Saturday, 6 September, 2008
The first week of spring had arrived, but you couldn't have told it based on how cold it was in the Queen Street Mall. As we arrived we were hit by a icy blast of wind, and this maintained throughout the night.
One thing that immediately stood out to our attention was the fact, that the city was near on deserted, which was a major swing from the week previous, when there was hardly space to walk up t he mall.
As normal we spent some time i n prayer, and reading the Bible as a team in King George Square, before we started the night of ministry. We were a little disappointed as the week previous it was reported to us that Alex the agnostic would not be able to attend due to ‘other' commitments. So we prayed that God would raise up other people who would be interested in talking about the things of God.
Once 9pm rolled around we made our way into the mall, and began to set up. It was decided that Andre would be the first preacher for the night. While we were setting up we noticed a major problem (in a good way), and that is we are just about out of Bibles for the Bible table. This is a major blessing, as it means that hundreds of Bibles have been handed out over a period of months. It is such a blessing seeing people walk away with the Word of God in their hands. Hopefully, by reading it God will grant them eternal life.
Andre got up first and began to expound on the beauty of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is good watching Andre preach, as he has come along way over the past few months. His voice is developing so he is becoming a louder preacher, and also he is getting much better at engaging with hecklers.
The man that heckled Andre was a man that had been present for the past few weeks, I have spoken to him for some time a few weeks back. While he is a nice enough man, and believes in the Bible, his theology has been twisted and warped by the cults. Much of what he says is common with the teachings of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses). While Andre was dealing with this man, I looked up and saw that our "Preacher Seeking Missile" (Alex the Agnostic) was inbound, this was a bit of a surprise considering we believed he wasn't going to be there tonight.
Based on how drunk Alex was, I presume he didn't expect to be there either, but as he came up he said something about his apprentice not being able to make it. This I found rather cool, as if the local agnostic has to have an apprentice in order to take on the Christians, then it shows that we are doing our job right. Also, Alex is more than welcome to bring as many people as he wants out onto the streets, as that means we get to preach the gospel all the more.
Alex began by talking to Andrew and I, by saying "I could unleash on you, and destroy your beliefs!" To which both Hsusy and I replied that he could go ahead and try, but Christianity will never be destroyed. It was then that he "unleashed" and began to make his argument for why Christianity was wrong. His whole argument was built on the fact that he mis-understood Christianity. For he stated that we don't need Jesus since Christ didn't give us any new moral teaching except that which was already common to human thought. We countered by pointing out that Christ is eternal, that He is God in flesh, and all good morality flows from God. This caused Alex to go into a rant about Jesus being God.
By now Ralph was up preaching, and while he was preaching a man wearing a "Queen" T-shirt approached me, and stated that us Christians were wrong as there was no God, and that was a scientific fact. Since, I am interested in science I asked, what exactly in science proved that God did not exist. His answer was "We can't find him in the universe!" This led me into explaining how God created everything, so He is a being outside of the confines of the universe. The man then asked for "material evidence for this immaterial God" to which I pointed out that you cannot provide material evidence for something that is immaterial. The man became a bit antsy, and started to say "Ha! You Christians can't answer!" This was a very stupid argument that he was making, as I had just answered, the problem was he didn't like the answer. So after he bragged about winning for a few seconds, he then went and started to talk to some of the other guys.
At this stage of the night Alex was raging drunk, and his arguments were even weaker than when he is sober. This was evidenced by the fact that the vast majority of what he said centred around hurling drunken abuse at the preachers. Tonight was interesting watching Alex as in one breath he says "You can have you beliefs, that's fine!" Then in the next breath he is trying to destroy our beliefs. Then he would say something like "your belief is true for you." Then start ranting about how wrong we were.
I think the only reason Alex comes back week in and week out, is because he knows that there is a God, and he knows that He must give an account to Him one day for all his sins. But, because Alex loves his sins, he will keep trying to suppress the truth.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." - Romans 1:18-21 (ESV)
The rest of the night was spent with Andrew Hsu preaching, and then finally we had David Strachan get up and for the first time ever he shared Scripture in public. Something which Alex loved, and tried to stop. But, when Alex was challenged by both myself, and Ralph to discuss his objections he refused to dialogue, he only wanted to stop Dave reading the Bible.
It was a good but quiet night!
Soli Deo Gloria!
The busiest day of the year for us had arrived! Every year at this time Brisbane city goes into party mode as the city has a big "River festival", while the party goes for a week, tonight is the biggest night of them all, as it is "River Fire" night, a night when tons of fireworks go off, an d an F-111 from the Royal Australian Air Force does a dump and burn. Since this is always a good light show to watch a couple of hundred thousand people crammed themselves in around the Brisbane CBD and river.
Since the city was bursting at the seams, we had to get to the city a bit earlier, this was to get a car park, and to also hand out many tracts. Andre, Ryan and I had our back packs crammed full of gospel tracts, so at 5pm we made our way quickly to the main walkway the crossed the river, there for the next two hours we handed out tracts.
I started off by using our Operation 513 "Big Money" tracts, and it soon became clear that the one thousand that I had was going to run out very quickly. It took only 45 minutes for every single Big Money tract to be taken. People were lining up asking for the tract, others were running against the flow of traffic in the hope that they would be able to get one before they ran out. It was a good time of tract work.
After I had run out of big money, I quickly handed out all the millions that I had on me. The tracts were going so quick the fear was we would run out of tracts before we even started the normal preaching time.
By 7pm I had handed out close to 2000 tracts, and the other guys had handed out large sums of tracts also. Since we were nearly out we made our way to King George Square, where we would meet with the rest of the team for the nights outreach.
After a quick dinner, we realised that where the team meets is actually just on the main walkway to the train station, and that at any moment all those people who were rushing home from the fireworks would pass by us. So we quickly looked in our packs to find as many tracts as we could, and then we took position and once again began to hand out tracts to many people.
By 7:45pm I was completely out of tracts, so it was good to see that Rick and Glenda had arrived, and they had more tracts to hand out. We then spent a time in prayer and bible reading as Rick and Glenda witnessed to many of the people who were leaving the city.
Since we were in for a big night, it was really encouraging to see so many people out on the streets witnessing. It was also good to see that a large number of guys from Kenmore Baptist even came out for the night.
Once 9pm rolled around we went into the Queen Street Mall to preach, I was the first one up and nearly instantly we had many hecklers opening fire. Ranging from Alex the Agnostic right through to some drunk bloke who asked the same question seven times.
It was a hard open air as many hecklers just kept yelling but wouldn't answer, but the good thing was, that while the vocal people were going me, behind the crowd there were many one to one conversations going on.
I was up for a fair while, and then I tagged Andrew Hsu in to preach for a bit more, as the crowd did to me, they did to him also. Andrew did a good job of battling through there heckles and getting to the gospel.
While he was preaching a drunk man was behind him, and was become rather unfriendly to Andrew's wife, so I stepped in and told him to back of. He appeared as if he wanted to argue but he backed down, and left - for a short time.
The man returned a little while later, and this time he was a bit toey, he began to make threats towards me, which I basically ignored, then he started ranting and raving about how he has three black belts, and that because I spoke against his family (which I never) we was going to kick my head in. The man then stepped back, jumped and did a spin in the air, he then squatted and put his hands in an "combat" position, this was rather amusing as in the position he was in he couldn't hurt anyone. But, just to be on the safe side, I put myself in a defensive position, so if any attack came I could stop it fairly quickly. No attack came, and the man mouthed off and left.
Andrew Hsu was still preaching at this time, and as normal Alex was heckling. It was then that something happened, and the next thing you know both Andrew Caswell and Alex were behind the preaching going at each other over the atonement of Christ.
Alex hates the doctrine of Christ Jesus dying on the cross for sinners, and he shows his hatred week in and week out. So for Alex the following applies, and yes, I do know that you read this blog Alex, and Alex know this that many people are praying for you!
"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." - 1 Corinthians 1:18
Alex, you may find the cross foolishness, but let me tell you that God is being gracious towards you and is warning you that you are perishing in your sins. However, if you repent and trust in what Jesus Christ did upon the cross you will be saved.
The night basically went on as normal after that, people heckled, and we preached. Ryan and Josh Mitchell both got up and had a go, and many people got to hear the gospel.
Praise God for a good night!
Soli Deo Gloria!
After being away from Brisbane for a week, I was quite excited at the prospect of being able to preach once again in the Queen Street Mall. While it is always a joy to preach elsewhere, and while I loved preaching in Adelaide, there is just something about coming home and preaching in your regular spot.
We met did all the normal things, prayer, bible reading, and then a time of fellowship was enjoyed by those present. Once 9pm rolled around, it was no longer a fellowship time, but now it was a time to go out and witness to those who did not know Jesus Christ.
Ryan was the first preacher up for the night, and he wasn't long into the preaching when a good size crowd gathered around. In this crowd there were a few hecklers, first there were two self-confessed "bad Christians" and also two lesbians. This made for some interesting heckles, as when the lesbians made a case for homosexuality, the ‘bad' Christians would agree with her, and then make a case supporting it also. It seemed to be the night of all the hot topics, first there was homosexuality, and then there was abortions.
For about thirty minutes Ryan held his own against them, but his voice was starting to go (which was a surprise!), so he tagged me in and I began the long task of dealing with the hecklers. First I addressed the ‘bad' Christians, they weren't to impressed, when I stressed that the Bible teaches how we must examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith or not (2 Cor. 13:5) and then told them about how some people think themselves saved, but in reality they aren't (Matt. 7:21-23).
By now the lesbians had left, but a young man with an accent and wearing a New York Yankees hate had taken their place. This man was very vocal, and very opposed to Christianity, he started to rant that it was Christians that killed all the Jews, I tired to counter by pointing out that those who kill innocent people in the name of Christianity, are according to Jesus not true Christians. But this man wasn't interested in listening, he just kept on with his argument, and refused to listen to the counter. By the way he kept talking about Israel and the Jews I presumed he was Jewish, upon asking him, he then confirmed this fact. Since he had been yelling at me for some time now, I thought it proper to at least know who it was that really hated me and Christianity. His name was Noam, and he is a practicing Jew. This led to an interesting discussion about the Messiah, he stated that Jesus could not be the Messiah since he is dead, but I pointed out that God showed that Jesus was the Messiah by raising Him from the dead.
Noam ignored, and kept on yelling his hated at Christianity and Christ. So I opened my bible and asked if I could read something to him, and then get his opinion on it. At first he refused, so I made the statement "clearly this man isn't interested in learning!" This made him stop, and then tell me to read out of my Bible.
So I opened the pages and began to read:
"He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors."
Once I finished reading, I looked up and noticed that he was already scoffing, so I asked, "What do you think about that, who is it talking about?" Noam looked at me and in an arrogant fashion said "That is talking about Jesus from your apostate New Testament!"
I turned my Bible over so he could see the pages and said "No, that was written by the Prophet Isaiah, from your Bible! Isaiah is talking about the Messiah, and you just admitted that this passage is talking about Jesus Christ!"
Noam looked stunned, but instead of admitting that Jesus is the Messiah, he went off on a tangent and refused to deal with the issue. But you could clearly tell that the Scripture had found its mark, as he wasn't as arrogant as before, and now more than ever he wanted to move away from the open air discussion. I wasn't going to let him move on that quickly, so I kept engaging him about Jesus Christ being the only one that could be the Messiah of God. From there I explained how in the Torah it was taught that there must be a sacrifice made for the atonement of sin, and that how that was a foreshadowing of the Lamb of God, who would come to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
By now Noam was very uncomfortable, and at the first chance he got, he headed out to the outer of the crowd that had now gathered. Please pray for Noam, that God would open his eyes, and that he will come to know Jesus as the Messiah.
The rest of the night was made up with the normal heckling, I covered issues of evolution, atheism, Islam, the Bible etc. At one point a Muslim became rather angry as I pointed out that the Quran is a book that teaches hate, and killing. The man started yelling that the Quran taught no such thing, so I quoted the Surah for him, and told him to go look it up. It is interesting, the "religion of peace" is so big on covering up the fact that in their book it says kill Christians and Jews. And the problem is so many people in the West has been duped into believing them. As you read this Islam is on the march in every Western country, the United Kingdom is nearly invaded by Islam, and it is to the point where there are no-go zones due to Islamic violence. The answer for this invasion of the demonic religion is not atheism, or even new political laws. The answer is the same as it has been for 2,000 years, and that answer is found in Jesus Christ. The church in the west needs to wake up, and realise that unless they start preaching the Gospel, one day they will wake up to find that Islam is now in control, and that they are facing death for their belief.
The rest of the night was spent for me in dealing with Christians who believed that we should emotionally manipulate people to make a decision for Jesus, and witnessing to some who had been listening to the preaching.
Andre then got up and preached, and closed the night off.
It was a good night, and many people got to hear the gospel. Please pray for them.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Since Josh Williamson was down in Adelaide for the whole weekend, Josh Mitchell came in and helped lead the Brisbane team with me. After a time of prayer, Bible reading and fellowship, we moved to our regular preaching spot in Queen Street Mall.
Andre was the first preacher up for the evening and he preached a solid gospel presentation for about 20 minutes. Next up was Andrew Caswell. It had been a while since he's been with us out on the streets in Brisbane, but he did an excellent job of preaching. He was very fiery and many people stopped to listen. Alex (our regular agnostic heckler) couldn't resist a heckle either. Alex asserted that God is not just because how can the death of Jesus pay for an eternal sentence in Hell. However, Alex misunderstands what the wages of sin is. The Bible says it's death, not an x amount of years in Hell. But unbelievers will still go to Hell because the Bible describes it as the second death. But in Hell, a person will be continually dying, but never actually die, so thus they will be in Hell forever because they will never fully pay the fine for their sins. So if the fine for our sins is death, because Jesus was sinless, his innocent death on the cross could satisfy God's justice for us if we trust in Him.
Next up it was Kevin who had a turn of preaching. He had some hecklers ask him questions about the Bible and he also managed to bring them through the good person test.
Kevin's voice was straining though, so after a while he tagged me in to preach. I had many various hecklers ask questions about the Christian faith. But a couple guys in particular were very upset with the Christian message. They were Sikhs. Sikhism is basically an ecumenical religion that says that every religion's god is the same as each other and all are true. So I pointed out to the guys that that is logically impossible. For in Islam, for example, there is only one God in one person, but in Christianity there is only one God composed of three persons. They are totally contradictory to each other, so thus they cannot both be true at the same time. However, the fellows just kept shouting that they are all true.
Sikhism also denies that there is a judgment to come. So I asked them, "do you believe that Jesus is God?" They said yes. So I said, "Then why don't you believe the words of Jesus when he says there is a judgment to come, and when he said he is the Way, the Truth, the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Him." At this point the guys were beginning to get really angry, and one for them stood right in front of me, started swearing and I thought that at any moment he might take a swing at me. But thankful, two guys who were not part of our team stepped in between the angry guy and me, to protect me. I realised, once the Sikh's had left, that these guys who protected me weren't even Christians, as they said they didn't like me preaching, but were willing to defend my right of freedom of speech.
By this time, there was a large crowd gathered, so I was able to preach the gospel to them all and deal with some more heckler's questions.
After I stepped down from preaching, many one2one conversations were being had. Josh Mitchell stood up to preach at 11:45PM and had various hecklers, one being Alex. Since Josh Mitchell is not a regular on the Brisbane team, he got to hear Alex's stash of illogical beliefs. One being that he doesn't know he exists. Although when I was talking to him after in a one2one conversation, he finally admitted that his thoughts absolutely exist, so he now believes in absolute truth. :)
Many seeds of the gospel went out throughout the evening, please pray for those that heard the good news of the gospel.
To God be the Glory!
I had been in bed all week with a bad dose of the flu, so I had decided that I shouldn't preach tonight, unless I inflame my sickness. As I drove into the city, I was hit constantly with the feeling of illness and also with head-spins, but the thought of being able to hit the streets of Brisbane was one that encouraged me to keep on going.
The night was cold, and it was surprising that we had such a small team gather for prayer and bible reading. At this stage there was only three of us present, so we were bracing for the fact that it may be a very busy night for us.
After spending time in fellowship we made our way up to our preaching spot, on the journey we ran into the Barnard family and also Peter. So our numbers swelled. We were then joined by a few more team members in the mall.
It was good to see everyone in position, from the preacher to those handing out tracts, and even our regular agnostic heckler Alex.
Ralph was the first preacher up for the night, and he did a bit of preaching, he preached the Word of God, and dealt with hecklers for about fifteen minutes, then tagged me into take over. I had to preach, even though I knew it would be unwise for me physically to preach, I had the preachers itch so I had to get up.
I started by engaging Alex over the creation of the world. He had stated earlier on that he only accepted empirical evidence, yet he didn't have any empirical evidence for his version of how the world came about. Once we pointed that out to him he decided to make some argument to prove how old the earth was (this still wasn't empiric evidence), but the problem with much of his argument was the fact that it was all built on a presupposition.
We debated over the topic of how only God is eternal, and how the universe is not. This then led into the biblical discussion of how God one day will send Jesus Christ back to earth to judge humanity for all their sins.
By now a good size crowd had gathered, and other hecklers had entered into the discussion. We covered a wide variety of topics from "How we got the Bible" to "Does God exist." It was a good open air, and many people got to hear the gospel. God has been gracious once again in bringing a crowd in for His glory!
After preaching for about an hour I started to notice that my voice was getting weak due to the flu that I had. So I tagged Ryan in to continue to debate the atheists. By the time I stood down, there wasn't much I could do as I had some really bad head spins. While I was trying to get over my illness I was approached by a man who had ‘advanced' past Christianity. It was his position that once one grows in spirituality you realise that Christianity is merely a step on the path to knowing the great all wise spirit.
He stated that the best way to be connected to the spirit was by loving and not judging anyone. This was an interesting thought, so I started to ask the man to explain, and he quickly passed judgment on Christianity. This then led to a discussion about how inconsistent his worldview is. The man after a while became rather angry at me, and once again proved how "unloving" he was. It was hard to witness to this man, as every time I presented the gospel to him started to wall up and wouldn't listen.
The rest of the night was spent dealing with one to ones, while Ryan preached. Overall it was a great night.
Soli Deo Gloria!
I was excited about tonight and as I was preparing for to leave home the idea of being able to stand and preach once again the glories of Christ was really awesome. What privilege we have as fallen human beings to stand and give testimony about our great and merciful God who saved us not because of anything we have done, but rather He saved us by His grace alone, so that He may get all the praise! It is a tremendous honour for any Christian then to stand and declare the good news of salvation to anyone who would listen. And to also plead with them, to look unto Jesus Christ and be saved.
When Andre, Tamara, and I arrived in Brisbane, the first thing we noticed was the fact that the car park was full! Each week for the past few months I have been able to park in the same car park, yet tonight I had to park elsewhere, this of course was a good indication of how busy the night was going to be.
We made our way over to King George Square, and on the way we ran into a good friend of ours who had just returned from a few weeks away on mission trip. Warren has been a real blessing to the team in the whole time he has been coming out with us. And it good to be able to call him a brother and also a friend.
Before too long we were joined by some other team members, and after a bit of a chat about theology, we started to pray for the evening, we prayed that God would be gracious to us, and that He would draw a crowd in for His Glory. We also prayed that He would Sovereignly draw His elect unto Himself.
After this time of prayer, we all opened our Bibles and read the Scripture together. Then once we had finished, we were able to spend some good time in fellowship. And once again discuss theological issues. I have heard other ministry leaders say that one should not talk about theology. I think that as Christians it is good for us to encourage each and other and also challenge each other over different theological thoughts. Of course there is a time and place to discuss such things, and when witnessing that is a time not to talk theology, but when we are fellowshipping together our conversation should be God focused, so it is in those times that we should be talking about the Study of God (theology).
At 9pm, we were in our normal spot in the Queen Street Mall, and we began to set up for the night. As per usual we set up the Bible table, which is a great place to have one to ones, and also to engage in apologetics. Since this table has been set up we have been able to distribute 100's Bibles. This is an awesome privilege, since we have been given the chance to put the very word of God into the hands of people who do not know Him. While it is probably the most expensive part of our weekly outreach, I think it is by far one of the most beneficially to the gospel ministry.
Alistair was the first preacher we had tonight, he has come along way in his preaching. He used to just stand up there and preach for a few minutes then stand down. But now he is preaching for longer periods of time, and he is preaching with a passion. Something I noticed with Ali's preaching is the fact that it is saturated with the Word of God, what I mean is, when he opens his mouth to preach or answers a question he does so with Scripture. This of course is the best way to open air preach, or for that matter, preach in general. As our words really mean nothing, but it is the Word of God that will not return void.
Ali's preached for near on forty minutes, and during that time he was able to engage a few hecklers with the gospel. I must say it is always encouraging to see God raising up more and more open air preachers with the passion to take the gospel to where the lost are.
Just after Ali finished preaching, a drunk man came up and decided to tell us how much God loves him, and how much God hates us. This man was offended and angered at the fact that there were Christians in the mall preaching about Jesus. Even though this man claimed to love Jesus. I tried to deal with this man, but he was too drunk to even have a decent conversation with.
As the drunk man stumbled off up the mall another man appeared to take his place. This man was carrying a Bible, and very quickly declared himself to be a **** evangelist. One didn't need to have the gift of discernment to quickly realise that something was not right.
This man walked up right next to me and said "I've save 200 people from hell!" Then he paused and waited for me to respond. I presume he wanted me to congratlate him on all the people he had saved, yet I couldn't do that. My response was "You didn't save anyone from hell. If they got saved then it was by God's own election." The man quickly replied, "Yeah, I know that but I saved them" then he continued "What has God ever done for me? I hate Him, He does nothing for me!" This is an odd thing for an "evangelist" to say, so I pointed out to him that the very fact that he currently lives, and currently breaths is a sign that God is doing something for him. God doesn't have to give him life, yet it is by an act of kindness that God allows him to live. The man replied rather angrily "If God cared for me, he would give me a job, give me a home, and give me lots of money!"
I pointed out to the man that no where in Scripture does God promise us any of those things. But the man just kept rambling on about prosperity. This man showed clearly the curse that comes from that charlatans on TV that preach "health and wealth" those TV "prosperity pimps" are not ministers of the gospel, but rather they are servants of their own wallet. They cause people to curse God because of their antics, and they are saving up God's holy wrath that will be revealed against them on the day of judgement! (2 Peter 2:3)
The angry and bitter man (who has ever right to be bitter as he was sold a lie) left yelling his hatred for God. So I began to prepare to preach. My opening for the night was going to be on "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" As I started in on this topic a few people began to gather in and listen, and as I went through an analogy illustrating how in life bad things do happen, I swung to Luke 13 and explained how when Jesus walked on earth He got asked some similar questions.
I pointed out to the people that had stopped to listen that Jesus answered the people by saying "No, unless you repent you also will perish!" As I expounded on that I showed the crowd that the real question is not "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people" but rather "Why would a good God allow bad people to live?" This of course then spring boarded into talking about the total depravity of man, and how apart from God's grace we cannot ever be saved.
God showed His favour towards us by bring back the drunk man from before. The man began to heckle, God used this man's heckling to draw a large crowd in for His glory. The man began to really fire up and the louder he got the bigger the crowd got. Some of the members of the team commented that this was either the biggest crowd we have ever had or the second biggest. I am not sure how big it was, as my focus was on dealing with hecklers and preaching the gospel.
More hecklers began to enter into the discussion, and some of them had genuine and good questions but others were just plain silly. I would say that the majority of the time was spent on the gospel, with very little time being spent on apologetics. We spoke in depth about how bad things happen in this world, and how this is a result of sin. Then we spoke about how society as a whole is sinful, but we must always remember that society is made up of individuals who are sinful.
About half way through I could feel my voice starting to go, this was from the fact that I still hadn't fully gotten over being sick. Then a man came running into the middle of the crowd and through a tract that was on fire in front of me. The crowd erupted in cheers as the gospel burned. This man later on professed to be an atheist, and wanted me to answer the question "Does God exist." I tried to engage him in apologetics but he wasn't interested. He was more interested in performing to the crowd. But at least he stayed, and got to hear the gospel a few more times.
One young bloke decided to be a bit of a clown, so he jumped up next to me and began to mock me while I preached. He turned and passed wind into my face while preaching. The crowd took great delight in this, but I kept on with the gospel. After preaching open air for a few years it takes a bit to really annoy me. This young bloke seemed to think that it was his job to annoy me for the night. The problem is he failed rather miserably.
The next trick this bloke did was to get a handful of ice and pour it down my shirt. Now this being the middle of winter, and being cold already didn't really do much to make me feel good. But I ignored his ice antics and kept on preaching. He decided then that it would be funny to throw stuff at me while I preached. This is not an uncommon thing, so once again I ignored him.
But this young bloke had strong willpower and endurance. He then decided to climb into the garden behind me and proceed to shower me in bark. This once again I ignored, and kept on preaching that Christ Jesus can forgive us of any sins we have committed.
The young bloke seemed to calm down for a short while (maybe to think of new ideas), and during that calm in the storm I was able to freely preach the gospel, and also to answer questions from the crowd.
As it neared the hour mark of the preaching, I knew my voice didn't have much left in it, so I was preparing to tag Ryan in, when our young clown decided to do one more show. This time the man let out a loud yell of "I love you!" then came running towards me at a full pace arms spread wide. Then in for the hug he came. The problem is it wasn't your usual ‘drunken' hug, but rather it was a full on tight embrace. This man was so close to me while he hugged me that I felt like he was attached to me. He then started to talk about how much he liked to hug me, and how much he liked to smell me. This led him to start smelling me while I was preaching. The crowd seemed to enjoy all this. I was able to pry him off me and he said he was leaving. He took a few steps and then turned yelling "I cannot be separated from my love!" Once again he became attached to me. Alex (our regular agnostic heckler) then came over and tried to get the man off me by saying "Let's make them look silly by our arguments, and not by our actions." I really appreciate what Alex tried to do, but the man refused to listen. And once again I was engulfed by his full embrace.
At one point I was able to pry him off my left side only to get him to let go and hug me from my right side. I then called in a couple of the team members to come and get him off me. Snowy came across and was able to wrestle him off me, but the man quickly came running back again. So Snowy grabbed him once more, but this time the man didn't let go of me, so as Snowy pulled, I was pulled off the pulpit. Quickly I was able to get back up and continue to preach.
The young man then came and jumped up on the pulpit with me and once again began to hug me. This time he decided to act like a dog and try to have sex with my leg. Snowy once again pulled him off, and again pulled me down. Once again I was able to jump back up and preach on.
Some of the team members by now had headed down to the police station in order to get some police to come and assist. And they later told me they could see everything that was happening as the police were watching the situation on a TV in the station (probably having a good laugh!). Once the young clown heard that the police were coming he hugged me once more, said he loved me then left up the mall at a very quick pace.
I looked down the mall and could see two police officers approaching, so I handed a large wad of in-depth tracts to Ben and told him to hand them out to all in the crowd. A large number of the crowd took tracts, and the reason I got him to do that was because I knew that once the police arrived the crowd would leave. This is what happened, so I quickly wrapped up the open air. But before I could stand down Alex decided it was time for his weekly heckle. Since my voice was nearly gone, I told him to wait as Ryan would be next, then I turned to the crowd and told them that up next was the debate "Does God Exist?" Quite a number of the crowd stayed as Ryan got up to engage in debate with Alex.
As soon as I got down I was surrounded by a few Christians who were encouraged about seeing the gospel preached in public. This by far is one of the most encouraging things for me as a gospel preacher. I don't want to just preach so that the lost get saved, but I want to be able to encourage other Christians to go do the work of an evangelist.
The rest of the night for me was spent dealing with Christians, some who loved open air, and others who thought we should be doing "healings, signs and wonders".
Ryan preached for the rest of the night, and many one to ones followed. God truly was gracious in allowing His gospel to go forth!
Soli Deo Gloria!
I was excited at the idea of witnessing tonight, but sadly I knew I would be unable to open air due to the really bad head cold I had. As I prepared to head out on the street, I could feel my voice slowly going, and this concerned me as I had the honour of preaching at "For His Glory Evangelical" the next evening.
When I arrived in the city, the first thing I noticed was how dead the mall was. There were very few people walking up and down the Queen Street Mall. Based on what I saw anyone could be mistaken, and think it was the early hours of the morning, instead of the busiest hour of the night.
As per usual we met in the now drastically smaller King George Square for a time of prayer and fellowship. We spent some time reading through Psalm 119 and then had a time of just general building each other up in the faith. I have found these times of fellowship before the outreach to be very important, as it limit's the "chit chat" during the actually outreach. Which in turn means more people get to hear the gospel.
Tonight we suffered from a shortage of preachers, which is something we haven't experienced in quite some time. Normally we have so many preachers, that we don't all get to have a preach.
Since it was really quiet I didn't expect much of a crowd to gather, and this proved to be true for a little while. Ryan preached first and he did a good job, his apologetics in regards to atheism are brilliant, and each week we have regular atheists who come in and argue. We have found this to be a good way to help the people of Brisbane, as many people like to think "there is no God", but after seeing what atheism offers many people we speak to afterwards, believe that there is a God who created the world, this in turn then creates an opportunity to tell of Jesus Christ.
Alex the agnostic was present from the time we started right through the time we ended. He is more regular than some of our team members, and to be honest most of us look forward to see Alex each week, and also to hear his ‘latest' arguments on why God does not exist.
While Ryan was preaching, I noticed that our regular cranky old Catholic man was present. This man comes past every now and then, and normally hurls some abuse about us being Protestant and then wanders over to the nearest female and starts to get a bit ‘friendly'. Tonight was no different, he began to talk to some of the females on the team, so I walked over and stood near him. Normally that is all it takes, and he moves on, tonight was no different.
The next preacher up for the night was Ralph, he spoke for a bit about the gospel of Jesus and how that can set you free from all your sins. He spoke on the atheism and evolution debate, thus showing how there must be a God who created everything. Then once again he swung back to the Gospel.
The mall was near deserted, so we decided that once Ralph finished we would just hand out tracts, and do one to one for a little while. Then once that had been done for a time, then Ryan would preach again.
During this time many one to ones were occurring. Then it came time for Ryan to preach once again.
This time Alex couldn't control himself and longer and he began to heckle Ryan as he preached. This of course grew a small crowd in. It was an interesting time, we had other atheists heckler, we had two agnostic philosophy students enter in the fray, and also then turn their attention to the atheists and told them to stop arguing theology if they don't believe in God.
Then one loud mouth young bloke was heard from among those listening. He was your typical false convert. He was swearing like anything, and then in the same breath claiming to be a Christian. He then started to yell at us for preaching the gospel, and talking about sin. In his mind he was led by the Holy Spirit, and we weren't. I challenged him on his Christianity, and how he was saying one thing, but then by his fruits showed another action. Every time I used the Bible to show my point, the man would become more hostile. Eventually he stopped heckling and started talking to the atheists.
During this time, I got to have a one to one discussion with Alex. And I must say my respect for Alex as a heckler has diminished. We were speaking about "The Truth" and how there must be a standard of truth. Alex of course believes that truth is not knowable. So I tried to use some basic logic on him showing that from the law of non-contradiction that there must be truth. The reply that Alex gave was rather interesting, his answer was "We could be in the Matrix, and we may not even be here." Then to prove his point he showed us a hole in the back of his head, which could be the socket for the Matrix plug.
Once again Alex illustrated the truthfulness of Scripture:
"The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good." - Psalm 14:1 (ESV)
Soli Deo Gloria!
Since Josh Williamson was down in Sydney already for World Youth Day, Andrew Hsu and I lead the team on Saturday night. However, when we arrived at the city for the usual meet up at 7:30pm for bible reading and prayer, we discovered King George Square was totally fenced off. So after meeting up with some other team members, we walked to Anzac Square to read our Bible and pray.
Just before 9pm we walked to our usual preaching spot and set-up for the night. In the middle of Queen Street Mall, there were a bunch of Roman Catholics singing and dancing around an idolatrous pole. Since World Youth Day was starting on Tuesday in Sydney, we expected we would encounter a lot of Roman Catholics throughout the evening.
Even though some regulars were away, the team was still larger than usual. At 9:20pm Andrew Hsu opened up the preaching for the evening and stood down an hour and three quarters later. He had many people heckling him and asking questions about various subjects. One fellow called out to Andrew and asked him this question, "Why was a young Christian friend of his only given a month still to live?" So Andrew answered the question from a Biblical standpoint, referring back to our God made the world originally without death and suffering, but because of sin, the world is like it is now. However, some of the people listening tried to argue that because there is evil, God simply couldn't exist. But that objection in no way leads to the conclusion that God does not exist.
Other common questions were asked by the crowd, such as, "How do we know there is a God?", "What about all the bad atrocities done in the name of Christianity?", etc. So Andrew answered all those questions, whilst always coming back to the gospel message.
I then preached for the remaining 45 minutes. There was a number of hecklers who objected and asked questions. One bloke shouted, "There is no God". So I asked him what evidence that he has that there is no God. He then proceeded to say, "What evidence do you have that God exists?" However I pointed out, he made an absolute negative claim to the non-existence of God. To make such a claim, he needs to have good reasons why. Likewise, when I say there is a God, I need to provide good reasons to back that up. He realised he had no reasons as to why God could not exist, so he decided to run away.
Alex, our regular agnostic heckler, tried to propose that we cannot know any absolute truth because our minds are fallible. However, he erroneously thought that just because our minds can believe things that are incorrect, it does not mean everything we believe is incorrect. It seems that since Alex's arguments keep getting smashed each week, he needs to resort to the position that we cannot know anything at all.
Many one to one conversations were had, and heaps of gospel tracts and Bibles went out.
To God be the Glory!
Saturday, 5 July, 2008
There was a light rain falling over Brisbane city as we prepared to share the gospel of Jesus Christ tonight. Cold and wet weather is not overl y common in Brisbane and the locals aren't used to such weather. So it was no surprise to see that the mall was nearly deserted when we arrived in the mall. But we don't preach for crowds we preach for the ones and the twos. If we get to share the gospel with one person then God be praised.
We were down a few numbers tonight, but we had enough to man all our normal ministry roles. The first preacher up for the night was Ralph. He started in preaching, but soon became sidetracked by a quiet Alex who was whispering questions to him. So we got Ralph to go to one side and deal with Alex in a one to one, while Andre preached.
Before Andre got up to preach he was engaged in a one to one conversation with a man who grasped the fullness of the Gospel. The man stated that he was going right home to repent and get right with God.
Andre preached for a bit, and there were very few people standing listening. While he was preaching a few one to ones were also occurring in the background. At about 10:15pm, I decided to preach, I had a head cold so I didn't want to preach for very long. But God had other plans.
I started by preaching from Revelation 6:14-17 and Revelation 20:11-15, and I focused on God's judgment upon a sinful society and how His wrath abides on those who do not know the Christ. Alex began to heckle at this time, but he wasn't his normal self tonight. He was yelling that I was lying, so I asked him to please tell those listening what exactly I said that was a lie. Alex couldn't answer, so it appears that he just made it up as he went along.
He didn't heckle to much after that, and I had the chance to explain the gospel to those who were listening. A heckler then opened up saying "you don't know the Bible, how dare you say Jesus Christ is God, the Bible says in John 1:1 that Jesus was ‘a god'." This is a common argument of the Jehovah Witnesses, so I countered it, but I was a bit surprised to find out that the heckler was not a JW but rather a Roman Catholic.
After preaching for awhile a small group formed in around me. And then a question got asked that always seems to fire up the crowd. A young woman in the crowd held the hand of a woman next her and said "What does God think about lesbians?" Instantly I knew this was an ambush, so I answered by saying, "The Bible says that lesbianism is sin, but God does not just judge homosexuals, but He will judge all sinners be it homosexuals or heterosexuals"
The women began to hurl abuse at me while I preached, and then from my right a big man came up yelling "NO NO NO! YOU'RE WRONG! THE BIBLE DOESN'T SPEAK ABOUT HOMOSEXUALS!" I replied by showing him from the Bible where it exactly condemns it. He ignored it and kept saying that it was my interpretation, so I read out Romans 1, and asked him what the correct interpretation was. He ignored and just started to make statements to distract from the topic at hand. It turned out that his daughter is a lesbian, so I understand why he was upset, as this man was professing to be a Christian, and yet based on the Bible his daughter was damned. But this man had more of an issue, he was showing much rotten fruit in his life, his language was something that would make you blush. Yet, even though he abused and cursed, he maintained that he was a Christian.
By now I had two young men heckling me who were Muslims, so I was trying to engage them in conversation. But the big man kept interrupting. He started to accuse me of attacking other religions, so I asked the Muslims if I was attacking them or if I was merely asking them questions. They both stated I was not attacking them. The big man didn't like that so once again he became abusive.
During this time a teenager climbed up next to me, and tried to hit me in the face with his skateboard. So I pushed it away, and then he accused me of hitting him. No one in the crowd believed his story so I kept on speaking.
I did my best to deal with hecklers, and answer there questions. The big man kept at me till after midnight, then as I began to wrap it up. He stepped up and started to curse and blaspheme God, then in the next breath say that he was a Christian. So I asked him not to curse God's name, and if he wants to continue in his sin, then please don't claim to be a Christian. The man said he would claim to be whatever he wants. So I replied from the Scripture and pointed out that the Bible says he is not a Christian.
Well that set him off, he stood right up in my face and started to poke his finger at my mouth, the tip of his finger was within centimetres of my mouth. His body language revealed that he was about to hit me, so I dropped my Bible behind me, and put my hands in front of me in an effort to fend off any attack. The man ranted on, and then he snapped. He swung out at me, and grabbed me by my jacket and started to pull me towards him. While he was pulling me he was screaming, so I took the appropriate action to get him off me, and to defend myself.
After a while the police came and spoke to both of us and then done nothing. Although one of the police officers said that they would be watching the man on the security cameras in case he tried something again. Just as we were leaving the man shook my hand and said "You guys do a good job, and I respect that!" A few minutes earlier he wanted to punch my face in, and now he is thanking me. Sometimes I wish people would just make up their minds.
Anyway, it was a good night, and the gospel got out!
Soli Deo Gloria!