I find myself feeling a little British in winter here in Hobart, it seems that a lot of life revolves around the weather! The cold and wet influence things a lot and some days it has been interesting with the Bible table in high winds. But regardless of what looms large in our human lives God is on the throne and working out His plan in Hobart. Through the eyes of faith, we can see the hand of God working in all things and through His Holy Spirit we are blessed with unexpected opportunities.
One of these opportunities have come from the local teens, a number of them are interested in debating and discussing with “the preacher guy”. A couple of times over the last month there were 15-30 students from a variety of different schools who gathered to discuss Christian convictions and the Bible. The questions were very cordially worded and there was a cheerful back and forth that developed over the almost 2 hours of discussions.
One particular young lady has been a regular visitor and previously was very vocal in support of SSM. On this occasion she was trying to claim that there was something wrong about preaching in general and sharing the Christian faith in particular. Here’s roughly how it went (picture me with a big smile and her frustrated and then laughing and then frustrated again):
YL: You are forcing your views on other people from up there on that box! You are putting yourself above others.
Me: Ok, now I’m confused, why are you forcing your views on me? You want me to stop preaching, isn’t that by your logic just forcing me to listen to your views?
YL: No, I’m not forcing anything on you, you’re the one pushing what you believe on others from a box. Why are you up there looking down on us all?
Me: I’m up here because I’m preaching and well... I’m short and want people to hear me at the back (general laughter). But ok ok, the box is an issue, got it. Would you like to get up on the seat there and we can talk roughly eye to eye?
YL: No, but you shouldn't be pushing your views on others!
Me: I don’t think that stacks up, here’s why. I am wanting to persuade (some may say force) people to change their minds about God and put their trust in Jesus. More than that I want you all to “force” your view on me! I want you to talk to me and debate and discuss. That’s why I’m here.
You on the other hand don’t want me to force my opinions on others, yet at the same time you reserve the right to persuade or force me to listen to you tell me to stop.
So, I don’t have an issue with what you are doing, I just want to know why you are doing exactly what you are telling me to stop?
At this point someone else quickly piped up with another unrelated question and the conversation headed elsewhere. The conversation was punctuated with me proclaiming the gospel to everyone who could hear. The teens were great and I hope they will be back to talk more in the future, they put the couple of adults who heckled with nonsense to shame with their insight and wit.
Another opportunity that has come from the wetter days is handing out tracts. There have been a number of days where I couldn't have the Bible table up and a 100 or more people “heard” the gospel in print. Please God that number is greater as the tracts are shared hand to hand and curious friends and relatives read them.
I would like you please to pray for the work here in Hobart dear reader. Why? Because there are people seeking to destroy it if they can. This is nothing new. If you read my updates you know the difficulties we have faced over the years and how God has preserved us and delivered us. Praise His glorious grace!
Just of late there have been repeated attempts to discredit this work by slanderous charges, most of them absurd to all but the most blind. One of these it seems has been picked up and run with, it is the accusation that I and by extension the rest of the team, support Neo-Nazi’s.
This desperate ploy has been supported by some very cleverly edited newspaper articles. They referred (without any decent context) to my commitment to freedom of speech for all in my discussions with a Joint Standing Committee from earlier this year. Senator Terryman raised with me the difficult case of Neo-Nazi’s and how this could be managed if anti-discrimination law was altered to remove offense clauses. (The Antidiscrimination Act is very good for defending the rights of some vulnerable people but it never should have included unqualified hate speech and offense-based clauses.) My response was that we should have well-spoken people, clearly and frequently oppose Neo-Nazi views publicly and if they incited violence or defamed others then they should face penalties under the law. As I said in the committee meeting, the horror that is the Nazi view is abhorrent to me and should be to all who call themselves Christian. There is no space for racism when we all share the same parentage, ie Adam and Eve, and God has done away with every racial boundary in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The team and I have publicly held an anti-racist position for many years and I have preached against racism in its many forms more often than I can count. It appears that despite the many years of preaching against racism in Hobart’s CBD there are desperate liars out there who have no regard for truth. They merely look to aggrandize themselves by slandering others and creating trouble. They publish their slander repeatedly and have the gall to call their previous distortions “evidence”. Concerningly one of the supporters of this ploy recently yelled at me that I was nothing but human trash and “we are watching you!”. The threat was clear as was the rage behind it.
As in all things, the most important things first, may God use this to His glory and to the frequent proclamation of the gospel! Secondarily, please pray for protection for the team and wisdom as we seek to clearly present the truth when surrounded by lies.
May God be glorified!
There is a lot of ink that has been spilt over the last month on the festival of Dark Mofo, particularly the upside down red crosses in the harbor. I am tempted to wade in with my opinions on the festival but probably better than that is to thank David Walsh!
I would like to give a hearty thank you to David Walsh for putting this festival on. He has gathered together large numbers of seeking non-Christians in one place – my home town! It is wonderful that not only has he brought all these people here, but he places preaching illustrations around our town to boot! So, for these entirely unintended blessings, thank you very much David!
No actually… I really want to thank you Almighty God for using a blasphemous God-hater to give glorious opportunities and blessings to your people!
Over the last two Fridays a team from Cornerstone and other churches and I have been blessed to reach out to the crowds at Dark Mofo. Over the course of two nights almost three thousand tracts were placed into the hands of locals and visitors to Hobart. It was wonderful to see the tracts going into pockets and bags to be read later and even better yet to see groups of people gathering around people with tracts in hand and to hear the gospel read to them.
We were using three different tracts these evenings, the “Eternity” card, the “You May Not Have Tomorrow” card, and the cartoon “How We Know God Exists…” tract. With the black and white color scheme on the cards and the message about life and death they were the perfect foil to the “festival of death and sex” around us.
It was wonderful to work with other evangelists; the team was varied in age and background. Yet we were united in our aim, to share the good news of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. The team all had their own styles, some very bold, Robyn would walk along-side groups of people talking to them about God and offering them tracts. Some quiet, Andrew would smile and hold out a tract and allow people to take them as they wished. Some serious, Karl would speak to people with a serious, loving and urgent voice and give them tracts. Some cheerful, I would smile and laugh and wish people a good night as I offered them tracts.
The response of the people varied as much as the approaches of the team. One man laughed and declined with a thank you, a lesbian couple eagerly took a tract each interested in life after death, one woman scoffed and handed it back, and an adult family stopped and came back to get a tract each. In all the response was very positive. There were even a few who recognized Karl and I, laughing that we were down at Dark Park too!
Towards the end of each night I preached, there were a moderate number of people who gathered to listen as I spoke. Andrew also spoke at the end of the first Friday, giving a great gospel message. As opposed to last year, we were not harassed by the staff from the festival. Last year they called the police, but the police were utterly uninterested in our work as it is perfectly legal and positive. I think that street preaching and outreach fit the festival rather well, I suspect that a lot of people initially thought the preaching was some sort of street theatre as part of Dark Park.
In the gathering dark of winter and a society increasingly running from God, a great gospel light shone in the streets of the Hobart harbor. Thank you to all those who prayed for the team and a huge thank you to the team for their courage and faithfulness.
Please pray that all those tracts would find homes and that the Gospel message would be used by God to the salvation of thousands!
God is great, God is good, God is merciful, God is kind. Praise His name!
This last month has been a wonderful time with visiting brethren in Christ and many opportunities to speak for Jesus. It has become quite cold and wet as it always does in winter in Hobart. This means that fewer people stop to listen and come to the Bible table, but also more people are gathered nearby under the rain shelter in the center of the mall. There have also been many opportunities to share the gospel with tracts, I have run out yet again!
It was wonderful to have the Hemelaar’s come and visit us and be part of our outreach on Tuesday and Friday. Ryan was kind enough to preach and they both gave generously of their holiday time to serve the Lord. I am always encouraged by Ryan’s work, his ability to start a gospel conversation just warms my heart. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and service together and I saw conversations happening that I had not been able to have, praise God!
Some of the other conversations that have happened this month include:
Another great opportunity that has arisen is outside the mall. Today I will be appearing with my Pastor Campbell Markham as witnesses for the government Inquiry into the Status of Freedom of Religion or Belief. Please be in prayer that we will provide a Godly witness and an impetus to place legal protections around religious freedom.
A small fly in the ointment was Mr S. attempting to get his 5 minutes of internet fame by creating yet another attack video. I suppose it is an attempt to prevent the mainland “celebrity” from influencing Hobart people too much. In addition to Mr S. there has also been the ongoing aggression of pro-death supporters. It is hard to see my friends and my work for God attacked but it is comforting to know that God is our judge and it is before Him that we receive our commendation, not from men. Likewise, it has been good to see just how thin the arguments have been from Mr S. and his friends, most of it as baseless as the recent anti-discrimination case.
We will rejoice in Christ and preach His word, even while others attempt to use Christians as props for their agenda of self-confessed hatred for Christ our Lord. We will rejoice as God uses even the painful and difficult to draw people to salvation in Jesus Christ.
Praise our wonderful God!
Here in Hobart the Secular elites and their minions have been having quite a run of bad behavior over the last year. Just lately our state run and taxpayer funded hospital is to be the new location for an abortion clinic, regardless of what some taxpayers may think of this. If you disagree with the intrauterine killing of the innocent you are free to hold that opinion privately, but heaven help you if you seek to convince others of that conviction. Worse still if you were to start a group that holds to pro-life convictions and register that at the local University student union. Worse again if you publicly stand and speak against abortion. But worst of all is the act of quietly standing outside the hospital with literature or the offer of counsel and support for expecting mothers going in desperation to have their children killed because no-one will care for and support them.
If you speak to others about abortion, expect at least an angry tirade if a progressive even suspects you are influencing others against this “holy cow”. I have lost track of the number of times this has happened over the last couple of weeks.
If you register an organization at the Uni, expect as we have seen lately here, protests on the street and on campus, angry letters to the editor, and formal complaints made to the university. I salute the bravery of those standing for the unborn and for mothers on campus, please do not give up!
If you stand outside the local abortion clinic, no matter how quiet and loving your manner. The police will come and lock you up! Graham Preston is fighting the charges brought against him for standing outside our Hobart abortion clinic. His conviction and bravery humble me, may God see to it your name is cleared!
If you stand publicly to speak against abortion and call people to repent of this horrible crime and sin, expect a fortnight like we’ve just had in Hobart.
I have placed on the front of the bible table a series of signs speaking against abortion and encouraging people to consider the little person whose life is taken. I have spoken a number of times of the sin of our nation in allowing this legislation to be passed and then not removing it after it was enacted. I called men to look after the women of our community rather than use them for pleasure and then abandon them to be single mothers or to abort the child. I have urged the people of Hobart to see that this is murder and that taking the life of a child, no matter how early the stage of life, is still taking the life of a child. I warned the people that God is not to be fooled with and He has a passionate and jealous love for all the children He gives us.
God warns explicitly in Scripture that those who take the life of a child whether for religious purposes or convenience or even through neglect will face His judgement. This is murder and all those complicit in it and encouraging it will face wrath of God for this sin.
But this is not the end of the story necessarily, God in His mercy offers a way for wrath deserving sinners both great and small to receive mercy and grace through the atoning death of Jesus Christ the perfect lamb of God. For those who turn from sin and come seeking Christ no sin is great enough to keep us from Him. But likewise, there is no sin too small that it will be overlooked by God’s justice. We all need a savior and there is only one that God offers. Jesus Christ our Lord!
Needless to say, our sin delighting and justifying society is not pleased when people point out the evil that they have taken as their “right”. We have had the Bible table thrown over and about a number of times, an attack video has been published against us, and I was assaulted for standing in the way of the Bible table being overturned and had to restrain the man involved. I was not badly hurt in case you were wondering.
In all these things we rejoice that God is over-ruling our world and only allows that which we need for growth in holiness and Christ-likeness. Praise God that in the midst of all this opposition there are many wonderful gospel conversations happening and Christians are being encouraged to stand boldly in the city.
Over the course of the last 2 weeks we have had numerous great conversations with people who come asking why we do this and what God’s word says about them and this world. Also, we’ve had a number of Christian people who have made explicit comment that the work in the Hobart mall has encouraged and emboldened them to speak for Jesus also. Likewise, there are a large number of tracts going out whenever we hand out literature.
Please continue to pray that God will graciously call sinners out of the Australian culture of death and sin and bring them by His glorious power into His kingdom of life and light.
Praise God for His abundant goodness and ongoing patience!
Praise God for His great mercies, we are able to preach the gospel here in Hobart still and despite recent difficulties and ongoing slanders against me particularly. This last couple of weeks have been a mixed bag of responses and circumstances, but God is the same yesterday today and forever.
This Tuesday it was a warm afternoon and there were many school kids in the mall looking for something to do. This lead to many opportunities over the course of the afternoon and the gospel was preached!
Shortly after I set up for the afternoon two young guys wandered up to read the “Marriage Facts” sign I have on the table. I then asked them what they though of the sign and one responded that he attended an Anglican school so he was familiar with the ideas. This lead to a fantastic set of exchanges and discussions that ranged over many different topics but repeatedly coming back to the claims of Christ and the gospel. They seemed interested and surprisingly appeared to enjoy my “dad humor” though I suspect they were just humoring me! Our discussion went for almost 45 minutes and after we finished they stayed to listen to the preaching and chat again afterwards. Praise God they were so open and willing to listen and discuss!
Coming into and out of this discussion was Mr K. a Greek orthodox young man who has been coming by in the afternoons for some time with his mates. They are an interesting bunch and I quite enjoy the good-humored bantering they enter into whenever they come.
The preaching today focused on anger, cursing, hatred, abortion, gossip, and murder. I spoke from Matthew chapter five verses 21-26. This is the part of the sermon on the mount where Jesus defines what murder truly looks like in the eyes of God and clarifies what kind of righteousness is required to get into heaven (hint: it’s the kind we can only get from one place…). This requirement is echoing the verse before:
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:20)
Jesus explicitly links anger and all its horrid children to the crime of murder in the Old Testament law code and its corresponding punishment. This passage bother’s the conscience of many non-Christians because it is so plain speaking about things we all are guilty of. Everyone falls foul of selfish anger and the various ways we express that anger. Shrugging off the wrong doing by saying we don’t care or there is no-one else hurt will not get rid of the accusation of the conscience. Claiming that it doesn’t matter because God is not there only underlines the lie we have swallowed, that God is absent and we are master’s of our own fate. God is our creator, He is present and will judge, the longer we deny and run from this the longer we are divorced from the reality that is plain to our eyes. Not only that but those who choose to suppress the knowledge of God in their unrighteousness will never find the rest, joy and meaning that we all long for. It is found in God alone and repentant faith in Jesus is the only way to God the Father.
As I preached about this a young guy came up and began to engage with me in a joking way. I began to ask him how he would do if God judged him by the eternal standard rather than his own or his mates. It was a good exchange and we spoke for a while but ultimately, he was not interested in hearing too much and went to leave. I urged him to stay and talk some more and listen a while. Praise God he did, and his friends with him.
Three others heckled whilst I preached.
· One older man on a mobility scooter packing a foul mouth repeatedly came to accuse God of wrong doing for allowing suffering in the world. Not only that but apparently “He’s never done anything for me!”, this coming from an obviously well fed and well clothed man riding on a technological marvel. All things he did not labour to create from nothing. I pointed him to the justice and law of God that makes meaningful our upset at suffering, as apposed to the puerile subjective atheistic objection to suffering which amounts to “I don’t like it, in my opinion it is not right”. If we are to appose evil as evil, we need an absolute standard as our foundation.
· The second was an older lady that wanted to know about the other religions in the world? I pointed to sin leading to death and then urged her (and the crowd that had gathered) to consider the founders of the various world religions. Where were they now? All in a grave, bar Jesus. All the other religions of the world were no help to prevent the death of all their founders. Why should we believe they can destroy our greatest enemy?
· The last heckler wanted to know something straight from the bible. What would happen to him if he just would not believe? I gave him the straight answer of scripture: All those who will not believe will not be saved but are condemned already.
From each of these I urged the crowd to turn to Jesus and trust in Him. Only humble repentant faith in Jesus’s work on the cross will save us from the condemnation that we all deserve because of our many sins.
After the preaching I had a chat with one of Mr K.’s mates who is a Muslim and we discussed some of the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity. We chatted for a period about the prophets and I am going to get him a copy of the writings of the prophets of God.
Despite the prating of blatherskites in the background, there were a number of other great conversations which followed for quite some time praise God. I then spent a good period handing out gospel tracts on a nearby corner and giving short messages and reading portions of scripture.
What a great day! Praise God.
Last week my pastor Campbell Markham and I received news that the Anti-Discrimination case against us had been dropped. Praise God for His kindness in removing this difficulty from our lives and taking away the threat over our church and families!
This has been a difficult time in many ways and the process has underlined to us the wrongness of these offense based laws. Before the case was dropped, hundreds of man hours had been spent on forming a legal defense against the accusations. In addition, Campbell, one of our legal team and I were required to attend a conciliation meeting at the EOT (Equal Opportunity Tasmania) in Hobart under threat of punishment if we did not attend. This meeting was a tedious affair, scheduled to last for 2 hours but lasted 4.5 hours.
The meeting began with courtesy and at all times the two female staff treated us with courtesy. But the kindness of the staff could not paper over the glaring injustice of the situation. There we were, forced to explain why we were not guilty of unsubstantiated, subjective and often absurd accusations. Then to make the process more arduous still, we had to sit and wait to see if our offer of conciliation would be accepted by Mr S. who was in the next room.
On a more positive note, while we waited we were able to enjoy each other’s company and Campbell even shared his sermon with us. We couldn't help but feel for the EOT staff who had to deal with Mr S. who was I suspect at his cantankerous best by the muffled sound of a loud and often angry sounding male voice from the next room.
When the allotted time for the conciliation had passed we were permitted to leave for a lunch break, but there was no mention of stopping the conciliation. We returned to a list of unreasonable demands from Mr S. and further back and forth as we sat obediently in our allotted room. Ultimately, we were informed that Mr S. was not happy, but as the conciliation had gone on for 4.5 hours the meeting was to be continued by email. This extended the process into the next week as we waited for and responded to emails from the EOT.
On Thursday we received an email stating that the conciliation had failed to resolve the matter and that we would need to appear before the tribunal. This was no surprise, we all thought it very unlikely that the matter would be resolved. What was a blessed and a wonderful surprise, was the email that followed 5 minutes later saying the case had been closed. What a roller coaster of a week!
It is not primarily Mr S. or the EOT that have created this debacle. Rather it is section 17 and 19 of the Anti-Discrimination Act that permits the gagging of others if someone is offended. Section 17 holds every Tasmanian to ransom for their words, under the threat of anyone who sees them as that which “offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules”. Section 19 is so ill-defined that it allows even a lovingly and carefully worded presentation of Christian convictions to be labeled as “hatred, severe contempt or ridicule” and punishable by law. The utter subjectiveness of these laws mean that it does not matter what you say but rather what someone feels about what you say. We are very concerned about the laws that have made this entire fiasco possible. With this in mind we will be continuing our Supreme Court proceedings to challenge these unjust laws.
We hope that God will grant that these unjust laws will be repealed or significantly changed. We will be praying that God will protect the freedom of all the people of Tasmania. Please join us in these prayers.
Thank you to the many people who have faithfully prayed during this time of trial. May God be glorified through your trust in Him and His kind deliverance from times of trouble! God has been good to us in this last 7 months, there has been much rejoicing and even laughter in the midst of the difficulty and stress. We have seen many opportunities come to share the gospel because of this complaint. We have had the blessing of fellow Christians offering their support and encouragement. And over all this there is the wonderful joy of knowing that no-one can do anything to us that is outside our heavenly Father’s good plan to bless us and make us more Christ-like.
Praise His name!
In our very seasonal state this is the time when most of us are most active and most people are willing to talk and discuss on a warm and sunny afternoon. Today was a great day all toll with many opportunities to present the gospel and many people from Hobart and abroad hearing it. The cruise ships continue to come into port and many people are keen to explore the city. This continues to be a great opportunity for outreach. Please pray that we will take advantage of the opportunity while it is here.
Also, the Elizabeth Street Mall is currently a somewhat more peaceful place to have evangelistic conversations, as Mr S. our regular heckler is currently not coming to disrupt our work. Whatever the secondary reasons we thank God for His kindness in allowing us freedom to outreach without Mr S.’s slanders and disruptions.
As in all things there is seasons of interest in some things and not others. This last couple of months there have been many wonderful conversations and interest in the preaching but not many taking tracts and bibles. Praise God that the word continues to go out!
Today whilst I preached at the end of the day there was a wonderful interaction during the preaching. A group of young people had gathered, some are Christians and non-Christians I know, and others were new faces. Among the new faces was a trio who were listening quite closely to the preaching as I expounded on God’s overflowing love to all kinds of people. I moved from God’s welcome to all people to the way that we are called to approach God. I spoke of the respect and “good manners” we should have when approaching the King of all kings. One of the young guys called out that "God is awesome" when I paused to find the right word to describe the … awesomeness of God. It was just the right word and began a conversation that lasted about 30 minutes!
We discussed the goodness of God and our sin which creates a real problem for us to come to God when He calls us. We are not good and God’s hatred for sin is powerful and we would perish if we came as we are. The justice of God is a good thing and we all hope that the wrongs of this world will one day be righted but it is still a fearful thing for us as sinners to fall in to the hands of God. We need mercy, not justice, don’t we? I asked the young guy. He nodded, that’s right!
With joy in my heart I shared with him and all the others listening the great news of Jesus’s saving work in life and in death. I spoke of the almighty one coming to bear the awful load of sin, the sin of all who will ever trust in Him. I spoke of the great love that is offered to them and offered for free, God paid the price for all who will come in faith in Jesus.
Afterwards there were many good conversations that followed, encouraging Christians and urging non-Christians to trust in Jesus. Praise God for His kindness in giving days like today!
Merciful Lord and Heavenly Father,
Thank you that you hear our prayers and answer from heaven. Praise your glorious and holy name! You are good and worthy of our praise, may we always come with hearts full of gratitude and joy to your throne.
Thank you for our city of Hobart. Thank you that you allow us to live in peace and bear witness here day by day. Thank you for the government that you have put in place and will hold accountable for the way they govern. Thank you for the many thousands who have heard the gospel through our work, and through the work of others like FOCUS, UFC and Helen Devenish. Thank you for the great natural blessings that you shower on our sinful and heedless state, please use those blessings to awaken people to awe and worship of you.
Praise your name Father that you are gathering a people for yourself from Hobart. Thank you that we hear from all sides stories of salvation and quickening of spiritual life in Jesus. Thank you for saving us, thank you for saving them! You are great and mighty to save, and nothing will ever stop your mission to redeem people from our time and our land. We rejoice to walk in your footsteps Lord Jesus, lead us to those you have destined for salvation. Help us to clearly share the gospel and never hold back anything you have revealed in your word. We walk in a great valley of bones. Oh Lord, give Hobart life eternal that they may arise a mighty army, ready to do your will.
Bless us we pray and forgive us our sins, we are not as we should be. We sin and do what you loathe, we groan to think of all the ways we have wronged you our great God and saviour! We know that death and hell is the just consequence of sin. Jesus is our only hope and our only plea as we stand guilty before you. Forgive us for Jesus’ sake and cleanse us from all wrong doing. We trust that you will do this, you have promised us that you will.
Please have mercy Lord on those that persecute us, lie about us, and revile us as evil. Please look on our suffering at their hands and forgive them Lord almighty. We hope and pray that you will break their hard hearts and bring them to repentance and faith. Through your Holy Spirit Lord, give life to the slanders, to those who have assaulted us, to the opponents, and to the grumblers. Banish from our city the demons that empower and inspire opposition to you and your word. Free people from the power of Satan and from slavery to sin. Help us we pray, to put aside our desires for personal justice while we at the same time seek to restrain evil wherever we encounter it. We trust you Father to do what is right with our enemies, help us to lean on you and joyfully follow Jesus wherever He leads us.
To you and you alone Lord is the glory, the kingdom, the majesty, the dominion, the power, the honour, and the praise; both now and forever more.
The summer months are a wonderful time and there are many opportunities that we have here in Hobart over these next couple of months. There is a long string of cruise ships that come to visit bringing with them tourists from all over the world. There are school kids wondering around earlier in the day and looking for something to do or someone to talk to.
There are the crowds that rush daily into the city for shopping before Christmas and the new year. There are festivals on the river, biggest of these being the Taste of Tasmania next week. This and many other factors make this time of year gloriously busy and wonderfully enjoyable.
To add to these opportunities there is the blessing of opposition that waxes and wanes. As you know there is now a constant angry chorus from homosexual activists who want to shut down free expression of Christian faith. Attacks continue, but they backfire as people gather to see what has happened and walk away thinking more about Christ than they ever would have if nothing had happened.
Also, Mr S. will not be in the mall for the next month as God has restrained him through the Council banning him from speaker’s corner. For many years Mr S. has proudly proclaimed that nothing prevents him from doing wrong (ie no God or divine law) but he does good because he chooses to. Last week he foolishly applied this thought. When upset at council requests to stop disrupting speaker's corner he became so aggressive with council officers that the police were called. It will be a blessing to be able to preach without his aggressive interruptions. So, whether there is opposition or restraint of opposition, there are blessings that God brings from these things also!
Some of the wonderful conversations we have had this last couple of weeks include:
Ms G. – A young lady who has come several times and listened to the preaching. In the recent SSM debate she discussed homosexuality and many other issues with us. Lately she has been willing to chat a few times and sits thoughtfully when preaching is happening.
Mr T. – For the last couple of weeks Mr T. has been sitting for the entire time the team is in the mall observing what is happening and clearly listening carefully to what is said. A few times he has approached me after I’ve preached to clarify points I’ve made. Most of the team has spoken to him and he is willing to talk about spiritual things.
Mr F. – A young guy who was listening to me preach about the logical absurdity that is atheism and the need for absolute knowledge to ever be able to confidently assert atheism honestly. We talked about the supports for the bible and the truth that is found there and the profound impact that it has had on my life and the life of Christians through the ages.
Please pray for these and the many other discussion that happen day by day as the Lord draws people near to hear the gospel.
The Gospel has continued to go forth in Tassie and there have been many instances of light shining through the darkness over the last couple of weeks. God is at work in Hobart and I have been eagerly watching other works that have continued in the north of Hobart and in Launceston. Praise God that He works to save souls!
This last week I had the pleasure of meeting with a young guy who has come from a place of enmity to now wanting to know the word of God and eager to explore what relationship with God looks like. His hunger and insight were a great encouragement and I will be praying that it will continue over the coming years. Please pray that there are and will be many more like him who come seeking God, and that God will settle them into communities which will foster their growth in faith hope and love through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I also have had a recent increase in the number of Christians who are coming enquiring and encouraging us in the mall. The number of thumbs up has jumped in recent days, praise God! There also are all sorts of people who will stop to say a word or two of support. Thank you to all of you.
Danny and Karl and Daniel (a young Christian man from the peninsula) and I have been up to proclaim the way of eternal life and read the bible. As always, we are backed when we preach with the prayers and support of the wonderful Christian ladies who gather in the mall to intercede for the work. Praise God for workers in the harvest.
All of this is despite SSM continuing to be a cause of opposition down here in the Apple Isle. Problems from SSM supporters have increased, despite assurances that everything would be fine if Marriage “equality” was allowed. Given the behavior of SSM supporters during the postal vote, no-one should be surprising that issues have continued afterwards. These last couple of weeks have been a good lesson in what “tolerance” and “diversity” look like when it gets power. And it looks ugly!
Over the last two weeks the resounding chorus has been “you lost, so shut up!”. This has been underlined by many people emphasizing their desire to get rid of us using whatever means they can. I have been threatened by two different people. That they would use the anti-discrimination courts and/or the police to remove myself and the Christians with me by force. I have good reason to expect that these threats will be followed up in the future as I am “held responsible for your harm against the LGBTI community” and they make sure that the local council “don’t allow hateful creatures like them to be in a public place”.
And of course, in the midst of this chorus is the ongoing slander of Mr S. as he libels myself and the Christians who gather in the mall. One of Mr S.’s libels is the claim that I and the Christians with me are litigious. If that were the case, we all would have multiple cases against him and the SSM advocates he supports! The foul and blasphemous language alone would be a good basis for an antidiscrimination case! Thankfully God calls us to turn the other cheek and to pray and bless and do good to those who oppose us.
It is because of this chorus of opposition that we are now seeing a lot of thoughtful people beginning to distance themselves from Mr S. and the SSM advocates. They have seen, I hope, the Godly behavior of Christians in public not flinching from bringing the Gospel even when it comes at a cost. We pray every week that this contrast will draw many to Jesus and He will save them in His mercy and grace.
Please pray for the supporters of SSM and Mr S. that they will see the hateful manner in which they behave and be driven to the savior in repentance. Please also pray for the team down here that they will be loving and kind in the face of opposition and will firmly preach repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
May God Be Glorified in Hobart!
Page 1 6