After spending the afternoon on the Gold Coast we headed to Brisbane for our weekly outreach. Tonight was to be a busy night since it was “Earth Hour”, which is an event where people turn off their lights for one hour to save the environment. Upon arriving in the city we found it abuzz with people there to party for the earth. Which I found rather amusing, since they are trying to lower carbon emissions by throwing a party. Maybe I missed something in “Save the Environment 101”.
The preaching had a delayed start tonight since we had to wait for the Brisbane Council party to die down. This eventually finished at 9:30pm so we began to preach from then. Ryan got up and preached, and as usual Alex was there to greet Ryan with verbal abuse. His arguments have now been reduced to one word answers, which show that he has no arguments and has no hope in his atheistic ideals.
Andre got up an preached after this, I am finding myself more and more impressed with the preaching of Andre. He has really grown in the past year, and he is becoming a rather competent preacher.
The night was becoming more and more lively, people were stopping to listen and to abuse. A few times I thought there would be a fight but each time it died down. That was until the end of the night. Andrew Hsu was preaching and Alex was going ballistic. While that was going on a drunk man kept shoving Andrew so I stepped in and told him not to touch the preacher. The drunk turned to me and said “Do you want to fight me?” With that the man swung a right hook and punched me in the side of the head. It wasn’t that hard of punch, but the man kept advancing. Alex jumped in the middle and tried to talk the man down. At the same time team members went to get the police. The drunk was very proud of what he had done till he saw the police coming for him, he quickly apologized and asked me not to press charges. The police let him go on the condition that he does not return to the Queen street mall that night.
A lively day had a lively ending, but all in all God got the glory!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Once again I had the immense privilege of being able to go out and labour alongside my brothers and sisters in the field that is white for harvest. Tonight we had the added joy of having Forbes and Celeste join us from Adelaide, and also Heath from Western Australia. While we all came from different parts of the country, we all had one goal and one objective, and that was to make Christ known.
We weren’t at all surprised when we walked up the mall to see Alex with his iPod on, already warming up for the coming duel. Ryan rose to the challenge and immediately began to preach and actively engage Alex. Much like last week Alex would just hurl abuse, and not actually engage the argument, but God used this heckler for the advancement of His Gospel. While Alex may think he is shutting down the gospel, in actual fact he is making more people stop to hear the good news of Christ Jesus coming into the world to save sinners.
Ryan engaged the crowd, and used their questions as a jumping off point to swing into the message about the cross of Christ. While Ryan was preaching a bunch of hecklers climbed up behind him and began to yell, I was able to engage one of them in a conversation and it soon became clear that he loved his sin and he hated the light of the Gospel.
The crowds were a decent size tonight, and many conversations were going on. As the night wore on I preached, and once again had to engage the irrational arguments that come from the atheist camp. It is sometimes hard to deal with Alex since his arguments are stupid at best, but I must remember that my objections to Christ were also stupid, but He saved me, and there is still hope for Alex.
At the end of the night Forbes got up and preached. He has a great voice, and he did an awesome job of preaching Christ on the streets in Brisbane city. All in all it was a great night of outreach. Many people got to hear the gospel, and many tracts were handed out.
To God Be the Glory!
Soli Deo Gloria!
It was a with some nervousness that I made my way to Brisbane city tonight, after last weeks confrontation with members of the Brisbane City Council I was wondering what would happen this week. Also, it was the night for all the St. Patrick Day parties, and for us that means the second hardest and second most violent night on the streets.
As I walked through the Queen Street Mall I was surrounded by a sea of green and many people were already stumbling around drunk. I looked at my watch and saw it was only 7:15pm. The night was young, yet people were already drinking in sin like water, or in their case like booze.
We met as per usual on the far side of King George Square for a time of Bible reading and team prayer. Then after that we spent some time in fellowship.
As 9pm rolled around we were in the Queen Street Mall setting up for the night, tonight we did hit one major crisis, and that was that we actually ran out of all Bibles, New Testaments and Gospels of John’s, but this was a great problem, as anyone who wants one must be witnessed to one to one first.
The first preacher up for the night was Kevin Bessent, he started off by talking about “RIP - Where Will You Go?” Not long into his preaching a crowd had gathered, so he engaged them with the question of his sermon. Also circling at this time was our “friendly” neighbourhood atheist, who was turned rather mean and nasty of late. Alex, was throwing his comments in, but Kev avoided them and stuck to the Gospel. Alex yelled a little louder, again nothing in reply from Kevin. So in the end Alex just simply walked off, but returned a few minutes later with two atheist friends in support.
One of the atheists flew off the handle as soon as he came within ear-shot of Kevin. He ran into the group and started to yell obscenities, this is always a sign of a man who has no argument. If they have to fall back onto abuse then you can rest assured that they have nothing of substance to add to the discussion. This one atheist was becoming rather hostile, and members of the team thought he would become violent. So I circled in near him, and waited till he started to yell, then I direct challenged his question. He turned from yelling at Kevin to yelling at me. This freed up Kev to continue to preach the gospel to the crowd.
The man continued to yell at me until I stuck my hand out and said, “My name is Josh, what’s yours?” He was shocked but it calmed him down. He shook my hand and we continued our discussion in a civil tone. The man was hurt in the past by religion, and he was looking for anyway in which he could get the gospel derailed. Within minutes of the discussion starting he had backslid to an agnostic, and a few minutes later he believed in God. Now, we had a foundation to work with in order to make Christ known. So for the next forty or so minutes I shared the gospel with him and answered his questions. In the end he took an in-depth gospel tract, and as he left he thanked me for taking the time to talk to him. One less atheist in the world, and one more person who heard the good news of Jesus Christ.
During this time I was impressed to see so many people in the team out witnessing and handing out tracts. Every time I turned around there was one of the Operation 513 team witnessing to someone. It was so encouraging to see the Gospel marching forth. Even though the atheists had come into stop it, the Gospel cannot and will not be stopped until such time as God says “Game Over!”
Andrew Hsu was the next preacher up for the night. He did a good job as usual, while he was preaching he had a bunch of drunk Irish hecklers come in and start to make threats of physical violence. One of them shoved Andrew, and then started to say that he would take the stool Andrew was standing on and then smash his head in. I considered the threats as credible, so I got one of the team members to go and get the police. The police arrived and issued move on orders to the drunk Irish. They all left, one of them still breathing threats.
Toward the end of the night, Ryan got up the preach. He tried to engage Alex and his atheist cohort but they don’t really like to take on someone who actually can show from logic, philosophy etc. that there is a God. Ryan made known the truth of Scripture, and presented the Gospel to any who would stop to listen.
Alex was being his normal self, and was becoming rather angry and screaming abuse. Rick challenged him on this. Alex just ignored him, but about thirty minutes later, he stormed up to Rick pointed out him and started screaming at him. Once again it shows a man who’s arguments lack substance. In my view, I think Alex is much like Germany in 1944 - 45, in that they knew they were beaten, but they held on fighting out of pride, because they are too stubborn to surrender. Alex is the same, he is out of arguments, and he knows that God is real, but he loves his sin too much to surrender.
I would ask all of those reading, right now to stop and pray for the conversion of Alex. May God grant him repentance and faith.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday, March 8, 2009
The night was fairly warm and the humidity was high. Just normal Brisbane weather, but even though it is fairly uncomfortable weather, we still went out to witness in the Queen Street Mall.
As I was walking though the mall, I thought it would be good to hand out a few tracts, and as I did so I heard the call of “Mr. Williamson!” I turned around found myself face to face with the head of Queen Street mall management. He stated that I was not allowed to hand out tracts as it was violation of local law. So I asked him what law I had broken. He quoted it to me. Later however, when we looked it up we found that no such law existed.
We met as usual, and it was good to have a brother from Houston, Texas join us for the nights outreach. The team spent some time in prayer and Bible reading before we headed up to the mall.
Ryan was the first preacher up for the night, as usual he did a good job. Especially when the atheists opened fire on him. While preaching he also got to engage a few other hecklers and present a very clear gospel message.
The night was fairly quiet, it was good to see Alex was back, however, he had changed. He has turned into a rather mean atheist, he is constantly swearing and in general being rather aggressive. This is different from the Alex before Christmas.
During the night quite a few good one to ones happened. Rodney was able to get into a great conversation with a young man who had been heckling. Also, the night had its hostilities. A bunch of islanders were wanting to fight the atheists in order to make them “believe in God”. For most of the night, I found myself trying to get them to calm down.
Towards the end of the night I got up to preach, and I spoke about the economic down turn. This brought Alex in for a confrontation. As per usual his arguments were off the wall and he made no sense.
Overall the night was fairly good. Many tracts went out and people got to hear the gospel.
Once 7:30pm rolled around, we all met near City Hall for a time of reading the Word, prayer and fellowship with one another. At 9pm we made our way to Queen Street Mall and set up the free Bible table. We had a reasonably large sized team again tonight of about 16 people.
I stood up to preach first and started off talking about the wickedness of the human heart (Jer. 17:9). I pointed out that the Bible says that there is no one good, no not one (Rom. 3:12). And because we are not good people, we deserve the wrath of God. At this stage there was a group of teenagers that came up rather close to me, so I asked them whether they thought they would go to Heaven when they died. One of the people in the group was a girl who was really drunk, and who decided to hug me and then lift up her shirt. During this I kept trying to engage with the rest of the group, and asked whether they had broken any of God's commandments. Once they realised that they deserved to be punished by God because He is just, they didn't want to hear about what they can do to be saved. For it was clear they had a hatred towards God, so I didn't cast the pearls of the gospel before swine (Matt. 7:6).
After they had moved along, I proceeded to give the good news of the gospel to the crowd that had gathered. I explained that Jesus can be their substitute instead of them and thus satisfy God's wrath, if they repent and trust in His death alone to save them on the Day of Judgment. At this stage, one fellow yelled out to me saying that the Bible has been changed. So I asked him what evidence he had for that assertion. He openly admitted he had none. So I responded by saying that he then cannot legitimately make that assertion, as it is the same as if I said to him, "Look, the book you really like has been changed" without me providing any evidence to back it up. He understood my point and didn't want to heckle any further.
The next preacher up was Joel Barnard. Recently, God has given him a great desire to share the gospel and tonight he was keen for some open air preaching. It was his first time and he did a wonderful job. A number of people commented that it seemed as though he was an old timer. During his preaching, Josh Williamson called up Joel's parents so that they could hear Joel's first open-air sermon. They really liked it as well.
After Joel got down, Kevin got up to preach. It was good hearing Kevin preach again, as it had been quite a few weeks since he has had the chance to come out on the streets to witness with us.
After Kevin preached, Dave Strachan had the itch to preach the Word as well, so he also proclaimed the law (to bring the knowledge of sin), the Judgment to come, the cross, and what we must do to be saved.
This week Josh Williamson joined us here in Brisbane again, after he had just returned from spending 8 weeks in the UK for evangelism. He was the next person to stand up and preach, and it was good to hear his booming voice again. Quite a number of people stopped to find out what he was talking about, while some asked him various questions, and others decided to come up and hug him.
Overall, the night was a great success, because God's Word was clearly proclaimed in Brisbane city. During the whole night, many gospel tracts went out and many good one2one witnessing encounters were had.
If you live in the Brisbane area, I really encourage you to come out on the streets with us and fulfil the Great Commission. We meet for prayer, Bible reading and fellowship every Saturday night at 7:30pm at the Ann Street side of City Hall. Then at 9pm we evangelise near Copenhagen's ice cream in Queen Street Mall. If you are wanting more information, please contact us.
To God be the glory!
It’s Valentine ’s Day, the mall is filled with couples celebrating their togetherness, they are playing music normally too sickening sweet for regular consumption and the decors are fluffy and pink... what better setting to talk to people about the universal value of love and tolerance...
Too bad we are out preaching the Biblical Gospel.
Our fair sized team assembled at our usual spot for prayer and scripture reading, after that we make our way into our preaching spot in the Queen Street Mall. We had a rare guest joining us this night: Andrew Walkington from Sydney has abandoned his love wife forsook temporal earthly pleasures and came out on a fine Saturday evening to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Andre also showed up as well so we have a good number of preachers for the night. We set up the Free Bible table, the security camera rolling, and we are good to go.
Andre stepped up to preach first. He preached a very timely message of God’s love set against the backdrop of the wrath of God. While it is more desirable to focus on God’s love in sharing the Gospel, without the knowledge of God’s wrath against our sin His love makes no sense to the sinner. While Andre preaches the regular crowd shuffled in: Alex along with a few other familiar faces started to heckle the preacher. We were hoping that being Valentine’s Day they will take a break, nope, Alex “the friendly neighbourhood Atheist” remains consistent. Have to give it to him; he is a lot more regular in fighting against the Gospel than most Christian fighting for the Gospel. (The above statement is designed to inflict guilt to the guilty.)
Andrew Walkington is the next preacher up. He preached for twenty minutes the straight Gospel and ignored the hecklers. I am the next preacher up, since Andre and Andrew both fulfilled their duties without any incidence, I was hoping my time on the soapbox would be relatively peaceful as well. It took ten seconds for my hope to be completely dashed.
One of the issues I was hoping to avoid is the whole Victoria bushfire that is going on down south. Many people have lost their lives (209 last counted) and countless thousands have lost their homes, processions and livelihood. The Bible says that “we weep with those who weep” and the study of theology and having propositional answers to the question of evil and suffering is not a licence for us to be emotionally detached from the suffering of fellow human beings. While I am confident the Biblical answer of a sovereign God exacting both providence and judgement in this sinful world is the only way the problem of suffering can be satisfactorily answered, emotions runs hot over this issue right now, and I don’t think such answers, while true, is helpful.
The gentleman raised the question over the bushfire is someone I dealt with a couple of weeks ago. I still don’t know his name because he refused to give it to me and he, for a lack of a better description, really doesn’t like me. Alex and I can have a civil conversation after the night is through; this man on the other hand, is very unpleasant to deal with.
The question this man raised is aimed at what we have been preaching: that God has the right to exact judgement upon sinners whether in this life or the next, and according to the Bible, there is no such thing as “innocent people.” Not happy with that theological titbit, he asked the question to this effect: “What about those people who perished in the bush fire, what have they done to deserve having such tragedy befall them.” Of course, the problem here is that he assumes the position that men is inherently good and no one deserves to have bad stuff happen to them, while the Bible assumes the opposite, human beings are not good, and the question is not so much why bad thing happen to good people but why do God allow the “rain to fall upon the just, as well as the unjust. “ Why is God so patient with the wickedness of the world? Why does he show love to those who do not love Him?
I tried to answer the question as straightforwardly as I can, knowing there isn’t much chance that my answer is going to be received with joy and gladness. As I try to explain the Bible calls people to repentance in the face of tragedy such as the Victorian Bushfire in light of the frailty of our lives and the reality of suffering attest to the fallen condition of this world. It was not long before the men start to twist my words and try to incite the crowd. Not surprisingly I was accused of being hateful towards my fellowmen as I would not affirm the general goodness of men and the crowd gets into overdrive. It is apparent that part of the heckling crowd is no longer being reasonable and I started to ignore their antics. They “borrowed” two milk crates and tried to up stage the preaching. A couple of them started to throw profanity and insults my way. A couple of young lady decided to empty two cups of soft drinks on my pants and shoes. The man who raised the Bushfire problem decided to bring out his “question to end all questions”, directed at me, he asked: “If God exists, why are you so fat?” Incidentally, that’s the first question he ever asked me when I first met him weeks ago. Hmmm... can’t you feel the love tonight?
Meanwhile I was addressing another group of people, a young Canadian lad and two girls in their late teens who were disgusted by the uncivilized behaviour of the others, and we were able to have a reasonable discussion about the Gospel. The two young ladies had previous experiences with Christianity but were very confused with what we are preaching as they have never had the Gospel explained to them before. I took them through the Law of God so that they have an understanding of the rightness of God’s judgement upon the world and then explain the death of Christ in satisfying the justice of God on the cross and therefore making us right with God. They thanked me for being honest with them, they said that they understood what I explained, I told them I would pray for them and they went on their way.
The young man from Canada on the other hand is an ardent atheist. However, he is very pleasant to talk to, frustrating but pleasant. Our conversation went well pass mid night. Not surprisingly he remains an ardent atheist at the end of the night but I was able to show him the reasonable arguments for Christianity. I don’t believe that men and women can be reasoned into the Kingdom but it is crucial to present Christianity as true and present the faith as reasonable. This young men and his friend both came from Christian families, both of them now rebelled against the faith of their fathers largely because Christianity was presented to them as being “just-so”. No one gave them the reason for believing, instead they were told to “just believe” and asking too many questions is a sign of unbelief. As this young man and I said good bye I couldn’t help but think how many sceptics we meet on Saturday nights are produced by churches and Christians who never explained the reason for their faith, Christian faith is based upon the solid rock of truth, and the Bible instils no virtue for blind faith.
I was told at the end of the night there were many great Gospel conversations. We packed up and left the mall, a chaotic but fruitful night. May the Lamb receive the reward of His suffering.
Soli Deo Gloria.
After some time of prayer, Bible reading, and fellowship, we moved to our regular spot in Queen Street Mall to begin our night of evangelism. Craig Ireland and a number of people from his Church joined us again for this outreach, which was a real blessing.
I stood up to preach first and talked about how every single human being knows there is a God (Romans 1). But what many people do is that they suppress this truth in unrighteousness. Alex (our weekly agnostic heckler) didn't like hearing this so he immediately began to heckle me with his usual line, "There is no God!" Since Romans 1:20 tells us that the way everyone knows there is a God is through "the things that have been made", I gave a simple argument for God's existence from the universe's existence. It is outlined below:
This argument is logically valid, but Alex wanted to dispute the first premise. He said that there are examples in quantum mechanics (like virtual particles) of things that arise without a cause. However I responded by saying that wholly apart from the disputed question of whether virtual particles really exist at all, the central point to be made here is that the quantum mechanical vacuum on which they depend for their existence is emphatically not nothing. The dynamical properties of vacuous space arise out of its interaction with matter and radiation fields, in the absence of which "this dynamism of empty space is but a formal abstraction lacking physical reality." The quantum vacuum is a sea of fluctuating energy which gives rise to virtual particles. Thus, virtual particles can hardly be said to arise without a cause.
Alex simply ignored my point, and kept repeating that virtual particles are an example of something coming into being uncaused. So as to not get the discussion bogged down on this topic too much, I then talked about what is to come after we die. Since there is good evidence for God, the topic of the afterlife is very relevant to discuss. Alex brought forth his usual argument against any afterlife by saying, "Have you ever had a thought outside your brain?" Obviously we haven't. Therefore, he concluded that there is no afterlife. I pointed out that his conclusion does not logically follow from the argument's premises. For in order to prove a negative, one must either know absolutely everything about the subject matter to know it does not exist (like there are no Muslims in the U.S. Senate), or show a logical contradiction within it, making it impossible to exist (like a married bachelor). But Alex did not do either, so therefore his conclusion does not logically follow.
So I briefly outlined how we can know there is a judgment to come, and the existence of Heaven and Hell. I then proceeded to talk about how we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I warned both Alex and the crowd that had gathered that every idle word that you speak will be judged on the Day of Judgment. Jesus even said that lust is adultery. Alex did not like hearing about the judgment to come and sin, and so kept repeating, "There is no God!" After warning about the judgment to come, I gave the good news of the gospel to those listening. And that is, we can be forgiven of our sin through the death of the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ. But we must repent and trust that He died on the cross for us. I also pointed out that we don't serve a dead Saviour, for three days later Jesus rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.
After I had finished preaching, Andrew Hsu got up to preach. After a little while, he had a few hecklers asking him various questions. God brought in quite a few people to hear the message he was preaching. After Andrew had finished preaching, he continued to chat with a couple of the people who had been listening for many minutes afterwards.
By the time Andrew got down there was only half an hour left to go on the outreach, and since we had no other spare preachers, we all instead focused our energies in handing out gospel tracts and witnessing one2one with people.
There were many people who heard the gospel this evening. Please pray that God will convict them of their sin and draw them onto Himself.
To God be the glory!
Andre, Jason, David and I met at 7:30pm at our regular place outside City Hall for prayer, Bible reading and fellowship. I received a call from Peter letting me know that Andrew and he had a flat tyre on their car and so thus they would be late.
So at 9pm we moved to our usual spot in Queen Street Mall, but we couldn't set up the Bible table or soap box, as Andrew had them and he hadn't arrived yet. Alex (our regular agnostic heckler), and his fellow agnostics were there ready to heckle. Some of them were even saying, "When are you going to preach?"
This week we also had Craig Ireland and his crew help us for the outreach, which was a real blessing. We had a big team this week, totalling about 25 people.
At 9:30pm, Andrew and Peter arrived with all the Bible table gear and the soap box. So after setting up the Bible table, I stood up to preach. Almost immediately, Alex was heckling me saying there is no God. I talked about the judgment to come and about sin. After Alex's embarrassing lack of knowledge of fallacy names when we were debating on the streets just weeks earlier, he must have done some research as he now seemed to know their names, but would always misapply them. For example, at one point he would claim I committed the fallacy of appealing to authority when I was talking about God and what He has done. It is not fallacious to learn about God and what He is done from His revelation to us. He is the one who would actually know that information, so we should get that information from God, thus it does not commit the fallacy of appealing to authority. Moreover, God is even more of a reliable source to get that information because of the fact that He logically cannot do anything evil (like lie).
The next question then is how do we know what God has told us? This can be proven many various ways; one way is through the Argument for the Resurrection. For if the resurrection of Jesus really occurred, then that authenticates the teachings of Jesus as being true, which in turn authenticates the Bible because Jesus said the Bible was true. And there is good evidence that the resurrection actually did occur. And we know that the Bible hasn't been corrupted over the millennia either.
I asked Alex if he had any proof that the Bible is wrong. He quoted John 21:11a - "So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them." He said that this number of fish was recorded in a story with Pythagoras by Iamblichus centuries earlier; therefore the whole Bible is wrong. Obviously, that conclusion does not logically follow from the premises. In fact, I explained to Alex that he was committing the genetic fallacy. That is, dismissing a belief as wrong because of the origins of that belief. Even if there was some sort of reference to a prior story in the account of John, that does not prove the Bible is wrong in any of its parts.
During the preaching, I proclaimed the law and the gospel many times, calling everyone to repent and trust the Saviour. The dialogue with Alex attracted quite a bit of a crowd, and I pray God will convert all those that heard the gospel.
Andrew then got up to preach, but it seems Alex didn't want to heckle. Andrew preached about the coming judgment, and how we've all sinned and deserve God's wrath, but that we can be forgiven through Christ's death on the cross. After a while, he had a few hecklers come up real close to him and ask him various questions. After a dialogue with them, he stood down from preaching and Dave Strachan got up to preach. He talked about who God is, what He demands of us, and how far we fall short. That is why we need our sins forgiven, but it can only be through Jesus' death on the cross.
There were many one2ones that occurred, and heaps of gospel tracts went out. Please pray that God will bring the increase on the seeds that were planted in so many people's hearts tonight.
To God be the glory!
We knew we will have to do this with a skeleton crew tonight, we just didn’t know how slim the skeleton was going to be.
Ryan is away this week, backsliding... er... holidaying with the family. Since most of the people who come in fortnightly have all showed up the week before, we knew there isn’t going to be many of us in the team this week...
It is nine o’clock, and team consists of me, my lovely wife and Rachel. Alex our regular not-so-friendly neighbourhood Atheists is within sight. This is going to be interesting...
Of course, this is where I tell you how my brilliant leadership just kicked into hyper-drive and Andrew the Fearless arisen to the occasion and saved the day. No, that didn’t happen. Instead, Craig Island and his crew showed up just in the nick of time. Yes, God providentially provided and Andrew did not break down into tears like a little girl.
We operated this night without the Bible table; everyone is to carry their backpacks so no one needs to watch the bags. By this time Nick has showed up as well, Dan is on his way to reinforce us and usually a few more people would show up throughout the night. We have enough so that I can preach without worrying too much about the safety of the girls. So off we go...
The mall is a little quiet for the Australia Day long weekend; I step up to the soap box and started to preach. A couple of teenagers, some looks to be drunk, have started to gather around me. I started to walk through the Law with a young man named Benny, who claimed to be a Christian. Initially Ben tries to say the right things, but when I was turning up the heat on him about breaking the law of God and the coming judgement, he did not like it. His knowledge of the Bible, and therefore the Gospel is absolutely abysmal. Benny and his mates keep referring themselves as Christians yet they were clearly intoxicated and were completely hostile to the Gospel. I couldn’t help but think that our modern evangelism endeavours are cranking out false “believers” like these young people with alarming rate. They have been to an outreach concert, walked the aisle and signed a card and now are reassured that God loves no matter what they do. As Benny and friends walks away, while I tried to explain to them the good news of the Gospel, it appears that they would reject it because they want to carry on with their sinful life style; I pray that God will save them out of His mercy.
Meanwhile Alex has been relatively civilized this week. From memory he did not engage me during the first half of the night. I stepped down after about an hour. There are now some one-on-one witnessing going on. By now the crew number has grown to about ten people and all of them have someone they were talking to. Nick has expressed that he wanted to open air preach. I do believe this is his first time and he is very keen to do so. I agreed to put him on and he stepped up to the soapbox.
Nick’s first open air went quite well. Later he commented after viewing the video that his volume was very low, it was loud enough to get Alex interested. In his usual form Alex started heckling Nick and while Nick was able to hold his ground he was not able to overcome Alex’s domineering style. I swapped with Nick and I wouldn’t say I won the contest, to Alex I am way too much of a fundamentalist dinosaur to satisfy his intellectual tastes; unfortunately to me, Alex’s arguments remain very much the same week to week. Our engagement usually ends with Alex finding someone more interesting to talk to. I don’t blame him, all I do is keep reminding him that God is going to have a day of reckoning with all men, Atheists or not. He knows the Law, he knows the Gospel, he can say many things on that great and fearful day but he won’t be able say that he is ignorant of the good news. We still pray for him, he doesn’t like it but we still pray for him.
As I stepped down from the soapbox the second time and the time is approaching midnight. A very polite young man and his girl friend were sitting next to where I was preaching. He stopped me and asked me a genuine question: “Why are there people who uses religion to their own personal gain?” He was asking that because he came from a religious background, and he has witness major hypocrisy in the church he was involved with and the scandal had to do with money. It was a very pleasant conversation as I get to explain that many who profess the name of God are not true believers. God will one day deal with people who have abused religion as a way to personal gain, if not in this life then on the day of judgement. In fact God will deal with all injustice that took place in this world finally and completely when that day comes. I turn the table on the young man and I asked him: “How will you personally do in the court room of God?” This leads to a fruitful conversation where I was able to show him God’s justice, walk him through the Law and finally present with him and his listening girlfriend, the Good News of Christ dying and saving sinners. When that conversation is over, it is past mid night. The crew had finished what they were doing and we were ready to leave the mall.
Despite a shaking beginning, the night ended with many people witness to. We pray God will be merciful and save those who have heard the Gospel tonight.
To God be the Glory.
We had a decent sized team at the start of the night. Ryan had a wedding to attend and will join us later in the night. The mall was relatively quiet. With the Bible table setup, Andre was the first preacher of the night. He did a good job presenting the Gospel. There were a few stayed to listen to him. From memory it was fairly uneventful for the earlier part of the night.
I was the next preacher up. Again while I preached there was not a lot of reaction from the crowd. I noticed a gentleman listening sitting on a bench to the left of me; there were very little traffic in the mall. I preached for about half an hour and closed my preaching with a general call to the Gospel.
I was a fraction of a second from stepping down from the soap box, the gentleman who sat on the bench came up to me with a question. He started out being very courteous and looked as if he was genuine in his tone and attitude. His question revolved around the problem of evil – one of the most common objections we encounter on the street. The basic argument boils down to this:
A. The God of the Bible is Loving
B. The God of the Bible is All Powerful
C. Evil is incompatible with a loving God
D. An All powerful God can stop evil anytime he wants to
WE KNOW FOR SURE:
E. Evil exits in the World
F. God is incapable of stopping evil - HE is not all powerful
G. God doesn't want to stop evil - HE is not loving
The flow of the above logic, based on the REALITY of evil in this world, people have come to the conclusion that God does not exist. It appears to be a very powerful argument, and we encounter this in the street on a semi-regular basis. There are many ways to point out the flaws in the above argument; I won’t bore you with them all. My favorite route to take is to point out the inconsistency in trying to deny the existence of the Christian God, yet still utilize the Judeo-Christian standard of good and evil.
I questioned the gentleman: “How do we know what is good and what is evil without God?” The problem is that when we say it is evil for “innocent” people to die or suffer, I would agree, if someone is truly innocent and endures what appears to be needless suffering then that would be evil. Problem is, according to the Bible, no one is innocent, everyone is guilty and when we suffer the consequences of sin, either from the hand of others or through our own rebellion, we receive from the hand of our Creator, what we rightfully deserve. That’s not all the Bible has to say about evil but the Bible is very clear about evil, it is measured against a immovable standard set out by a Holy and Just God, and He deals with evil, and will deal with it ultimately, in His own time and in His own way, that is perfectly consistent with His nature.
On the other hand, when human beings attempt to call something evil, by what right do we do so apart from God’s law? In the humanistic point of view based upon the Darwinian philosophy of “survival of the fittest”, why is it evil when people die? They are not fit enough for their environment, so they have lost the “race” why would that be evil? If one group insist on that certain “bad” things happening around the world is “wrong” or “evil”, but another group think such things are perfectly good even admirable, who is to say which group is right? Do we take a vote?
I tried to answer this gentleman’s objection with the same courtesy I received initially. It was soon apparent that he did not want an answer; he just had an axe to grind. He was not happy with my answer and the exchange was becoming less friendly than how it started. Every two minutes the gentleman was changing the subject, never allow my answer to be complete. It was very frustrating but at the same time our interaction was attracting a sizable crowd. The gentleman was unhappy about the fact I was standing on the soap-box, I told him that I was preaching and this helps me attract a crowd. He was unhappy that I was “yelling”, I told him that I was preaching and this helps me attract a crowd. He was unhappy that I was not allowing a “conversation”, I told him that I am preaching so I am not about having “conversations”, besides if you could stop changing the subject every two minutes the “conversation” could go a lot further.
This gentleman was temporary distracted as I was not giving the satisfaction of dominating over the preacher, I turned and addressed a young man named Kenny. He is a young man in his late teens and so happened he is Taiwanese just like me. Kenny said that he does not like Christians because his previous experiences with youth missionaries who promised young people just like himself if they just accept Jesus into their heart then their lives will get better and all their problems will go away. Problem is that these kids did not get the abundant life they were promised and they felt that they were lied to. I tried to answer some of His objections and then take him through the Law and Gospel. I held his attention for a good ten minutes until the gentleman I was dealing with all of the sudden wanted a piece of the action again, asking completely unrelated questions and demanding that I address his question. I refused because I was half way speaking with Kenny and that annoyed him enough that he went away in a huff. When I turned to address Kenny again, trying to pick up where we left off, he angrily said to me: “I have heard people like you before, and I am really not interested.” So Kenny walked away as well.
I stepped down from the soap box, I said to myself: “I think I am done for the night.”
As providence would have it, this preacher have made absolute hash of things, Ryan showed up just in time to take over. While Ryan is getting ready, I went to my little corner to sooth my inner child. A very encouraging young man named Jared came up to me, he is a Christian who happened to pass by. He said some very kind words to me about my preaching and we had a great conversation about evangelism. While I was trying to explain why we use the Law before the Gospel, Kenny came back with his girlfriend and wanted to apologize for walking off. What happened then can only be orchestrated by our Lord. I was just speaking to Jared about using the Law in evangelism and Kenny gave me a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the use of the Law in presenting the Gospel. More importantly I was able to explain to Kenny about the true promise of the Gospel, and it is not about living our best life now, but it is about the forgiveness of our Sin. I walked through the Law with him and showed him the justice of God in punishing law-breakers. I asked him if he understand that if he dies tonight, he will face God in judgment and God would be just in sending Kenny to hell. He said yes. I then spoke about the grace of God in Jesus Christ. That God send His son to die for our sin upon the cross, taking our punishment, and if we will believe in His name, repent from our sin and trust in the work of Christ alone upon the cross then God will judge us righteous, not because of our own deeds, but His. Again Kenny said yes, and his girlfriend heard the Gospel as well. Kenny and I shook hands, I promised I will pray for him, they walked away with the Gospel message loud and clear.
Yip, my job was done.
Jared and I continued our conversation, we exchanged contact details and he left just before Ryan got up to preach. It was still very quiet in the mall so Ryan just faithfully preached the Gospel to those few who passed by. The situation quickly changed as a young man in a full business suit started heckling Ryan and accusing the God of the old testament is cruel and unjust for allow “slavery”, institute capital punishment and the command of slaughter of whole people groups. While his objections are not new, the mischaracterization of the Old Testament is again a semi-regular occurrence on the street, the angle and the way he presented his arguments was quite new. Ryan tried to answer his objections but the gentleman danced around the issue and was not allowing the preacher to answer these questions thoroughly. Furthermore he was extremely militant towards Christianity, with every argument indented to undermine the position of the preacher. The plot thickens as he revealed himself to be a Zoroastrian, a very interesting religion as it turned out. Claiming to be the oldest religion in the world, and therefore MUST be the true one, these good people believe in a good God who created the universe, there will be a judgment day that is coming and as good Zoroastrians their good deeds can out weight their bad and that is the primary reason why they see Christianity as corrupt because the Bible says that God is not impressed by our good works and that is just not fair. (Disclaimer, the above paragraph needs to be read with your “sarcasm” goggles on.”)
It is not fair that God does not let sin slide... I am yet to figure out the logic of that sentiment.
I took my chance to engage the gentleman conversation as he was leaving the preaching spot and I tried to answer his objections one on one. He was much more polite in that setting and we were able talk about some of his problem with Christianity in better detail. Turns out, shock and horror (I am not sure if I am being sarcastic here…) the gentleman used to be a “born again” Christian. He even has the proof of his previous religious fervor, the name of Christ is tattooed in artistic flair across both of his forearms. The problem appears to be that the Christianity he used to be a part of was not moral enough for him, for all the talk of being “different” Christians were not different to the world, yet Christ was taught as being “the only way”, not as a way to salvation, but as a way to better behavior management. When he encounters Zoroastrianism, viola, here was a way other than Christ that produces better morality, and better self discipline. Of course, Christianity is now proven to be a lie, because it doesn’t live up to the promise.
Tragic state of affairs indeed, I tried to show him the real Gospel, but the wall of self-righteousness was so high that even the Law of Moses was too soft and corrupted for him. He refuses to see that he is a sinner in the sight of God; in his view the Christian God is unjust to not take the good works of man into account when it comes to the final judgment. By the end of the night our conversation did not go anywhere, for one thing I am unfamiliar with Zoroastrianism, for another, I am amazed at the level of self-confidence in his own righteousness. “The Pharisees lives” is thought that enters my brain as I said good bye to my Zoroastrian friend. I have heard much smarter and wiser Christian teachers warning that the modern version of “love-me-to-death” Christianity is going to push people into either hardcore atheism, or hardcore legalism such as Islam, or what I saw tonight. Maybe it’s just my gen-x pessimism coming through, but are we seeing some of that trend in the world today? Something for me to think about anyway.
As time passes midnight, Ryan stepped down as the last preacher. It was a good night again because God is sovereign in all that He does. Despite a quiet night, the whole time the team is on the street, member of our team is having a conversation about the Gospel with someone all the time. The Gospel went out to many people and God’s name is gloried when his Gospel is faithfully preached.
Soli Deo Gloria.