While out in the mall on Tuesday I had a wonderful conversation that encouraged me and gave me cause to pray and praise God. Previously I have had a young man Mr F. drop by when I am preaching and to the bible table. His arguments have always been cheerfully presented and well-reasoned. In our debates, he and I have always walked away on good terms.
After I finished preaching on Tuesday Mr F. came up with a small group of friends and asked me if I remembered our last discussion? He said he had been thinking about it and wanted to talk more. After prodding my brain into action and a couple of reminders from Mr F.
I remembered our discussion on the nature and origin of ethics. He had been thinking and wanted to more clearly present his view of the way empathy as a precursor of ethics had arisen. What a privilege! To be able to discuss spiritual things in a friendly way with someone who is prepared to work hard at not only seeking to be understood but also to understand.
We had a great chat and I was a couple of points direct the conversation to the gospel need of all people because we fail to be ethical. Mr F. did an excellent job of teasing out with me some of the implications for ethics based in evolutionary assumptions, some of the possible arguments for and against an evolutionary or divine origin for ethics. In the end, we both had to stop talking as the day was so cold and we went our separate ways with a promise to talk more another time.
Please pray for Mr F., not only that he will come again to discuss but that he will be impacted by the fingerprints of God evident in ethics and all areas of life. May the Lord save him and bless him in Jesus our Lord!
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' 43 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 44 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”45 Mat 5:43-45 ESV
Our work in Hobart continues amid ongoing slander and attempts to gag us. It is also amid much encouragement and joy in the faces and voices of Christians who continue to love and pray despite the hatred.
Mr S. is still hard at work to stop the preaching of the gospel if he can. None the less we will continue to share the message of salvation through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus. We will continue to pray for Mr S. and the rest of the lost in Hobart. And we will continue to trust that God will glorify His name in this land.
When Mr S. has his pro-same sex marriage stall up, we gather to pray for his salvation for at least a brief period. We also appeal to God for the many other concerns for friends, in our churches, in our country, and world. We praise the eternal God who controls all things and works all things to His purposes and glory.
There are some who support Mr S. and are opposed to our work and the preaching of the Gospel in the Mall. As Christians, we should never be surprised to see opposition to Gospel work, it was promised by our Lord. But we should always return praise and thanks to our God when He brings much needed encouragements. And God is faithful amid difficulty, encouraging us both in the mall and through messages online. There has been an outpouring of support for the team in the mall, and for my pastor Campbell and I. Frequently these encouragements have come at exactly the right time to counter the negative responses and raise our spirits for the fight once more. Thank you to all the wonderful people who have voiced your support and encouraged us to keep preaching the gospel and fight the Anti-discrimination charges. We have been and we will.
These last couple of weeks have provided many opportunities to share the gospel, in the mall, on the streets, and in conversations. I have been blessed with more people than normal for this time of year coming to talk at the Bible table and stopping to chat after the preaching. I’ve been blessed to speak of our Lord to journalists and on radio, I am humbled that our Lord is willing to use me in this. Praise His name that the Gospel goes forth no matter what!
There are two particularly great conversations that I’ve been part of recently:
Mr S. (not the heckler) – He stopped to chat after I handed him an “Are You A Good Person” tract. We started with the idea of heaven and God, are they real and is it reasonable to believe in them? Mr S. is an atheist/agnostic and so I could appeal to the science that points us to the presence of God and the history that shows He has spoken to us. We then discussed and debated for some time about various theological issues. It was a friendly debate and I was able to share the Gospel repeatedly during it. Mr S. and I parted with smiles and handshakes. A week or so after Mr S. came to the bible table and we had a great conversation again, this time talking around other questions he had and getting to know each other. I encouraged him to come again and talk any time and I hope he does. Praise God for opportunities to share with others the great hope we have in Christ. Please pray that Mr S. will come again and we can talk more of Christ.
Ms E. Ms T. and Ms P. – These three young ladies were sitting at the tree next to Speakers Corner whilst I was preaching and I approached them afterwards. They began by saying that they disagreed with most of what I was preaching. So, I asked them why it was that they disagreed. This developed into a very long discussion of the Gospel and Christian ethics. I was able to share some of the supports for the Gospel they’d heard me preach and reasons we should believe in Jesus. There were times they obviously disliked what they heard from me, especially around same sex marriage issues. But the discussion remained friendly and we parted on good terms. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to talk with them again. Please pray that God would soften their hearts and mercifully draw them to Jesus Christ.
There has consistently been people sitting in the cold to listen to the preaching at this time also. Something that is very uncommon in the cold Hobart winter weather. Praise God that He gathers people to hear the way of salvation, may many be drawn to Jesus Christ and put their faith in Him.
There are many challenges in the Christian life, many ways we trip and fall, many ways we confront suffering and pain, many opponents, and many uncertainties. In all these things, we are comforted that Christ goes with us in it all. More than that, Christ conquers all these challenges through us and makes us more than conquerors in Him.
This last two weeks have been quite a challenge for both my church and I. My regular heckler Mr S. has leveled a complaint against my pastor Campbell Markham and I under the Anti-Discrimination act here in Hobart. The complaint whilst long and convoluted is clear on one thing, the issue at hand is primarily the content of the Christian faith. Christian convictions regarding morality, the gospel, the sanctity of life, and the reality of God’s coming judgment are all under attack. Australia’s usual “holy cows” have been used in this complaint; homosexuality (and SSM), abortion, Islam, and the big one “offence”. It appears that a public Christian response to these is not only forbidden in the eyes of progressive ideologues like Mr S. but also in the eyes of the law (ala the Anti-Discrimination Act).
My Pastor has been targeted for writing letters to the editor and reproducing them as blog posts. The “offensiveness” of his comments is the excuse used to attack his reasoned, gentle, clear, and biblical response to homosexual campaigns in our state and nation. I must wonder what comes next if “offensive” church blogs and newspaper articles are open to legal action. Are we going to have people monitoring the content of pastors’ sermons and submitting them for assessment under the Anti-Discrimination Act?
Before you laugh at the ridiculousness of that thought you need to be aware that part of the complaint against me comes from a sermon I preached at a local church!
I will not weary you with the large list of my apparent legal misdemeanors. Suffice to say that apparently, I can and have breached the law with almost everything I’ve done in Christian evangelism for the last 4-5 years. Obviously, I reject the accusation that I and the team of Christians with me are hatefully bigoted against others who don’t share our views. Our team has worked hard (and sometimes failed) at keeping the balance needed between gracious and gentle proclamation and the clear need to present God’s unflinching opposition to all forms of sin. Over the years we have had a long string of people come to us and apologise for their opposition as they can see that we love the people of Hobart and act from that love. Many of these people are not Christian and some radically disagree with Christian doctrine, yet they can see that Christian street preaching is motivated not by bigotry and hate but rather by loving concern.
Where to then from here? The first port of call in this for all Christians should be prayer. We must praise and glorify God for His goodness in all this, even in challenging times we can trust His wisdom and exult in His Holiness. We need to ask that this will lead to an expansion of God’s kingdom and a deepening love for His ways in Christians. We need to confess our sin and ask for Christ Jesus’ mercy, no Christian is perfect and I am worse than most. We need to ask our loving heavenly Father to give us what we need for today, that we could live and glorify Him in how we live. We need to plead for forgiveness for our enemies, please don’t stop praying for Mr S.. Lastly, we should to call out to God for Him to act on our behalf and fight the spiritual war that this complaint is as small expression of.
Second thing we should be doing is to let this motivate us to Christian witness. Look at what is happening here as a warning brothers and sisters, opportunities to witness are lessening in our nation. Use the opportunities you have now to speak to others about Jesus. Needless to say, this complaint will not stop the team and I from publicly sharing the glorious gospel news here in Hobart.
Thirdly, as Christians I believe we have a responsibility to stand up to this opposition. What does that look like? Firstly, it involves preaching the gospel! Also, though it involves making this issue as public as you can, this sort of thing breeds in the dark. Bring it out into the light. Write respectful but urgent emails to your local, state and national representatives, make them aware of this and your concerns.
Lastly, we should trust God has all this in hand and it will end up glorifying His name and being for the good of His people. We can trust Him!
It has been a cold couple of weeks here in Hobart and it is sometimes hard to go out into the mall and do outreach. Praise God that when we are weak He is strong and supplies all that we lack! In spite of the cold it has also been a wonderful time here in Hobart with many fantastic opportunities to share the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ.
Over the last couple of weeks Mr S. our regular heckler has taken to setting up a pro-homosexual marriage table in speaker’s corner. This means that during the hour that he is set up we need to go to other areas. This has been a blessing rather than the irritation I suspect that he intended it to be. It has meant that we have spent much more time in prayer and many more tracts have gone out into the city, as tracting is restricted at speaker’s corner.
The other blessing is that this has been a prompt for us to pray more frequently for Mr S.’s salvation. He is a young man who is blindly committed to atheism in the face of many evidences and has been heavily involved in the occult for many years (he even has the tattoos to prove it). He desperately needs salvation as do so many in this sinful city. Please be in prayer for Mr S., that God would soften his heart and show him the greatness of his sin and the even greater love of Jesus. And if you are reading this Mr S., please be sure of our ongoing prayers and hope for your inclusion in God’s family.
Preaching went well today but was a little quiet as always is the case in winter here in Hobart. At one point a small crowd gathered as I spoke with a man and I could share the gospel with those gathered.
On the other hand there has been a flurry of interest in the bible table today, with most of my bibles taken in the first 2 hours. Also we had a couple of enquirers wanting to talk about theological issues. Both enquirers were utterly committed to anti-biblical positions, one of them parading as biblical.
Firstly was a man from the local hyper-charismatic church, they teach that there is no salvation possible without first baptism and then second speaking in tongues. We have spoken before and today was in many ways no different from previously. I opened scripture to show how their teaching contradicts scripture, and he refused to see what I sought to share. The only difference was a tragic one. Previously people from this church have sought to prevent me from sharing the gospel only by distraction. Today though I was told not to preach the bible message the way I do as it includes parts of scripture that are for Christians only and should never be preached outside a church. This man also told me that I am wrong to tell people to repent and believe only as they must also be baptized and speak in tongues.
These two issues stem from the same root, which is the legalistic rejection of God’s grace. This is a deadly error that the Apostle Paul wrote against in the book of Galations, salvation is all of grace or it condemns us outright. We destroy the gospel and make it very bad news indeed if we say like the legalists of Galatia that we must keep certain laws or do certain things (in this case baptism and supernatural languages) in order to be saved. If we seek to be right with God through law keeping we are bound to keep ALL the law, and none of us do that. Please pray that God will remove the deception that these folks are under and lead them into a relationship with Him of grace. Please also pray for us that we will be kept from this same error of law keeping, we are all bent in the direction of this sin and it is only by God’s grace that we stand.
The second enquirer was a man who believed that the word of God was corrupted and a mish-mash of myth and legend. Yet despite this he appeared quite confident in being able to tell what was true and false in the “mix”. It is the first time I have ever been told that the Cross is a two-dimensional version of the Qiblah in mecca (think folding paper to form a cube…) and that the Davidic star of the Jews links into Revelation chapter 3 and the “synagogue of Satan” in Philadelphia.
Apparently two thousand years after the fact it is crystal clear that the whole bible is cobbled together from previous myths (including Mythras who came after the writing of scripture). Not only that but this man was also certain that Christianity was a hoax and a means of controlling us and keeping certain people in power. I was able to share some reasons to believe the bible is what it claims to be (the divine inerrant word of God) and unfortunately, he was unwilling to listen to much more than that. Please pray that God will open this man's eyes to the truth and bless him with salvation.
Praise God for the many and varied opportunities that He brings us each day!
Even though we are apparently having an extended Autumn in the south of Australia it still feels cold in Hobart to me as an “ex-pat” Brisbane boy. That said God blesses us with beautiful wind streaked skies and amazing sunsets and rises over our picturesque river city. More than that He blesses us with the opportunity to share the gospel.
We spent a fair amount of time at the bible table chatting with people as they came. Things are quieter now that the cold months are here but there is still a steady stream of bibles and literature going out every week. Several Christians dropped by to chat also and they were encouraged to hear about the Dark Mofo festival outreach.
I preached once in the afternoon as there was someone else who wanted to use speakers corner. I preached about the revealing nature of our words and actions. The recent Dark Mofo festival had featured several quite dark, disturbing and plain gross “art” installations. I used this to point to the darkness that is present in the hearts of the organizers and the artists. From this I pointed out that we cannot point fingers at others though as we each have darkness and sin in our own hearts. I urged the people to hear what God says about our sin and rebellion and flee to the savior Jesus Christ.
There were a few people who stopped to listen as I preached. Karl had a conversation with a young guy who has cancer and is struggling with the recent loss of a friend. He said that the preaching really spoke to where he was.
Just as I was wrapping up a young lady Miss C. came and spoke to me about homosexuality. She was very friendly and open to hear what Christians and particularly the bible says on the treatment of homosexuals. We had a good chat and I underlined the responsibility of Christians to treat people with love and respect. I also clarified that love and respect do not equate with agreement and facilitation. Christians love and respect others but will never agree with or seek to facilitate sinful aspects of their lives. This applies to homosexuals and heterosexuals, sexual sin and all other forms of sin. Miss C. understood and appeared happy with what I’d told her. We also chatted about the bible and particularly what it says about Jesus. I encouraged her to read the new testament asking the question “Who is this man?”. Please pray for Miss C. that God would encounter her and bring her to faith in Jesus Christ.
The someone else who wanted to use speakers corner was Mr S. my regular heckler. He set up his atheist’s equivalent of a bible table and spent an hour talking to the couple of people who came to his table. Unsurprisingly I recognized a few of my past hecklers amongst his visitors. Much to the apparent upset of Mr S., Karl and I wandered up the mall and handed out tracts for the hour.
As the day of outreach ended we prayed together and asked our sovereign Lord to save the sinful and dark hearts of the people of Hobart.
Praise God for another glorious day in His service.
(Picture: PAUL FLEMING on Twitter (@lovethywalrus))
After a very busy couple of weeks in April things have quieted down a fair amount this week. Snow falling on the mountain and a chilling wind tends to keep people walking when they are in the mall. Despite this cold there was a number of appointments God arranged for today.
The first of these was with a group of friendly young Mormon men who have been witnessing in Hobart lately. We chatted briefly only today as they were doing outreach in speaker’s corner, it was good to continue building rapport with them. They have stopped to listen to me preach a few times and we have talked for quite some time. We have had good conversations about the similarities and differences between Christianity and Mormonism.
One conversation was about the role of good works in Christian and Mormon lives. The Mormon doctrine regarding good works is that it is essential for salvation as opposed to Christian doctrine which teaches the worth of good works but that they are only an evidence of salvation. As Ephesians chapter 2 states, we are saved by faith and not by works so that no-one can boast. This is a major difference between these two faiths and very clearly underlines the difference between the Bible and what Joseph Smith taught in the Mormon Scriptures. We talked for quite some time on this issue and I encouraged them to consider what God has said in scripture about the role of good works. I hope that we will have a chance to talk about these things again.
I spent some time handing out tracts with Tim and Penny and a moderate number went out. I am always pleased to see people take tracts because you never know where they’ll end up. I’ve met people who say to me that they have one of the tracts I hand out that a friend had floating around their house and they read and kept. I’ve heard people talk about Million Dollar Question tracts that they have pinned to their wall. And I know of at least one cleaner who heard the gospel through a discarded tract that caught their eye one day at work. You never know how God will use them.
Karl and I preached through the week. I am delighted to see my brother becoming more bold in his proclamation of God's glorious word and its always good to see him show up the emptiness of the world's wisdom (he studied philosophy whilst at university). On Tuesday I preached on Genesis 1-3 and then the 1st Psalm, I tried to keep to the passage and apply this to lives of the people of Hobart. It never ceases to amaze me, just how relevant even the smallest section of scripture is to life in any age. The realities of brokenness and sin alongside the beauty and nobility of our world is explained by God’s word with a clarity that is not found anywhere else.
Likewise, there is insight into our personal lives, why there is such beauty and such ugliness in the soul of mankind. While both passages do not explicitly mention the saviour they both point forward to Him with eager longing. My preaching urges people to look to Jesus in faith and trust in Him only. This is the only solution to the brokenness of our souls. The only answer to our accusing consciences. This is the only hope for sinful people living in a sin scarred world. Only salvation through Him, only cleansing by Him, only a good relationship with God through Him.
After preaching this week there were a good number of conversations. Firstly was a young lady who was very interested in the literature we had on same sex marriage on the Bible table. At first she avoided conversation but then asked "Will God send me to hell because I'm gay?". She was quite tentative and shy in her approach and so I spoke with her gently for some time about the holiness of God and how all of us fall short of His glory, not just homosexual people. I also shared the great love Jesus has for her and all people regardless of their sins. She listened to the gospel message and then walked away thoughtful. I pray that God would soften her heart and bring her to faith in Jesus.
Karl also had a fantastic conversation with a Muslim, Mr A. who was very eager for further conversation and promised to come back next week to talk more. There was much discussion of who Jesus is and why He came and what he taught. I hope that we can reach out to him again in the near future.
Just as we were packing up on Friday a group of young ladies and a guy stopped and again engaged with our same sex marriage material. In marked contrast to the young lady previous they were very aggressively anti-Christian in their stance and arguments. Numerous times through the discussion I noted that there was no reasons for their thoughts given, only slogans that could easily have been lifted straight from the newspapers or internet. We discussed why Christians disagree with same sex marriage and say homosexuality is a sin. Karl and I both tried to show the balance of love and judgment that God's word responds to these issues. Tragically they left spouting yet another slogan, "You should try to be more open to love..." . May God work in their hearts to show the bankruptcy of the homosexual life and the great love God has shown through Jesus. May they turn to Him from this broken lifestyle.
God continues to work through my work here in Hobart. Praise His name for that.
It has been a busy fortnight here in Hobart, many people have been coming to listen to the preaching and there have been extensive debates on numerous issues. It has been wonderful to see the gospel preached to the large crowds but there have also been some very challenging moments also. Many bibles have gone out from the table and good conversations had whilst the preaching is going on.
Some of the issues raised are predictable and have been well answered by wise Christians in the past, some of these were:
If God is all powerful, can He make an object so heavy He cannot lift it? (answer: God can do all things consistent with His character and His character is not logically absurd)
The burden of proof in this argument is all on you as a Christian – prove God is real (answer: Christians have a burden of proof to bear and there is huge amounts of evidence for God's existence. Atheists on the other hand have an impossible burden to bear – to prove God does not exist means you must know all things and all time!)
If God is real then why is there so much suffering in the world (and variations of that thought)? (answer: there are many options to answer this, two options in summary: God provides us with the grounds of good and evil, if He is absent what do you base your protest of evil on? God made this world good and the evil we see came into it by our wrong doing, one day He will redeem the world.)
Why do you do this? (answer: Because I care about you and want you to have the great blessing that could be yours in Jesus Christ)
Some of the questions though have been very modern and very topical today and form part of the secular class of “untouchables”. Issues that no one is allowed to question the status quo on, you simply need to shut up and agree apparently.
I'm gay, what does God think of me? (answer: God has shown His great love for you and me both by sending Jesus to die for sin on the cross. We both deserve judgment and hell for our rejection of God and wrong doing but you and I both can be made God's precious children if we turn from sin and humbly trust in Jesus)
What does God think of abortion? (answer: All life is given by God and children are precious in His sight. To perform an abortion is to kill a human being at an early stage of life and is murder.)
What about other religions? (answer: Jesus said He was the only way to God and no-one would come to the Father any other way. He made an exclusive claim and proved His authority by miracles, prophecy and resurrection.)
For most days it has been wonderful to preach as I was given the opportunity to share the gospel liberally when engaging with people. It was good to keep coming back to the centrality of the gospel and Jesus Christ. Arguments are good to a point but the reason for doing this is to draw people to Christ, praise God He gave the opportunity!
Soli Deo Gloria
This week has been a sharp spike in interest in the work in the mall. We had many people gather to discuss the gospel and biblical matters. We also nearly ran out of bibles on the bible table, a problem every evangelist should have!
The afternoon began as many have, with quiet discussions around the bible table. Mr S. dropped by to have a quick chat before heading off to other commitments. My discussions with Mr S. have become quite cordial, something that I am immensely grateful to God for!
After finishing chatting with Mr S. I began to preach the gospel and I was working my way through a passage of scripture when an aboriginal man started shouting at me that I should stop preaching about God on aboriginal land. Apparently God and Jesus are not welcome in Australia, and according to this man I was being disrespectful of his people by preaching as I did. I responded to him as best I could, seeking to show him that race and nationality do not remove our responsibility to our maker. I also urged him to consider the fact that many in the aboriginal communities of our land are Christian (75% according to the ABS census done just recently). There have even been elders come out in opposition to the activism of “Invasion Day” saying aboriginal Australians should be seeking to reconcile not foster division and hatred. None of this had any effect on this particular man and he continued to spew hatred towards God and threatening me if I did not stop preaching. All this obviously concerned some people listening because one lady called the police because she thought I was in danger. They came and spoke with the man off to one side leaving me free to continue preaching.
I rejoiced when I looked around at the large crowd that had gathered to witness the spectacle and doubly so when members of the crowd began to ask their own questions. It began with a question regarding other religions – what do I think will happen to them (with particular reference to Islam as some Muslims had walked past). This I answered with the words of Jesus underlying His claim to be the only way to God and asking in return if He was right or wrong? Not receiving a reply I urged the questioner to consider all that Jesus did that made it urgent that we believe Him, He was God in flesh and proved it beyond all doubt.
At this point the police spoke to me briefly about avoiding violence in the mall, something I assured them I was ng very hard to avoid if I could. They then left me to continue preaching, taking the aboriginal man with them.
The questions continued from there for the rest of the afternoon until I had to pack up and head home apologising to the unanswered questions. The questions were fantastic, biblical questions that allowed me to glorify both God and the gospel.
One set of questions in particular was regarding the role of biblical law in the Christian's life. My questioner claimed we had to fulfill all the law in order to be right with God, not only believe in Jesus through faith. This question was fantastic as I could speak about the full salvation that Christ had won on the cross and how we are freed from the demands of law which we could never fulfill. I went to Galations many times to underline God's thoughts on this false gospel. Praise God He gave us the law which has delivered us to Jesus who sets us free from from bondage to both law keeping and sin!
As I said many bibles went out as did much literature. Praise God that He is so kind to us here in Hobart and sent to gather the people to hear the way to life. May He use what was said and what was taken to be read!
Please continue your faithful prayers for the people of Hobart and for our work in the mall.
To God be the glory through Jesus the Son!
What a wonderful day God blessed us with here in Hobart today! Blessed with beautiful warmth and a gentle cool breeze, peace, good food and drink and the wonder of being called (though unworthy) to share the gospel with others. As is always the case at this time of year, there were many people in the mall and quite a few of them stopped to listen and some to talk. The only troubling cloud in view is the scowl that passes over certain people's faces as they read the pro-marriage flyer on the front of the bible table. The latest face to do that was homosexual activist Rodney Croome just before he took pictures and video of the preaching and bible table.
After I set up I was able to briefly chat with Tim, who has been coming to support my work for many months now. He and four other Christians all commented on the fact that I had been drawn by two atheists (Sam and Mitch) into a extended debate the previous week. They were quite concerned that I had not preached and a couple of them (rightly) rebuked me for neglecting my duty to bring the gospel to mall and to them. There is a lesson in this I am glad to hear; never, Never, NEVER neglect the gospel for any other topic or discussion. God willing it will not happen again, please pray for me in this.
For the first time in the afternoon I preached on the joy and heart-break of pregnancy and children. I firstly pointed to the great tragedy of miscarriage and grief and pain that so many couples face at the loss of a child in the womb. From here I pointed to the horrible evil of abortion, which denies the value of every human life, no matter how small. By normalising the "right to chose" an abortion society has refused the right of men and women to grieve at the loss of a child in miscarriage. After all at the early stages the child is "only a fetus", "only an embryo", or most horrid of all "its just tissue...". God says on the other hand that we should grieve whenever someone dies because death is an enemy and not a normal thing; it has come through sin and will one day be done away with. From this I called people to consider how much God loves each and every one of us, He makes us, provides for us, and gives us a mind and conscience. And more than that, He saw how evil and helpless in sin and death we were, are, and continue to be and He had compassion on us! He came and did something about it, He took our broken-ness and sinfulness on the cross and took our place. Then He conquered death and hell in one fell swoop, triumphing over them on the cross and rising from the grave! Praise our awesome God!
After preaching I got to have a good chat with Tim (another Christian friend) who has been helping with the fantastic work of Pierce and Christina Beahr. This lovely Christian couple run Pilgrim Hill, a ministry aiming to reach out to backpackers through hospitality and art. Each week they host 40-80 people for a free dinner and a short gospel talk and then an opportunity to talk with Christians about matters of life and faith. Among the many other calls for prayer out there I would add this one, please pray for the Beahrs as they do this difficult and demanding work week in week out.
I also discussed with Mr S. my regular heckler regarding homosexual marriage. I had challenged him the week before to show me the ways that he would argue against paedophilia being legalised when they use almost the same arguments as the same sex marriage lobby (arguments he accepts). Thus far he has spoken only of the disparity in power between individuals as the basis of his argument, I will wait and see what else he thinks of in coming weeks. For those who may be unaware, since homosexual marriage was brought into law polygamy, paedophilia, incest, and even beastiality are being put forward as perfectly normal alternative forms of "marriage" in the USA, Europe, and Canada. The arguments put forward by these groups are the same as homosexual marriage advocates used, they merely challenge a further article of marriage (age, number, blood relation or species). This should be a clear warning to us in Australia that acquiescing to homosexual marriage will open wide the door to all manner of relational evils. As is the case of any compromise made with sin, national or personal.
I preached a further two times (quite croaky at the end) and spoke of the evidence of creation that is all around us and the deceitfulness of riches. I urged the people to humble themselves and have faith in Jesus and follow Him and no-one and nothing else.
Afterwards the conversation with Mr M. and Mr S. continued for a time but I sidestepped the debate to talk to a young guy Mr W. We had a wonderful conversation beginning with the documentary support for the bible and working out from there to topics like suffering and God, absolute morality and the gospel. It was fantastic to talk with him and hopefully he will come again in the future.
Praise God for all His goodness and faithfulness!
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.