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Saturday, 13 September, 2008
God is extra gracious to us sometimes and gives us a taste of what He is doing in the lives of those we witness to. I am confident that much of the time He is doing far more than we could imagine, let alone what we see and hear. This week we had many encouragements and blessings as we proclaimed the gospel in Sheffield.
Anna and I went into town and there met up with Beck and Sucraj from Wycliffe our church in Sheffield. We shared in prayer together before beginning and while we were praying that God would move the hearts of people Mekial arrived to talk. We finished praying and while Beck and Anna went to handing out tracts I spoke to Mekial.
Mekial and I talked primarily about how he was spiritually and it seems he had hit on something that makes sense to him. He has been watching Way of The Master on television and was particularly inspired by Ray Comfort's message "Hell's Best Kept Secret". This has fired his enthusiasm for the things of God and he is reading the bible again and praying. With these two good things in place I urged him to not neglect going to church and he promised me he would come on sunday (and he did). We are glad to see that God has not left this young man alone but rather is still chasing him down. I often think of the poem "The Hound of Heaven" when I think on Mekial's life, we're cheering on the hound!
We handed out tracts for a period and many people taking tracts though not many wanting to interupt their shopping with thoughts of eternity. As there was a rap group that had taken over our normal position in front of Marks and Spencers I set up to preach further up Fargate. I began with the fancy that I had as a child, to be an astronaught and free of gravity. If the human body remains in space for too long though it becomes weak and that person will eventually die. Likewise I pointed to the freedom that most people want from moral obligation and the desire to do it their own way. The parallel is frighteningly close, free of moral law people become progressively weaker in conscience until it finally dies. The major difference is that the sinful life and evil deeds of those free from moral law end not in a physical death but rather in an eternal death in the punishment of hell.
During this some young people stopped to listen and I engaged them on the point of morals and asked if they were good or bad. Laura was happy to have her goodness tested and she and her friends listened as I spoke to them about the law of God and the gospel. Despite protesting briefly that God would forgive her sin anyway, Laura saw that justice must be done and that someone would have to pay the price. We spoke about the great news of Jesus' work on behalf of sinners, afterwards she and her friends took tracts and three of them bibles also.
Shortly after this exchange Melissa stopped and we spoke along similar lines. She had begun to reform her life and wanted to be right with God on those terms, hoping the change of lifestyle would be enough to please Him. I urged her to not reform only but to also to cling to Christ Jesus as her only hope and for that reason reform her ways. I urged her also to pray, read God's word and also find a good biblical church to attend. She also took a bible and a tract and left smiling and thanking us for speaking with her.
Afterwards I noticed that Sucraj was mid conversation with a young man, they had spoken throughout the preaching and he was open to the gospel. They exchanged details and hopefully there will be further fruit as Sucraj continues to keep up with him.
We handed out tracts for a short period longer and then gathered to give glory to God for the many glorious things we had seen Him doing today.
Praise His Name and Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday, 13 September, 2008
Saturday, 13 September 2008
After having a crazy week at work (a customer tried to stab with a bayonet), I was looking forward to the ‘calm' of going out to the streets of Brisbane city and preaching the gospel.
We arrived as usual at 7:30pm, and we were met with some brothers from way up north, who had come down to spend the night witnessing in Brisbane, then we were joined by Andrew Walkington from Sydney, and later Max also from New South Wales. It is always good to have visitors with us, as it gives us a chance to build each other up in the most holy faith.
After spending some time in prayer and fellowship we went to our normal spot in the Queen Street Mall, and began to set up for the preaching. I thought it would be good to get Andrew Walkington to have a preach first, which is something he said he was a bit nervous about as he hadn't done it for some time. But, he got up there with white bible in hand, and began to expound on the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was fairly quiet while he preached, and there we were very few people who actually stopped to listen. But, that doesn't matter, all that matters is that the gospel went forth.
After Walko had finished preaching, Andre got up and began to preach about how scientists tried to re-create the big bang, an then he swung it around to show that a Supreme Being is needed to cause everything. This then led into the gospel, showing how we have all sinned against God, and how we have all fallen, yet God is merciful towards humanity is that Christ died for us, and if we would repent and trust in Christ we would be forgiven!
Andre got a few hecklers open fire on him, and he did a fairly decent job dealing with some of the ludicrous statements that people made. Andre has come along way in the few months he has been with us, his preaching and apologetics have grown in leaps and bounds. And I freely confess that he is a major blessing to the Brisbane Operation 513 team.
After Andre finished preaching, I stood up and began by speaking about the fear people had experienced through the week, and how many people believed that due to a science experiment the world was going to end. From there I swung into the fact that each day, the world ends for 155 000 people, and how as the Bible says:
"Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"-- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.... And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment." - James 4:13-14 & Hebrews 9:27 (ESV)
From there I started to explain the reason we die is because we have all sinned against God, and it was at this point a heckler opened fire upon me, this man walked past screaming abuse, to which I stopped him, and asked what it was that he didn't like. The man simply replied "You are forcing it down people's throats!" This objection wasn't valid, so I asked him how exactly it was that I was forcing people to stand and listen to the gospel? His reply was "you just are!"
So, I asked him a question, "Sir, Are you a Christian?" To which his reply was "Yes!" This led into a discussion about the Bible, he said he believed it, but he didn't like the part that commands all Christians to go into the world and preach, he thought that preaching was very unloving. This pushed all my buttons, so I asked him straight. "Do you believe in hell?" He said that he did, but he didn't talk about it, so I slammed him on being the unloving one, as he was prepared to sit by and let millions of people walk right into hell, because he wasn't loving enough to tell them that Jesus Christ will forgive them if they repent.
At this the man went off, he started screaming abuse and swearing at me, so I called him out on the fruit he was showing, This then sent him into another tirade of cursing. He would yell "I am a ^$# Christian, you $#!% *&^%!" This use of colourful language clearly showed this man was not repentant, so I quizzed him on what is the gospel, to which he replied "Love people and follow the path of love!" So, I pointed out that by his own words he is condemned as right now he wasn't being very loving, I also pointed out that if he believed that, then the Bible makes it clear he is not a Christian, but rather a pretender.
The man started to scream and hurl abuse, but before I could engage him any more, Alex the Agnostic entered into the scene, this time yelling "That's your interpretation!" It is interesting, Alex always reveals his hand, he isn't opposed to the false gospel as presented by the man abusing me, but he is against the true gospel as presented from the Bible. This reveals something, Alex likes the watered down message that says, everything, and everyone will be sweet. But the moment Alex hears that he has sinned against God, and that God will judge him, he goes off. But, Alex gets even more fired up when you point out to him that Jesus Christ died for sinners.
It should come as no surprise to us that Alex loves the soft message, and opposes the true message, as the Bible says:
"And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed." - John 3:19-20 (ESV)
Alex is just like every other sinner in the world, they love their sin, and they love darkness. But Christ Jesus can and will forgive them if they repent!
The rest of the night was spent preaching and dealing with rowdy hecklers, one of which tried to head butt me in the groin, and then steal my tracts. But through it all the gospel got preached.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Full report with pictures: http://www.operation513.com
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Saturday, 6 September, 2008
This Saturday you could see the winter was coming to Sheffield in earnest, the clouds were rolling in and the wind was cold as it blew through the streets. As I was alone to begin the day I prayed to our Lord that He would save some who heard and give me strength and bring others to work with me.
Paddy and I walked into Fargate and began our day's work with handing out tracts. This we continued with for some time and a steady stream of people filed past and many took tracts. As I was looking to continue after a short pause speaking with a city counsel ambassador but two people from Wicliffe Church in Sheffield arrived to work with me.
We continued to tract for a short period and then I stood and preached. One thing I have noticed again and again in Sheffield is the lack of people who are willing to stop and heckle. Part of this is to do with the place we witness, fargate is a thorough-fare and as such few will stop. The otherside to the issue is many in this country are so hard of heart that even the most empassioned pleas or sound reasoning will have little effect on them. One sight warms my heart though, people will often stop in doors to shops or just out of line of sight and listen to what is said, also there are many of the store workers who regularly come out to hear the gospel preached.
Patrisha another friend was also present when I began to preach and was able to give out many tracts while I spoke and afterwards. After finishing I encouraged those who had kindly joined me and we prayed together before heading off.
Praise God for the answers to prayer He brings!
Saturday, 6 September, 2008
Saturday, 6 September, 2008
The first week of spring had arrived, but you couldn't have told it based on how cold it was in the Queen Street Mall. As we arrived we were hit by a icy blast of wind, and this maintained throughout the night.
One thing that immediately stood out to our attention was the fact, that the city was near on deserted, which was a major swing from the week previous, when there was hardly space to walk up t he mall.
As normal we spent some time i n prayer, and reading the Bible as a team in King George Square, before we started the night of ministry. We were a little disappointed as the week previous it was reported to us that Alex the agnostic would not be able to attend due to ‘other' commitments. So we prayed that God would raise up other people who would be interested in talking about the things of God.
Once 9pm rolled around we made our way into the mall, and began to set up. It was decided that Andre would be the first preacher for the night. While we were setting up we noticed a major problem (in a good way), and that is we are just about out of Bibles for the Bible table. This is a major blessing, as it means that hundreds of Bibles have been handed out over a period of months. It is such a blessing seeing people walk away with the Word of God in their hands. Hopefully, by reading it God will grant them eternal life.
Andre got up first and began to expound on the beauty of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is good watching Andre preach, as he has come along way over the past few months. His voice is developing so he is becoming a louder preacher, and also he is getting much better at engaging with hecklers.
The man that heckled Andre was a man that had been present for the past few weeks, I have spoken to him for some time a few weeks back. While he is a nice enough man, and believes in the Bible, his theology has been twisted and warped by the cults. Much of what he says is common with the teachings of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses). While Andre was dealing with this man, I looked up and saw that our "Preacher Seeking Missile" (Alex the Agnostic) was inbound, this was a bit of a surprise considering we believed he wasn't going to be there tonight.
Based on how drunk Alex was, I presume he didn't expect to be there either, but as he came up he said something about his apprentice not being able to make it. This I found rather cool, as if the local agnostic has to have an apprentice in order to take on the Christians, then it shows that we are doing our job right. Also, Alex is more than welcome to bring as many people as he wants out onto the streets, as that means we get to preach the gospel all the more.
Alex began by talking to Andrew and I, by saying "I could unleash on you, and destroy your beliefs!" To which both Hsusy and I replied that he could go ahead and try, but Christianity will never be destroyed. It was then that he "unleashed" and began to make his argument for why Christianity was wrong. His whole argument was built on the fact that he mis-understood Christianity. For he stated that we don't need Jesus since Christ didn't give us any new moral teaching except that which was already common to human thought. We countered by pointing out that Christ is eternal, that He is God in flesh, and all good morality flows from God. This caused Alex to go into a rant about Jesus being God.
By now Ralph was up preaching, and while he was preaching a man wearing a "Queen" T-shirt approached me, and stated that us Christians were wrong as there was no God, and that was a scientific fact. Since, I am interested in science I asked, what exactly in science proved that God did not exist. His answer was "We can't find him in the universe!" This led me into explaining how God created everything, so He is a being outside of the confines of the universe. The man then asked for "material evidence for this immaterial God" to which I pointed out that you cannot provide material evidence for something that is immaterial. The man became a bit antsy, and started to say "Ha! You Christians can't answer!" This was a very stupid argument that he was making, as I had just answered, the problem was he didn't like the answer. So after he bragged about winning for a few seconds, he then went and started to talk to some of the other guys.
At this stage of the night Alex was raging drunk, and his arguments were even weaker than when he is sober. This was evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of what he said centred around hurling drunken abuse at the preachers. Tonight was interesting watching Alex as in one breath he says "You can have you beliefs, that's fine!" Then in the next breath he is trying to destroy our beliefs. Then he would say something like "your belief is true for you." Then start ranting about how wrong we were.
I think the only reason Alex comes back week in and week out, is because he knows that there is a God, and he knows that He must give an account to Him one day for all his sins. But, because Alex loves his sins, he will keep trying to suppress the truth.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." - Romans 1:18-21 (ESV)
The rest of the night was spent with Andrew Hsu preaching, and then finally we had David Strachan get up and for the first time ever he shared Scripture in public. Something which Alex loved, and tried to stop. But, when Alex was challenged by both myself, and Ralph to discuss his objections he refused to dialogue, he only wanted to stop Dave reading the Bible.
It was a good but quiet night!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Sunday, 7 September, 2008
The Strachan Report (Edited):
Josh got up and preached hard and long. Early on, I think it was, His voice started to squeak a few times and looked as though it wouldn't hold out. But God enabled him to keep preaching for quite a while. The squeaking added to the enjoyment of the crowd, some were counting the number of squeaks - even Josh was counting and found it rather amusing himself.
I also preached for a while. This was my first time preaching at the Gold Coast. I read Romans 1:16-5:21 and then Acts 17:22-32 and (at Josh's request) Revelation 20 and also did some impromptu and call-outs.
I never realized before how much of a challenge it is for those doing open-air preaching to speak loud enough to get a decent volume level so that everyone can hear you. You really have to use a lot of effort to shout it out.
It was a good day, lots of people got to hear the Gospel preached.
While we were packing up, a middle aged guy, with a tattoo and wearing a black bandanna on his head (whom I had called out to while preaching), stood up himself to 'preach'. He recited one of the Psalms, apparently quite well. It was almost touching to see ... it made me wonder if he has some sort of Christian background ... maybe he even has a Christian relative or friend who has been praying for him. May God have mercy on him and save him for 'His name's sake' (Psalm 106:8)....so many lost people like him are without Christ and without hope...what a sad thing it is to reflect upon. May God give us such a love for people that we are genuinely concerned for people's soul's ... that with a real sense of urgency we share the gospel, which is the 'power of God for salvation to everyone who believes' (Romans 1:16).
After packing up, Josh and I handed out Gospel tracts and got to share the gospel with some who were still around. I shared the Gospel very thoroughly with an Asian guy who hadn't had a Christian background .. in the past he had a Seventh Day Adventist ex-girlfriend, and had some questions about a few things. After spending a decent amount of time interacting with him and sharing the gospel, I challenged him personally, urging him to repent and put his trust and hope in Jesus Christ. He looked really challenged, even stunned by the message. May God have mercy on him and change his heart so that he will live to worship his creator and give God all the glory in his life.
The Mitchell Report:
After I stepped down from preaching, and swapped with Dave Strachan on the camera, a Hindu lady stopped next to me. She had been present while I was preaching, to a crowd of young people, and apparently had gotten very agitated.
She even attempted to fool me. "You've got no right to say, other religions are false".
Excuse me? What your really saying is, when I find out something is a false, I must bow down before you, and deceitfully call it true? How dumb do you think Australian's are? Imagine you employ a plumber to come to your house, to make sure your plumbing is in good order. He discovers that your piping is about to explode and cause massive water damage. He comes up to you, and says, "Mate, I want my 120 bucks, your house is sweet as. There isn't a single problem with it!". Gleefully you hand over the money, relieved that you won't have to fork out eight thousand dollars to maintain the house. How will you feel next week, when the plumbing bursts, wrecks the house, and the plumber is unwilling to accept accountibility? Betrayed, angry..
We have hundreds of secular and religious people running all over the country, making truth claims about where we came from, how to live, and where we are going when we die. That might not be so bad, except that what they teach is illogical, irrational and sometimes just plain stupid. But hey, we could put up with that, so long as people are happy for now.. right?
Wrong! People are dying everyday in thier sins, (lying, stealing, blaspheming to name a few), and meeting the God of reality, who is bound by his just nature to send them to everlasting fire (penalty). The consequence of doing wrong deeds, and excusing guilty using secular thoughts, and religious teachings is terrifying. The bible says, ".. all liars shall have thier part in the lake that burns with fire and brimestone." Paul said, "knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men".
Christian's who know that God's word is true, have a responsibility to show people the truth. God's word commands them to do so (Matt 28:18-20). Worse still, if Christians were not do so, they are literally hating thier friends and neighbours, who do not know Jesus Christ!
If you knew that your mate, was going to recieve third degree burns all over his body, if he kept playing around with some explosive equipment, would you lovingly refuse to warn him/her? Of course not, that would be a horribly apathetic, even hateful way to live. You would be more like an enemy.
So to my hecklers, please, do not invest yourself with tyranical powers, and demand that people are not allowed to test all things, and hold fast to that which is true!
Afterwards, I spoke to a nice man, called Waddas (chinese/thailand), who works locally. We examined the Budhist philosophy against the Christian one together, and showed some critical differences. Please pray for Waddas, that God might grant him repentance, and faith in Jesus.
As Dave Strachan and I walked back the vehicle, we were able to hand out a lot of gospel comic tracts, to people who could read English, Chinese, or Arabic. May God get all the glory from the lives of those who read His word!
Please pray that God's word will go forth profitably in the Gold Coast Please also pray that God will increase our ability to engage, debate and preach, to the end we might have excellent conversations with people for God's glory. May God send more labourer's into His harvest!
Sunday, 31 August, 2008
For basically the entire Skypecast, it was really busy. We had good conversations with quite a few Muslims, and some Atheists.
When Josh was talking to one Muslim fellow from the UK, he brought up the serious error in the Qur'an regarding Jesus' crucifixion. For in Surah 4:157 it says: "That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not" (Yusuf Ali).
Josh pointed out that the only one that is powerful enough to make someone appear as someone else is Allah, so therefore Allah deceived multitudes of people, and thus damned to Hell billions from then on who believe that Jesus died on the cross. How could someone believe in a God that deceives like that? Josh asked the man a question, "How do you know that Allah is not deceiving you when he gave you the Qur'an?" The man didn't know how to answer.
It was a great night with hundreds of people listening in.
Since Skype has now closed their Skypecasts for the immediate future, that means that there will not be any further Operation 513 Skypecasts for the time being. We may continue running this outreach using alternative platforms in the future, but we will let you know if we do.
To God be the glory!
Sunday, 31 August, 2008
Warren, Chris and I met at the Redcliffe jetty at 2pm, ready to do some evangelism. After prayer together, we started handing out tracts to everyone we met, and had some good one2one conversations.
Once the whale watching was nearing the Jetty, we made sure we were ready to tract everyone who was leaving the boat.
So we were able to tract the hundred or so people that were onboard.
Many seeds for the gospel were planted.
This is actually the last time the Redcliffe team will meet, as the man-power on the Gold Coast evangelism team is currently low, so they need assistance. Please pray that God will raise up more labourers to go into the harvest field, for harvest is surely plentiful, but the labourers are few (Matt. 9:37-38). If you are near any of the locations where an Operation 513 evangelism team meets, it would be great if you would join us in serving the Lord in this way.
Praise God for the opportunities we have had to witness at Redcliffe!
Sunday, 31 August, 2008
At midday in the city, I walked out after Church and soon spotted Josh Mitchell's car and found him stretched out in the passenger seat asleep. He had been up until 2AM last night sharing the Gospel with the Brisbane team since it was Riverfire. I drove his car along the pacific highway and we listened to some sermons as we went. Andre joined us when we picked him up on the way down. Three of us listened to sermons for the rest of the way down (I was really glad that Josh could sleep a bit and recover in the back seet).
Soon familiar territory came into view as we approached Surfers Paradise. I think my driving is improving, although there was one occasion when, after waiting at the lights, the light turned green and instead of moving forward we started off backwards. I think Josh said shortly after that he almost missed a heartbeat. At any rate, we were all pretty awake and ready to go when we arrived.
The three of us walked together to Cavill Ave, stopping for a short pit stop (we pretty much drink water all day to keep hydrated) and we prayed for the Lord's blessing at the beachfront and Snowy joined us. I hadn't even quite set up my camera when Andre jumped up to preach first.
He proclaimed the gospel clearly, and he challenged those people around our area to think about death, their standing before God, and the certain Judgment day to come. He interacted with lots of people. Early on, a middle aged Roman Catholic man was very offended by the Gospel, particularly, that we would dare to say that we can have certainty as to knowing how we will fare when standing before God in Judgment, as per scripture (e.g. Hebrews 9:27-28 and 1 Thessalonians 5:9). He said that there was no way of knowing what will happen until we meet God. He left very unhappy (and cursing I think), while Andre urged him to repent and trust in Christ.
Josh Mitchell also preached, with boldness and clarity, interacting with a number of people. After a while, a fairly large crowd had gathered listening to Josh, some bikers stopped near where we were preaching and revved up their Harley's. Josh said later that he was wondering if they were planning to come and beat him up. He kept preaching hard. Then, I had a tap on the shoulder, and a policeman told me to turn off my camera. He then went over to Josh, accompanied by another Police officer, and told Josh to get down and talked with him for a while. This livened up the crowd, and many stayed around (I think some were cheering and saying silly things like 'take on the police Josh'). Gospel tracts were being handed out to them. After asking a couple next to me what they thought of the preaching, they were impressed and said they were Assyrian Orthodox and were on holiday from Sydney. They were both very disappointed by the police interruption. I also had a good conversation with a Muslim and we explored the clear differences between Islam and Christianity with a focus on Jesus and the Gospel. When he had to leave, I urged him to consider the Gospel, he said thanks and shook my hand as he left.
After the preaching we packed up and handed out more Gospel tracts. Snowy had a long chat with a guy who held to a primarily symbolic interpretation of the bible, saying that there was no literal Jesus but that it all has symbolic meaning. I listened to some of his way of understanding things but we had to finish-up for the day. Soon we were on the road, driving home into the sunset.
Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) "without faith it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."
Special note from Josh Mitchell: We would like to thank the police of Southport and Surfers Paradise, who keep criminals away from our public spaces, and let us enjoy our civil freedom's in peace.
I also would like to thank Snow, Dave and Andre, who joined themselves to our work here on the Gold Coast. God bless you guys for blessing God with what he has given you!
Friday, 29 August, 2008
On Friday evening we were back at Leicester Square to preach the gospel to the people of London. The previous Friday we'd had some trouble with one of the artists who trades in front of the railing that runs along the promenade of where we meet to minister. I was a little anxious as I was not sure what the response would be like this week. We've been going to Leicester Square now for well over six months and so we do feel settled and of course keen to stay. I believe it to be a great venue for the ministry we do. As it turned out my fears were justified. Our disgruntled artist was certainly out to make his displeasure felt. Each artist has a temporary license they pay that allows them to trade in a specific spot of the promenade. It is a marked out spot that they can use. I made the point that we were not trading, consequently we did not need a license as did the artists. The complaint against us centered on the idea that we would infringe upon his spot with the crowd that we would undoubtedly gather. I certainly do not boast in our ability to do this, in fact I can't help thinking how amazing it is that we are able to do this week in week out. I can only say that God is our provider and that He is the one who is drawing the people for us.
If you read my report from last week you would have noticed that I had to stop preaching due to some rather aggressive Muslim men. The crowd had grown large and it did in fact spill over to the area next to us. Even though this was an unusual case and influenced by some aggressive Muslims, we were conscious of the fact that our artist friend did have his business to run. Consequently we moved over as far as we could. However this did not seem to appease him and it was starting to become clear to me that he simply did not want us there, preaching something he did not want to hear in an area that he believes is reserved for artists only. We were in a bit of a quandary as to what we should do and spent at least half an hour or so debating amongst ourselves as to our course of action. I was becoming rather frustrated as I could see that time was escaping us. In the end we decided that I would still preach and should the crowd behave the way it had the previous week I would move even further to the left. So after spending some time in prayer I stood up to preach. Phil kindly manned the table we had laid out that was loaded with tracts and free Bibles. I have to confess that it took me a while to get going as I was feeling a little unsettled. God was good to us though and before long we drew in a crowd. My first hecklers were some young teenagers who stood nearby and threw a number of questions at me. They defended the idea that they were good people and so I took them through the commandments to show them that they were in fact sinners in the hands of an angry God. A young girl who was with them, and had picked up a Bible (you can see her holding it in the picture above), became quite passionate when she heard me say that God sent His only Son to die in the place of sinners. It was rather interesting because prior to her saying that I had explained to her that since God cannot justify the wicked (according to His own law - Proverbs 17:15), our predicament is grave indeed. If we, being wicked, cannot be justified by God because of our wickedness, what hope do we have of being justified before Him? How can we be justified?! I put this question to her, and you know what? She came back with the right answer! Someone would have to pay the penalty for us. And so that is what led me to explaining to her what God has done for sinners by sending His own to Son to die on the cross. She questioned how a loving God could possibly allow His own Son to die in the place of others. I explained to her that Christ came to this earth willingly and that He also went to the cross willingly (John 10:17-18). Christ knew that He would rise again, since it would not be possible for death to keep a hold of Him (Acts 2:24).
As time progressed our crowd did become larger and so I moved further to the left. A young Australian man started to heckle me and we became locked in a debate concerning creation verses evolution. He was actually enjoying himself and it was obvious that he wanted to have a good old banter. He was the perfect heckler because he kept the crowd and I could see that he was not the sought to take things too far. I kept him hooked by throwing some humour back at him, saying things like, "Come on man, use your head, there must be a God!"
Later on after I had finished preaching Andrew Noble got into a good one-to-one conversation with him. Andrew is also from Australia so I thought it was just perfect that the two of them got talking. As I carried on preaching a lady from the crowd asked me why women have ended up with such a raw deal in that they have to go through such pain in child birth. She understood that it was because of Eve's sin but still felt it was a raw deal. I thought for a minute and then simply said to her, "Ma'am that is something you will have take up with God." The answer was not what she expected and it was clear that she was at a loss as to how to respond.
Shortly after I got talking with a Muslim lady, who called herself Faith. She also had some Muslim friends with her. I explained to her why Christ is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). She said that she respected other religions but wanted to make the point that Islam makes more sense than Christianity, due largely in part to their belief that God is not Trinitarian. I explained to her that God has revealed Himself in His Word as one in essence, three in person, and that settles it. This got us talking about the veracity of the Bible. I gave a solid defence for the Bible and showed them how it is far more authenticate that any other book in all of antiquity. Carl had one of his placards that showed how science confirms the Bible, since we can find many scientific facts in its pages. I got a lot of scoffs at this point and a lot of unreasonable objections. I responded by pleading with them to be reasonable and to listen to what I had to say. It was at this point that I got pulled aside by a police officer who warned me that religious debate can lead to a breach of the peace. I responded by saying I understood but that no breach of the peace had yet occurred, and I also pointed out that political marches and campaigns have as much potential to cause a breach of the peace as does the discussion of religion. I got back up to preach and addressed the crowd with a final plea for them to turn to Christ to escape the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10). I had preached for well over an hour and addressed a number of questions and topics. The gospel had been clearly preached and so I was very grateful to the Lord.
Coming down from my ladder a young man approached me and asked if I had a copy of the scientific facts in the Bible that I had shown whilst preaching. Carl had some in a tract format so it was great to be able to give him the resource. I then got talking with him for about half an hour or so. It turned out that his Dad is a pastor and so he had a fair amount of Bible knowledge, even though he professed to be an agnostic. I reasoned with him from the stance of creation and conscience and then took him through the law and the gospel. At the end of the conversation all I could do was to plead with him, that he think carefully about his sin, how his sin condemned him to hell, and that he should flee to the Saviour, not simply to escape the terrors of hell, but ultimately because Jesus had been so kind to save sinners just like him from hell (Romans 2:4).
Andrew Blake, Carl, Andrew Noble and Philip were busy too, talking with people and handing out tracts. Philip has kindly written a short report of some of the opportunities he had for the evening...
I was manning the "Free Bibles" table. While Rob was preaching, several people came up to ask for New Testaments. A man known as "Mac" took a New Testament to read and asked for prayer so I prayed with him. Another man came up and asked for a Bible. He said he'd read some of the Bible already and I was able to encourage him to read more of God's word to him so that he could get to know God better.
After Rob had finished preaching after being interrupted by a keen policeman, I got talking to a lady who'd been in the crowd and was sticking up for Rob. She is a Roman Catholic and although she liked to talk, I was able to rehearse with her what Rob had been preaching on i.e. the Law and God's gift of Grace in sending Christ Jesus. I don't know how much was being taken in, but I encouraged her to trust in what Jesus had done alone, and not to put any faith in her own works which are like filthy rags before God. God being holy cannot accept anything that is tainted with sin, even the best of our works are not acceptable to Him outside of what Christ already did in dying on the cross for those who will repent and put their trust in this very work He did for them.
It truly was a great evening. Our artist friend was still complaining to the police at the end of it all, but praise God, they were on our side and told him plainly that we had a right to stand there and preach.
Please pray for all those who heard the gospel, as well those who took tracts and Bibles.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday, 30 August, 2008
The busiest day of the year for us had arrived! Every year at this time Brisbane city goes into party mode as the city has a big "River festival", while the party goes for a week, tonight is the biggest night of them all, as it is "River Fire" night, a night when tons of fireworks go off, an d an F-111 from the Royal Australian Air Force does a dump and burn. Since this is always a good light show to watch a couple of hundred thousand people crammed themselves in around the Brisbane CBD and river.
Since the city was bursting at the seams, we had to get to the city a bit earlier, this was to get a car park, and to also hand out many tracts. Andre, Ryan and I had our back packs crammed full of gospel tracts, so at 5pm we made our way quickly to the main walkway the crossed the river, there for the next two hours we handed out tracts.
I started off by using our Operation 513 "Big Money" tracts, and it soon became clear that the one thousand that I had was going to run out very quickly. It took only 45 minutes for every single Big Money tract to be taken. People were lining up asking for the tract, others were running against the flow of traffic in the hope that they would be able to get one before they ran out. It was a good time of tract work.
After I had run out of big money, I quickly handed out all the millions that I had on me. The tracts were going so quick the fear was we would run out of tracts before we even started the normal preaching time.
By 7pm I had handed out close to 2000 tracts, and the other guys had handed out large sums of tracts also. Since we were nearly out we made our way to King George Square, where we would meet with the rest of the team for the nights outreach.
After a quick dinner, we realised that where the team meets is actually just on the main walkway to the train station, and that at any moment all those people who were rushing home from the fireworks would pass by us. So we quickly looked in our packs to find as many tracts as we could, and then we took position and once again began to hand out tracts to many people.
By 7:45pm I was completely out of tracts, so it was good to see that Rick and Glenda had arrived, and they had more tracts to hand out. We then spent a time in prayer and bible reading as Rick and Glenda witnessed to many of the people who were leaving the city.
Since we were in for a big night, it was really encouraging to see so many people out on the streets witnessing. It was also good to see that a large number of guys from Kenmore Baptist even came out for the night.
Once 9pm rolled around we went into the Queen Street Mall to preach, I was the first one up and nearly instantly we had many hecklers opening fire. Ranging from Alex the Agnostic right through to some drunk bloke who asked the same question seven times.
It was a hard open air as many hecklers just kept yelling but wouldn't answer, but the good thing was, that while the vocal people were going me, behind the crowd there were many one to one conversations going on.
I was up for a fair while, and then I tagged Andrew Hsu in to preach for a bit more, as the crowd did to me, they did to him also. Andrew did a good job of battling through there heckles and getting to the gospel.
While he was preaching a drunk man was behind him, and was become rather unfriendly to Andrew's wife, so I stepped in and told him to back of. He appeared as if he wanted to argue but he backed down, and left - for a short time.
The man returned a little while later, and this time he was a bit toey, he began to make threats towards me, which I basically ignored, then he started ranting and raving about how he has three black belts, and that because I spoke against his family (which I never) we was going to kick my head in. The man then stepped back, jumped and did a spin in the air, he then squatted and put his hands in an "combat" position, this was rather amusing as in the position he was in he couldn't hurt anyone. But, just to be on the safe side, I put myself in a defensive position, so if any attack came I could stop it fairly quickly. No attack came, and the man mouthed off and left.
Andrew Hsu was still preaching at this time, and as normal Alex was heckling. It was then that something happened, and the next thing you know both Andrew Caswell and Alex were behind the preaching going at each other over the atonement of Christ.
Alex hates the doctrine of Christ Jesus dying on the cross for sinners, and he shows his hatred week in and week out. So for Alex the following applies, and yes, I do know that you read this blog Alex, and Alex know this that many people are praying for you!
"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." - 1 Corinthians 1:18
Alex, you may find the cross foolishness, but let me tell you that God is being gracious towards you and is warning you that you are perishing in your sins. However, if you repent and trust in what Jesus Christ did upon the cross you will be saved.
The night basically went on as normal after that, people heckled, and we preached. Ryan and Josh Mitchell both got up and had a go, and many people got to hear the gospel.
Praise God for a good night!
Soli Deo Gloria!
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