The increased interaction and interest has continued this month with many tracts going out and people showing an increased interest with the preaching. I praise God for these times but it is also a spur to pray that there would be more workers in the harvest. I fear I miss many opportunities by being otherwise engaged and people walk away when they run out of time.
There has over the last couple of months been an increasing interest in the ACL marriage facts flyer that I keep on my table. Quite a lot of people in Hobart are “allies” of the LGBTI movement and for them marriage is a point of discussion and division with Christians. The flyer acts as a discussion point for many “allies” and hopefully gets them thinking of what Christians actually say rather than the misrepresentations that the media feeds them. Also many times the flyer (which is a gently worded affirmation of the Christian position) has allowed me to share the gospel with homosexual people when they would otherwise stay away. Last week I had two young guys come and ask me what I thought of homosexual people. I was able to share with them the gospel of God's love for sinners and the responsibility of Christians to love all people (even when they disagree with their lifestyle). They listened to me and I heard their thoughts in return and we hopefully will talk more in the future.
Today there were many more teens and people in the mall than normally in the middle of the day. Many of the schools are finishing for the summer and this leads to good opportunities to reach the school kids. Many of them are hang around with friends and more likely to talk than if they were coming home from school in uniform (apparently its a big no-no to debate street preachers in school uniform…).
As I preached the first time a pair of young guys started to heckle that there was no God. I challenged them a couple of times to prove their claim but this was met with only laughter and scoffing. I made a couple of jokes, trying to engage them but they would not talk further so I continued preaching. As I preached an older gent came up and claimed the same – “there is no God”. I repeated my challenge to him to prove his claim. He replied that there is no need to “prove a negative” and the burden of proof was on me alone. I couldn't help but smile, this is a common atheist dodge and an illogical one at that. I pointed out that if I believed in gravity and he did not and I said that my bible would not float; that would be a negative claim that I would need to and could prove it. I restated that the atheist is as much in need to prove their position as the Christian, its just that they refuse to do so. Almost to illustrate this the man walked off punching the air in obvious frustration.
I finished preaching and urging the people gathered to trust in Jesus, humbling themselves and repenting of their sin. Afterward as the crowd dispersed another older gent came up and quizzed me as to why I would offer salvation to all who where present. I responded that I was commanded to in scripture and he replied that Jesus sent His disciples to the lost sheep of Israel only. Tragically this man and his friends had decided after much study that the only people who should hear the gospel call were the descendants of Isaac. He thought preaching the gospel to everyone regardless of race was unfaithful to scripture. I tried repeatedly to convince him from scripture that Jesus calls His people to share the gospel with everyone. Untouched by any of my arguments he left saying we would just have to disagree. I pray that God would open the scriptures to him and his friends and give them a heart for the lost, and may He save all of us from theology that would make us comfortable with the condemnation of anyone!
At the end of our time in the mall I packed up the bible table and then handed out tracts for a period. Many people took Christmas tracts praise God!
May He use these gospel opportunities to save the people of this city.
The beautiful weather of summer is upon us in Hobart now and as the wind and rain of spring lessen there are many more days of sunshine. This is wonderful for gospel proclamation because more people are taking their time or relaxing in the mall and are willing to listen or talk. This time of year there is also a greater awareness of Christian things with Christmas decorations everywhere and carol services and nativity plays all over the city.
I set up the table quickly and after a short pause got up to preach. I spoke from the beginning of Matthew’s gospel, about the humble and scandalous situation that Jesus was born into. He was not born into a palace to a queen and adored by all the populace. No, the king of the universe was assumed to be the illegitimate son of a poor girl from a no-where town in the middle of a tiny war torn country. Things were so bad that Mary’s husband to be had even assumed she’d been unfaithful to him too. Well, you all know the story of how God sent His angel to reassure Joseph and tell him to marry Mary… I used this story to point to two big gospel facts that come from this and many other passages.
Firstly Jesus cares for us and didn't and never will stay aloof and distant from our problems. He is able to sympathize with our trials and temptations, because He’s been tested and tempted in every way even though He never sinned. He is willing to come into our lives and walk with us through life, just as He did with the first believers. And lastly, Jesus doesn’t care who you are, if you’re a success or a failure, rich or poor, respected or hated, it does not matter. He comes to offer all people salvation through Him.
And this was my second point, Jesus came to save His people from their sin. Jesus came with a mission, He came to buy back sinners from the judgment of God. From even before His birth Jesus was marked out to suffer and die in the place of people who did not love Him. Even before the making of the world the triune God picked out unworthy sinners to save from there much deserved judgment. He planned this! What a great love Jesus shows to us who are saved!
But who can be saved? All who humble themselves and trust in Him. Not the ones that are good enough, not the ones in the right church, not the ones with the right job, not the ones with the x factor. No! It depends on Him and not us, nothing we can do will make us right with God, we need to cast all that thinking aside and flee to Jesus for rescue. We must love Jesus and hate with holy passion anything that gets between us and Him.
I urged this message on the people of Hobart again and again. I hope and pray that God will use His gospel to soften the sinful and hard hearts of Hobart. Please pray with me in this, we need God to move in Hobart to save these people. They are marching day by day into the pit of hell, we should be on our knees weeping that even one precious soul would be lost to hell. How much more should we pray and weep when thousands go to their deaths happy in their unbelief and comfortable in their sin! Pray that God will shake them awake through the gospel and bring them to life and faith through Jesus.
I also pray for you my brothers and sisters, that God would give you a Holy discontent. That you would be driven to speak to people around you. That you would be a gospel gossiper and that Jesus’ great love would flow from your lips regularly and shine in your deeds always. May God’s Spirit fill us all and drive us to lovingly reach out to those in darkness around us!
After a fortnight away it has been great to come back to this city and share the gospel again in Hobart for the second half of the month. This last week has been full of interesting and gospel focused conversations and interactions.
On Monday I was intending to spend time at the University talking with the students but it is currently exam time so conversations are very hard to start with stressed out students. Instead I spoke with a series of very interesting people in the mall:
Ms J. – Coming from a new age background she believed that our “energy” went onto somewhere else after this life and wasn't sure where that was. She then asked me where I thought people went after death. I shared the gospel with her and the two destinies of people after death, heaven and life eternal with God or hell and eternal punishment. As most people do Jenny found the idea of hell very difficult and thought it very harsh. I offered to explain why the idea of judgement was comforting, interested she ask why. I pointed to the horrible injustices of this life and the many people who get no reward for good work and the many who are never brought to justice for their evil deeds. I also discussed the wisdom and understanding of God and how we can trust ourselves to Him because He can see all the facts of someone's life and all their intentions also. So the infinitely good and infinitely wise God who will judge the earth is a comfort for all the injustice we become upset by in this life and also the resolution of the lackings of our justice system. Jenny and I also talked about the need of personal salvation and the many great promises made by God for those who will trust in Jesus. Jenny thanked me for talking as I left and I went glad in heart for the blessings of God!
Mr J. – We have talked before in the past and this time he stopped while I was handing out Eternity cards and asked what it was all about. I responded that the card spoke about life after death, where we go from here when we have died. Jeremy wasn't sure what happened and wanted to know what I thought happened to people. I shared with him about the judgement of Jesus and His separation of people into two destinies depending on their deeds and their response to Him. I showed how the law leaves us all without excuse before God and that my only hope (and Jeremy's) was that God would accept me for the sake of Jesus and His goodness and sacrifice in my place.
Miss A. and Jehovahs Witnesses – There are many J.W.s around the city regularly handing out literature and sharing the distorted gospel they have been taught by the Watchtower organisation. I spoke with Annie and her friends about who would be in heaven and who Jesus was. The discussion was quite congenial but there is a hardline that JWs will not cross and that is who Jesus is. They have been deceived into thinking of Jesus as another created being and not part of the Triune God. This then leads to a huge clash between the gospel we proclaim and the one that they proclaim. I did my best to show some of the many reasons that scripture gives to support Jesus as God not just a god. I hope that some small seed of doubt in the Watchtower organisation were planted and moved them towards faith in the real Jesus.
There were another couple of conversations over the course of the day and I pray that there would be God's hand on all of them. May they be blessed with the exact words that He desires them to hear which will glorify Jesus and draw these people to faith in Him.
On Tuesday I had a good discussion with Mr S. who has been making an effort to read the bible and has begun with the gospel of Matthew. He had some questions he had about the law of God and how it applied to Mary's situation when she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. This appeared to be fairly standard questions for Mr S. but at the same time it was encouraging to see him reading the Word of God.
Also encouraging was the crowd of people who gathered during the preaching. God in His grace saw fit to bring along three young guys who were heckling me during the preaching and a couple of other young guys who would answer questions. Initially I was preaching on the end of the world and asking people what they thought would happen at the end of the world. The amusing answers and shout outs from the crowd drew some people to listen as I spoke about what God says will happen and why. Further people were drawn in as the three young guys shouted for me to “Stop, Stop, Stop, Shut up, Stop!….” and that no-one was listening to me (they didn't get the irony of their own listening or the crowd they were drawing). I had to preach over the top of them as I shared the great need of salvation and the great salvation that Jesus offers through faith in Him. After a period they went away and I continued to preach the gospel.
After the preaching I was able to discuss with two of the hecklers and urge them to reconsider their opposition to the gospel. May God change their hard young hearts!
It has been a wonderful week in Hobart. May Jesus receive the glory and honour and praise and dominion!
Wonderful warm weather has come to Hobart and even with my thin Brisbanite blood I find myself shedding the coat and feeling a little hot. This reminds me of the warmth of God's love which sends us out each week into the mall to share the gospel with the people of Hobart.
I praise God for the support of Karl, Tim, Cynthia, Kath and Penny. It is wonderful to have other Christians with me in their various capacities to share in the work of evangelism. This last week there has been lots of people stopping to talk and take Bibles and small groups gathering to hear the preaching. This is heartening as Hobart is often a very hard hearted and apathetic place.
Karl has preached each Friday for some time now and does a fantastic job of sharing the gospel and bringing out the truths of the word of God. Today he preached from Romans and Genesis, sharing about the good gifts that God has given us in creation. From here he pointed to the brokenness of all people and our world that came through sin and the curse. Lastly he urged people to turn to Jesus and trust in Him for salvation.
Afterwards I preached from Luke 14 and 15 about the joy that God and the angles of heaven has when people repent and trust in Jesus. I began with the horrible feeling of having lost something and the efforts we all will go to to find something that is lost. I pointed to the immense efforts that God has gone to to save the lost and broken people of our world in sending Jesus to save us. I spoke of the restlessness of our consciences and the feeling of not belonging that dogs most of us, which points to our great need of a saviour. I spoke of our Lord and His great love for rebellious and sinful people both when He was on earth and now as He sits in Heaven. I urged people to trust in Him and turn humbly in faith to Him and Him alone. Finally I spoke of the cost of discipleship and radical nature of following Jesus. He must be first and must be worth dying for and living for or we are not really serious about following Him and are not His disciples.
Praise God groups of people stopped to listen while we each preached and I pray that there are many who heard snippets that will have those words stick in their minds and hearts.
There was a handful of fruitful conversations that followed this time of preaching and we were able to hand out a number of tracts.
Praise God for another day we are able to serve Him on the streets of Hobart.
After a bout of laryngitis and a nasty head cold it was a relief to be able to go into the mall today with a clear head and share the gospel with people. As my voice was still weak and sore I did not preach but there was many people coming to the bible table over the course of the afternoon and many opportunities to share.
A couple of people came asking for bibles and literature and quickly left afterwards. There was also a number of people who stayed who I would ask you to pray for:
Mr S.l : This young atheist/skeptic has been talking with me and other Christians for some time now and regularly stops to talk. He needs prayer that God will open his eyes to the gospel and his great need of Christ. Today he began by asking if I had been arrested, had been in Launceston or had been in court recently, all things heard down the grapevine he wanted to check. I assured him that none of these had happened to me as far as I was aware. After a short period however Mr B. came and began to speak with me to encourage me in my work in the mall and this spun off into a discussion with Mr S. as well. Instead of engaging in the discussion directly I tried to guide the conversation in directions that would be helpful and away from the difficult and unhelpful. The discussion was quite good and Mr B. did a fantastic job of defending the faith and pointing to Jesus. Of course Mr S. was quite unmoved by any proofs offered and deferred the discussion of scientific evidences to professors at the university.
Miss A. : She stopped to ask for a bible and directions to the church. She comes from a catholic background but has fallen away and is wanting to reconnect with God. I chatted to her about the bible and invited her to come visit our church whenever she would like.
Mr B.: I have been praying for Mr B. for some time now. The last time I saw him he was very distressed and in a terrible situation and facing the loss of his family and job and even jail time. At that time I tried to help in some small ways and encouraged him to seek God in prayer and Bible reading and to get help and accountability. Praise God that is exactly what God has brought into Mr B.'s life in a dramatic way. He has been able to spend many days in prayer and Bible study and is now engaged in both church and accountability with a solid Christian friend. The problems are far from over but he is now facing these massive challenges with hope and purpose that comes from knowing and being known by God almighty. Please pray for Mr B. that he will continue in the path he has begun and will continue to delight in and walk with our Lord.
Miss M. : She came to ask questions and a long and enjoyable discussion followed. While claiming to be a Taoist she is open to all different sources of truth and holds opinions that are quite close to the Christian worldview on many matters. Ruben and I were able to point her to the bible and particularly the gospel on many issues. She is interested to discuss things further and hopefully the discussion will continue over the next couple of weeks and months.
Praise God for all these great conversations and opportunities. Please pray for these precious folk and ask that God would be at work in their hearts for their eternal good and His Glory.
It has been a mixed week this week in Hobart. Very cold but showers coming and going and even sleet and snow flurries. Likewise the responses from people has been mixed (as always). I was privileged to be able to preach the good news two days this week and give out many tracts and bibles.
Tuesday was very cold but there was a short break in the showers during which I preached in the mall. Despite the cold a small number of people stopped to hear the word expounded and some faithful Christian friends stopped to pray for the preaching. The rest of the day I spent handing out tracts and speaking to people, though few wanted to stop due to the weather.
On Friday the weather was fine and there were many more people willing to stop and talk. We set up the table and within a couple of minutes some asian students from the university had come and taken bibles. A Christian couple came and spoke with us for a little and encouraged out work in the mall and took some literature on evolution.
Just before I was about to get up and preach God brought a man to speak to me who needed help. Little did I know how much help he needed when he first arrived! He had just spent the night in the police station cells for drug and alcohol offences and had a restraining order placed on him for family violence. With tears in his eyes he told me that he believed in God but had progressively walked into sin until his family call the police when the abuse became too much to bear. He had not been able to go to work that morning and was going to have to tell his boss about what had happened. The whole situation sounded like a complete train wreck.
We talked for a while and I contacted his boss for him and gave him an opportunity to talk. I spent a lot of time just listening but also urging him to get away from the drugs and alcohol as a matter of urgency. He stayed around for a period and listened to the preaching. Afterwards he came and spoke to me again. There were a few glimmers of hope in the situation. His wife is praying for him and has allowed him to use a flat their family has as a place to stay. He was also intending to go and spend time praying and reading the bible we had given him. I encouraged him to come to church, to dive into the word and seek out the support he will need over the coming months. I pray that God will bless this man with the strength and wisdom to walk away from these sins and follow Jesus.
After I preached the gospel we also had another young man approach us to talk at the bible table. He was quite drunk and happily displaying the bottle of wine he was working through in his jacket pocket. Mr J. was hitting the drink because he had had a big fight with his girlfriend. His plan to deal with the fight was to get drunk and then go dancing that night and then sort things out in the morning. I could relate to where Mr J. was at, it is our human nature to resort to more sin (almost like a release valve) when we have messed up and sinned!
He claimed to know and love God and have seen Him in a near death experience when he was younger. In light of this I urged him to abandon both his drunkenness and reconcile to his girlfriend. God has made him for more than messing around with these things and God hates it when we sin. Unfortunately Mr J. loved a god that "was cool with all this", a god that was in complete agreement with him in all he did in fact. We urged him to see that this was not the God of the bible who had given him life but a false god, an idol. We urged him to repent and trust in Jesus but Mr J. walked away happy with both his sin and with his god. Please pray for Mr J. and many like him who live lives of happy rebellion, not knowing the wrath that is being stored up for them on judgment day. Pray that God will soften their hearts and bring them to humble repentant trust in Jesus Christ.
The team came together for a time of prayer after this and we held up the people we had encountered in the city to the Lord. It is such a wonderful thing to gather as God's people and speak to our loving heavenly father.
Praise God for a wonderful week.
It appears that there is a seasonal cycle in Hobart. During the warm and dry months of the year there is little issue with outreach in the CBD. Unfortunately during the wet and cold months there is increasing opposition that arrises.
Much of this opposition surrounds the use of Elizabeth Lane, a small side street off the mall near speakers corner. According to the by-laws this lane is not a part of the mall but there is almost continual conflict regarding it's use. The conflict comes from two different stores within the Lane who are radically opposed to the practice of street preaching and tracting. Interestingly the other store in the lane have told me that they have no issue with our work as long as I don't picket their front doors! (something I have no desire to do to anyone)
This conflict has involved verbal abuse, security guards using stand over tactics, council officers called to remove me, and police called to arrest me. The stated reason does not stack up with the behaviour of the stores. Their claim is that outreach interferes with their stores and it distracts and drives away their customers. Yet they have friendly relations with a distracting local artist who regularly sells paintings in the same area of the lane. Also one of these stores has repeatedly complained about the Christian busker in the mall and to the best of my knowledge have made no issue with other buskers. I find it difficult to see this as anything other than anti-Christian intolerance or at very least intolerance of publicly expressed Christianity.
I am seeking legal advice and mediation on this issue with the store owners. I want to see an end to these hostilities while maintaining religious freedom in the city and my hope is that the issue will be resolvable quickly.
Monday is not my normal day in the mall as it is not possible to get a permit to speak in the mall on this day. It was also a very cold and windy day. I dress for the cold on these days and I suspect the locals think I am a visitor from Queensland. Truth be told after a couple of hours in the wind I am normally chilled to the bone. There was opposition from store owners and police today but I wont focus on that as there were some great encouragements also.
I tried a couple of different spots around the CBD today and preached a couple of times in Elizabeth lane. The first time I preached on Luke 7:11-17 on the raising of the dead man at Nain by our Lord. I urged people to see that they are like the dead man on the bier, in desperate need of the life that is found in Jesus alone. I urged people to give up on their own strength (they have none) and to stop looking at the wrongs of others (they are sinners too). Instead I called people to love and follow Jesus who asks us only to love and follow Him, humbly repenting of the sin we all have.
There was a group of people that gathered to hear and as always is the case when people are listening to the word, satan raised up distractions and opponents. One foul mouthed lady cursed both Jesus and God and then began to abuse and curse (literally) me in the name of satan. Another local atheist who has "been studying me for years" tried to herd people away from this obvious threat to the secular world view he wants to maintain. Despite this and in part because of this opposition a group of young people stayed until the end of the sermon and encouraged me for standing and preaching. We had a good chat afterwards.
Over the course of the day I handed out almost 150 tracts and almost universally there was smiles and politeness from even those who would not take a tract. I pray that the witness of a Christian smiling and wishing people a good day when they decline will have an impact even if they don't take a tract on that occasion.
Praise God for using a cold and opposition filled day to bring the gospel to needy sinners!
After a two week family holiday I've come back refreshed and eager to speak to people in Hobart again. The weather has been very unkind but the Lord is always kind. There has been opposition but the Lord has gone with us in all things.
On Tuesday it was very windy, wet and cold and so I was able to preach once and did not set up the bible table. Despite the cold miserable weather there was a small crowd that gathered to hear the word of God proclaimed. I spoke on the Orlando massacre and the difference between how Islam and Christianity respond to homosexuals. I spoke of the disgust and horror that this massacre engenders in Christians.
God like allah of the Q'uran condemns homosexual acts as a sin which leads people to death and hell. But unlike allah of the Q'uran, God has entered history to save all those who deserve death and hell because of sin. He lived a perfect life, died on a cross and rose from the grave for all those who will love Him. He calls us as Christians to live as He did and love as He loves. And so Christians should be praying for and seeking the good of all people, muslim and homosexual alike. During this message several people stopped and then left again looking thoughtful, please pray for all those who hear only a partial message. Pray that God will complete the message in full to them in time and that they will come to repentance and faith.
The latter part of the day was spent handing out tracts in Elizabeth lane and speaking to people there. During this time a shop keeper again sought to get me to stop by threats and verbal abuse. Please pray for this situation, not only that I would be wise and respond well but also that I would be protected from this opposition and able to continue boldly proclaiming the word of God.
I was able at this time to also share with two Mormon elders and discuss both their faith and the gospel. It was a very congenial discussion and they left hoping to talk further with me later in the week. Please pray that they will come back and talk again, and that they will be drawn to Jesus not as an elder brother but rather as their Lord, Saviour and God.
Friday was a clear day and I was able to set up the bible table in the mall. A couple of people stopped and spoke to me at the table and some bibles went out. I spent a large part of the day talking with Tim, a regular visitor to speakers corner with a very rough background. There is much in his life that is broken and much that continues to dog him from his life previous to now. Please pray that Tim will draw near to Jesus and lean on Him in the difficult things of life and learn from Him how to live a life of Godly wisdom.
I preached on the great story of our world and the mission of God to save sinners. During the preaching Karl began a conversation with a couple that were sitting nearby whilst I preached. The guy is searching after leaving the roman catholic church because of the abuses he saw there. The lady is curious and interested to hear what we were saying/preaching. A conversation of almost an hour followed and Karl was able to urge them to seek the Lord. Please pray for these two precious folk and the many others like them in the city. Pray that they will seek Jesus in humble faith and be saved.
Many tracts went out in the evening as I reached out to the commuters in the bus mall.
Praise God for another week of sharing the gospel in Hobart.
May His name be praised!
It was a typical winter's day in Hobart this Friday, cold, blowing and threatening to rain for most of the day. Despite this we were warmed to the heart by many wonderful interactions and opportunities given by the Lord. Karl joined me along with the wonderful prayer support of Kath and Cynthia. Regular visitors Penny and Tim were also there to encourage us in the mall.
Tim and I have been chatting for quite some time and this young man is moving steadily towards the Lord. If he is the Lords or not I leave between them but I rejoice to hear that he is reading the Bible and seeking to become a better husband and father. Please pray for him as he is struggling at the moment with a very rebellious daughter. He needs both patience and wisdom as he seeks to lead his family.
Over the course of the afternoon we had a few bibles go out, one of the people was quite striking. The young lady from My State came to ask for a Bible particularly to share with her work mates. Her hope was to get others to talk about the Bible with her. She said that she was not a Christian but had lots of questions, as did her work mates. We encouraged her to read and come and speak to us again if they wanted to ask questions. Praise God that he is drawing people to seek Him and giving them a heart to read His word!
During the preaching Karl sat down with Mr B. a polish helicopter pilot and avowed atheist. The two of them spoke for quite some time and discussed many things. One point that was particularly striking was when Mr B. picked up a leaf and said, "I believe in what I can see and touch like this leaf."
Karl replied "What about the molecular structure of the leaf?"
Mr B. said "I can see that with an electron microscope"
"Well what about before the electron microscope, do you think they existed when they could not be seen?"
Mr B. was silent.
When I heard this I was struck that there is always a point where faith and trust come into every life. Even if the person swears that they only believe based on evidence, there is always a point where that ceases to be true and they must just trust.
After I preached I noticed a lady sitting near by and went to talk to her. Mrs W. was a Christian and she thanked and encouraged me for what we were doing. I likewise encouraged her to be doing outreach in whatever way gave her to do. I told her that she could reach people that I would never meet or be able to reach. This is one of the wonders of being part of God's body, we are all given work to do and gifts to use. Praise God that he gives us each other.
All in all it was a beautiful day to be out in God's wonderful world and a privilege to be to be doing His work!