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!
It was a lovely warm day today in Hobart and there were many good conversations we had in the centre of town. As we move into the darker and colder months it has been nice to sit with folks and speak of eternity in relative comfort.
I began the day with a conversation with Mr P. who is a representative for the Jehovah's Witnesses. One Elizabeth street the JW's set up a literature stand and speak with people who stop. I have meant for some time to engage them in conversation and today took the opportunity.
The Watch Tower and Tract Society or Jehovah's Witnesses claim to be a Christian organisation. Indeed they claim they are the only true Christians in the world today and all other Churches are perverting the truth presented in scripture. The organisation teaches a number of heretical things and many books have been written on this topic one of the best of them being Walter Martin's "Kingdom of the Cults". Some of the central issues revolve around the denial of the Triune God, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the existence of hell, and authority of scripture.
My conversation with Mr P. revolved around these issues and was very pleasant. This is one thing that I believe is very important when dealing with members of destructive cults : be polite and respect them as people. These people often deal with a lot of abuse from the general public and as Christians we should always be a positive contrast to the world.
We discussed the divinity of Jesus and different passages that speak of Him. After a short period Mr P. suggested that we organise another time to discuss things further and so we said fair well. I will try to use this opportunity to reach out to the different people in the team on Elizabeth Street.
There were a number of other people we spoke to over the course of the day and a number of people asked for bibles at the bible table. There are a number of Christians who now make it a weekly ritual to come when we are in the mall and encourage us. May God bless these wonderful people and urge them on in their prayers! If you know of people witnessing on the streets of your town please go and let them know you pray for them (and if you don't already, start praying!). Your encouragement will be a wonderful boost and much needed I know for sure.
Karl read from the word and I preached once on ANZAC day and John 3:16-17 and the great sacrifice of Jesus to save us from our sins. I used the bravery of our diggers over the centuries to draw people's attention to the great bravery of our risen saviour. I also spoke about Victoria Cross recipient Cameron Baird and pointed to the great love he showed for his mates and for us as a nation as he fought.
A few people gathered to listen and we spoke to them afterwards. I had a good conversation with a Christian man and we encouraged each other in the Lord.
Towards the end of the day Karl started a conversation with a gentleman who stopped at the table. It was a wonderful discussion and ended with the man asking for directions to our church for the coming Sunday.
Over the week of Easter we have had a combined churches outreach in Hobart. Many different outreaches have been part of this week and it has been a wonderful week with many successes. Josh Williamson has joined us for the week and in addition to the week's outreaches preached three times over the week-end at Cornerstone and Soul Presbyterian Churches.
There has been so much going on this week that it has felt more like a month than a week!
One of the major focuses of the mission was outreaches to local schools using Josh's OAC scetchboard for Easter messages. This was a wonderful opportunity and three of the local schools extended an invitation for Josh to speak. Over the course of the week Josh shared the gospel with over 1,500 students. The message was well received and obviously engaged the students but it was not without opposition being expressed by some. At one of the major schools in Hobart we were also able to give the students gospel tracts after the talk.
These events have been a wonderful opportunity and have opened doors to further work in at least one school and possibly more. We pray that God would use the contacts that we've made this week to open gospel opportunities regularly in the schools of Hobart.
One of the other major events of the week was an Easter open air service on parliament lawns. This event saw 130 Christians gather to worship God together and listen to Same Green another local evangelist share the gospel. As we gathered many people stopped to ask what the event was about and a handful then came to Cornerstone's Easter Sunday service as well. There were at least 60 other people sitting on the lawns who heard the message Sam Green delivered.
Afterwards many Christians said that they were excited to have an open air service in the centre of Hobart and would love to see it happen again. One person said every week would be good! Cornerstone and Soul have thrown their support behind another service like this at Christmas time.
I am glad to see these events happening in Hobart. There is so many secular or anti-God events going on in Hobart all year round. It is an important thing to have people to hear the gospel preached and see the Christian community praising God in a public setting. Praise God that there are other Christian public events happening in the coming months!
After the open air service a small team of bible story tellers gathered with me to tell the story of the bible in a panorama. We began with the creation and fall of our race and worked our way through highlights of redemptive history. The stories climaxed with the cross and resurrection and finished with the vision of the new heavens and new earth and the new Jerusalem. Many people stopped to listen as the team told the story and afterwards we handed out literature to those gathered.
This is yet another witness I would love to see happening in the city regularly. Storytelling is an engaging way to tell people the gospel and show them Jesus and God. The Wycliffe method is also easy to learn and will be memorable for those who hear. A team of bible story tellers would be wonderful working up and down the market at Salamanca or in the mall!
Over the course of the week over 1,000 tracts went out on the streets of Hobart. After the Easter services over 50 people took "The Essential Jesus Books" to find out more about Jesus and the Easter message.
I could also give you many examples of the personal interactions that I have had and seen over the week where people were open to hear the gospel. Wonderful conversations were had by all of us in the team.
Praise God that He has given us such a wonderful opportunities to share the life giving gospel with our city! Praise God for His kindness in giving us such openness from so many people! Over the coming weeks I will be praying that we will have many more opportunities in the future and the seed that we have sown will take root in good soil and grow. Will you join me in praying for the ongoing work of the gospel in the hearts of our city?
May God bless you and make you a blessing.