It was a beautiful Spring day as we made our way to King George Square in Brisbane. As usual there were crowds of people sitting around or moving from place to place.
I began to hand out tracts and almost instantly I had a lady stop to talk. This lady is from Eastern Europe and believed that she knew God as she is a good person. We chatted about how there is none good, but she kept insisting that she was. I then asked her, "If you can get to Heaven by being good, then why did Jesus have to die?"
The lady looked at me and said, "He died for our sins." I quickly replied, "Does that mean you have sinned?" It was at that moment the penny dropped. She realised that she wasn't a good person and needed forgiveness. I urged her to trust in Christ, to which she said she would. Please pray for her.
After this I had another conversation, this time with a man who thought he was right with God because of laminin (which makes the shape of a cross). No matter what I said he kept falling back onto the superstitious nonsense that these laminin crosses would somehow save him. Please pray he'll see the truth.
The rest of our time was spent handing out tracts and sharing with people. Over the course of three hours we handed out over 500 tracts.
May the Lord Jesus save sinners!
Many of the usual Brisbane City team members are off on a short term mission in another country and as a result the team was expecting to be smaller on Saturday night. To our great surprise, a whole twelve members made it out and many gospel conversations were had!
Two exciting chats came from eight teenage boys who were walking past. Two team members engaged with them, splitting them into two groups of four.
After not very long, only one young man was left talking to each team member and the rest were waiting in a group. The first young man was named Jack and the other Jacob. The conversation will Jack began a little shaky. He started by being silly.
Jack seemed not too interested by the way he was engaging to begin with but by the end it was clear that Jack wasn't just playing around, His eternity was at stake it was obviously important to him.
What seemed different was that his questions unlike the "usual" mocker or joker, seemed to have much deeper roots than just a desire to ask hard questions.
Jack originally asked about other religions and whether or not they would be going to Heaven. He was given the answer that, everyone is a rebel against God's and hasn't been saved by Jesus Christ will have the same fate, Hell. He pryed a bit deeper, so what about the Jews and the Muslims? And again the Gospel was stressed, salvation is only found in Jesus Christ, He is the ONLY hope.
Jack then moved through a range of other topics. Each answer played its part in filling out the picture of God's ABSOLUTE sovereignty, the problem of sin, caused by human pride and selfishness, the fallen state of humanity and this world. Throughout the discussion regarding each an every topic raised another piece about what God has revealed about Himself and humanity.
This left Jack to his final question, what about people that die from cancer? Tell me everything Christians think about that? Why do people get cancer?
The response was simple, cancer only exists as a product of human rebellion. It is only because this world is fallen that cancer exists. People can get cancer for a range of reasons, for Christians, God uses suffering to bring about their likeness to Jesus Christ, teaching them to trust God more fully (Romans 8:28-29). For non-Christians cancer may be a product of God's judgement (but one should be very hesitate to declare such) or more likely it could be God's call to show people that they aren't in control and call them to turn to Him.
The conversation seemed to be coming to a natural end, with one final reminder of the Gospel. One last question was posed to Jack, "What is stopping you from trusting in Jesus now?"
It was at this moment Jack opened up, he finally felt safe enough to share, "My father died from cancer four months ago and it has put my life on hold. I am sort of waiting to try and sort it all out before I consider God. What do you think about that?"
For a moment, the conversation was halted by the weight of the event that had occured but this answer was given, "God is active in the work of restoring this world and the people in it from the effects of sin. He is the only one who can mend our sin and its effects. He also is the only one that can give real hope of a better future. To say that you can sort out this issue then turn to God is to both, reject the best helper you can have and also to arrogantly declare that you think you're better than God at fixing the effects of sin.
Jack paused and in light of all the conversation that had occured, he said, "I understand". He and his friends hung around for another few minutes or so and he was incredibly greatful in his affections and comments about the conversation that had taken place.
Please keep Jack in your prayers, God is in the business of saving sinners, even those whose life has been overcome with the grief of a lost loved one.
Please pray for the many other people that were engaged with from Rick a man who was scared of eternity, Paul a works righteousness Jew and Chris who wasn't very serious about eternal matters.
While out in the mall on Tuesday I had a wonderful conversation that encouraged me and gave me cause to pray and praise God. Previously I have had a young man Mr F. drop by when I am preaching and to the bible table. His arguments have always been cheerfully presented and well-reasoned. In our debates, he and I have always walked away on good terms.
After I finished preaching on Tuesday Mr F. came up with a small group of friends and asked me if I remembered our last discussion? He said he had been thinking about it and wanted to talk more. After prodding my brain into action and a couple of reminders from Mr F.
I remembered our discussion on the nature and origin of ethics. He had been thinking and wanted to more clearly present his view of the way empathy as a precursor of ethics had arisen. What a privilege! To be able to discuss spiritual things in a friendly way with someone who is prepared to work hard at not only seeking to be understood but also to understand.
We had a great chat and I was a couple of points direct the conversation to the gospel need of all people because we fail to be ethical. Mr F. did an excellent job of teasing out with me some of the implications for ethics based in evolutionary assumptions, some of the possible arguments for and against an evolutionary or divine origin for ethics. In the end, we both had to stop talking as the day was so cold and we went our separate ways with a promise to talk more another time.
Please pray for Mr F., not only that he will come again to discuss but that he will be impacted by the fingerprints of God evident in ethics and all areas of life. May the Lord save him and bless him in Jesus our Lord!
It has been a challenging and blessed time for us down here in Hobart. The Gospel is going forth and it is a wonderful time to be a Christian in Australia. Due to the debate around marriage there has been many opportunities for outreach on the street and Christians often tell me that they have been able to speak of the Lord to many recently. As my pastor recently preached; “There has never been a better time to be a Christian”! Let me encourage you to use this time to share the great love of God for sinners through Jesus Christ. Let your love for them shine in the dark times that have come upon our nation, that many would give glory to God because of you.
There have been people asking how things are progressing with the legal case against us. In short, the answer is, slowly! The anti-discrimination case has been referred to the Supreme Court of Tasmania for a review of the case. This essentially is challenging the legality of the actions taken against us and asking a higher court to decide if the law is just and constitutional in its application and wording. The case is not likely to be heard until the beginning of November, I will give further updates on the case as time goes on.
Mr S. our accuser and regular heckler has been also engaging with the media over the last couple of weeks. Some of the more interesting comments that he has made include words to the effect: “I am not personally offended by what they (David and Campbell) have done” and “I have never wanted to see anyone fined or prevent them from expressing their views in Church. But honestly, there should be limits on what is said there too…”. When asked in an interview if he thought Christians should keep their views in church he says that Christian convictions (on marriage for example) if expressed publicly would lead to a breach of the peace!
Mr S. has revealed himself to be an enemy of freedom of speech and religion regardless of his claims that he is doing this to help others. I believe all people of faith need to sit up and pay attention to his words. Mr S. clearly wants to prevent people expressing their religious convictions publicly, this is a major problem and very real threat to freedom of speech and religion. Furthermore, Mr S. believes that when he disagrees with the content he should be able to place limits on what is said in Churches (and by extension Mosques, Synagogues and Temples). This desire to gag free speech and religion is founded in Mr S.’s radical opposition to Christian doctrine and not in personal offence.
We are called to rejoice when we are targeted for persecution like this! It is a wonderful thing indeed to have Christ so live in us that others would see Him there and be compelled to respond! Oh, that His name would be glorified in our life and death! That He, our great reward and treasure in heaven would be seen to be worth more than our all our earthly comforts!
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” [Mat 5:10-12 ESV]
Please pray for Mr S. and the many like him in our city, appeal to God on their behalf and plead for mercy and salvation for them.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” [Mat 5: 43-45 ESV]
For our outreach in Woodridge this afternoon, the area was quieter than normal, but it meant that as a result the team was able to split up and head around the area a bit more in search of people to speak with. God brought along 8 people on the team.
One conversation that we had was with two young men, Xavier and Vinnie. When asked if they were going to Heaven, they said, "Absolutely not, we've done far to much wickedness."
In response, I posed the question to them, "Do you want to hear the story about a bad man who went to Heaven?" They said they were happy to. Through the simple explanation of the two men who hung either side of Jesus while He was on the cross and their separate responses to Him, these young men heard the gospel.
They were also given a clear explanation that despite how desperately wicked we are, we can never be so evil that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross is unable to save us, if we come to repent and believe. Xavier and Vinnie left with gospel tracts and a strong encouragement to trust in Christ tonight because He will not only save us from the judgement to come but will equally empower us, through regeneration and the Holy Spirit to serve Him in the future!
Please be praying for all those who heard the gospel today! Praise God that many labourers were able to come out!.
This afternoon in Capalaba it was a little tougher to evangelise because there were less people around and a more people were vocal regarding their hatred of God and His Gospel. None the less there were still many valuable conversations had by the team!
In this tense time regarding the same sex marriage plebiscite, I asked a man, named Jamie, who was just walking by the bus stop if he thought he was a good person. Jamie responded and said he thought he was a decent guy and then inquired as to why I was asking.
I simply explained that Operation 513 is a Christian group existing specifically for the purpose of engaging with people to share the Gospel. Jamie's response was simply, "I'm probably not your kind of guy, I'm not religious and I'm gay."
I asked, "Why don't you think I would be interested in engaging with you?" He said, "Because churches usually are grossed out by and hate people like me."
This was my opportunity, to share with this man that Christians are still sinners. I started by saying, "Christians aren't a group of people who think they're good, rather they're a group of people who know they're not. We as Christians are united by the very fact that we desperatly need a Saviour."
He said, "Oh ok." He seemed very taken a back that I hadn't even flinched despite what he thought was an "unforgivable" sin. I went on to explain, that Christians are often plagued by self-righteousness. We are still prone to thinking we're better than someone else because they sin differently than us and even stronger every person, Christians included, are plagued with broken sexuality, broken identity and broken relationships.
I went on to explain that, every single person is sinful, proud and selfish to the core. We have all made ourselves enemies of God. We are all rebels against our Creator and that wickedness deserves Hell.
Jamie said, "How do we know we're not living in Hell now?" in reply I simply said, "Hell is a place where God removes all His good gifts, intimacy, relationships, pleasure and comfort and instead pours out His justice and wrath on those who are rebels and will rebel against Him eternally. The very fact that we can stand here talking means we are not in Hell."
That seemed sufficient. So I finished explaining, "Even though we deserve Hell and it is God who should punish us, God Himself made a way of salvation." I explained that God came into this world, in the form of a man, as a servant, in the person of Jesus Christ.
In fact, Jesus willingly volunteered. He is perfect and sinless and went to the cross to suffer the full fury and wrath of God for sin. On that cross Jesus was punished as if He were you and I so that if we turn in surrender to Him we can be redeemed. We can have our sin forgiven. We can have our relationship with God and others restored and we can have our true humanity repaired.
With these last sentences, Jamie seemed to be holding back some tears and was keen to take a tract and said, "I am quite interested, I shall definitely have a read when I get home and consider it."
We headed into Brisbane city last night to share the good news of Christ. A real highlight was to see many team members who often struggle to engage in conversations, talking with people for extended periods of time about who God is and what He has done to save sinners!
One specific conversation was with Yuri and Michael, these two professed to be agnostic and atheistic but neither of them were that by study, rather had just ended up there as a product of upbringing and society.
Yuri seemed very interested to hear and understand, asking many questions about Christianity. When the selfishness of the human heart was raised, Michael was in complete agreement. He openly admitted that he is desperately selfish and that it is an issue. Yuri on the other hand was less willing to admit that but later in the conversation was explaining to Michael that the Christian scriptures are true history and some of the best records of history known to man.
It was very interesting to see the different areas they both had of disagreement with the truth. What was so surprising was how interested they were. The conversation took over an hour and it turned out they were actually going to be late to a birthday party and were still keen to talk about God.
By the end, they understood how Jesus saves, that Jesus takes the penalty for sin and offers His perfection to all those who acknowledge they are sinners and turn and trust in Him. This was probably the most surprising part of the conversation for Yuri and Michael, as they had some Catholic background and believed it was all about being good.
Please pray that this young couple (and the others who heard the gospel last night) will understand the good news, repent and believe.
Finally, please consider stepping out of your comfort zone to join us in this exciting ministry of proclaiming Christ. Outreach details here: www.operation513.com/street-evangelism-teams
God is definitely at work at the Gold Coast and all glory goes to Him alone.
Last night, it was really encouraging for the team to see children being interested in hearing the Gospel. Two such children were 12 years old Jake and 11 years old Hunter, who belonged to a Mormon family. They had stopped by along with their family, to hear the Gospel being preached.
Jake approached one of our team members and began questioning about the Ten Commandments. He and Hunter, who joined in the conversation, attentively listened to all the answers being explained to them. They then asked the team member if they can get a Bible so they can take home to read. Upon receiving the Bible, both of them thanked us and left.
Another interesting conversation we had was with a group of Mormons, who were around 25 years old. As one of our team members approached them, the group said that, they were religious and absolutely certain that they will be going to Heaven. Upon being asked the reason for their beliefs, their answer was that, "Jesus loves us even when we are sinners and continue to sin. Therefore, out of that love for us sinners, He will save us and send us to Heaven."
One of the girls even went on to say that, "Jesus too have committed sins like us, therefore He sympathizes with us sinners." It was really sad to see that, they did not know the truth that will set them free.
So the truth of the Gospel was explained to them that, "Jesus committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth but he bore our sins in his own body on the cross, so that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness." It was further explained to them that, we all have sinned and no sinner can enter heaven but when we truly repent from all our sins and believe in Jesus as the atonement for our sins, then we are saved and forgiven.
After the Gospel had been explained to them, the young man in the group admitted of being homosexual and had lots of questions. As the team member was attempting to answer his questions, the two girls in the group dragged him away and left. Please pray that, Holy Spirit will work in their hearts as the Gospel has been explained to them.
All Glory to God for his mercies that are everlasting and His grace remains for the lost so they can be brought into the light of the Gospel.
It was a wonderfully productive day of outreach along the waterfront in Redcliffe. From 11am - 1pm, we gathered together as Christians from several churches to reach the community for Jesus.
At one point there were 18 Christians (including children) sharing the gospel in a variety of locations. The people were warm and open to talking, with many taking literature.
Over the course of the outreach we distributed a couple of hundred tracts, and also gave away nine Bibles and six Gospels. On top of this, we also had 20 "Evolution vs. God" DVDs from Ray Comfort which were quickly taken.
One lady who took the DVD is a scientist from England who has worked with Richard Dawkins. She wasn't a fan of Mr. Dawkins and stressed that he a poor scientist who was full of hate. As well as taking a DVD she also encouraged her children to take tracts and Bibles.
Praise God for a wonderful time of outreach in Redcliffe.
God reminded the people in Sunnybank this afternoon of His promise to not completely flood the earth again by showcasing a massive rainbow. This was while the team was chatting to people about the only way of salvation, reminding them of the judgement day that is to come.
And God in His providence, allowed hundreds of gospel tracts to go out and some great in-depth gospel conversations were had. Including with a man named Ricky who said that he was Buddhist. The message of sin and grace was explained to him, but he said that he has to remain a Buddhist because that would be the way to respect his grandfather's wishes.
I said, "But it really matters that what we believe is true. If a person is told that it's fine to just run out on the road with your eyes closed, you'd hope that person would consider for himself whether that is wise to do so, because ultimately his life is at stake. In the same way, even though your grandfather's wishes may be for you to remain in Buddhism, if Christianity is true and by the time you die you've not trusted in Jesus for your forgiveness, the consequences will be hell forever - because God will have to give you justice for the sins you've committed."
He saw that, and came to realise that just trying to do better would not undo his past. He was happy to take a gospel of John to start reading to find out more about Jesus, having never read it before.
Please pray for him and all the others who heard the gospel today. To God be the glory!