He looked like a very rough guy, and when he was sat next to and asked whether he thought he might go to Heaven, he initially was quite angry and asked, "Why did you ask me that?" It was explained that we are talking to people about eternal things and that he happened to be the only one sitting here at this point in time, and that seemed to cool his anger.
He said that he is an agnostic and doesn't like religion. He also explained how his father killed himself when he was 7. He said that he has been addicted to a variety of different drugs throughout his life, and is now an alcoholic, nicotine addict and food addict.
It was discussed with him about how we know there is a God through the creation, how we have sinned against God and deserve His judgement, and how Jesus came to die on the cross for our sins.
He said he knew that all the addictions that he has are to simply numb the guilt he feels for the bad things he has done in his life, but he said he doesn't know a way of removing that guilt. But as the gospel was further explained to him, he was beginning to see how Jesus was able to pay the penalty for our sin.
His bus came, but before we parted ways, he thanked me profusely for the conversation and was happy to take a gospel of John to start reading. Please pray for Ian that He would come to faith in our very great Saviour.
At the same time as this, the rest of the team were either handing out gospel tracts or in gospel conversations of their own. It was a great thing to see the gospel go out to so many.
To God be the glory!
During our outreach in Capalaba, we spoke with an Aussie bloke in his 20s named Kyle. He said he used to not believe in God, but then he was at a low point in his life and he found a Bible at a caravan park he was staying at. He read various parts of it, but thought he couldn't take the Bible with him because it was not his.
So he said to me that he has been wanting to get a Bible of his own for a long time now. I then ran to my car and gave him a full Bible. He was overjoyed. He said, "My heart is beating so fast right now. You have made my day. Thank you!"
He recognised that he had done lots of things wrong in life, but had no idea of how to get his sins forgiven. And he knew that simply improving his life wouldn't get rid of his past. He took a while though to understand the message of grace, and how we need to trust in Jesus' death alone for our forgiveness. But in the end, he understood it and is going to be counting the cost of trusting in Christ.
We also referred him to a good local church in the area. Please pray for his salvation and for all the others who got to hear the gospel today. To God be the glory!
On Saturday night, as soon as we arrived in Brisbane city and began setting up the free Bibles table, a man came over and asked what the table was all about. He said that he goes to the Revival Centres Church. I had spoken to people from that church before and I knew that they were a cult in that they have departed from standard Christian teaching.
So I asked him what he believes a person must do to be saved. He said that full immersion in water (baptism) is absolutely necessary for someone to get their sins forgiven, and that a person then must speak in tongues.
I decided to point him to Ephesians 2:8-9 which describes that salvation is a free gift which is received by grace through faith alone - not based on any works. And if we add any works as a requirement in order to be saved, it would mean we are trying to earn our forgiveness.
I also explained how in Galatians 1, the Apostle Paul says that if anyone preaches to you another gospel, let that person be eternal condemned. And why did he say that? Because there were some people in that church teaching that a person must believe in Christ and be circumcised to be saved, and Paul says that that is a false gospel. In the same way, if a person teaches that a person must be baptised to be saved, that is a false gospel which will not save anyone.
This man admitted, "I have never really read the Bible much before", even though he has been in this 'church' for some 30 years. He said, "But my feelings tell me that what they are teaching is true". I cautioned him about how feelings are never the test for truth, as they can change based on whether we are healthy or sick, hungry or full, and instead we should check everything with the Bible to know whether it is true or not.
He agreed, and was thankful for the chat and said he would read the passages I recommended for him to read, including Romans 3 to 5 where Paul thoroughly explains how we are justified by faith alone and not by any works.
The rest of the night, there were further encouragements, with God bringing in 4 new labourers on the team. We had about 12 of us altogether, and the team mentioned that they had some fruitful conversations.
God is always so kind, to Him be the glory!
It was a beautiful and hot Brisbane day as we headed out to share the gospel in King George Square. We had a team of 7 and our mission was to make the most of the public holiday in order to proclaim Christ.
One early conversation was with an atheistic Muslim (I'll just let that sink in for a moment). This man argued that there is no God, and that Jesus didn't die on the cross... BUT... Allah will judge me and the Quran is true (try to work that out). It was clear that this Muslim man had researched his arguments, and he tried to make a case for the corruption of the Bible. I countered his claims by appealing to history, and even to Islamic theology. He seemed to be a bit shocked as I explained my case, and then presented the gospel to him. Yet, despite all that the man walked off saying Allah will judge me.
Shortly after this, I looked up and saw a man standing near us wearing a bright orange shirt, and holding up a sign. The sign promised that the end of the world was coming on 23 September 2017. I engaged him in conversation, and asked him how did he know that he was correct. The man replied by saying he learnt it from an American TV preacher, and that Revelation confirmed all this. We chatted for sometime, and the man conceded that he may be wrong, but at least people are repenting at the thought of judgement.
I stressed to this man the importance of being truthful in all our evangelism, as if we lie to people then they won't blame us, but rather they will blaspheme God (Romans 2) and not believe the Bible. No matter what I said, he kept saying that people needed to be warned about the coming rapture, microchips and the beginning of judgement on 21 August, and the final judgement on 23 September. He moved on after our discussion which was a blessing.
We get to see some really strange things on the street. Not only did we have a man declaring the end of the world, we then had two Christians stop who wanted to argue. One of them was wearing a hat saying, "The Earth is Flat!" Guess what he wanted to talk about! It turns out that these two young men were dispensational, conspiracy theorist, flat-earth believers. Everything was a grand scam to deceive the masses. Science, dinosaurs, people who believed the world is a sphere etc. were all considered 'friends of the world.' I tried to reason with them, and stressed to them the gospel.
They eventually admitted that those who hold to a round earth can be saved, and that salvation isn't by believing in a flat earth. It was clear they were looking to argue, so I bid them a good day and continued witnessing. It was shaping up to be an 'interesting' afternoon.
Finally, I had a heartbreaking conversation with an elderly man named Ken. This conversation was started by a lady named Ivy who attends the same church as I do. Ken is eighty years old, and a bit of a larrikin. He was a pleasure to speak to, but his rejection of Christ was truly sad. We presented the gospel to him, but he kept finding some excuse to reject Jesus. We shared with him plainly and encouraged him to read the Bible. He did agree to go home and read Isaiah 53. Please pray the Lord would speak to Him.
Even though conversations with people like Ken can be heart breaking, I take hope from the promise of Jesus in John 10:27-28, when Christ says that those who are sheep will hear His voice, and be given eternal life. I cannot save anyone, but I witness with the confidence that those whom Jesus calls sheep will come to faith.
Please pray for everyone we met today. May Christ bring many into His Kingdom. SDG!
Warwick Outreach (July 2017)
It was a beautiful winter's day here in Warwick (Queensland, Australia). The mornings are a little cool at minus 3, but it warms up to the low 20s for a pleasant temperature to hand out gospels tracts.
For a couple of weeks in July each year Warwick puts on an event called "Jumpers and Jazz" where locals dress up the trees with jumpers, beanies, scarves and colourful knitted crafts and fill the streets with live jazz bands which brings in many visitors from surrounding areas to enjoy the festivities and is a great opportunity to share the gospel.
We located a good spot and started handing out our tracts and it wasn’t long before I struck up a chat with a man and his wife after handing them one of our “What will matter to you in 150 years time” tracts.
They both agreed that they wouldn’t be here and be long dead and buried and I said, "Have you thought what happens when you die?" He said, "You just go into the ground." I found out during the chat that he said that he was a born again Christian for twenty five years - many years ago but now he isn’t and doesn’t believe in Jesus and that we are all gods.
I addressed those issues and quickly moved onto the gospel but half way through the commandments they said they had to go. So I asked them to read the tract and remember that they had to stand before a Holy God in judgement one day and give an account of their lives to Him.
There was a few more conversations that arvo and we got to hand out about 150 tracts. Scripture says that God’s word does not return void but accomplushes what he has sent it to do.
All glory to our God and King!
Today’s outreach began somewhere a little different. We assembled together at the Gospel Cafe, a labor of love on Margaret Street which was opened by a young married couple a few years ago and is presently staffed by a number of dedicated volunteers.
We were met by Gavin, a long-time volunteer whose extreme past is only matched by his extreme love for God and others today, having met Christ much later in his life. He introduced us warmly to the other volunteers and spoke on the swags, Bibles, coffees and listening ears that he and his team generously provide to people who walk through the doors of the Gospel Cafe.
After praying with Gavin our team split up and headed out, Gospel tracts in hand. We had two newcomers with our team, Steph and Alex and so we paired them with experienced evangelists.During the outreach, we had a fairly quiet time. There was one “God bless you!” from a Christian as they saw our work though people in general seemed to be rather ambivalent to the Gospel.
Looking back a significant number took tracts from us and while we may not see the visible fruit of our labor we know that the invisible work of God in people’s lives often occurs at home, in traffic or even 100 meters up the footpath from us as people read about Jesus and God engages their lives in a profound way.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' 43 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 44 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.”45 Mat 5:43-45 ESV
Our work in Hobart continues amid ongoing slander and attempts to gag us. It is also amid much encouragement and joy in the faces and voices of Christians who continue to love and pray despite the hatred.
Mr S. is still hard at work to stop the preaching of the gospel if he can. None the less we will continue to share the message of salvation through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus. We will continue to pray for Mr S. and the rest of the lost in Hobart. And we will continue to trust that God will glorify His name in this land.
When Mr S. has his pro-same sex marriage stall up, we gather to pray for his salvation for at least a brief period. We also appeal to God for the many other concerns for friends, in our churches, in our country, and world. We praise the eternal God who controls all things and works all things to His purposes and glory.
There are some who support Mr S. and are opposed to our work and the preaching of the Gospel in the Mall. As Christians, we should never be surprised to see opposition to Gospel work, it was promised by our Lord. But we should always return praise and thanks to our God when He brings much needed encouragements. And God is faithful amid difficulty, encouraging us both in the mall and through messages online. There has been an outpouring of support for the team in the mall, and for my pastor Campbell and I. Frequently these encouragements have come at exactly the right time to counter the negative responses and raise our spirits for the fight once more. Thank you to all the wonderful people who have voiced your support and encouraged us to keep preaching the gospel and fight the Anti-discrimination charges. We have been and we will.
These last couple of weeks have provided many opportunities to share the gospel, in the mall, on the streets, and in conversations. I have been blessed with more people than normal for this time of year coming to talk at the Bible table and stopping to chat after the preaching. I’ve been blessed to speak of our Lord to journalists and on radio, I am humbled that our Lord is willing to use me in this. Praise His name that the Gospel goes forth no matter what!
There are two particularly great conversations that I’ve been part of recently:
Mr S. (not the heckler) – He stopped to chat after I handed him an “Are You A Good Person” tract. We started with the idea of heaven and God, are they real and is it reasonable to believe in them? Mr S. is an atheist/agnostic and so I could appeal to the science that points us to the presence of God and the history that shows He has spoken to us. We then discussed and debated for some time about various theological issues. It was a friendly debate and I was able to share the Gospel repeatedly during it. Mr S. and I parted with smiles and handshakes. A week or so after Mr S. came to the bible table and we had a great conversation again, this time talking around other questions he had and getting to know each other. I encouraged him to come again and talk any time and I hope he does. Praise God for opportunities to share with others the great hope we have in Christ. Please pray that Mr S. will come again and we can talk more of Christ.
Ms E. Ms T. and Ms P. – These three young ladies were sitting at the tree next to Speakers Corner whilst I was preaching and I approached them afterwards. They began by saying that they disagreed with most of what I was preaching. So, I asked them why it was that they disagreed. This developed into a very long discussion of the Gospel and Christian ethics. I was able to share some of the supports for the Gospel they’d heard me preach and reasons we should believe in Jesus. There were times they obviously disliked what they heard from me, especially around same sex marriage issues. But the discussion remained friendly and we parted on good terms. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to talk with them again. Please pray that God would soften their hearts and mercifully draw them to Jesus Christ.
There has consistently been people sitting in the cold to listen to the preaching at this time also. Something that is very uncommon in the cold Hobart winter weather. Praise God that He gathers people to hear the way of salvation, may many be drawn to Jesus Christ and put their faith in Him.
On Tuesday for our outreach at Woodridge, we had a large team out and as a result we were able to spread out further by some on the team walking around the area in search of people who needed to hear of Jesus. Thankfully there were many around!
A stand out conversation was with a government worker named James. He said he thought about Heaven and Hell a lot but really didn't know where he would go. He thought he was a pretty good guy, but wasn't sure.
After a short discussion, James had raised the selfishness of humanity that he had seen through his job and also was a little frustrated that he worked hard to get places and yet there are people who get to live great lives without ever working hard. On both points, we were able to explain the parallels with what he felt and humanity's rejection of God. God has given us many good gifts, life being the best and yet we use the very gift God has given us to mock Him.
Secondly we shared that we deserve God's justice. We deserve punishment and judgement and yet God in His love, willingly suffered the penalty we deserve so that we can be free. Christians are people who have received a right standing before God and all the blessings of being children of God with no work or merit of their own but entirely of Christ.
Please pray that James is able to understand God's immense love in salvation and to cry out in surrender and trust in Christ! Praise God that He brings people across our paths who so desperately need him!
Tonight the team had the privilege of serving their Saviour in bearing witness to Him in Queen St Mall, Brisbane.
The team interacted with quite a number of other Christians who were meandering through the mall on their Saturday night. It was a real encouragement to the team to have these Christians encourage them to press on and many of them said they were keen to consider sharing the gospel with people as they returned to their homes.
One person on the team got up to preach with the sketchboard and spoke about how humanity in an attempt to find true freedom, rejected the freedom they were given and replaced it with the illusion that we are in control. It was explained that this rejection of God and His design for us, earned us Hell but that God in His immense love, gave up His freedom and willingly became a servant, to suffer a cross kind of death, that we could have freedom from sin and judgement.
When the sermonette had finished a young man named Alex from the United Kingdom, who was in Brisbane for 1 day, came up to a team member to discuss about the Bible.
Alex had grown up in a Christian home, had studied Theology and Philosophy but as a result sat in the unknown. He wasn't sure he could trust the Bible and yet couldn't really argue against it.
He had many ideas and thoughts and a whole host of questions. As the conversation drew to a close Alex seemed less against God and more willing to submit to God's truth. So we suggested a local Church he could attend that was only 200m away from where he was staying the night. While explaining the service times, the pastor of that very church walked by.
The pastor and Alex were introduced to each other, which seems like God's sense of humour played out in providence. This was quite an exciting moment and the conversation continued a little after that.
Please pray that Alex would attend church tomorrow and that God by His Spirit will speak through His exposition of the Word, the very words of God, that Alex may for the first time understand the gospel and come to a surrendered faith in Christ. Please pray also for the many other people who the team had the pleasure to speak with about Christ and His saving work!
It was encouraging to see that during our outreach last night at the Gold Coast, the team were so engrossed in various gospel conversations, that it meant we finished half an hour later than we usually do. We had 15 labourers on the team.
One conversation we had was with a man holidaying from Dubai who is in the police force over there. He said that Dubai is such a city of sin, worse than the Gold Coast. He was raised in a Muslim family, but he has been living life his own way and so when he was asked if he will go to Heaven when he dies, he responded, "No I think I will go to Hell."
He said, "After I spent a night out in Dubai, I feel guilty for the things I've done and it worries me where I am going to go after I die. But I think if I just say sorry to God and clean up my life I think I'll maybe spend 40 years in Hell and then go to Heaven afterwards."
I explained to him that that is not how it is going to work. Because Jesus told a story in the Bible about a rich man who went to Hell and a poor man who went to Heaven, and when the rich man wanted someone to come down to him to cool his tongue because the anguish he was in, Jesus describes that there is a great chasm between Heaven and Hell so that no one can pass between the two places. That means, where you go after you die, you are there forever.
Moreover, I explained, imagine a criminal stood before a judge and said, "Judge, yesterday I murdered that person, but today I am really sorry and I won't do it again. So please let me go. Would that work?" He replied, "Of course not."
"That is why the only way is if we have a perfect person who can pay our fine for us, which will satisfy God's justice on our behalf and therefore allow us to enter Heaven. That is, Jesus - who is God, and died and rose for our forgiveness. As he was hearing this, this man was beginning to grasp the gospel and asked a number of good questions. He was happy to take a gospel of John to start reading. He asked, "Will you be here next week so that I can come back and talk further?" "Yes definitely", I said.
To God be the glory!