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!
This afternoon in Brisbane City, God kindly provided cloud cover. As the team arrived the sun was bearing down but within a few minutes and for the rest of the afternoon the team was graced with cooler temperatures, due to the clouds.
One team member commented at the end of the afternoon how it had been a valuable and encouraging outreach. Another shared that it had been a really tough slog of reliance upon God and pressing on despite tiredness and discouragement. Thankfully God uses each and every conversation to bring about His glory, even those which are a little more cluncky.
Two young men interacted with the team at different times, one named Bepool and the other Jack. The thing these men had in common was all they knew about Christianity was the name, "Jesus". By the end of each conversation they both had a firm understanding of the Gospel and were left with the choice.
Bepool didn't really know what Heaven and Hell were, who God was or what sin is. He was happy to admit that he was not good, in fact that he had done a lot of wrong things in his life. Upon hearing about God's justice for sin he acknowledged that he deserves Hell. At this moment Bepool paused, the reality of what he was hearing seemed to sink in. He felt the weight of what he was learning. Thankfully, by the end of the twenty minute conversation he also understood that God, who is love, has come into this world to redeem, sinful humanity.
He was excited to hear this news and was happy to learn more about Jesus. Sadly, finding a way to stay in contact was forgotten but one can be sure the sovereign God is in control of the outcome of this conversation.
When approached Jack was keen to chat. He was open about being a "bad" person and even shared that he was a liar and thief, even without being prompted! He had some little quarms with there being a God but they were minor. It even seemed that wasn't really on his mind by the end of the conversation.
Jack over the course of the conversation came to understand the basics of Christianity and most importantly learnt the beauty of God's plan to save the human race through, His Son, Jesus Christ. This conversation travelled all throughout the Bible and ultimately ended with Jack being grateful for the conversation. He even said, "I am so glad we've had this conversation, I now understand Christianity".
Sadly, although Jack understood the Gospel and had no real arguments, he said he most likely wasn't that interested at this stage.
With one final challenge, it was explained that God changes the desires of those who come to Him, through Christ. Christians don't have to "stop doing all the fun things because they're wrong". Instead, they no longer want to do wrong things because they have new affections and have found their satisfaction in God Himself, rather than trying to find it in the pleasures of this world.
Jack understood and went on his way, taking a tract.
Please be praying for Bepool and Jack as they remember and ponder the Gospel they heard this afternoon. Please also keep the different members of the team in prayer as they prepare to head out.
This afternoon in Woodridge there were a number of exciting conversations. Among a mixture of usual Gospel conversations with local muslims, islanders and other school kids, one team member had the chance to speak with a man who had recently become a Christian simply by reading His Bible and another spoke with a man that he had shared the Gospel with on Saturday night in Brisbane city!
The team had just finished praying to start the outreach when an interaction started with a man named Ben. This man had become a Christian, by reading his bible, just over a month earlier. He had been convicted of his sin and turned to Jesus. He hadn't yet joined a local church but will be in the Brisbane area for another three weeks. We recommended a Church for him to attend. It was exciting to hear of God working through His Word!
Another conversation was with a man named Cameron. This young man had spoken to the team on Saturday night. On Saturday he had mocked the Gospel a little but had interacted through an entire Gospel presentation. He also had asked some good questions. This afternoon it was a little different, he remembered most of what was discussed but had to rush off to catch a train. Cameron was reminded once again the importance of surrendering to Jesus.
An opportunity also arose to speak with two "trouble makers" named Jack and Hollex. They were being silly and carrying on but also held some respect for the Gospel. They listened intently at times and seemed to understand the Gospel. Occasionally, they would get distracted and start laughing about something they had said but would regain composure and continue on the discussion.
Hollex was more honest about his life, acknowledging that his sin wasn't satisfying. He even said the life he lived was definitely not the one God wanted him to.
Jack, seemed shocked by the honesty but was trying to make out that he was "satisfied and happy" with his life. He soon admitted that it was pretty tough.
A range of different topics were discussed, these included, who God is, His plan for our lives, failure to obey God's expectations means we miss out on the beautiful life we were designed for and incur God's wrath and finally and most importantly that Jesus comes as a sinless sacrifice, to redeem us from sin and its consequences.
Please be praying for Ben, Cameron, Hollex and Jack that they may ponder the things they heard today and to live lives of repentant trust in Jesus Christ.
It was a quiet start for our time but a couple walking by were invited to do the Good Person test and started to do so. The lady left when the spiritual meaning of lust was explained. However Paul, who has no religious background, stayed and heard it all. He has taken a copy of John's gospel and is counting the cost. While Ryan was doing the presentation with Paul, a lady who is very loud sat nearby and made numerous sounds to disrupt the hearing of God's 'good news'.
There needs to be prayers offered to our God to use these 'spiritual attacks' (in other locations as well) for the progress of His name. May He shut down some and use others to attract more people to hear the gospel or whatever He knows will yield the best outcome in each individual case.
In God's providence, two other conversations were had with young men, both named Daniel. Both were "spiritual" in their beliefs but neither understood God's Holiness or their desperate need for a Saviour.
The first Daniel had Buddhist leanings and was all about "enlightenment" and finding inner peace through meditation. He acknowledge that we sin but it took him a while to understand that we are sinners (not just good people who make mistakes).
By the end of the conversation he intellectually understood the Gospel and why it was needed but sadly his bus came and the discussion was cut short.
The second Daniel believed in the Aboriginal dream time and its "spirits". He had gone to a Catholic school but had a range of struggles with Christianity.
The discussion went for almost 40 minutes but the final question he asked, after saying many times "I understand what you believe but I disagree" was, "So if I do want Jesus as my Saviour, how can I have Him?"
With one final summary, Daniel left and promised to read the Gospel of John.
Amongst a range of other conversations with people who had varying levels of understanding of the Gospel, a conversation was had with Brittany.
This young lady had spoken to the team three times prior. She had heard the Gospel and understood it mostly. The only real issue in her understanding was that she thought Jesus' sacrifice was on behalf of all people, whether or not they believed.
This meant she thought that even if she didn't trust in Jesus, she was still going to Heaven.
It was explained to her that Jesus' sacrifice is for those who believe. It was stated, "Simply knowing that He can save you, isn't enough for you to be saved, you must trust Him".
Brittany understood this and was left with a choice to make, will I trust Jesus or myself.
Please be praying for those who were spoken to this afternoon that they may come to Jesus and find forgiveness and life.
One flip chart at the jetty and another on the western side of the point were in use today. Twice people came up and asked to do the test while someone else was already being taken through. In those instances, the ones who had done the test were handed over to another to finish the gospel presentation. pray for those like Evony and Ruth who are now counting the cost. At one point the objection had been raised that one was too lazy to do anything about Jesus. Ryan asked her if she were crossing a road and saw a speeding car heading for her, wouldn't she try to evade it? As eternal punishment in God's prison is so much more serious, he needs to take the claim of Christ on her very seriously - today! They each received a copy of John's gospel.
Brad went through the test with Harry and had a few more questions answered before he had to leave. His Dad also listened to it all and thanked us.
There were some instances of people using the examples of church-going people they knew who went and confessed their sins and then did the same sins once again and again. Judgment is not based on a sliding scale but each person has to give account of their own life. May God soften hearts so an individual will deal realistically with his own need to be forgiven of his sins and suxch would flee to Christ for refuge.
To God alone be the glory great things He has done and continues to do until His people are all gathered in.
Tonight three Muslims heard of the unequalled Holiness of God, the desperate wickedness of sin and that our only hope is in God's saviour.
In another extremely sad conversation, another man was greatly offended by God's expectations of him and was offended to think that he would need a saviour.
As you hear each recount, please be praying for these men that they may surrender to Christ and find forgiveness and life.
Hear one team member give an exciting account of God's providence in humbling hearts and bringing about perfect timing for two young men and women to hear the Gospel.
Hear another explain how they were able to share the Gospel with a professing Christian who thought he was going to Heaven because he was good.
This afternoon in the team was 6 members strong. This was a real blessing as we were able to cover two areas nearby each other and reach more people. The team also had two native mandarin speakers who were able to engage with some who had little or no English ability.
One stand out conversation was with a young man named Will. He has had some exposure to Christianity evidenced by his answers but for the most part was simply living as a pagan. He had a Chinese-Buddhist background but even that was more cultural than binding.
Will came to understand that God designed us to bring Him glory by obedience to Him but that we had instead chosen to worship ourselves by living how we want. Will seemed to struggle with the idea that God would punish "decent" people. It was emphasised that we're not good people who make mistakes, rather we are rebels who wilfully defy God.
This made sense and he came to understand God's judgement and anger toward sinners. Will was left to ponder the question, "Will I choose sin and God's wrath or will I surrender to Jesus and find life and love?"
Please be praying for Will and all those who took tracts, engaged in conversations or were asked a simple question as they walked past. Please be praying that God would use these encounters to bring about their salvation.
As you read the posts over the coming weeks, would you also consider joining the team if they have a team in your area: http://www.operation513.com/street-evangelism-teams/
Praise God for a lady named Wendy who walked past then on her way back stopped and asked for a Bible for her son who has just become a believer.
Wendy is a Christian. Please pray for her son Matthew. She was so happy as she was on her way to meet up with Matthew to be able to give him his own Bible. I gave a few resources and Gospel tracts that may help Mathew in his growth.
Anne from Inglewood wanted a Bible. She says her old one is falling apart. She was not able to chat for long so I gave her tracts with the Gospel message. She knows the family I have been able to give some Bibles to previously who are also from Inglewood - Douglas & Emma and their nine children. Pray for them all.
Pray for Alan who says he is born again but he also said a few things that I don't agree with in salvation. He says we have a choice. I believe we have the responsibility to respond in trust and obedience but God is Sovereign in it all - by drawing us by His Spirit convicting us of sin and our need for Jesus to save us. God opens our heart and saves us. He gives us a new heart that loves Jesus and the glorious Gospel!
We will want to follow His ways even though we still sin, we are Righteous in His sight only by the grace from our heavenly Father through His one and only Son Jesus. It sounds like he has Jesus plus our works. When I was saying works is fruit but does not save, he said that we have a part in Salvation (which is adding works to be saved).
He says he will come back next week with some Bible verses. This is a difficult truth for many but God's ways are not our ways. The Bible teaches that we are chosen by God for good works, but it is all by His grace we are saved not works. So pray I have wisdom and use scripture to point to God's Sovereignty in Salvation & encourage him in the Gospel.
Thanks for praying and for the people of God who donate to the Ministry.
All Glory be to God.
Hear two team members share how God used them to share the Gospel with people on the street. First with two Muslims and then with an atheist named Peter.