Battle Log

Brisbane Team

Saturday, 7 February, 2009

Posted by Posted 16 February 2009, 9:47 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

WitnessingAfter 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:

  1. Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
  2. The universe has a beginning.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Ryan preaching open airJason witnessing one2oneThis 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.

Ryan preaching and Alex heckling

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.

Ryan preaching open air while being heckled by Alex

Ryan giving out gospel tractsAndrew preaching open airAfter 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.

Andrew preaching open air

Andrew preaching open air

To God be the glory!

 


Saturday, 31 January, 2009

Posted by Posted 8 February 2009, 4:37 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

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.

Glenda witnessingSo 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.

Alex heckling RyanAt 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 preaching and answering questionsDave preachingAndrew 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.

Rodney tracting Joel and Amy witnessing

Rick witnessing to Alex Phillip witnessing

To God be the glory!


Saturday, 24 January, 2009

Posted by Posted 4 February 2009, 7:32 PM by Andrew Hsu. Permalink

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.


Saturday, 17 January, 2009

Posted by Posted 31 January 2009, 4:49 PM by Andrew Hsu. Permalink

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:

IF:

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

THEN EITHER

F.        God is incapable of stopping evil - HE is not all powerful

OR

G.     God doesn't want to stop evil - HE is not loving

OR

H.      Both

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.


Saturday, 10 January, 2009

Posted by Posted 13 January 2009, 11:21 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

Andrew Hsu was out of town over the weekend, so I knew it would just be me leading the team for this week. But thankfully we still had enough team members for the outreach. Witali and Jason were back again this week as well, and they were a blessing to the team.

Once we had set the Bible table up, David Strachan stood up to preach. He was heckled a bit by Alex, but stood faithful in preaching the gospel. A few people stopped to listen to what he was saying. After he got down, Kevin had a turn preaching. Kevin pointed out that the Bible says that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, so it is no wonder Alex does not like to hear it. Alex agreed it is utter foolishness.

After preaching the wonderful news of how one can be saved, Kevin tagged me in deal with Alex. From the start, Alex kept repeating his famous line, "There is no God!" But his arguments this week were once again very foolish. He kept trying to say that it is impossible to prove God, I would ask him to substantiate that statement, but each time he couldn't. Instead he would put the burden of proof onto me to prove God. While I agree the theist is under the burden of proof to provide evidence for God, but if Alex wants to make the absolute negative that it is impossible to prove God, he now has assumed a massive burden of proof that he must bear.

Alex heckling Ryan as he preachesIn response to my argument for God that I presented, Alex denied the second premise by saying that the universe is eternal. I showed him that both science and logic demands that the universe have a beginning. But his argument went on the lines of this: "Since the sum of all the matter and the anti-matter is zero, the universe is in exactly the same state as it was at the singularity. Thus the universe is eternal." This argument is clearly fallacious (even assuming the Big Bang theory is true), as there is a major distinction between what the universe was like at the singularity and is today. I pointed out that if matter and anti-matter come together, they cancel out; they both cease to exist. He agreed on this point. So on the Big Bang theory point of view, there was absolutely nothing at the singularity. But at t=1, there was now something. Nothing becoming something means that that something had a beginning. He kept trying to get around this by saying that the sum of the universe is still the same though. But I responded, "So what? The universe exists now, and did not exist at the singularity, so thus the universe must have had a beginning. An analogy paralleling this is if we imagine that we have a scale with two things balancing each other out exactly, so that they are the same weight. But on one side is a bar of gold, and on the other side is a pile of dirt. Even though the sum of the mass of the two items on the scale are exactly the same, there is a distinct difference between a gold bar and a pile of dirt.

So Alex then proceeded to say that he disagreed with the first premise of my argument - "Everything that has a beginning has a cause". So I asked him to give an example of something that goes against this premise. He said that fluctuations within the Quantum vacuum are examples of things that go in and out of being uncaused. At least the example he gave is better than what he used to say, that the universe is evidence of something that had a beginning without a cause. For that is clear circular reasoning. But even virtual particles in quantum mechanics do not provide an example of something that arises without a cause. For they rely on the quantum vacuum for their temporal existence. The quantum vacuum is actually a sea of fluctuating energy, and the virtual particles borrow the energy for their existence from that. So I pointed out that Alex still had not provided an example of anything that goes against my first premise.

Alex reading a BibleHowever, Alex didn't want to give up his argument. So I proceeded to talk about the judgment to come and the standard at which God will judge the world. Alex clearly did not like hearing about this, and would just keep repeating his line, "There is no God". It seems as though he thinks that the more times he says it, the more chance it will come true one day.

After presenting the law and the gospel to Alex and the crowd, who were still intently listening, I stepped down after almost an hour of preaching. Jason was the next preacher up, and being the first time he has preached with us, he apparently did very well.

I was unable to listen because I was having a dialogue with two Muslim fellows from Saudi Arabia who had been listening to my preaching. We chatted about the distinct differences between Islam and Christianity, and I was able to present the gospel to them. I pointed out that in the Qur'an, Allah is presented as a deceiver. "As in Surah 4:157, he made it appear as though Jesus died on the cross, when really he really didn't, according to the Qur'an. To make someone believe something that is not true, is deception. Moreover, these fellows agreed that Jesus' followers were called Muslims. And so, not only was Allah deceiving Jesus' enemies, He was also deceiving the Muslims at the time into thinking that Jesus did really die. So if Allah did that back then, how do you know that Allah has not deceived you in giving you the Qur'an?" They were unable to respond, but wanted to dialogue more about this, so we exchanged email addresses.

Dave finished off the preaching for the night, calling all people everywhere to repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ.

Below is some video footage of Alex heckling me while preaching on Saturday night:

Soli Deo Gloria.


Saturday, 3 January, 2009

Posted by Posted 12 January 2009, 7:25 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

It was Saturday, and I knew that we once again had the wonderful privilege of preaching the gospel in the middle of Brisbane city. We had three new people join us for the outreach - Witali, Jason and Marcus. It was great to have them along with us as Josh and Peter were still away in the UK. After some prayer, Bible reading and fellowship, we made our way to Queen Street Mall at 9pm and starting setting up the Bible table.

Alex (our regular agnostic heckler) was in again tonight spreading his message of love and...err, I mean, hatred towards God. Alistair was the first preacher up and God drew in a small crowd to hear the preaching of the gospel. During this time, Alex was engaged in a conversation with someone so he did not heckle. However someone who heckled on the New Year's Eve outreach was in again, holding a Bible that he had received the previous week. Apparently, he had been doing some reading of it and wanted to ask Ali a few questions about it. Andrew suggested Ali just have a one2one conversation with him because he knew his questions would be complex and would steer the preaching off the gospel.

So David Strachan got up to preach and almost immediately Alex started heckling him. Since he is a newer preacher and doesn't know how to handle hecklers just yet, he tagged me in to deal with Alex. Alex seemed like he was a broken record, spouting the same line over and over again, "There is no God! There is no God!". So I provided some good proof for God, but like always, Alex just dismisses it offhand. If seems as though when anything that proves God is provided for him, he rejects it because it simply does not agree with his presuppositions. Paul was right when He said: "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. Claiming to be wise, they became fools" (Romans 1:21-22).

After discussing the existence of God for a little bit, I ran Alex through the good person test. By this time a rather large crowd had gathered who were interested in the discussion taking place. Alex knew that he had broken almost all the commandments of God and admitted that he loves to sin. But as soon as I explained the consequences of his actions, he would repeat his famous line, "There is no God! There is no God!" He didn't like the conviction of sin it seems. When I asked him what evidence he has that there is no afterlife, he said, "Have you ever had a thought outside your brain?" That was his whole argumentation. If you're like me, you would scratch your head and say, "That doesn't prove anything, Alex".

After this, I preached about how one can be saved from the wages of their sin, and that is through Jesus Christ alone. Through Jesus' death can we be forgiven because He can pay the fine that we deserve for our sins, but only for those that repent and trust that Christ's death is the only reason why they will be saved. During this time, Witali had a couple ask him what message was being preached, for they did not speak English well. Witali found out that they were German and Witali is from Germany, and so He was able to witness to them in their native language.

Once I had finished preaching, I tagged Ralph in who finished the preaching off for the night. At this stage there were also many one2ones happening with many people interested in learning more.

Praise God that the gospel message went out to many people and please pray that God will convert those that heard the gospel or received tracts. Also remember to keep Alex in your prayers that his hatred towards God will one day be transformed into a love for Him.

Soli Deo Gloria.


Wednesday, 31 December, 2008

Posted by Posted 8 January 2009, 9:17 PM by Andrew Hsu. Permalink

Charles Spurgeon said: "I can think of nothing better than for a Christian to celebrate the coming of the new year by preaching to the lost as they are rushing to see the fireworks at Southbank."

Nope, he didn't say that, but he really should have.

It has been a tradition of sorts for the team of Operation 513 to open air preach and celebrate the new years by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The team met up at 9:00 p.m. and were bracing for a long night ahead of us. A good number of people showed up for the special event, we have a rather sizable team of around 15. Everyone was all tracted up and ready to go. In short order the team were pass out tracts to the non-stop stream of people and there were quite a few one on one witnessing happening.

Being a night usually marked by drunkeness and lewdness, the Law was in full enforcement.The boys in blue were patrolling the street in large numbers, (and occasionally posing for photos for the tourists) and also were the council officers. A couple of officers from the city council approached us twenty minutes after our arrival, they were quite happy to see that we have obtained council permit for the night, has a few words about safety and carried on with their duties in Queen Street Mall.

David, Ryan and myself took terms open air, people were very distracted at this point, there were many passer-bys but not many stick around to listen. The people handing out tracts were a lot more fruitful as the constant streams of people meant a lot of tracts went out, and many conversations took place. All went very well without incident as the clock approaches midnight, people were increasing their pace as they make their way towards the river where the fireworks and the count-down takes place.

Ryan was the preacher who had the privilege of closing 2008 out by preaching the Gospel. The Queen street mall is almost empty as people rush to the celebration, almost all of them ignore the preaching as they rush by. However there were a few who aborted their original plans of attending festivity and stopped to listen to the Gospel. Ryan, for example, stepped down from the soap box to witness to someone as the count down was going on, to Ryan and his listener, something more important was taking place than the celebration. There were many more who received the Gospel as the Calendar flipped over to 2009, preaching or receiving the Gospel, I am sure there's no better way to start your year.

After the fireworks is over, we are now getting ready for the crowd to move back from Southbank into the city, only this time, instead of trikleing through the mall like the first half of the night, the crowd now arrive in droves. We had preachers ready again, and the Gospel went out as massive amount of people walk by.

Between Ryan and myself we managed to gather a rather large and hostile crowd. A young man who was a professing Muslim was extremely rude and loud, the crowd caught on his negative behavior and was becoming more and more hostile by the minute. While the young man carried on with much zeal for what he believed in, there were very little reasoning in his arguments. He asserted again and again that according to the Islam Jesus was only a prophet and not God as the Christian teaches, when I confronted his belief system with some very basic "Dr. James White" apologetics, he was unable to give anything that remotely resembles an answer. He just gets louder and ruder as it goes on and eventually the council officers who spoke to us earlier in the night stepped in as in their opinion the situation is our of control.

While I respectfully disagree with their assessment, I choose to take on their suggestion and have the preaching cease for the time being and just have one-on-one witnessing. Well, one-on-many on as most of the team finding themselves addressing multiple persons at a time. It was a very interesting time as I find myself speaking to a group of Muslims, and the young man who had cause much of the aggravation still yelling at the top of his voice when asserting his long defeated arguments. Dan were addressing a very self-righteous non-practicing Catholic and his friends right next to my little gathering with the Muslims men and from the corner of my eye I can see a few people gathered around Ryan, despite the absence of open air the Gospel was still being proclaimed to the crowd. By the end of the night (2:00 a.m.) there were many great witnessing encounters, Gospel tracts went out by the hundreds and it was indeed another great start of the year in Brisbane for Operation513.

I think when I finally got to bed, it was 4:00 a.m. This maybe a year without much sleep, but to God be the Glory.

S. D. G.


Saturday, 27 December, 2008

Posted by Posted 3 January 2009, 4:01 PM by Ryan Hemelaar. Permalink

Since Josh Williamson was away in the UK, Andrew Hsu and I led the Brisbane team. After some prayer and Bible reading, we started setting up in Queen Street Mall at 9pm. It was quiet night in the city, probably because everyone was at home resting after their Christmas celebrations. Although we did have about 10 people on our team, which was pretty good.

Dave Strachan, Andrew, and I took turns preaching and God saw fit to bring in a small crowd to listen at times. But no one heckled us, even when we preached about the atrocity of abortion. Although at about 11:30PM, I got up to preach again and almost immediately I was heckled by a young women who proclaimed that God did not exist. Her argument was that since the first law of thermodynamics states: "Matter cannot be created nor destroyed", therefore, the universe must have always existed. So I pointed out that the first law of thermodynamics does not disprove the possibility that the universe came into being. For when there was no universe, there were no physical laws (such as the laws of thermodynamics). So therefore, the first law of thermodynamics did not hold when the universe did not exist. Only once the universe came into being did it start holding. So therefore, God could create the universe and not break that physical law.

She then back-tracked and said that she never said that God does not exist. Although she did ask what evidence there was for God. So I briefly presented the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Right after this, it started pouring down rain. So we all ran undercover and Andrew and I continued to chat with her for another hour or so.

It was a good night, even though it was quiet, with the gospel going out in Brisbane city.


Saturday, 20 December, 2008

Posted by Posted 24 December 2008, 1:03 AM by Josh Williamson. Permalink

Saturday, 20th December, 2008

Once again we returned to Brisbane city. There was a sense of festivity in the air as it was only a few days before Christmas. As I walked through the mall I handed out Christmas tracts. Every person took them and wished me a Merry Christmas. It is always good when people are happy about receiving tracts.

I met with Dave and Ryan, we then had a time of prayer and Bible reading. After that we headed up to the mall to begin the night of preaching. It was good to see other team members there ready to go out and make known the gospel.

With it being so close to Christmas I gave members of the team packs of Christmas tracts to hand out. These tracts came from a dear brother of mine named Tommy Bell. He is based in the US and is involved in a ministry known as Custom Tract Source, he was so kind to send me some tracts free of charge. I would encourage all our readers to order tracts from www.customtractsource.com (of course you should order tracts from Operation 513 also!)

The night went well, with people preaching and making known the gospel of Christ.

Since it was Christmas, I decided to preach from Luke 2 and the birth of Jesus Christ, in fact it wasn’t just I who preached from this passage, but the Christmas theme was something that was in all the preachers messages tonight.

I focused heavily on the fact that Christ was born as Saviour, and this of course begged the question, “A saviour from what”. From this point I expounded the law of God and showed that we all needed Jesus to be our Saviour. A few hecklers yelled things, but there wasn’t much engaging. The crowds were smallish tonight, and I think it is due to it being the festive season.

Even though things were slow many great conversations occurred. For instance Nick was witnessing to this one young man who had stopped only to mock Christianity, Nic was so patient and kind to this man as he shared the gospel, but this man kept up his attack. Once Nick finished talking to him, I began a conversation with him. And for the next 40 minutes both Rick and I pleaded with him to be reconciled to God. This man left screaming abuse at Christ. Please pray for his conversion.

Tonight was a good night, albeit a little slow. This was my last night in Brisbane preaching for about 8 weeks, as I am heading to the United Kingdom for outreach. Please keep us in your prayers as we seek to minister the gospel to those in Britain. The teams in Australia will operate as per usual so please pray for them also.

May all of you have a very safe and Christ centred Christmas!


Saturday, 13 December, 2008

Posted by Posted 24 December 2008, 1:03 AM by Josh Williamson. Permalink

Saturday, 13th December, 2008

After a hard day on the Gold Coast, I made my way to Brisbane city. It looked like it was going to be a good night on the streets.

The team was few in number, but the passion to reach out the lost was evident. The regulars were their like Alex the Agnostic, and a few more people who seem to come out each week. It is always good to have the same people come back, it is our hope that God will save them.

Ryan was the first preacher up for the night, and he preached a bit different than he usual does. Normally Ryan has a lot of apologetics in his preaching, but this time he spent less time on apologetics and more time reasoning with people from the gospel. This was really encouraging to me, while I love to hear apologetics, I prefer to hear the gospel more. A couple of hecklers stopped and shouted a few things. Ryan engaged them and presented them with the claims of Jesus Christ.

After Ryan finished preaching, Michael got up and preached. It was his first time preaching with us. The first thing that struck me was his projection, he had great voice control and great voice projection, truly gifted in public speaking. As he preached a man approached, this man was scruffy looking and had most of his top teeth missing. He walked right up to the preacher and stopped about one foot away. With that the man began to rage in an unknown language. The man then began to rant on about people being preachers and him being a trained preacher. His heckling was vile, and his threats of physical violence were hard to ignore.

The heckler began to yell that he could defeat any preacher that we had as we couldn’t answer his questions. Michael was struggling a little so he tagged me in and I began to deal with the mans questions. His questions were very basic however this man I am convinced was full of demons, so his cursing and blasphemy came after every answer I gave.

His hatred for the gospel and for Jesus Christ was coming through loud and clear. He kept threatening physical violence, so I sent a team member off to get the police. The police officer told them it wasn’t illegal for the man to threaten us. Of course the police officer was wrong. So here we were in the middle of the Queen street mall with one of the most hostile hecklers I have ever seen. To make things more interesting another man claiming to be god began to work with demoniac one.

I pushed through their heckles and still presented the gospel, but these two hecklers were manifesting big time. So after preaching I stood down and they quickly surrounded me. The first heckler once again began to abuse me, and this time he put a lit cigarette onto my hand. I challenged him on that to which he just laughed. Again the police were sent for and again the members of the Police Beat near the Queen Street Mall failed to respond.

After awhile another preacher began, but once again the demoniac went after him, finally I had enough so I got on the phone and called the emergency number. I explained to the operator what was happening, and held the phone so she could hear the heckler. She agreed that it was a dangerous situation and the police needed to be there. While I was talking to her another heckler come running in and tried to kick Ryan. But, then help arrived finally two members of the Queensland Police showed up on scene and took away the demonic heckler.

The rest of the night was spent handing out tracts and talking to people. Even though things were hard, God still allowed His word to go forth.

 


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