We were blessed by today's outreach. Tim, Brendan and myself got to preach. Brother Trevor was also with us. There were a few that stopped by to listen. One young lady in particular stayed to listen to each one of us. She later thanked one of our other brothers Joseph for the messages she heard and I got to give her one of our Op513 tracts.
By God's grace I got into a conversation with a young man named Anton. I reached over to hand him a tract, he took it and I said, "Do you have any spiritual beliefs?" "Yes!" he said. I then asked him, "What do you think happens when you die?" He responded, "I don't know".
I gave him a summary of Romans 1:18-25, making the point that everyone knows that God exist that they suppress the truth in their wickedness.
I tried to explain that God is all powerful, all knowing and the creator of all things good. And God had allowed for him to wake up this morning.
Then using the text, from Hebrews 4:13 and Hebrews 9:27, I made the point that one day he will stand before this all powerful, all knowing Holy God to give an account for his life.
I also stressed, because he has sinned against this great and eternal God the punishment is also great and eternal because it is He who has been offended.
I will never forget the look on his face when I told him that the good news that Jesus Christ came to take that punishment on the cross so that we would have peace with God.
From then on by I just kept telling him more about who Christ is what He has done. Explaining further, the promise of eternal life for those who believe in Him. He asked whether Jesus was ever born as a man. This gave me an opportunity to explain the doctrine of the incarnation. Jesus is truly God and truly man, which began when He walked the earth.
As we finished I continued to encourage Anton that the only way he would be right with God is if he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. God alone can forgive the sins of man but God should not forgive the wicked because He is just. God forgave the wicked when His justice was poured out on Christ on the cross and those who would truly turn away from their sin and believe Him, though they die yet shall they live.
Please pray for Anton, and those who heard the gospel preached in the open air.
This afternoon in King George Square in the heart of Brisbane City many people heard the Gospel.
As the afternoon started there were some charity workers nearby, who were getting people to sign up for a charity. Across the afternoon the team was able to speak to all of the workers, early on a conversation was started with one female member but soon after James the team leader began engaging and ended up staying for almost thirty minutes.
He threw a lot of questions out, at first, not really interested in the answers. Every time an answer was given he would jump to a different question, sometimes even raising multiple at once. It seemed that James was using the questions to dodge the reality of God's existence and God's judgement of sin.
Slowly and surely, as each question was answered, James started to understand Christianity. The beauty of a lenghty conversation on the street is that as each question is answered the picture of Christianity gets clearer as the answers link together and tie back into each other.
As the converastion was wrapping up conversation James said, "I was expecting this to be a much worse conversation but you have made it very clear. I now understand Christianity a lot more, thanks for talking to me".
As James left one final reminder of the Gospel was given to him and a call was given for him to find forgiveness and salvation in Jesus.
Another conversation was had with Georgia. She had absolutely no issues proclaiming that she was one of the most vile human beings and talked about her past armed robbery and current drug use.
Sadly, this knowledge of sin was not saving her. She was still desperately proud and self-reliant. She declared that she did not need a saviour but would simply, when she is ready, clean herself up and make herself right with God. No matter what God had said or how it was explained she could not understand that we can't ever remove our history of sin, or atone for one single sin. Georgia was adamant that she needed no Saviour and would be fine.
This was an incredibly sad conversation. Even pondering it in hindsight, it causes tears to well up. Georgia was so clearly broken and hopeless but had no interest (yet) in calling to the humble and patient God, who has everything that is required for sinners for find forgiveness.
As the outreach came to a close a conversation was had with Luke and Paris. Paris asked one question but spent most of the time distracted where as Luke couldn't get enough. He asked many inquisitive questions, seeking to understand Christianity.
He began talking about God. Luke started by saying that be basically believes most of the things in the Bible but just disagrees with a few. It was then explained, that the first two people to be in this position were Adam and Eve. It isn't good enough to trust God and most things and live our own way even on a single issue. As Adam and Eve found out, wanting to be your own god, even over which tree you want to eat from, is enough to separate you completely from the Holy and Righteous God who created us. (Whilst this conversation was going on James, from earlier, overheard and listened this this first part).
Luke understood this and said he knows a God exists but he isn't sure it is the Christian God. Many simple proofs were given as to why the Christian God, is the one true and living God. Ranging from Jesus' resurrection from the dead, the miraculous power given to the Apostles, the prophesy in the Old Testament or even the beauty and master craftsmanship of the Bible. Luke slowly listened and asked questions about each answer.
He also asked about how Christianity is different from all the other religions and was surprised to hear that it was primarily a salvation issue. All other religions point us to ourselves, to clean ourselves up and God will honour that. Where as Christianity is the only religion in which God Himself, comes down, to redeem sinners from punishment.
With a few more questions answered, Luke was very excited and said, "You have been very convincing, I am excited to learn more about this!"
Please be praying that James ponders the Gospel and that the Holy Spirit will use this exposure to bring him to salvation. Please pray that Georgia is humbled by an understanding of God's immense Holiness and will turn and trust in God's humble Saviour and please pray for Luke that He will not rest until he has placed his trust, solely in the work of Christ on the cross!
And may you also pray, that God would give you the boldness and courage to step out in love and obedience, to declare His glorious Gospel to those around you in your every day lives!
Hear Matt explain the types of people the team usually encounter at Woodridge, and share of two conversations that he had with people. One with Alex, which was short and to the point and another with four youngsters and was filled with many questions and helpful explanations.
Well it all started when a bloke started bashing his partner in the carpark across the road. Our team was meeting at the Margaret street McDonalds last Saturday when Elisa came over and said she’d just seen (and confronted) a man who was beating his partner. The man had launched into a tirade against Elisa and so while she rang the police six of our male team members crossed the street to maintain an obvious presence and ensure no further violence would occur.
After waiting around 15 minutes the police still hadn’t arrived. It was decided that four of us would return to McDonalds while Rick and I would continue to keep an eye on the situation. Rick is the Operation 513 Team Leader in Warwick and along with his wife Glenda had decided to join us today. I was especially grateful of Rick’s presence in this moment, because it didn’t take long for the abuser to notice our reduced numbers and to come storming over to Rick and I. He demanded to know what we were doing there, and when I told him we were there because we’d been told he’d been bashing his missus, he exploded in a furious rant about it “being none of our business” and how “we should f---- off” etc.
He then called his partner over, who then proceeded to scream and rant at us as well. Sadly, this is not an unusual situation with domestic violence, however what was unusual was that she was clearly under the influence of something. Her sentences were mostly incoherent though the general meaning was certainly clear. She asked us what we were doing and when Rick mentioned we were praying for their situation (among other things) they both heartily enjoyed mocking us as they walked back to their car.
Things took a strange turn a few minutes later, however, when the bloke asked if we could buy him and his partner coffee (Yes, you read that right). Now in a calmer frame of mind, he introduced himself as J- and his girlfriend as K-. He told us that their car was having mechanical trouble and that they’d both endured a very stressful 24 hours after being busted for drugs.
Whilst we realised that background story to his abuse could never excuse the violence (and the fact that this was clearly a “exploit-the-religious-guys” coffee request), Rick and I chose to buy J- and K- coffee and something extra to show our love for them.
Upon our return J- went back to being rather prickly, however Rick still boldly offered J- a Gospel tract (which was declined) and we hung around a little while to continue chatting with J-. It was a difficult discussion though as J- would swing quite wildly between being rather friendly and then suddenly quite antagonistic towards us in the space of a few sentences. Eventually we chose to wrap up the conversation and we headed out for the main part of our outreach with the others.
The afternoon had much more in store for us as a team. Below are three significant encounters:
1. Merv and Adrian handed a tract to a Sudanese man named D- who instantly wanted to discuss Christianity. D- came to Australia in 2011 and had a Christian background, yet only sporadically went to Church. He possessed quite a bit of Bible knowledge yet had some unorthodox beliefs.
D- believed that Jesus died physically but was only raised spiritually (e.g. Jesus’ bones are still in Israel somewhere). He also believed in an old heresy called Modalism, which claims that God manifests Himself in three ways: Father, Son and Spirit but only is one person. In this view, God could be seen as an actor who puts on three different masks throughout history. One person-three masks. This heresy essentially denies the Trinity, which is the Biblical teaching that God is one being yet eternally exists in three distinct persons: The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
This all may sound rather abstract, but like all heresies Modalism has numerous knock-on effects that undermine the Christian faith. The denial that Jesus rose physically from the dead also causes tremendous problems. Thankfully, Merv is well-versed in these things and he and D- had a robust yet respectful and loving discussion that went for over an hour. Please pray for D-, that he may get connected to a local Church family and may be nurtured, challenged and loved.
2. Rick and I went down Margaret street and handed out a good number of tracts together. People were quite receptive, though it wasn’t long before a young man told us to “make sure we’re sharing the grace and love of Jesus in all this”. It turned out this young man was a Youth Pastor at a large and well-known Church in Toowoomba. I asked him what he meant, and he said that evangelism should be done in the context of relationship, focussing on the grace and love of Christ. He was adamant on this point and the way he was saying it seemed (to me) to indicate that Christians should *only* share the Gospel with those we have a relationship with and that we should focus primarily upon God’s grace and love.
This sort of thinking tends to be found mostly in Pentecostal circles and at best sees street evangelism as naïve and at worst sinful. It also tends to place a high emphasis on Christ’s love and has a zero-tolerance policy towards those who share about God’s wrath and condemnation. Yet this view is flawed when you realise that the Good News only becomes Good News in light of the Bad News. Amazing Grace is only amazing (and gracious) when one considers God’s righteous anger against sinful humanity. In fact, the Bible makes the case clear that it's not only the kindness of God but also grief over sin that leads to repentance “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death." 2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV). Finally, God’s love is magnified (not diminished) when a person sees the level of their separation from a just God and His passionate pursuit of them despite what they’ve done.
The idea that Christian must have a personal relationship with someone before they share their faith with them also has a number of issues. Below are just three such problems which refute this errant idea:
2a) The Ministry of Jesus
Jesus’s ministry was marked by the public proclamation of the Gospel. He often spoke to crowds (Matt 4: 17, 7:28, 9:35, 11:1, John 5:16-43, 6:25-59, 7:14, 37, 8:12-59 to names just a few verses) and to individuals (such as the Samaritan Woman) whom He’d never met before.
2b) The Ministry of the Apostles
Public evangelism that addressed both large crowds and individual people has numerous examples in Acts and is the predominate form of evangelism in the first few decades of the Church (2:14-41, 3:12-26, 4:8-21, 5:21, 42, 6:9-10, 7:2-59, 8:4-8, 26-37, 40 and many, many others).
2c) The Magnitude of Our Task
Born-again Christians are a minority in Australia. Therefore, it is a mathematical reality that there simply isn’t enough born-again Christians to befriend every non-Christian in Toowoomba, let alone Australia. We shouldn’t pursue relationships with non-Christians and then evangelistically ignore those who we are not friends with. Love demands a greater, more public method of evangelism that avoids being unnecessarily offensive yet risks rejection and mockery as it announces Christ’s life, death, resurrection and enthronement even to those we may never see again.
As we follow in the footsteps of Christ and of His Apostles, who are we to say that God won’t change stranger’s life, just as He changed our lives? This is the hope of public evangelism, that as we sow seeds of the Gospel in people’s minds, God may cause it to grow and to transform individuals and communities in a beautiful way.
3. Glenda and Elisa met a young woman named G-. She was from the Philippines and was currently caught up in a cult that teaches that you need to keep the 10 Commandments to be saved. Glenda and Elisa lovingly shared from the Scriptures that salvation is by grace and not of works (Eph 2:8-9) and by the end of their conversation G- was visibly excited about the truth of the Gospel. The ladies left some tracts with G- and it is our prayer and hope that God will continue His powerful work in this young woman.
As our evangelism came to an end, we returned to McDonalds and saw J- walking down the street, holding a car part. As he disappeared from our sight the Police arrived and interviewed Elisa regarding the incident. It certainly had been a memorable day…and we look forward in faith to what God has planned for our next outreach in Toowoomba.
It’s been almost six months since our last outreach report, but God has blessed us with many unique conversations here in Toowoomba.
The first one was with a man named John. Sarah and Elisa met John outside of Bailey’s and he introduced himself as an Atheist with religious background. Together they spoke for almost an hour about the things of God and afterwards exchanged contact details. Since then there have been a few phone calls and Paul (Sarah’s husband) and John met up and decided to climb up Mount Table Top together! It is a real privilege to have been able to get to know John and we hope to continue to grow the no-strings attached friendship between him and some of our team members.
We’ve also had some fantastic discussion with several our local Jehovah’s Witness. They “set up shop” in the CBD on a Saturday morning and since then our team has had two fruitful encounters with this group. Tim is one of our younger members who grew up in a Godly family and has significant Bible knowledge. He was able to speak with the JWs regarding the necessity of Christ being fully God and fully man (and not just a created being, as the JWs teach).
Tim was able to show them John 8:58 in which Jesus says to doubting Jews… “Very truly I tell you….before Abraham was born, I am!
This “I am” statement is a reference to Exodus 3:14, in which God calls Himself “I AM”. Thus, Jesus demonstrates that while He is not the Father (John 1:1, 17:5) He is God the Son and one in being with God the Father. This was one powerful truth that the JWs were unable to answer and it is our hope that God will continue to reveal Himself to them and that they will come to know the True and Living God and not the non-existent god of Watchtower Society.
Merv also had a great discussion with a Jehovah’s Witness who politely took a tract and then came back later to ask Merv some questions. They had a rigorous and respectful discussion and our prayer is that the Good News will not only grow but transform this man’s heart.
Now if you were to look at all our team, Elisa tends to be the one who attracts the most interesting people. Her warm-hearted demeanor and lion-like boldness is a gift to those around her and as such she has a way of connecting with many different types of people on a deep level. You might find her one week speaking with a large group of teenagers regarding the Good News of Jesus… or another week speaking to a young man who is evidently going through a hard time. Both of these situations actually happened in the last six months and it is her consolation of a young man deserves some special mention.
Elisa found this young man crying at McDonalds during one of our outreach days. She sat down with him and spoke with him for some time. When she asked him “Has someone let you down?” he nodded in the affirmative. She then said, “I know someone who will never let you down” and in the ensuring discussion was able to present the One who tenderly invites everyone to come to Him and truly find rest (Matt 11:28). It was a beautiful encounter, not only in its simplicity but also in the privilege of being able to share with the others the rest that Jesus offers. As a Christian we can often take this rest for granted, but there are many millions in our country who haven’t experienced this yet.
Please continue to keep our outreach… but more importantly this city… in your prayers. Please pray that God’s peace (His Shalom Peace) may come upon Toowoomba so that people will be reconciled to God and to each other so that our city will flourish and God will receive the glory that is His due.
This afternoon in Capalaba we had a great afternoon! There were four team members out and over 35 conversations during the afternoon. God provided many people to speak with. Some were hostile but most were happy to engage and learn about who God is and what He has done to save sinners.
One exciting conversation was with a young man named Hayden. A little over a month ago he had heard the Gospel and professed to have trusted in Jesus. He understood the Gospel quite well and was glad to talk again. It was exciting to hear and we will be bringing him a copy of the Bible next week.
As many people know, Capalaba is location that is usually populated by two types of people, the first have never heard the Gospel and don't want to and the second have never heard the Gospel but are at least interested or polite enough to engage.
This next conversation seemed like it was going to be one of the first types but by God's grace, in response to prayer, Lynn, who started out with the phrase, "If you're going to talk to me about religion, I want nothing to do with it" and ended by saying, "Thanks for this conversation, it was what I needed to hear".
When pushed a little into why she didn't like God Lynn blurted out that she had been in an abusive marriage for almost twenty years! All the while, her husband professed to be a Catholic. Lynn said she was looking for peace and freedom from suffering. This lead into a conversation about why we know the world is broken. With a back and forth, some interesting questions and gentle answers Lynn was moved.
She came to understand that when sin entered the world it came with suffering and pain. As the conversation drew to a close she learnt that it was God who suffered to bring about the redemption from sin and ultimately a new world free from pain.
Lynn said she would like to speak more, so please be praying she chooses to go shopping on another monday so that she can hear more of God's plan to save the human race, through Jesus Christ.
A third conversation was had with Brittany. She had been spoken to a number of times prior including the previous week and she had some new questions to ask. When asked whether she had chosen between Christ or sin she said she hadn't made a choice yet. It was then explained, that not choosing Jesus is always a choice for sin. Brittany then had to leave, as her bus arrived.
Please asking God to continue working in the hearts and lives of these men and women, that God would use this simple conversations to bring about likeness to Christ. Either taking them from being unsaved to saved or from the beginnings of their Christianity to a mature place.
Hear John share how he was able to teach a Christian about God's work in our life and encourage her to seek His truth in the Word.
Hear, a very excited, Harry rejoicing in the conversations God provided him tonight. Especially with a Buddhist named Jules, who thought that people get to Heaven by works of the law.
Hear how the team were able to engage with a young man who had some Christian background but had slowly drifted into sin and with a couple who believed that all beliefs were equally true.
If you are interested in joining or praying for a local team, feel free to private message us for details! We would love to see you out with us! http://www.operation513.com/street-evangelism-teams/
This afternoon in Sunnybank the team took the flip chart and split to either side of the road. This enabled many people to be engaged and numerous conversations to happen.
During the afternoon, one side of the road had only one single lady waiting at the bus stop. This lady had previously been agitated about something but with the love of God and the desire to see this woman know Jesus, a conversation was started. This woman's first response, "Hhahhaa there's no such thing as Heaven or Hell," illuminated her position toward God and His Word. This was followed with the question, "What has convinced you of this?" She was stopped in her tracks. She had no answer.
This seemed to be an opening, so the question was posed, "Do you think God will find you worthy of Heaven?" Sadly, it seems as though this woman has some unknown history and at this moment she got quite aggressive. She started insulting and belittling the team member. The first response given to her attack was, "We're hear as sinners, offering the Saviour Jesus Christ". But she didn't stop and her language declined and her volume increased. When she finished carrying on she was left with one final line to ponder, "You may be able to scare and intimidate other people with your wrath, but on judgement day it will be God whose wrath is to be feared. Please turn to Jesus and find forgiveness and hope."
This woman soon boarded a bus. It is our prayer that this short encounter may be one she cannot stop thinking about until she finds salvation in Jesus.
Another conversation was had with a man named James. This young man mentioned that he goes to Church but when asked where he thinks he will go when he dies, his answer was, "I'm not really sure. I don't think about it". He said that this was because he just lived his life, did what he wanted and ultimately had assumed that would be enough for God.
Sadly, James was living his life thinking that God would love him for being good, whilst unknowingly defying God. It was explained to James that living according to our own standard and thinking that will appease God is foolish. At this moment, James' bus arrived.
Please be praying for both James and this lady, that they will ponder the short discussion that was had this afternoon and come to repentance and faith in Jesus.
I find myself feeling a little British in winter here in Hobart, it seems that a lot of life revolves around the weather! The cold and wet influence things a lot and some days it has been interesting with the Bible table in high winds. But regardless of what looms large in our human lives God is on the throne and working out His plan in Hobart. Through the eyes of faith, we can see the hand of God working in all things and through His Holy Spirit we are blessed with unexpected opportunities.
One of these opportunities have come from the local teens, a number of them are interested in debating and discussing with “the preacher guy”. A couple of times over the last month there were 15-30 students from a variety of different schools who gathered to discuss Christian convictions and the Bible. The questions were very cordially worded and there was a cheerful back and forth that developed over the almost 2 hours of discussions.
One particular young lady has been a regular visitor and previously was very vocal in support of SSM. On this occasion she was trying to claim that there was something wrong about preaching in general and sharing the Christian faith in particular. Here’s roughly how it went (picture me with a big smile and her frustrated and then laughing and then frustrated again):
YL: You are forcing your views on other people from up there on that box! You are putting yourself above others.
Me: Ok, now I’m confused, why are you forcing your views on me? You want me to stop preaching, isn’t that by your logic just forcing me to listen to your views?
YL: No, I’m not forcing anything on you, you’re the one pushing what you believe on others from a box. Why are you up there looking down on us all?
Me: I’m up here because I’m preaching and well... I’m short and want people to hear me at the back (general laughter). But ok ok, the box is an issue, got it. Would you like to get up on the seat there and we can talk roughly eye to eye?
YL: No, but you shouldn't be pushing your views on others!
Me: I don’t think that stacks up, here’s why. I am wanting to persuade (some may say force) people to change their minds about God and put their trust in Jesus. More than that I want you all to “force” your view on me! I want you to talk to me and debate and discuss. That’s why I’m here.
You on the other hand don’t want me to force my opinions on others, yet at the same time you reserve the right to persuade or force me to listen to you tell me to stop.
So, I don’t have an issue with what you are doing, I just want to know why you are doing exactly what you are telling me to stop?
At this point someone else quickly piped up with another unrelated question and the conversation headed elsewhere. The conversation was punctuated with me proclaiming the gospel to everyone who could hear. The teens were great and I hope they will be back to talk more in the future, they put the couple of adults who heckled with nonsense to shame with their insight and wit.
Another opportunity that has come from the wetter days is handing out tracts. There have been a number of days where I couldn't have the Bible table up and a 100 or more people “heard” the gospel in print. Please God that number is greater as the tracts are shared hand to hand and curious friends and relatives read them.
I would like you please to pray for the work here in Hobart dear reader. Why? Because there are people seeking to destroy it if they can. This is nothing new. If you read my updates you know the difficulties we have faced over the years and how God has preserved us and delivered us. Praise His glorious grace!
Just of late there have been repeated attempts to discredit this work by slanderous charges, most of them absurd to all but the most blind. One of these it seems has been picked up and run with, it is the accusation that I and by extension the rest of the team, support Neo-Nazi’s.
This desperate ploy has been supported by some very cleverly edited newspaper articles. They referred (without any decent context) to my commitment to freedom of speech for all in my discussions with a Joint Standing Committee from earlier this year. Senator Terryman raised with me the difficult case of Neo-Nazi’s and how this could be managed if anti-discrimination law was altered to remove offense clauses. (The Antidiscrimination Act is very good for defending the rights of some vulnerable people but it never should have included unqualified hate speech and offense-based clauses.) My response was that we should have well-spoken people, clearly and frequently oppose Neo-Nazi views publicly and if they incited violence or defamed others then they should face penalties under the law. As I said in the committee meeting, the horror that is the Nazi view is abhorrent to me and should be to all who call themselves Christian. There is no space for racism when we all share the same parentage, ie Adam and Eve, and God has done away with every racial boundary in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The team and I have publicly held an anti-racist position for many years and I have preached against racism in its many forms more often than I can count. It appears that despite the many years of preaching against racism in Hobart’s CBD there are desperate liars out there who have no regard for truth. They merely look to aggrandize themselves by slandering others and creating trouble. They publish their slander repeatedly and have the gall to call their previous distortions “evidence”. Concerningly one of the supporters of this ploy recently yelled at me that I was nothing but human trash and “we are watching you!”. The threat was clear as was the rage behind it.
As in all things, the most important things first, may God use this to His glory and to the frequent proclamation of the gospel! Secondarily, please pray for protection for the team and wisdom as we seek to clearly present the truth when surrounded by lies.
May God be glorified!