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Saturday, 26 December, 2009
Saturday, 19th December 2009
“Do you think it is going to rain?” I asked those around me. “Not sure” was the general reply. “Na, it will be fine, maybe rain in a couple of hours” chipped in Ryan. “I think we have only 30 minutes before it pours” Dave added. Since we couldn’t agree on the issue of the weather, both Ryan and I pulled out our iPhones and checked out the bureau of meteorology. The satellite showed rain clouds heading for our location, looked like it was going to be another wet night.
Oh well, in all things give thanks. As we were preparing for the night, one to one conversations began to occur. Ryan, as usual, was engaged in a conversation with a man who was sitting near our location. Then David was in a conversation with a couple who happened to be walking by. It was beginning to shape up for a great night.
We prepared to preach with the clouds looming over us. The first preacher up was Alex. It was only his second time preaching, and it was generally surprising to all of us to see how good of a job he did. As Alex preached a few people stopped to listen, and while the preaching was going on the heavens opened up and down came the rain. Quickly we scrambled to pack down the Bible table and then get undercover. That is, all but the preacher got to go undercover. The preacher continued his job of expounding the gospel to those who would give him an ear.
The rain soon passed, and once again we set up the Bible table. It seems that this Bible table is a yo-yo, as no sooner than it was set up, that it was packed down again as it began to rain.
After preaching for some time, Alex stood down and Ryan took over. As he began to preach, three young guys came close, one of them pulling out his mobile phone and film the preaching. It was then that one of them stepped forward, and with a big grin on his face began to heckle. His goal was to ‘destroy’ the preacher. He argued atheism, evolution and the validity of the Bible. Every single argument he presented was easily answered by Ryan, and then the man was on the back-foot as Ryan turned the attention to the gospel. For the next twenty or so minutes Ryan presented the gospel, this in turn created a whole new wave of hecklers. All of which were dealt with, in a loving and biblical manner.
Ryan preached for some time, then it came time for Dave to preach. Not long into his message he had three guys come up and hassle him with some questions. Out of the three only one showed an interest in what Dave was saying. It was this guy that Dave aimed at. While Dave was talking the man seemed to appreciate all that was going on and he began to shake Dave’s hand and agree with him in regards to the gospel. While this was going on, I was able to speak to one of the other guys, who was not interested in anything to do with Christ, but at least I was able to keep him away from the interrupting the preacher.
It was then that hostility broke out. I was taking a few photos of the proceedings when a drunk man wearing a blue shirt approached me. He leant into my face and said “Do you have a permit to take photos?” I informed him that we didn’t need a permit to take photos since it was a public place. In his drunken ramblings he said, “I’m a lawyer and I’ll sue you!”
He then told me that he had secretly recorded our conversation and it would be used as evidence against us. He then continued to argue that us Christians should not be out here and he would be seeing us in court. After awhile he lost interest in me but went after one of our other team members. The little drunk kept leaning in an aggressive manner towards this team member and he was threatening court action. We basically ignored him and carried on with the preaching.
By now Dave had another man up close to him. This man was probably in his 40’s - 50’s and he was drunk. At first he was hostile towards the preacher, and this stemmed from a hurt he had suffered. It turned out that just recently his father had died and he was still in the grieving process. Dave with much gentleness ministered Christ to him and the man calmed down and even shook Dave’s hand. Later in the evening we would see him again, this time he wasn’t hostile but rather he was smiling and he waved to us, calling out “Merry Christmas!”
Just before Dave finished preaching this young female came up screaming abuse. She was saying “There is no god! God doesn’t exist since there are starving people in the world!” Then, in an act of hypocrisy she threw the hamburger she had been eating at Dave, that which could have fed a hungry person made impact on the chest of the preacher as he continued to expound the message of Christ. The young female growing in anger walked up the mall, turned and then in a voice not her own, but rather in a deep masculine voice screamed out obscenities towards God. Dave, stuck to the gospel, and proclaimed the risen Lord.
The night was quite interesting, we had some good hecklers and many people got the gospel. May God be forever praised for His goodness!
Saturday, 26th December 2009
“And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy
that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.” - Luke 2:10-11 (ESV)
The day previous the nation, and indeed much of the world stopped to remember the birth of Christ, and being just one day later many people were still in a celebratory mood. Louise and I sent the day having Christmas lunch with parents, then Louise had the ‘joy’ of going to work, while I had the privilege of going out to tell people about the Saviour.
The night was expected to be slow due to the fact that everyone was on holidays and many shops were closed. This expectation turned out to be correct, for in the mall there were very few people. After our normal time of Bible reading and prayer, we made our way to the Queen Street Mall for some evangelism. While setting up things began to get interesting. Yarran was on the Bible table having a great witness to two Indian men. Alex was preparing himself to preach, Ryan was handing out tracts and engaged in a one to one. Then the explosion came. The man to whom Ryan had been witnessing went absolutely nuts, when he read on the tract that Jesus considers lust to be adultery (Matthew 5:28). He came storming over to me asking who was in charge, so I tried to calm him down. He was not in the mood for talking, rather he was in the mood for yelling and this he did plenty of.
His central beef was around the fact that he considered lust to be perfectly fine, and he didn’t like the idea of his love being a sin in the sight of God. To top it off, amongst the abuse, the swearing, the name calling, the threats he said these words “I believe in God, I’m a Christian!” My reply was one that set him off even further, I told him the Bible would say he is not a Christian as the fruit he is showing says that his heart is wicked.
The man stormed off, then came back. This time he was standing on a park bench screaming a abuse and cursing me at the top of his lungs. He then jumped dow
n and came charging up to me. I thought he was about to smack me one, but instead he just got really close, so the that smell of alcohol would be in my face. Then once again he began to curse and say, “I would have become a Christian, except for you and your statements on lust!” To which I answered, “No, you would not have become a Christian, for you love your sin more than you love God.” He then ripped up a tract and went screaming up the mall. All this, and we hadn’t even started preaching.
After the eventful heckle, we thought it time to begin the preaching. Alex (not the Atheist) got up to preach first. He hadn’t been preaching long when a couple of hecklers moved in for the mock. These two guys had obviously been exposed to some wacko teaching in the past, for they started to ask about healing and being slain in the spirit. Upon asking these questions, one began to shout “I’m blind!” To which the other in a mocking tone came over, laid hands on him and yelled “BE HEALED!” The ‘blind’ man fell to the ground and began to cry out “I’ve been healed! I can see!” With these sort of mocks the heckling continued. Throughout all this Alex remained calm and cool, sticking to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For over an hour Alex preached, and he did a wonderful job. Not b
ad for someone who has only been preaching for a few weeks. It seems that he is a natural when it comes to preaching, and God willing Alex will develop into a gifted minister of the Word.
Ryan was the next preacher up for the night, he as usual opened up the Bible and began to tell of the glad tidings that are found in the message of Christ. The hecklers were fewer for Ryan, of course there was Wayne the Agnostic, who threw a few random heckles in the direction of Ryan. Then there was this one young man who came along and mocked the gospel. It even got to the point where he was saying a mock prayer while Ryan preached, and then tried to climb on the box with him.
It was sad to see so many people mock the God who is so kind towards them, the God of the Bible gives them life and everything they need to survive. Yet, they continue to rebel and mock Him. They don’t realise that their sin is an offence to God and that they deserve judgement. Yet, that God whom they mock, in love sent Christ Jesus to suffer and die on the cross in the place of those who would believe. Then, three days after Christ died, He arose again from the dead and defeated sin and death. So, if those who mock would repent (turn from sin) and trust that it is only by the death, burial and resurrection of Christ that we are saved, all their sin would be forgiven. Will they do that? That is up to God, but the question reader is this, “Will repent of your sins and trust in Christ, who in love, died and rose again in the place of sinners?” Look to Christ right now and live.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday, 12 December, 2009
I was glad to be out on the streets again today, even though I was the only one on the team. The Gold Coast City Council had set up a big Christmas tree in Cavill Avenue, but the area was still mostly deserted. It seems the Global Financial Crisis has taken a bit of a toll on the tourism at the Gold Coast. Another big factor I think is the construction works they are doing down there, for they have taken out lots of the seats in Cavill and along the Esplanade.
One of the first conversations I had was with a guy named Jason. He was about 25 and obviously works out. When I asked him whether he thought he would go to Heaven, he explained that his parents actually go to Hillsong. They've been constantly pleading with him to convert. He said that he knew he should one of these days, but he thought he wasn't ready yet. I then asked him what he thinks a person must do to be saved, for his parents possibly told incorrect things. He responded, "Go to Church and do good things." So I then spent next few minutes explaining that no one is good in God's sight and we can only be saved through the finished work of Christ on the cross. At the end of the conversation he thanked me greatly for the wake up call.
I then saw Tom, a mid-twenties guy who lives in Surfers and I regularly see. It was good to catch up and answer a lot of the new questions he had, and always bring it back to the gospel. He explained that he just loves sinning and doesn't want to turn from them. I asked him why he gets drunk about every weekend. He said it was boredom, he had nothing else to do. I explained that there are so many other things that he could do instead and gave him some suggestions. The conversation went for about half an hour, constantly pleading with him to come to Christ, but his heart was very hard. Please pray that God softens his heart.
As I was walking back to my car, I was handing out the million note tracts, one bloke called me back asking about it. He said he was a Christian and attends an Evangelical Lutheran Church. When I asked him how he thinks a person is saved, he responded, "If they believe and are baptised they will be saved". I asked, "And be baptised?". He responded, "Yes." So I asked him whether he believed passages like Ephesians 2:8-9 that talk about being saved completely by grace through faith and not through any of our own works. He said he did.
I then asked, "Was the thief on the cross baptised?" He responded, "Well we don't know if he wasn't baptised before he was put up on the cross." I said, "It's unlikely seeing as though he was a horrible criminal, and secondly, does not the baptism need to follow the faith, not precede it?" He agreed with this.
He then responded by asking, "So do you ignore the verse in Mark 16:16 that says if you believe and are baptised you will be saved?". I responded, "No, but you've got to take all the passages in the Bible and see what they say and not just a single verse." He agreed with this. So I explained that the overwhelming majority of passages regarding salvation talk about it being through faith that a person is saved, not baptism. I then went onto show him how even in Mark 16:16, the second half of the sentence says: "But whoever does not believe will be condemned." It doesn't mention baptism there as something someone will be condemned for. At this point, it seemed to click in his mind. And so he said, "I actually agree with you now."
Another great day of outreach, to God be the glory!
Saturday, 12 December, 2009
Saturday, 12th December 2009
The shrill blast of a whistle drew the attention of not just Louise and I, but of everyone in King George Square. As we looked for where the whistle was coming from a new noise reached our ears, this time it was the deep rhythmic beat of a drum. Still the multitudes of people in the square were none the wiser as to where the noise had originated. Then a new sound was added to the din, this time it was the cry of a female voice calling out “EVERYONE SAMBA!” Then as if on cue the drums beat louder and the whistle blasted again. This time those looking saw a dance troupe start walking from in front of City Hall to a more central location within King George Square.
By now people in the Queen Street Mall, King George Square and the surrounding streets were coming to see what the commotion was all about. The crowd continued to build as the music beat on and as those in the crowd began to dance even more people stopped to join in. Young and old stood in the square and began dancing along with the bikini clad leader. Photos were taken and ultimately it seemed like people were having a good time. As the crowd grew so did the danger, for the crowd had gotten to the point where they were spilling out onto one of Brisbane’s busiest inner-city roads.
As I watched the events unfolding before me, I thought it would be good to tract the crowd when the show had finished. Turning to my pack I began to get out all my Christmas tracts, as I thought these would work best, since the square was all lit up for the festive season. The only problem was that I was massively outnumbered. In no way could I manage to get tracts to the majority of the crowd. As I thought about this problem, a solution appeared. Crossing King George at this point was Ryan and Alex (not the atheist). Quickly I hurried up to them and gave them each a pack of Christmas tracts and then explained how we would reach the crowd when they dispersed. We were fully expecting the music to come to a stop then people would leave, but to our utter amazement this was not the case. With music still being played the crowd began to walk with the dancing troupe. Quickly we spread ourselves out and began to hand out tracts. It was very easy to get tracts in the hands of the crowd, all we said was “Merry Christmas” and offered them our literature. Within a short space of time nearly 300 Christmas tracts were handed out and then began the one to one conversations.
As normal Ryan had no difficulties in getting into a witnessing encounter, he seems to attract people who wish to talk. As the group surrounded him to discuss Christianity I continued to hand out tracts. Then it came my turn for a conversation.
A young man took a tract then came back a few seconds later and said, “Aren’t you one of the preachers from Queen Street?” I replied in the affirmative and from there a conversation began. He stated that he admired the work we did, even though he disagreed with us in certain areas. The discussion then focused on the areas of disagreement and it was then that he made the statement that on that particular day he had de-converted from Christianity and embraced Judaism. That was something I had to explore further, so I began by asking him if he accepted the New Testament as truth, he replied saying he believed it to be holy and from God. I pointed out to him that as a Jew, he could not accept the New Testament as truth and yet hold onto the Judaic understanding of salvation, for the Bible indicates that Jesus is the Messiah, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Then this man said something strange, he said “I believe that!”
I had not expected this reply from a man who had just de-converted, so I took him to the book of Galatians to show him that if someone has truly turned from their sins and trusted that it is by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that they are saved, then it is foolishness and a curse to put themselves back under the law. It was at this point that the man said, “I have been told not to debate Scripture”. I asked who told him this, and again I did not expect this reply, he said, “The angels and the visions told me not to debate Scripture, they all told me to leave Christianity and become a Jew.” Since, I was in Galatians already I showed him that if any angel preached something other than the Christian gospel, then that angel is damned. For the next 20 or 30 minutes we went back and forth over the biblical gospel. In the end the man seemed to be getting a little frustrated with the fact that I kept God as Sovereign and that the Bible is the sole rule of faith and practice for the Christian.
The man maintained his position on having visions and angels telling him what to do, he also made the claim that he alone possessed a secret knowledge of God. These were all easily countered via the Scripture. Then he made this statement, “I am humble before God, but I must put myself on a pedestal for a time, since the world must know that I am the chosen one!” To which I replied, “I’m sorry, but you have a Messiah complex, the only Chosen One is Christ Jesus, you can’t take His position.” At this the man huffed and walked away.
It was now nearing 2030hrs, so we came together for a time of prayer and bible reading. The night had already been great for evangelism, but it was shaping up to be an interesting night.
As we entered the mall to set up for the night, I got to encounter our second strange person for the night. This man who claimed to be an artist came to me and began to argue that I didn’t know the Bible. The interesting thing was at this stage I hadn’t even used my Bible in the mall. He told me to read a passage of Scripture, so I turned to Colossians 1 and began to read. As the man heard about Christ being the Creator of all, he began to get angry and started to yell at me to stop reading. I refused and kept reading the Scripture. The man then screamed, “IN JESUS NAME I ORDER YOU TO STOP!” Yet, I continued. The man turned and walked away, only to return a few moments later. He came back and said, “Jesus did not create all things on earth, he made the angels and they made things. That was the job of Lucifer.” Again, I opened my Bible and began to read from Colossians 1, which shows that Christ is the Creator of all things, including the angels. Again, the man went nuts at the reading of the Scripture. He then told me that God was speaking though him and that I was to read Matthew 24. I turned there and asked, “Where should I start reading?” The man gave me a verse then said, “That is what God would say to you!” I agreed that God speaks through his word, but that is not the same as God speaking through him. The man then made some really non-sense arguments. But, it kept coming back to the fact, that he did not believe Christ was God, nor was He the Creator. I pointed to the tree standing in the mall, and said, “That there is proof of the Creator God.” The man disagreed and said, “God created himself! The earth created the tree!” I asked him, “How could God create Himself? The mere fact He can create shows that He must be pre-existent”. The man had no reply. I pushed him on if the tree was created by God, the man said, “No, the earth made the tree, God made everything!” I pointed at the tree and said, “Is that apart of everything?” The man nodded, I continued, “So, God must have made that tree, since God made everything?”
At this the man launched into a demonic tongue and began to pronounce curses upon us. He denied that Jesus was come in the flesh and that God was not eternal. I rebuked him from the Scripture, stating that he had the spirit of antichrist and was an enemy of God. The man walked off, but hung around all night. Constantly being a harassment to the team. This behaviour even resulted in Wayne the Agnostic to comment on how the night seemed to be more strange than usual.
Since we were light on preachers tonight, we decided to let Alex (not the atheist) preach first. It was his first time up, so we thought it best to let him have a go, before the crowd got too hostile. He did a great job of preaching. His voice was clear and even, and when the hecklers arose he did a splendid job of countering their objections in both a biblical and logical manner. Towards the end of his open air a couple of hecklers opened up fairly hard on him, and at one point it looked like he may lose control of the crowd, so I tagged in and took over.
The question that was presented by one of the hecklers was the issue of the Bible and the perceived inconsistency within local churches. He maintained that the Bible ordered all women to cover their heads in church, yet no one does it. So I read him the Scripture and was able to counter his argument. This then spawned into a women debate, the agnostics claimed that Christianity suppress women and order them to be silent in the church. I argued that the Scripture teaches that men and women are equal, however, within this equality there is different roles. I then showed him from the Bible how a female is not allowed to preach / teach in the church and how that is a male only function. But, I stressed that it was in no ways declaring a woman lesser than a man. I then swung it back to the gospel and how we are all equal before God as sinners.
For about an hour I debated and reasoned with the crowd. I had heckles from atheists, agnostics, Roman Catholics, Satanists and the like. Each time I would try to answer their questions and preach the gospel. At the end a young Roman Catholic lady came up to me and thanked me for my preaching. Even though she disagreed with what we said, it had made her think. Please pray for her.
Ryan by now was preaching and as the night got later the crowds got bigger and more hostile. While Ryan was preaching within the space of a few minutes there were two fights. The interesting thing was that it centred around one foul mouthed atheist who claimed to have all the answers. First fight erupted when a bunch of Maori got annoyed at him for his “know it all” attitude so they walked up and pushed him in the face. I jumped in and told the group to clear off. It was then that one of them turned on me and said he would punch my face in. I told him to step up and try if he wished, but it wouldn’t look good for him to punch a preacher. The others at this stage dragged him away.
Then a few minutes later an Irishman smacked the atheist once again because of his “know it all” attitude. Like before I was forced to jump between them and this time I cleared the atheist off. He was claiming victory because the preacher couldn’t answer him. I pointed out that the only victory he had was not being seriously injured by some drunk who wanted to punch him out. The man didn’t care and he stayed around for some time. Later on in the night Ryan engaged this man in a one to one and systematically dismantled his arguments.
Finally a young man who had been there all night heckling got moved on by police because of his foul and abusive language. It was turning out to be a rather hostile and strange night. So much for this being the season to be jolly!
At the close of the night, I was approached by a young guy who wanted to talk about the gospel. His friend however did not. He did everything to disrupt the conversation, but I persisted in talking to this one young guy. As I spoke to him you could see him come under conviction and he believed that I was telling the truth. He took an in-depth gospel tract and left. One of the agnostics saw this conversation and he remarked to Louise in a serious tone, “It looks like someone is about to be converted from darkness to Christianity.” I find it interesting that the agnostic knew that those without Christ are in darkness.
This Christmas, are you in darkness or are you in the light? Have you seen the need of the Saviour? Have you realized that your sin is against God? If so, you must repent (turn from your sins) and trust that it is by Jesus dying on the cross and rising again that you can be saved. Would you do that today? Look to Jesus Christ and live.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Friday, 11 December, 2009
Tonight was a great evening. We began by meeting for a time of fellowship and devotions at Cafe Nero. It was wonderful to have a good turn out and everyone was excited to be out to share the Gospel.
We arrived in the Square and I began to get things organised for the night. Andrew was not with us, which meant that the preaching fell to me only. Our ministry is now quite facetted and along with the open-air preaching we also have the sign-boards that we use, along with the many gospel tracts that we hand out. Below and to the left is a picture of Lesley using one of the sign-boards, with the question: “Ask me the meaning of life.”
The boards work really well and the result has been that many conversations have been initiated by them. Our aim is for people to hear the Gospel, whether it be through an open-air preach or through one-to-one conversations. Of course, open-air preaching leads into one-to-one conversations and it’s wonderful when the two work together like that.
Street evangelism is very dynamic and each Friday night is always different. Often it’s a case of waiting to see how the evening plays out. That said, I do believe it important to have a structure to the evening. To this end I have decided that the open-air preaching ought to take place first. This is because it is a team exercise. When the preacher stands up to preach it makes a huge difference for him to have a “mock crowd” in front of him. People draw people and it is the aim of every open-air to draw in a crowd. In addition to this, the Christians in the crowd have the responsibility of observing those who take an interest in the preaching so that they can engage them in one-to-one conversation. This was the plan for Friday night, although events transpired in such a way that we had to abandon the plan. This is not a bad thing and it cannot be prevented, the key point is that we do have a plan for the evening so that we are focused and directed in what we are doing.
As I was getting ready to preach a man approached me and asked if I had preached yet. I was a bit surprised and so I asked him how he knew that I would be preaching. He said that he had seen me preach five times previously and that he had taken photos each time (the camera he had used was in his hand). I told him that I was almost ready to preach but had a few more things to do. He seemed pleased and asked if I could give him something to read as he waited, as he could see that we had various tracts and booklets, etc. Just before I stood up to preach he came to ask me about something he had read in the booklet I had given him. I had given him a Gospel of John and in the front of the booklet it says the following: “The Bible is the greatest work of literature, the most accurate record of ancient history, and the most profound book ever written.” He took issue with this and argued that the Bible could not be completely accurate and trustworthy, since it had been written by sinful man. I realised that the preaching would have to wait and that I needed to address his objection. I looked around and was pleased to see that my team had begun to engage people in conversation. The man I was talking to introduced himself as Patrick and as we continued to talk I recognised him from having spoken to Susi the week before. He seemed to believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life and that they had played a role in human history. As we were talking another man came up to us and pushed his way into the conversation. This can be a tricky thing to deal with and it does mean that you have to take control of what is happening, to the best of your ability.
The man who had joined our conversation asked concerning Andrew and I realised that they had spoken before. He had in his hand what appeared a Muslim booklet/tract that quoted various verses from the Bible, which called in to question the Deity of Christ, etc. He was becoming very difficult to deal with and I repeatedly had to ask him to be fair and allow me to respond to what he was saying. Patrick noticed too that he was not being fair and asked him the same. It did not help and eventually I had to say to him that I would no longer be talking to him, since he had no desire to be fair but instead wanted to dominate the conversation. I found it interesting when he said to me that he was not a Muslim and in fact did not hold to any religion, yet he seemed intent on showing Christianity to be full of supposed errors. My biggest concern was Patrick. I had given him my best attention and hoped that he appreciated this and also that he understood my decision to walk away from the conversation. I could no longer continue my conversation with Patrick without the man’s interference. Perhaps I could have tried something different and should I meet with him again I will certainly do my best to take greater control.
By now it was getting quite late but I still felt I had sufficient time to preach. Leicester Square has recently been transformed into an amusement park and so it’s a lot nosier with far more distractions. It makes open-air preaching certainly more of a challenge. I decided to still give it a go. Some other Christians had come to join us and I asked one of them if he wouldn’t mind standing by me as I preached. After a little while some people began to stop and listen. A young lad by the name of Francis saw it as an opportunity to have some fun at my expense but I played off of that and managed to turn it around a little bit. He didn’t quite like the fact that I caught him out with regards to his sin but he stayed to listen and I was pleased that he did. A little later another young man stopped to listen and he asked some genuine questions concerning the claims of Christianity, as well as the credibility of the Bible. I attempted to answer his questions as best I could and when he moved on he came and shook my hand and thanked me for my efforts. I had hoped that he would have stuck around but sometimes a person only wants to have their questions answered before they move on. It could be the beginning of the Lord drawing this man to Himself (John 6:44) and I do pray that the Lord would do just that. Unfortunately I did not get his name but please do pray that the Lord would continue to work in his life.
After I finished preaching we all continued to talk with as many people as we could. It was a very cold night but praise be to God that we were able to talk with a good number of people. After a little while we gathered together to talk about the night. Rowina seemed very excited and came to share some news with us. It turns out that during the open-air preaching two men who had stopped to listen are in fact father and son but had not seen each other in 17 years! The father had been arrested and sent to prison and so they had completely lost contact. Now, 17 years later they had been reconciled after stopping to listen to the Gospel being preached on a cold winter’s night right in the middle of London in Leicester Square! We also learned that the father became a Christian while in prison. How good is God?! I was speechless as I listened to Rowina. We serve a great God.
Tonight truly was a great evening. We praise the Lord for His faithfulness.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday, 5 December, 2009
Saturday, 5th December 2009
The air was dripping with the sounds of Christmas, everywhere you turned you could see decorations, trees and festive lights. Playing throughout the Queen Street mall, were Christmas songs of every description. It was plain to all those present that the holidays were here. As Louise and I walked towards King George Square we happened to pass under a seasonal walkway with the words “Love, Peace, Hope” written upon on its steal structure. But, how was it, that this city could associate such words with Christmas, yet forget that we cannot know real love, peace or hope apart from the babe that was born some 2000 years ago in a little manager in the little town of Bethlehem. As we neared the square we saw the Brisbane Christmas tree, and all around it were many people taking photos or having their photos taken. The celebration was on, yet many of those who celebrate the birth of Jesus do not realise that the Christ of the cradle is also the Christ of the cross.
The city had changed in the two weeks since I had last been here, in fact I myself found my life had changed for the better. As today was the one week celebration of being joined with the most beautiful lady in the world. Just the week prior I had said my vows and exchanged rings with Louise. Tonight was my first night on the streets witnessing as a married man, and I counted it an honour to have my lovely wife with me. This coming together in marriage had put my weekly routine out, so I must apologise to our readers for not being able to get all the normal weekly reports done. It was said by the atheists that the reason we have not been writing reports is because we have been beaten in recent weeks by them. Let me assure them and also those reading that this is not the case, in no way have we been beaten back by those holding to atheism, in fact by them coming out and debating us, we have found that our faith has deepened, and that we are now more assured of the truth of Christianity when it is compared to the foolishness of the atheistic worldview.
As the outreach began for the night, we found ourselves meeting in our normal location in King George Square. There we spent some time in fellowship, prayer and reading the Bible. It was during this time that we saw our main heckler for the night, for strolling across the square was one with whom we have debated many times before. He walked across the square in his black leather jacket and as he strode with an air of arrogance we knew he was in town for a debate. Upon seeing him I called out “G’day Alex!” This greeting was met by Alex holding up two fingers showing his disdain for us.
It was nearing nine o’clock when we made our way to Queen Street for the evening of preaching. By now the weather had changed slightly and instead of it being dry, we found that a few drops of rain had began to fall. This played havoc with our Bible table, for it is impossible to have a display table with tracts, apologetic booklets and Bibles out if the weather turns bad. Then to top it all off a strong wind began to blow down the mall. This in course blew the literature off our table and into the street. Eventually the rain stopped and we came up with ways of limiting our material from being swept away with the breeze.
Around this time Ryan came up to me and told me that Alex the atheist was in town to debate me. This is something I did not want to do. I did not want to give Alex the attention he so eagerly craved. My mission for the night was to preach the gospel and that is what I intended to do. But of course, we knew that any preacher would have to deal with Alex first. With this in mind I decided that it would be best for Ryan to go first and then Dave. The logic in this was that by putting up our two strongest apologists when it comes to atheism we would hopefully wear Alex down to the point where the gospel would go out all the more freely.
Ryan was the first preacher up and as expected within seconds Alex came in yelling his one word objection. It seems that if Alex yells out his disbelief long enough that must make it fact, since it is rare to see Alex engage with the arguments presented by the preachers. Ryan did a splendid job of countering Alex and refuting his objections. By now a second heckler had arisen, it was our old friend and regular heckler Wayne the agnostic. Wayne is in many ways different to Alex, he is much more reasonable and much nicer when it comes to talking to us. While Alex is of the militant camp, Wayne is more open to discussion and reason.
Sadly I didn’t get to listen to all of Ryan’s apologetics and preaching of the gospel, for I saw that over near the camera was a man who had taken an interest in Louise. So I wandered over to him and I heard that he was voicing his objections to our preaching. It was not so much the content that he disapproved of, but rather it was the manner in which we did it. He believed that we should not be doing street ministry for this kind of outreach causes wars and murder. While that may sound strange, in his country religion had caused war and murder. The man was Irish and his fear was that at any moment the Roman Catholics and the Protestants would start a fight. I assured him that while such things may happen in Ireland, we are yet to see that occur in Australia. But the man couldn’t understand this, his worldview was one of if religion is preached then it will cause violence. I assured him that it was people that caused problems, sinful, unregenerate people who hated God and if those same people killed in the name of religion then they did not know the Christ of Scripture. The Irish man wouldn’t budge, he changed his argument to say that it may not happen in Australia, but since we are preaching not far from two Irish pubs we had better except a war. My reply was one that shocked him and I am afraid may of offended him. I said, “If any Irishman comes to Australia and starts any sort of religious war, then he should get on an aeroplane and go back to where he came from!” The Irishman didn’t like that too much, but my position still held.
By now Wayne had walked over and was kind of listening to the going on. As the Irishman argued that there would be a religious war kicking off soon, Wayne interjected and stated that he believed that if I was pushed far enough I would support the killing of people of different religious opinions be it Roman Catholic or otherwise. I argued that under no circumstances would I ever support the killing of someone who disagreed with me in regards to God. While they may be wrong, as Christian I am told to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute us, under no circumstances am I commanded to kill them. Wayne’s reply was, “It was normal, reasonable human beings that built the gas chambers in World War Two, they killed people.” To which I replied, “You’re right, they were normal sinful, totally depraved sinners who made such things, that is why humans need to come to Christ and become a new creation, then those things would not happen!” Wayne just shook his head and walked away, it was at this stage that the Irishman had lost interest and wandered away.
By now the preachers had changed and David was up engaging Alex and answering objections from the crowd. A good size crowd gathered around to listen as he shared the message of the Gospel. Alex intensified his objections as Dave explained that even though we have sinned against God, in love He sent Christ to die in the place of His elect, so that if we would repent and trust that by Jesus dying, and rising again we could have all our sins forgiven. The hatred for God and the gospel flowed from the mouth of Alex. He objects and tries to make out that as an intellectual the belief in God is not plausible, but in reality it is him suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. Alex hates the fact that God exists, that He is ruler and Sovereign over all. He especially hates the cross, for it is at the cross that God bled and died for the sins of His people, and three days later He arose again defeating sin and death. The sinful man hates such things and will object to it, for it shows that he is a sinful human in need of a merciful Saviour.
During Dave’s preaching a drunk man entered the crowd and began to head butt people. It didn’t matter who they were he would just walk up and ram them in the back. They could be atheist, Christian or just a onlooker, they were all targets to this intoxicated man. I stepped in and encouraged him to walk away. This resulted in him head butting my shoulder and then letting out a groan. Somewhere around this time the police were called in to deal with him, and it was then that his friends intervened and took him away before he could be arrested.
Dave finished preaching around 11:30pm, and it was then decided that I should up and preach. Both Alex and Wayne were waiting to heckle. So I stood and began to preach about Christmas, and how we should remember that Christ came to save His people from their sins. By this point Alex had opened up and began to heckle. His arguments were basic at best. He claimed that somewhere along the lines nothing made something and here we are today. I found the best apologetic for this was to simply quote a Julie Andrews song from the Sound of Music, “Nothing came fro
m nothing and nothing ever will!” As Alex tried to prove the unprovable I was more convinced of the stupidity that is atheism. It is true when the Scripture says “professing themselves to be wise they became fools.” No amount of evidence or countering would prove Alex, for his mind is made up and he has hardened his heart. However, God is still Sovereign, He is in control and salvation is all of His sovereign grace. Please continue to pray for Alex, pray that God would grant him the gifts of repentance and faith. But, also pray for Wayne and his son, who quite regularly heckle. Pray that Christ will reveal Himself to them, and that they would repent and trust in Him.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday, 5 December, 2009
Rick, Glenda, Chris, and I were all part of the Gold Coast team today, and after arriving we firstly spent some time in prayer. Then we began handing out gospel tracts. There didn't seem to be that many people about. However, there were definitely remnants of schoolies who were still there. But it seemed the schoolies had made all the locals and other tourists leave. So that is why I didn't preach straight away.
I had few good conversations, one was with three Catholics who were from Europe. One of them had chatted to a Christian just recently who pointed out the vast differences there are between the Roman Catholic Church and Christianity. These guys had further questions on that. After explaining the difference on how one is saved, whether it is completely by grace through faith alone (as the Bible teaches), or whether it's by grace initially then a person must work to attain eternal life (as the Roman Catholic Church teaches), these guys sided with that latter option. I pointed to various passages in the Bible, such as Eph 2:8-9, and these guys said that the Bible has been changed. I was not expecting to hear that from a Catholic, usually Muslims say that but not Catholics. However, they couldn't provide any proof to support such a claim. So I clearly explained the gospel and pleaded with the guys to trust in it alone for their forgiveness. The conversation lasted about 25 minutes.
Just before we were going to have lunch, I got into a conversation with a man named Abbey. He was from Sydney and when I asked him whether he thought he was going to Heaven, he responded: "Yes". His reason for thinking that he said was that he though he was good enough and had done enough good. He said that he grew up in the Church, but recently had stopped going. So I simply showed him that none of us are good in the sight of God, for we all sin. And since God is just, He cannot overlook sin and so therefore the sin that we commit makes us deserving of Hell. He understood that, so then I shared the news about Christ's death on the cross to pay for our sins. He said it made sense. To check whether a person I am talking to actually does understand the gospel, I like to ask: "If God was to ask you, 'Why should I let you into Heaven?' What would you say?" So I asked the man that question. He responded that it was because of his own goodness. So I re-explained the gospel and after that second time he understood that it's own by Christ's death all his sins are forgiven. He said he would go home and repent and trust in Christ. Praise God!
As the afternoon progressed, it did get busier. And so after lunch I got up to preach and proclaimed the gospel for the remaining twenty minutes that we had.
Rick, Glenda and Chris all faithfully handed out heaps of gospel tracts. They also had some really good conversations.
Today was the first time we were using the new Operation 513 Million dollar notes with a gospel message on the back, and they worked wonderful. There were a couple of Japanese tour groups that walked by and we made sure they all got a tract. I have found, people from a certain Asian countries generally do not take tracts, but with something out of the ordinary like the Million dollar note and the Big $100 note tracts, it overcomes this barrier and so they take the tracts.
To God be the glory!
Saturday, 21 November, 2009
Today marked the first day of Schoolies for 2009, and we knew there would be lots of young people about at the Gold Coast. The Schoolies celebration is where about 35,000 year twelvers who have just graduated, spend about a week at the coast partying and hanging out with friends. Unfortunately, many of them spend their time getting drunk and doing all sorts of sinful activity. And since they are at a pivotal point of time in their life and often don't have much to do at Schoolies, we knew that this was a perfect opportunity to share the gospel with them.
So Blake, Lucy, Peter, and I arrived at the coast at 12pm and firstly had a time of prayer. We then got stuck into handing out gospel tracts. For the schoolies event, they had set up a lot of fences surrounding the Schoolies-only party area and there was a fence blocking the concrete block we usually preach from. But there was still an elevated concrete platform to the right of that spot that they had not fenced off. So we decided that that is where we would do some open air preaching that day. I brought a soap box and set it up at that location.
I then stood up to preach, speaking about how undoubtedly many school leavers at the Gold Coast have planned what they are going to do next year, and even what they are going to do this next week. But I pointed out that even though we have all these plans, we are never guaranteed that we'll be able to carry them out, as we could die at any moment. I then recounted the parable of the rich man building bigger barns to store his grain, which lead onto talking about eternity. I then spoke about the Day of Judgment to come, the fact that we've all sinned, and thus need the Saviour's forgiveness by His death on the cross.
After stepping down and tagging Blake in to preach after preaching a while, a Schoolies event security guy came up to us saying that we cannot preach here or hand out tracts. We asked why, he thought it was some council law, but we let him know that there isn't any council law against doing this. He then suggested for us to just go to the event security headquarters to ask them why they instructed him to tell us that weren't allowed to do this.
After finding the place where they were, they basically said that they have no authority to stop us doing what we're doing and so they said that we can keep doing it.
So after returning to the preaching area, I stood up to preach again, and within minutes two event security came up to me saying that I can't preach here. So I explained to them that we went to the event security HQ and that they themselves said they cannot stop us. I also then explained that we are here every single week. At that point, one of the security said, "No you're not, I've never seen you here". As he was saying that, a council cleaner was walking by, so I said, "Go ask him, he sees us every week." Then they responded, "But people don't want to hear you...Fine, do what you want." As they were walking away, a schoolie walking past called out, "Hey, you're the guys that preach here every week!"
So I resumed preaching and another schoolie shouted out, "Oh I saw these guys here last year!" (even though they didn't know about the conversation I had with the event security). At that point a very vocal schoolie began asking all sorts of questions which attracted a large crowd, and said that he loved having the discussion taking place. After answering his questions, I pointed him to the cross and exhorted him to repent and trust in the Saviour's death for forgiveness. During this, one of the event security guys returned and listened to the preaching for about 15 minutes before walking away.
After this, Blake did some further preaching as well. By this time it was 3:15pm, and we had run out of gospel tracts. This week was the first week we had the 3 new business-card size gospel tracts, and this week I gave the 'Good Aussie' card a test run and it worked great. I would ask people, "Did you get your good Aussie card?" and almost everyone was like, "Aussie? I'm an Aussie, I want one!" And even those who were not Aussie took one because they thought it was an Australian souvenir card. This tract is highly recommended.
At 3:30pm, Luke, Rhoi, Doug, and Greg arrived at the coast with lots of gospel tracts. While fellowshipping and handing out tracts, two police constables came up to us saying that we're not allowed to tout. I agreed, but then pointed out that we are not touting (that is selling products), instead that we're simply handing out Christian literature free of charge. They said that we're not even allowed to do that. I then pointed out that council has no problem with us doing what we're doing. As the conversation progressed, it turned from one where they were telling us to stop, to warning us that other police might tell us to stop and that they thought schoolies might not want to receive one. As the police were walking away, a Gold Coast City Council local law officer came up to us wondering what the police said, and he told us that it's perfectly fine to hand out gospel tracts. He just encouraged us to pick up any tracts that people might have dropped on the ground.
Soon after this, Blake and I left the four new arrivals to continue handing out tracts while we headed back to Brisbane for the team that was on that night in the city.
It was so evident today that God is truly sovereign. Whenever we ran into problems with authority trying to stop us proclaiming the gospel, God provided a way for it to continue.
God alone belongs all the glory!
Saturday, 7 November, 2009
Rick, Glenda, Chris and Blake joined me today at the Gold Coast and it was a beautiful sunny day. After praying together, we started our outreach. We noticed that there was a crowd already gathered near the area where we usually preach and so I thought it was a great idea to start preaching straight away.
After preaching for about half an hour, I stepped down and had a conversation with two guys on holidays from a nation in the pacific. They obviously had some sort of Catholic upbringing, for they mentioned that they plan on having their sins forgiven by a priest absolving them of it. So I explained the message of God's justice, that God cannot forgive them simply by going to a priest because God is good. Then I explained the message of God's grace, that Christ can take the wrath of God that they deserve on their behalf by dying for them if they repent and trust in the Saviour's death as the only reason they are saved. At that point, it seemed to 'click' in their mind, and thanked me very much for telling about it. They said they would think seriously about this and start reading the Bible.
Blake then did some preaching too and he faithfully proclaimed loud and clear the message of the gospel. After he got down from the preaching spot, he got into a discussion with a guy from Sydney. While at the same time I chatted to his mate. They both had some sort of Roman Catholic background, but the guy I spoke to was very keen on the idea of sin. He loved it and was unwilling to turn from it even though he knew the consequences of it.
Meanwhile, the guy Blake was talking to had a hard time understanding grace. Firstly, he thought he was saved by his works and that he was a very good guy. After showing him the extent of his sin, Blake explained the gospel. The conversation went for over an hour as Blake explained in many different ways the atonement that is only by grace through faith alone. By the end, he did seem to understand it.
After that, we had lunch together and had some good fellowship. It was Chris' second time out on the streets with us and she did a wonderful job again handing out tracts. Rick and Glenda have been very good guiding and teaching her how to evangelise. Rick and Glenda also handed out many tracts and had some good witnessing encounters today.
To God be the glory!
PS: If you are ever in the Gold Coast area, feel free to be part of the Gold Coast team, for as Jesus said, the workers are few but the harvest is plentiful. Please contact me for more information to be part of the team.
Saturday, 31 October, 2009
Today on the team we had Blake, Yarran, Dan, Ori and myself. It was warm day with the sun brightly shining. Just before Yarran, Dan and Ori arrived, Blake and I had a conversation with two middle-aged guys. One of the guys was rather strange, yelling at random times and changing topics constantly. He was arguing that the dead sea scrolls were discovered 400 years before Isaiah, yet he didn't present any evidence to support it, much less present a reason for arguing that.
He then went on to speak about how he thinks Genesis references aboringines in relation to the serpent being cursed. Like most things he said, I did not understand what he was trying to say. But I kept the conversation going, for while this was happening, Blake managed to have a conversation with the other fellow who seemed much more reasonable. I kept trying to bring back the conversation to sin, judgment, gospel, etc but the man just kept avoiding the topic. Blake told me afterwards that he had a conversation with the guy he chatted to where he was able to present the great news of Christ atoning death on the cross.
I was the preacher first up, and started off by talking about a day that is coming, and that is judgment day. After talking about sin, I preached about the great news of the salvation we have in Jesus. A few people heckled me for a bit, and afterwards I chatted to them further.
Blake then got up to preach, and a one point an older gentleman started yelling at Blake. He was saying, "Where is your badge? You cannot preach without a bradge identifying your religion! Show me your badge!" This grew a rather large crowd, and a number of the people listening defended Blake and responded to the man saying that we have freedom of speech in this country and people do not need badges in this country. They then pointed to Blake's Bible that he was holding and said that that is like his badge if you want him to have one. The man responded, "In my country, you need badge!! Where is your badge!" The man eventually left, but a crowd had gathered and so Blake was able to preach the gospel to them all.
The other three members of the team also faithfully handed out many gospel tracts and got into various conversations. Please pray that God will grow the seeds of the gospel that were planted in people's hearts today.
To God be the glory!
Saturday, 14 November, 2009
Tonight as I prepared for the city I was concerned. Concerned because of the fact that it was party night due to university being finished, and concerned because we had a smaller team. But, our trust is in the Sovereign God, not in how many troops we can field.
Once again, it was good to be joined by our Australian brother who lives in Texas, USA. Andrew Peck came out for the second week in the row, and it was a major blessing to have him on team. He is a great guy who is passionate about the Gospel and the God of the Gospel.
The first preacher up for the night was Andre, he did a marvellous job of expounding the gospel and bring the knowledge of sin. In the time I have known Andre he has developed into a great open air preacher. While he has a long way to go (as we all do) he is turning into a good open air communicator.
After Andre preached it was my turn to take the box. I started off by talking about death and how early in the night a man became angry when hearing about the reality of death. Before long I had a couple of hecklers. One of them was a young man from the UK, who argued that atheism is the way to go, so I engaged him in apologetics and showed that the belief in God is rational and logical. This in turn created more hecklers. I then proceeded to engage them in open air discussion. But the whole time I kept swinging back to the gospel. The arguments were the same old arguments “Who made God?” “What about evolution?” I was able to answer these, but then two men stepped up who both claimed to have theology degrees. One claimed to have studied in Oxford, UK (I think he was breaking the 9th commandment). They wanted to argue Church History and how they believed the Bible to be wrong. I dealt with their non-theological objections, and found out there ‘theology’ came from the Da Vinci Code (Hope that isn’t a course at Oxford).
During this time another man came up to me and began to yell “THIS IS NOT THE GOSPEL OF PEACE!” I replied and asked him, “Is not preaching Christ died for sinners a peaceful thing? For it by that action we can have peace with God!” The man ran off, only to return a few minutes later. This time he came back angry and began to scream at me “OPEN THE BIBLE!” Which I found interesting since my Bible was open in my hand. He then demanded I read John 1, I complied since reading the Bible is always a good thing. As I read the first few verses he yelled “THERE! SEE WE ARE GODS!” I asked him how he got that out of those verses, since they are talking about Christ. At this stage he yelled and ran away again. Only to return a few minutes later. This time I went after him for being a wolf, and for trying to deceive people with his demonic doctrines. The man went ballistic and ran off for the third and final time.
After preaching for about 55 minutes, I tagged Ryan in, who continued the discussion. He did a great job in countering their objections and presenting Christ to them. Whenever we went near the topic of Jesus Christ, people would respond in anger. People have a natural hatred for God and they want nothing to do with His plan of salvation.
The night finished with many hearing the gospel and receiving tracts. Praise God for His kindness in allowing us to share such a good message.
Soli Deo Gloria!
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