With school being back from holidays, Woodridge was back to its usual busier state yesterday during our weekly Tuesday outreach. Alan had brought along his flip-chart that has some intelligence test questions on it.
The kids loved it. It's a great tool to show that even though we think we know the answer, we can get it wrong. So it's helpful to show the skeptical out there that even though think they know they're right about God not existing, how do they know they're not wrong?
Yesterday we also got to speak to quite a number of people about the gospel, including a young guy named Theo. We have been witnessing to him for a number of years now. He goes to a Seventh Day Adventist church, but the last time we spoke to him he was very adamant in thinking that we are saved by faith and works.
But when we spoke to him yesterday, he acknowledged that he was wrong about works saving him, and instead he says it is by faith in Christ. So we asked him whether he is 100% certain he is going to heaven and he said he isn't. He said that it's because he needs to make himself worthy enough to have assurance of salvation, and then even went on to admit that no one can ever be sure they are saved.
We pointed out that he's going straight back to salvation by works there. Our salvation isn't dependent on our own worthiness, because if that was the case, we would have no chance of being saved at all. We reminded Theo of the thief on the cross next to Jesus. That man had murdered people and yet in the minutes or hours before he died, he trusted in Jesus and said to Jesus "Remember me when you come into your kingdom". And Jesus said to him, "Today, you will be with me in paradise."
Quite often people who have grown up in the Seventh Day Adventist church confuse the distinction between faith and works. We reminded Theo that it is by grace through faith alone that we saved, nothing of our own efforts or law keeping, because Jesus has died for our past, present and even future sin. And if we are saved, it will show itself by our works.
Theo very much appreciated the chat and is keen to keep talking about it next time. Please pray for him. To God be the glory!
We had very productive evening of outreach on Friday night at the Gold Coast. At this time of year the culture of Cavill Avenue changes as many Muslims from the Middle-East come here for holidays. As such, we spend much time engaged in Islamic apologetics and also distributing material in Arabic.
The night began off with an 'interesting' conversation. Upon arrival, we noticed that two of the team members were already engaged in discussion with two Australians. Eventually, I found myself in the midst of the dialogue dealing with a man who was very much into the Hebrew Names Cult. This cult believes that we must call Jesus, Yeshua, as they believe the name Jesus comes from Zeus. We spoke about this for sometime, it was clear that the man we were speaking to had no idea about history, theology or the Bible.
He also believed in a flat-earth, denied the Trinity, believed that Christianity was only invented 400 years ago, and that I was a Mason who is enslaved to science. We tried our best to answer his objections to present the gospel to him, however, both he and his wife were beyond irrational. It is times like this that I am very thankful that the salvation of human souls does not depend on me, as nothing I said seemed to penetrate the deception they willingly embraced. However, I take hope that the seed of truth was sown, and I pray the Holy Spirit waters that seed and brings this couple to true freedom in Jesus.
During this time, Ryan was preaching using the sketchboard and a good size crowd had gathered. There seemed to be a general interest in the preaching tonight with all preachers having crowds stop the listen.
After Ryan finished preaching I set up my sketch, and prepared the chemical cross for my presentation. Tonight, I tried a new sketch which focused on the purpose of life and the futility of life without God. A crowd gathered, and the gospel was proclaimed. The chemical cross was used at the end of the message to illustrate the work of Jesus, and people seemed to be attentive to that object lesson.
Towards the end of the night, we were engaged in discussion by a Muslim man, and a couple of his mates. This Muslim man lives and works on the Gold Coast. He was friendly, but very passionate about Islam. He hated the Jews, but didn't seem to mind Christians. He claimed to be an expert in the Bible, but he didn't understand it. He thought the Bible only had 37 books in it, and that the Bible teaches there are three gods. We tried our best to answer him, but he was very hardened towards the gospel. Yet, he did take a tract which is aimed at Muslims. Please pray the Lord would soften this mans heart and bring him to Christ.
Friday night really marked the beginning of our main Islamic outreach for the year. Please pray for us over the coming weeks as we seek the reach the Muslim world while they are holidaying on the Gold Coast.
The gospel went out again last night in Brisbane city. We know that people's greatest need is forgiveness of sins found only in Jesus, but last night a couple people on the team were also able to help an intellectually impaired man who had just arrived in Brisbane but was planning on just sleeping the night on a park bench. They were able to give him a feed and find a place of accommodation for him, but also most importantly, tell him the gospel.
Meanwhile, the rest of team were busy handing out gospel tracts and talking to people about Christ. One young Chinese man I spoke to, whose English name is Frank, was initially looking at the sketchboard, at what was painted on there. So I gave him a tract, but his English wasn't the best. So I ran over to my bag to get a Chinese version of our comic book tract. I gave it to him and he read every page of it right in front of me.
After reading it, I asked him what he thought. As we were discussing, the language barrier was quite difficult. So I got him to come over with me to the sketchboard so I could use the visuals that were on there to help him understand the gospel. On the board was a scale between 0 and 100, and I asked him where he would place himself in terms of how good he is. He said right in the middle.
I asked him about whether he had done certain sins before, and he had and I said, "Where do you deserve to go then?" He said, "Hell." Then he asked, "But what can I do then?" So I explained the cross and how we need to trust in what Jesus has done as the only reason we are forgiven, and as a result, we will then want to live the rest of our lives for Jesus. He was very receptive. I then helped Frank download a Chinese Bible to his phone so he can start reading it.
As they say, 10 of out 10 people need the gospel. Glory to God that some more people heard it last night!
To get some comic book gospel tracts (in English) to hand out yourself, go to: www.operation513.com/comics
Thank you to all who prayed for the outreach in Brisbane city Wednesday. It went well without any hassles, praise the Lord!
As we were preparing for the sketchboard presentations, a bunch of kids were intrigued at was being drawn, even guessing which colour would be next. Once prepared, we used the sketchboard to speak on the subject of the Way to Heaven. As others came by they saw this group of kids sitting on the ground looking on, so a number of them joined in sitting on the ground listening to the gospel. It was good to see the crowd were even happy to interact and answer questions.
Throughout the afternoon, the team was busily sharing the gospel with people who were interested. We gave a couple of full Bibles out and dozens of gospels of John. Not only that, plenty of gospel tracts went out too. We praise God that He can use all these different things to draw people to Himself.
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!