Today I had some wonderful discussions as I handed out tracts. Due to strong winds and a head cold I was not preaching or manning the bible table. God used this time to wonderful effect with opportunities a plenty ditched in my lap. Two conversations stand out from the rest
Stopped when I offered her an eternity tract and asked what it was about. "Its about life after death" I responded. This sparked a long very constructive conversation about the bible, and Christianity. Sue is an atheist and had been heavily involved in the church of England before moving on.
She initially said that she believed there is no life after death so I challenged her to show evidences to support this thought. As most atheists do, Sue claimed that there is no need to support a negative statement and the burden of proof was on me. I urged her to see that there is still a truth claim being made (no afterlife) and so there is a burden of proof to be born to be philosophically consistent. This then spun a huge number of different topics that were quickly touched on and then we'd move on. This rapid fire questioning is something that most atheists do and I often wonder if it is something that is shared on the internet as a good way to bamboozle religious people.
Slowly the real issues came out clearly and they focused on suffering and old testament law. I gave a very brief explanation of why we need God to even understand suffering and how unsatisfying the atheistic perspective is morally. We briefly discussed how the old testament law is to be used by Christians today and why we don't stone people for sin.
The last issue to come up was the fact that Sue is a lesbian and there is significant hurt and rejection that she is dealing with in how the Church responded to her. I spent a while just listening to her story and hearing what she had experienced. I let her know I was sorry for how she had been treated. I affirmed that homosexual people all deserve love, respect and kindness from Christian people.
I also pointed her to the fact that God views all sin as equally a rejection of Him and that she was not any different from me in that she had sin. I urged her to consider that the difference between us was that I was loyal to Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and she was loyal to... herself as she said.
We talked some more and she headed off thanking me for a good conversation.
Mr M. had spoken to me at Mr S.'s skeptics table previously and listened as Mr S. and I discussed evolution and creation. Though he is an atheist Mr M. is interested in what I and other religious people think and was both pleasant to speak to and open to consider new thoughts.
In reference to the existence of eternity Mr M. was curious how it is possible for the non-material soul to interact with the material body. This in turn made him wonder if there was a soul and therefore eternal life. We discussed that the how of the interaction of the soul with the body is not revealed to us, but that we don't understand how something works does not make it imaginary. It is a commonly accepted fact that we are more than our bodies and mankind's search for meaning is an indication of this. Also the evolutionary/materialist story is entirely unsatisfactory, ie that we have "just happened" to develop a morbid fascination with death and what it means. I am skeptical that such a trait could some how be a survival advantage and therefore would persist in the population to today.
I also pointed to eyewitness testimony as a support for life after death. Many people returned from the dead: Lazarus, the son of widow at Nain, the daughter of Jarius, all the people raised when Jesus died, and Jesus Himself. All of these are witnessed to in the best ancient history in the world - the bible.
We also discussed the different responses to my work and the work of the team. It is a varied affair and will always be. Mr M. left thanking me for the conversation and saying he'd be back to talk more in the future.
May God be praised for such fantastic conversations.
Standing in the Elizabeth Street Mall on a Friday lunch time is a different crowd to Tuesday. People are more laid back and there is less of the mid-week rush to get lunch and back to work. This week was my second Friday outreach for the year and it is a productive time mostly. The team is smaller, usually with me and only one or two others able to come, but God as always brings people for us to minister to.
This week I preached twice and we engaged people on issues raised with the preaching but I didn't have the bible table. This approach allowed me to preach even if there is no-one to mind the bible table but did reduce our presence in the mall when there was no preaching happening.
The first conversation of the day was with Mr S. my regular heckler. Mr S. and I have been discussing the rightness or wrongness of God's judgement of Jericho for some time now. Mr S. is horrified at the slaughter of the people of Jericho and in particular the women and children of that city. The fact that this was commanded by God if anything increases his horror. In many ways this event is something akin to the acts of ISIS or other Islamic massacres that have occurred in recent days.
I have been telling him for some time that God has the right to give and take life and to judge sinful mankind. The deaths of people at Jericho are only a small picture of what God does on any given day throughout the world. People die every day due to sin in the world. Ultimately the issue that Samuel has with Jericho is the same of most atheists and skeptics, that these deaths overtly show God's right to judge mankind. The right to judge moral matters skeptics want to keep for themselves, along with the right to judge God's actions as good or evil. This shows up in Mr S.'s and most skeptics commitment to abortion rights. These folk accuse God of evil on many points for death and suffering in the world and then assume they have the right to determine when a baby is a human and when it is only a "foetus" or "embryo". Before the time determined by them in their limited wisdom it is perfectly acceptable to end any life as long as a good justification can be found and it is a benefit to the woman involved. This hypocrisy shows clearly the moral bankruptcy of morality without God as centre, inevitably people take for themselves authority over the lives of others that is not their's to take.
The rest of the day was also quite interesting, the first time I preached the gospel a small number of people gathered and listened as I preached and afterwards I was able to discuss things further with a couple of people. Praise God the gospel is going out in Hobart and He is preparing hearts here!
The second time I preached I had a number of hecklers. One of these was a young man who I have spoken to before about Christ. He was rejecting Jesus then and apparently little has changed. He began by coming to try and taunt me with some sexual comments and attacks. This increased when I began to speak on the issue of sex and the horribleness of perversion and promiscuity. I pointed to the fact that God calls us to chastity or marriage as the only two good options for sex. All other sexual expression is a perversion of the good and holy thing that God has given us in sex. I urged people not only to purity but also to repent of their sexual sin and put their trust in Jesus. After a short period this became too much for this young man and he decided to try and intimidate me into silence. Trying to find an excuse to use he asked me what I thought of Arabs (meaning Muslims), I responded that there are many wonderful Arabs and they make wonderful Christians. He then accused me of hating Arabs and being a racist, and after a little bit of this and intimidating me with one of his mates he wondered off again mouthing off about Christians.
Praise God this brought in a crowd of people to who I could share the wonderful love of God for all people regardless of their skin colour. I called people to follow Jesus who loves so dearly that he died to save sinners. I urged people to give up their other loyalties and trust in Jesus only.
After this there were also a number of other hecklers and a bit of a question and answer time. Many of them left at the end thanking me for the chance to talk and ask questions.
Praise God that His word goes forth!
On Saturday night, the evangelism team headed into the Queen St Mall, Brisbane City. As usual there were crowds of people around, despite the dreary weather. After the heavy rain at about 7pm people still flocked into the mall, walking up and down and seeking after fulfillment in the abuse of the pleasures of life.
The team at first was small and a prayer request was made to God for more labourers but within the next hour the rain had stopped and a team of 11 members were out sharing the Good News of salvation with the passers by, through the means of preaching, tract giving and conversations.
With the heavy rain early on people were hindered from walking in the open area and were confined to walking closer to the team members allowing for some conversations, a young man named Gustav who we talked with early in the night, wasn't a native English speaker. A decent conversation was had and thankfully he did understand what was being said, even if occasionally it had to be explained a few different ways. Sadly the problem was, Gustav is a Catholic, he adamantly defended that it wasn't Jesus alone which saved Him but was also in part His exertion and ability to honour God through His deeds.
Please keep Gustav in prayer and commit him to God, we challenged him to pick up his Bible and take a read as he said he rarely ever did. May God use this small conversation, the tract and the power of the Bible through the Holy Spirit to bring Gustav into the Kingdom.
As the rain died down a little the team was able to set up the amplifier with an umbrella over the top for protection and some preaching took place, there were fluctuating crowds as the rain came and went but generally there was a presence of unbelievers listening and engaging the speaker. The preaching drew a crowd of twenty or so at one stage and some individual conversations were started, one of those was with two young men, David and Rick.
These two men, said they were 'spiritual', they had some belief in a 'Higher Power' but believed that He was no relational being but just some sort of entity. This discussion lead towards one of morality, when there was a back and forth that took place about what is the source of morality? Why are things right and wrong? How can anyone know such things? The conversation continued. A consensus was not reached. Though the two men had been challenged to a place where they weren't quite as sure as they seemed to be when the conversation started.
After a good hour or so of discussion, including an in depth discussion on the claims of the Bible, a sprinkling of what truth is and a meaty piece about the sin of humanity and our collective fallen state, the conversation reached a point where it became less about the team member asking questions and more about David and Rick asking questions.
Rick was fixated on how Jesus' sacrifice can be the atoning sacrifice for sin and how it isn't about personal goodness and David went into the logistics of those who are in isolated areas around the planet and haven't heard the Gospel. By the end of the conversation they were both asking questions and by God's saving mercy, pray they may come to saving faith in Jesus Christ!
This is just a small snapshot of the wonderful night that God provided, a prayer was made that people may engage the team members and that the Gospel would be articulated clearly and we know that God's word does not return void, conversations were had and the Gospel, the power of God unto salvation was shared.
Please keep the team in prayer, acknowledging the humanity of the team and the ease to fall into sin, pray that they stay vigilant in the seeking of God and His truth and are wary to fight the temptations of sin in the power of God.
Please pray for Gustav, David, Rick and for the rest of those who heard the Gospel, engaged a team member or took a tract tonight, pray to God, pleading on behalf of those exposed to the truth that they would come to salvation.
Soli Deo Gloria!
It was an eventful afternoon of evangelism yesterday in Brisbane city.
Firstly, we had the council worker, who has been for the past 2 months unlawfully trying his hardest to stop the gospel going out in Brisbane, standing around watching us for about an hour and a half from the moment we arrived. Eventually he came over and issued one person on the team a $236 fine for handing out Christian literature, despite the fact we have permission to be there and do that there.
A little later on I noticed a lady with tattoos all across her arms talking to the council worker and his colleague. Then moments later, while the council workers were looking on, she stormed over to our free Bibles table and started throwing all the materials on the ground. She was screaming, "You can't do this here!"
Then she went up to George, who was preaching at the time, proceeded to hit him and snatch the microphone out of his hand. She then came over to me, hit me and then also punched an elderly man who was defending us. There were lots of people looking on by this time.
This lady then went over to our bag area and started picking our things up and throwing them at us. It was only then that the council workers wandered over to talk to the lady and told her to go away. Isn't it interesting to see their inaction for so long while this was going on? And note, she didn't receive any fine from the council workers for what she did, even though they saw it with their own eyes.
A large crowd had gathered by this time and so George continued preaching to all those who had gathered. Quite a number of people went over to the Bible table, asking for materials. What she intended for evil, God used for good!
Once George finished preaching, the council workers then went over to George and gave him a $589 fine for using an amplified device (despite having permission). We will be challenging the fines.
Not long after, the police arrived and they said they were going to go look for the lady. We have a very relationship with the police in Brisbane city. It is great having their support.
As the afternoon progressed, the team was busy in conversations and people kept coming up to the Bible table asking for Bibles.
One man said that he was staying in a hotel and read 100 pages of the Bible while he was there. But he knew the Bible was hotel property so he couldn't take it with him to keep reading it, even though he wanted to. So he asked is there any chance he could have a full Bible? We said, "Absolutely!" and gave him one.
Glory to God that His word is going out!
It was good to be back at Capalaba yesterday, first time for the year, and God blessed us by bringing along a new labourer ready to share the gospel with us.
One of the team handed a gospel tract to a high school student named Edward, and he, for the next few minutes, was intently reading the tract.
I spoke to him and he said he used to attend a Catholic Church, but stopped going when he thought the preacher was twisting the Bible. He then went to Buddhism, but wasn't overly satisfied with it, so he said he has no religion now.
I got to explain the message of the Bible to him, and then challenged him to repent and believe the gospel. But he said he didn't like some things in the Bible. I asked him what in particular, he said "I do not like the parable of the prodigal son".
My mouth dropped in surprise as most people love that parable. So I asked him why. He said, "The older brother in that story gets a really bad wrap. I see my dad as the older brother who always does the right thing but never gets recognised for it."
So I briefly explained how the older brother actually represented the Pharisees and how the older brother didn't actually love his father very much. Edward said, "I want find out more about that parable."
Right then a great idea popped into my mind, I encouraged him to google "A tale of two sons by John MacArthur" - a good sermon series on the parable, as I thought then he is getting some good Bible teaching and hearing the gospel again. He said he would listen to it. Please pray for him.
There were plenty of good conversations throughout the afternoon. Glory to the God of all!
It was a great night of evangelism in Brisbane. Despite the rain and the humidity, we were able to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with many people.
Since, we would be operating undercover tonight, I thought I would test out my new flip-chart. I wasn't sure if it would work in the environment of Brisbane, but I was soon shown otherwise. In the space of just under two-hours I was able to speak to fifteen people about the Gospel via the flip-chart.
The first person I spoke to was a man named Jerry. Jerry, was just out of jail and was keen to chat. He had some kind of religious background, and in general believed that Christianity was true. We spoke about the nature of God and man. We explored the issue of sin, and the need of the Saviour. At the end of our conversation Jerry shook my hand multiple times, thanking me for talking to him about Jesus.
A little bit later on, I was able to engage a whole family with the Good News. This family of about eight people all gathered around the flip-chart. Dad was an atheist, but the others professed some belief in God. We joked around a bit, and had a good conversation about the Lord Jesus. At the end of the conversation they all took tracts, and Dad's atheism was in tatters.
By now it was clear that the flip-chart was a magnet for conversations. The next person along was Shane. Now, Shane was a wild looking man. His beard was long and grey. His hair was equally as long. It turns out that Shane was a former Christian who had many years ago renounced Christianity. He then embraced Wicca, but was not a Buddhist.
We chatted for sometime about the nature of God and of truth. After he heard the Gospel, I began to deal with the issue of Buddhism. The conversation centred around Buddha versus Jesus. It turned out that Shane didn't have a very good grip on Buddhism, so he changed to topic to evolution. He was very shocked to discover that there are scientists who actually believe in Genesis. We were able to give him some creation material, and he left saying he'd be back again.
Towards the end of the night, once again the flip-chart drew people in. This time it was a group of four young ladies. They seemed quite open to talking, so we went through the Gospel. Sadly, some of their friends came and dragged them away right at the end. At least they took tracts.
During this time, other members of the team were witnessing and preaching. It was truly wonderful to see so many people hearing the Good News of Jesus.
Please pray for all those we encountered tonight.
Australia Day 2016
"Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14:34)
To celebrate Australia Day, we headed into the Queen Street Mall to share the Gospel. Since, many things were closed today, we found that quite a number of people were just hanging out in the area.
We started the outreach by handing out tracts and chatting to people. After doing this for awhile, we decided it was time to preach. Earlier in the day I had decided that I wasn't going to preach today, instead I was just going to focus on one to one witnessing. However, God had other plans.
As I was chatting to Ryan, I came up with an idea for a sketchboard message entitled, "Good Aussie?" Before I realised what was happening I was painting up to preach this message. But again, God had other plans.
I started to preach using the sketchboard, but I hadn't gotten very far when a man began yelling at me. He was screaming about how the Bible supported rape and slavery. I challenged his position and asked him to show me from the Bible where these things were. The man then began to state that on every page of the Bible there is immorality. He then challenged me to open my Bible to any page and he'd show me the error.
Well, I decided to flick my Bible open and let the man choose where we read from. He randomly chose a passage in Luke's Gospel which declared the greatness of Jesus. He wasn't happy with that passage, but it ended his argument (for now).
After this, the man began to ask about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. I was able to present an apologetic for traditional marriage, but the man kept falling back to the 'love argument.' He said that if two adults loved each other, then they should marry. So, I asked him, "What about brothers and sisters, can they marry? Or how about mothers and sons? Or perhaps fathers and daughters?"
You could see that this man was getting uncomfortable, but he held to his convictions. He boldly declared (to the shock of the crowd) that incest was acceptable and that it wasn't his business to judge. Again, I was able to challenge the man from Scripture as to what the Bible says about this topic.
From this topic we jumped around to people misinterpreting the Bible and to the issue of if someone should be killed for working on a Sunday. After answering all his questions and setting forth the Gospel, the heckler came up to shake my hand. We had a bit of a joke and then he left.
As the man left another heckler rose up. This man was heavily focused on homosexuality. He seemed to have the view that God just singled out homosexuals and that they were picked on. I read to him 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and asked, "Are homosexuals mentioned in this passage?" He agreed that they were. Then I asked, "Are they singled out?" He answered that they weren't.
From there I was able to show that God is Holy, so He is against all sin. But the beautiful thing about the Gospel is that all sin can be forgiven. The man came up and shook my hand upon hearing this.
I had planned to use the sketchboard, but God wanted an apologetic discussion and Gospel presentation. It was really encouraging to see crowds of people gather to listen and to engage in the discussion.
After, I finished preaching, Ryan decided to preach also. He also saw crowds gathering around to hear the Gospel proclaimed. Overall, today was a wonderful day. May the Lord bless the preaching of His Word, and may our country be blessed.
The afternoon at Wellington was a typical Sunday in summer with plenty of sunshine and a nice breeze. Two of the team members were still away on holidays, so there was just the four of us. As usual the ladies headed off to the jetty while Ryan and I went to our spot.
For a rather hot day there were not as many people out and about, as we would have expected. So we chatted while we handed out tracts and we were saying to each other how blessed we are to live in this part of the world, when a bloke approached and upon handing him a tract he said "What's this all about?" I said, "It asks you if you are good enough to get to Heaven."
His reply was that this was Heaven right here, just look around. He thought he was good enough, and as he was starting to walk off I challenged him on what the Bible says is 'good enough' - you must be perfect (Matthew 5:48). The guy had to go, but asked for another tract so he could read it, so I gave him a comic tract for a deeper understanding of how sinful we are.
He shook my hand and continued up the path, when another couple walked past saying the same thing that Heaven was right here. Ryan asked them to read the tract he handed them.
Just before 3pm the ladies returned from the jetty and told us of a conversation with a young lad from up Ipswich way. He didn't think he was going to Heaven, but wasn't concerned about Hell. So they took him through the Law and explained how our sin separates us from God and, starting from Genesis, they were able to tell him of our history and fall of man by rebelling against God.
After a long chat with him, the ladies encouraged him to read the book of John and asked when was he going to get right with God, as none of us are assured of tomorrow.
Afterwards, we prayed together as a team and thanked our Lord for His mercy and grace upon us and for the privilege to proclaim His glorious gospel.
A storm rolled through Brisbane city last night during our Saturday night outreach. There were some pretty close lightning strikes causing some very loud thunder. That provided a good opportunity to say to people, "Maybe God is trying to get your attention."
Even though the city wasn't as busy, we had a good size team. Two people on the team preached, including one who had never done it before. It's so great to see God is raising up people to preach His gospel in public in this land.
Please pray for more labourers, as the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few.
To God be all the glory!
Being a long weekend, it was especially busy at the Gold Coast last night for our weekly outreach. Even once 10pm rolled around, when we usually finish up, the mall was still buzzing with people. So we decided to stick around a bit longer sharing the gospel with people.
Throughout the night, when we were preaching with and without the sketchboard, a good number of people were listening, some for extensive periods of time. This led into some good conversations with them afterwards.
One conversation we had was with a guy named John. He was a student from China who had been studying in Australia for the past year.
When I asked him whether he was going to Heaven, he responded, "No, I am too busy with study." After enquiring more about his current beliefs, I established that he didn't really have any religious background but has attended church once in Australia and has a grandmother who is a Christian.
So I explained how we have sinned against God and deserve His wrath forever, and how the only way to be saved from that wrath is through what Jesus has done in dying on the cross for our sins. After talking about the need to repent and believe in Jesus, he said to me, "Can I do that now?"
To ensure he knew what it really means, I then went on to reiterate that Jesus shouldn't just be an add-on to our life, He should be the centre. Jesus should be our number one, not study. He said he understood that.
He was very open, and knew of a Chinese church he wants to start attending. He even has a Chinese Bible. Please pray for John that he will truly repent and believe the gospel. And praise God that the fields are ripe for harvest!