be resolvable quickly.
It was a quieter afternoon on Thursday in Sunnybank, yet despite the slower day we were able to have some wonderful gospel conversations. For those who don't know, this area is a very multi-cultural region, and as such we have many different languages spoken.
One of the challenges we face is being able to share with people from so many backgrounds; however, with modern technology we can use an iPad when necessary to present the gospel in people's native tongue.
One lady that I offered a tract to, in broken English, told me she could only speak Italian. Upon hearing this I was able to show her a short video of the gospel in her own language. She seemed amazed that on the streets of Brisbane, she would hear the good news in her own tongue.
Later on the day I spoke to a lady from the Philippines who only spoke Tagalog. Once again the iPad came out and I was able to share the gospel with her.
It is truly amazing that the Lord has given us such technology to advance His gospel. Truly, the fulfilling of the Great Commission is easier today than it has ever been before.
It was another exciting outreach last night at the Gold Coast. Exciting in that many people were open to discussing the things of God. Just to mention a few:
Two on the team spoke to a young lady named Crystal for about an hour. She said she has just recently joined the Jehovah's Witnesses. We emphasised how salvation is by grace through faith alone, and not by good deeds or baptism. As we discussed many topics, it was wonderful to see she was really open and she said she would go home and investigate what we were saying. Please pray for her.
Please also pray for two young men from Saudi Arabia who are Muslims, both named Ahmed. We first of all witnessed to one of the men earlier in the night, and he was happy to even take a New Testament in Arabic. Later in the night, he returned with a friend and we also got to witness to him.
His friend said that if he does his prayers five times a day, and the fact that he has already made a pilgrimage to Mecca, he's hoping it's enough to get him to heaven. For he said, "God is most merciful". I said, "Let's imagine we have a murderer standing before a judge on this earth and the judge says, 'I am a really merciful guy, and so, murderer, I am just going to let you walk free." Would that be a good thing for him to do?" Ahmed agreed that would be wrong, as the judge is being unjust. I continued, "So in the same way, if God shows mercy at the expense of justice, He is no longer a just judge."
This segued into explaining how the only way God can remain just and yet show mercy to us is if a perfect person takes our hell punishment for us. And that is exactly what Jesus has done. So I encouraged Ahmed to trust only in Jesus' death on the cross for his forgiveness, not his good deeds. I also explained that Jesus is God, which came as a surprise to him. He said he was going to have to really think about what he has heard and said he wants to start reading the Arabic New Testament his friend received.
To God be the glory!
Despite the Council opposition on Wednesday, it was still a great day where the gospel went out to many. It was extraordinarily busy in the city due to the school holidays. Jesus' statement of "The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few" was particularly evident.
In fact, as I was painting up the sketchboard to prepare it for my message, every minute or so an individual or group of people would come up to me asking what I was painting and that provided an opportunity to share the gospel with them.
But as I was half way sharing with one person, some more people would come up asking the same question. So I had to juggle multiple groups of people at once, and eventually had to call others on the team over who weren't already in gospel conversations to witness to the new arrivals.
The two young people in the photo with the sketchboard in the background were very open to the things of God. They said they were in a rush, but wanted to quickly stop and find out what was being said. I interacted with them in the open air, and they thought their own goodness would get them to heaven.
But by the end, they had come to recognise the only way of forgiveness is through trusting that Jesus died for their sins, and they left counting the cost. They were so appreciative that someone would share this important message with them.
I pray that you would consider joining us out on the street. Many Christians have the misconception that no one wants to talk about the things of God on the street, but actually so many do. And we as Christians have the words of eternal life, how can we keep silent about it?
For times and locations, see: http://www.operation513.com/street-evangelism-teams/
Today I was able to meet up with some visiting preachers from America and a couple of UK evangelists. All these men are a real blessing and encouragement to me. We decided to meet near Hackney Central train station, which is in East London. It is quite a rough area, full of liberal and pluralistic attitudes. However we did have a small Christian contingent of locals pass by and encourage us in our ministry. I arrived to find Bobby preaching and some community officers talking to Mike and Tony. This was to be a regular occurrence this day. After much discussion and a later visit from "real" police officers, we were able to keep preaching unhindered and we had a group of community officers monitor us for our safety and to see that we didn't say anything "offensive".
Adrian preached next and had a quite a few local Christians stop to give thanks and praise to God!
I preached next from Mark 7... what comes of a man is what defiles him!
Tony preached after and was very engaging with people, a number of hecklers passed by but not many had the courage to stay and chat about where they will spend eternity.
During the preaching many tracts were being distributed to pedestrians. Robert preached and also had a number of people asking questions.
Here is Mike talking to a very animated fellow who is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.
Today we had a successful day as the Gospel went out unhindered and with as much clarity as possible. SDG
On Saturday night it was a cool ten degrees, meaning there wasn't many in the mall and so a quiet night was had. That being said, the team was still diligently denying themselves and their desire to be at home in the warmth but they went and took the opportunities to share the Gospel with anyone who would engage.
There was one highlight conversation with a man, he was a very decided atheist, proclaiming his certainty about what he believed. This is always interesting to see someone being so sure of what they believe but it had undertones. The conversation went many directions, starting with the authenticity of the Bible and the apparent 'contradictions'.
These were discussed at length but even when an answer was given or the problem was explained he would just bring up another one. He had contention with God's sovereignty and yet humanities accountability. After over an hour of discussion it came to a place where it was apparent.
Though he proclaimed that he was open minded and would change his mind if God was proven, the tenacity and strength with which he held to his arguments even when the logic had holes. It was evident not that he was doubting and not sure what to believe but rather he didn't want to believe because the implications of surrendering to a perfect and sovereign God were something he desired.
Please pray for him, that he will acknowledge the truth of God's Word and surrender to Christ, trusting in the Gospel, the power of God unto salvation!
Please consider the team, those we shall talk with these coming days in your prayers before our creator and even ask God to challenge you to come out and join us! It would be great to have you on the team, declaring that Jesus Christ is the way of salvation!
Soli Deo Gloria!
It was cold and windy at Capalaba during our weekly outreach there. One of the usual team members wasn't able to make it, but God graciously brought along two new labourers. So we had four of us in total.
It was great to see the team get into some extensive gospel conversations with the people waiting for their bus, some that went for half an hour!
After someone came off a bus that had arrived, I offered him a gospel tract and asked if he thinks he'll go to heaven. This guy recognised me, saying, "Did you know you spoke to me 2 years ago right here." I didn't really remember him but I asked if he remembers what we talked about.
He said, "I remember realising that I deserved to be sent to hell, and that I need to trust in Jesus, and then start reading the Bible everyday. In fact, after that conversation I started reading the Bible - I actually read half the Bible, but then uni got too busy and then I stopped reading it."
This provided then a great opportunity for me to recap the message with him, emphasizing that it's the finished work of Jesus' on the cross that saves us, and that we need to trust in Him alone, which will result in us then wanting to live the rest of our lives for Jesus. I also encouraged him to count the cost of following Jesus.
He was listening intently and my prayer is that he will come to saving faith in Christ. His name is Zac.
God's word never returns empty, to God be the glory!
We praise God for another good outreach in Woodridge. We talked to people from all different cultures and religions and shared with them the good news of Christ.
One conversation we had was with three Aussies who said they were Baha'i. They said that all the religions are true and that they believe in a progressive revelation, that is, God reveals more information over time. I said, we too believe in a progressive revelation (the Bible), in that the Old Testament came first and then the New Testament came later. But I asked them, "Does the new information that God reveals have to line up with the old?" They said it did.
And since they also agreed that Jesus was 100% accurate in everything he said, I pointed them to a number of passages in the Bible showing the exclusivity of Jesus Christ (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). If Jesus says He is the way to Heaven and He is true, logically there can't be another way.
I said, "Let's say someone comes up to us and asks for the directions to Woodridge train station and one of us says, 'It's just there' (pointing to the station). But then another of us says, 'No it's 50 metres in the opposite direction. One of us is wrong, right?" They agreed. I continued, "So in the same way if Jesus says He is the only way to Heaven and other religions deny that or say something opposite, logically they all cannot be right at the same time."
I said, "Even though you like the idea that all religions are true, and you've been believing Bahaism for a long time, couldn't it be a possibility that your religion is wrong?" A couple of them were beginning to see that could be the case and one said, "I am going to have start reading the Bible for myself and learn more about Jesus." Since I had also spent a bit time explaining how forgiveness is only available through Jesus' death on the cross for us. Please pray for them.
To Glory alone be the glory!