Hundreds of gospel tracts went out yesterday in Woodridge and some really great gospel conversations were had. Plus God raised up a team of 6 of us.
One conversation we had was with a man named Uzzi. I remember chatting with him in Sunnybank a month or two ago, but I couldn't remember exactly where he was at with God. So he gave me a recap by saying:
"On that day in Sunnybank you asked me if I was going to Heaven when I die and I said I would because of my good deeds. You then explained to me that our good deeds have nothing to do with us going to Heaven, and instead it is only through trusting in what Jesus has done by dying on the cross for our sins. Now I understand that and believe it for myself."
He was overjoyed to see us again and he said he has been reading his Bible everyday. That was wonderful to hear. I encouraged him to now make the most of every opportunity to share his newly-found faith with others and I mentioned to him the various outreaches we have on different days of the week. He said he would love to come along to our Saturday night outreach in Brisbane city, so we exchanged numbers.
Glory to God that He is saving a people for His name's sake!
At the end of our outreach at Woodridge yesterday we were rejoicing that God's word never returns void, but accomplishes everything He wants it to. We had a team of five of us and God brought along dozens of people across our path throughout the afternoon who were open to talking about spiritual things.
It is interesting to see three examples yesterday of people coming from different stages of belief - Firstly, Troy, he was a man who said that he knew God existed but said that he loves sinning. After he heard the gospel yesterday, he said he would count the cost of coming to faith in Jesus.
We also talked to a young man named George who thought he was already saved, but turns out he was trusting in being a good person to get him to heaven. By the end he realised that he needed to trust in Christ alone for his salvation.
And later on, we talked with a man named Elijah who hadn't really given much thought to the things of God, but was quite open. He said he would really think about what he heard.
We sow the seed, but God gives the growth. We are nothing, but God is worthy of all praise. So to God be the glory!
We have much to praise God for from our outreach in Woodridge this afternoon. We had 5 people on the team, and it was really encouraging to see a newer person on the team having his first full witnessing conversation with someone. He finished that conversation rejoicing!
Bundles of gospel tracts went out throughout the afternoon and some meaningful gospel conversations were had. One young lady we spoke with was named Vitooma. She thought her goodness would save her, but after going through the law of God, she realised that she too hasn't lived up to it. So we went on to talk about the cross and how forgiveness is only available through faith in Jesus.
Vitooma responded by saying that she is a Muslim. I replied, "I understand, but it doesn't matter what religion you grew up in, or what religion your parents are, if Jesus is the only way you can get to Heaven, you need to place your faith in Him no matter what. For isn't it more important to obey God rather than man if they disagree?" She agreed. So I went on to explain that Jesus was more than just a man, He is God in human flesh. He actually said that with His own lips. Plus He said that He had the authority to forgive sins and He even let people worship Him.
She was clearly thinking through all that she was hearing and said that she is trying to get her head around everything she is hearing. She asked a few questions and was happy to take a New Testament. She asked whether she could return in a future week if she has any questions as she is reading through the Bible we gave her. We said absolutely and also recommended a good local church for her.
Praise God that He does draw people out of darkness. Please pray that God would do that for Vitooma and for all the others who heard the gospel today. To God be the glory!
We had five of us on the team today for our outreach in Woodridge. It's been great having over the past 2 weeks a native Burmese speaker on the team since there are a lot of Burmese refugees living in the area.
God brought along people to chat to throughout the afternoon, including with an aboriginal man named Brandon. He said he was from Alice Springs and said he didn't believe in Christianity but instead believed in his tradition beliefs about the mother land and a form of reincarnation.
I gave him an example, "Let's say you give a great birthday present to your child but then you start to notice that your child now loves this gift you have them far more than loving you, to the point where your child doesn't think about you at it. That wouldn't be right, would it?" Brandon agreed.
I continued, "In the same way, God is the one who gave us this land and everything that comes with it, and if we start loving the land more than God, we're doing the exact same thing". "That's a good point", Brandon replied.
So I then brought him through the law of God showing him how we have all fallen short of God's standards and therefore deserve judgement. I pointed him then to the cross and how we can be forgiven through faith in Jesus.
He was listening, but replied by saying that his culture has been around for 100,000 years and he can't turn his back on it. He thought his culture to be superior, and said that he has been made a chief in his community. So I told him the story of the Apostle Paul who was in a similar situation within Judaism before he became a Christian - he was from the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, and being so zealous, he was even a persecutor of the church. But he says in Philippians 3:8 that he counts everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord.
Those other things don't matter in the long run, only knowing Jesus does.
I asked him, "Why don't you live in Alice Springs now?" He said, "Because there are a lot of tribal conflicts going on there right now, it's far too dangerous of a place to be. That part actually makes me ashamed of my culture."
I replied, "The people there need to hear of Jesus, for having an ancient culture is not the solution to the problem of sin, Jesus is."
This definitely made Brandon think and he said, "I have a Bible, I am going to have to start reading it."
To God be the glory!
The thermometer was showing 38'C as we arrived in Woodridge for our final outreach in this community for 2016. The air was still, and people seemed to be moving a bit slower than usual. Even though it was oppressively hot, the heat actually opened up doors for gospel conversations as people wanted to stand in the shade.
When I arrived at the outreach it was good to see Alan and Ryan already engaged in conversations with people. The gospel was spreading and people seemed to be quite open and interested.
My first conversation was a middle-aged man named Tim, who wanted to talk as religion was destroying his family. Recently, his partner had been attending Bible studies with the Jehovah Witnesses, as a result she had been converted and also their children had embraced the heretical teachings of the JWs.
Tim, even though he was not a Christian had enough smarts to know that something wasn't right, so in his words he went out to get a "Lutheran Bible to prove them wrong." Through reading the "Lutheran Bible" he was able to find that the teachings of the Watchtower didn't align with Scripture, but the more he pointed this out, the more the JWs tried to separate his family from him. We chatted for sometime about the cultic nature of the Jehovah Witnesses and also the gospel. When he left he asked if he could have my contact number so that he could talk further. I happily gave him my details and I pray he gets in touch to talk again.
By this time Ryan had finished a conversation he had been having with a man named Tama. It turns out that four years ago members of the team spoke to Tama, and he wanted to chat again. After he finished talking to Ryan, he decided to speak to me. I reinforced the gospel message, and then encouraged him to attend a local church. He gave me his details and asked if a church could contact him. We have already handed his details over to a church in his area, and know they'll follow him up.
The conversations kept flowing today. At some points it was a case of going from one conversation to another. Straight away after talking to Tama, I got talking to a black African man named Arthur. It turns out that Arthur goes to church but thought to be saved he had to keep the Ten Commandments. We examined the Law, and he soon saw that he had failed in keeping the Commandments, this then opened up into a wonderful conversation about the gospel and how Christ loves sinners. At the end of the discussion Arthur said, "I am going to trust in Christ today. I finally understand." Please pray that the Lord would save Arthur.
As I was talking to Arthur I noticed a man standing nearby eavesdropping. When I finished my conversation with Arthur I walked over to him and began to chat. This man is Romanian and had grown up in the church; his brother is also a Pastor. He readily acknowledged that what we were sharing was the truth, and that Jesus is the only way to be saved. He even went on to explain the gospel very clearly, but then he said, "I'm not trusting in Jesus." I asked him, "You know it is all true; you know that Jesus is who He says He is, so why aren't you trusting in Him?" The man hung his head and said, "I don't know. I need to." I shared the gospel with him again, and he shook my hand saying that he would give the matter some more thought. Please pray that the Lord would rescue him.
By this stage I was feeling on a bit of a high; we'd had several wonderful conversations without any opposition, but then entered a young black African Seventh-Day Adventist. She was fired up and full of her own self-righteousness. She boldly told us that to be saved someone had to keep the whole law and trust in Jesus. I pointed out that this is works righteousness, and that according to the Scripture a person cannot be saved that way.
She strongly disagreed, so I opened my Bible and asked if I could read God's Word to her. She agreed, but said it had to be NIV only (this is the first time I have met an NIV-onlyist!). I found an NIV on my phone, and read to her from Galatians 3:10-11; after I had read the passage I asked, "Are you relying upon the Law to be saved?" She said she was. I then asked, "Do you keep the Law perfectly?" She claimed she did, so we began to look at the Ten Commandments. It soon became clear that she had and was breaking many of God's Laws. When she admitted this I read the passage to her again, and stressed that she was under a curse. I then went onto read Galatians 3:13 and explained how Christ became a curse for us.
She didn't like the idea of Jesus saving and us having nothing to do with it, so once again she argued that if we don't keep the Law perfectly then we would be damned. I asked, "If you lie to me now, then walk out and get hit by a car and die, would you go to Heaven?" She said, "No, as I hadn't repented of that sin." This is the trouble of works righteousness; you can never have assurance of salvation, and you live in constant fear that you could accidentally sin and be lost forever.
I explained the gospel to her from 2 Corinthians 5:21, and stressed that we are perfectly righteous because of Jesus, but she wouldn't have any of it. I then took her to Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5, and asked her according to these passages what role works played in our salvation. She read the verses and said, "None, salvation is all of God." I thought, "Finally! She's got it." But then she turned around and once again started to spew the dribble of works based salvation that the SDA had taught her.
Once again we went back over the gospel, but I noticed that the more I stressed the salvation is all of grace the ore aggressive she became. No one likes to hear the truth that we cannot save ourselves, but that is what the Bible says. The message of the gospel offends our pride, but we must realise this truth. Eventually, I broke away from the conversation, and that is when she really lost it. She began to yell and me, blaspheme God's name, and swear.
A friend of hers then came up and said she was going to spit on me and my Bible, and the SDA just started screaming, "GIVE ME YOUR BIBLE AND DON'T JUDGE!" At that moment I imagined this must have been how the Pharisees responded to Jesus; the self-righteous hate the gospel. Please pray that the Lord would humble this lady and bring her to salvation that is all of grace.
The seed was sown today and the Lord will bless the sharing of His Word. Please pray for all those with whom we spoke.
We had a great afternoon of evangelism in Woodridge yesterday. Sometimes you'll encounter people who profess to be Christian, and instead of just assuming it must be true, it's important to find out what they believe will save them.
One lengthy conversation we had yesterday was with a young man named Geoffrey. When I asked him why he will be let into Heaven, he quoted Ephesians 2:8-9. That was a great response and so I thought this man understands the gospel. But as I was talking further with him, he began to start saying that faith and good works bring salvation.
So I gave him an example, "Let's say you're walking home and you sin in some way and ten minutes later you die, would God let you into Heaven?" He replied, "Yes." "Why?, I asked. He said, "Because God will see that I have been faithful in my life."
So I spent some time explaining that that is not the gospel. It's not our faithfulness that saves us, but it's what Christ has done for us in dying for all our sins (our sins past, present and future) if we trust in Christ.
For there is a big difference between having faith in Christ and being faithful. If it's our faithfulness, then we would be saved by works, the very opposite message of Ephesians 2:8-9. Good works will simply naturally follow if we have faith in Christ.
It was great to see this man really thinking about what he was hearing and he said he would investigate whether what I said was true.
Please pray for all who heard the gospel yesterday or received a gospel tract. To God be all the glory!
We praise the Lord for the great outreach today in Woodridge. We had on the team a young man who got witnessed to last year at this location by someone on the team, and was today sharing that same good news of the gospel with whoever happened to be there. The gospel really is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes!
It was encouraging to see plenty of gospel tracts go out and that some really good conversations were had, including with a man named James. He had seen us before, but didn't have the opportunity to talk with us yet. He said he has always wanted to come back and chat with us - he just didn't know what day of the week we are usually there! He remarked that he was very happy that he came across us today.
We got to share the message of sin, the judgement, the cross, repentance and faith with him, and he was very receptive. He said he has trouble reading, and so we were able to tell him where he can get an audio Bible.
He was really overjoyed to hear that the Bible was something he could listen to, and was going to get an audio Bible as soon as he could. We were also able to refer him to a local church to start attending.
We sow the seed, God gives the increase. To God be all the glory!
Today the gospel went out in Woodridge. We had a small team, but still hundreds of gospel tracts were given out to people across the afternoon, including to a young lady named Tina.
Tina attends a local high school and she initially was asking, "What if you die and find out it's not true?" She was skeptical about God's existence. But I pointed her to the building across the road and said, "You know that building had a builder, don't you?" She said, "Yes".
I continued, "Exactly, even though you haven't seen the builder, you know that he exists. Same thing when you look at this universe. Since it had a beginning, it must have had a creator. Even though you haven't seen Him, you still know He exists."
She responded, "That makes perfect sense!" So I continued on to talking to her about the coming Judgement, about our sinfulness before God and how we deserve God's wrath since we have not lived perfectly, but then also about the good news of Jesus taking the punishment for our sin if we would repent and believe.
She was clearly processing in her head about what was being said and asked a few questions that she'd been wondering about. Please pray that God would draw her to Himself.
In the photo, team member Alan is witnessing using the Intelligence Test flip chart to some high schoolers, while the young man in the foreground is reading our Big Money gospel tract that the kids loved receiving today. They are available here: http://www.operation513.com/bigmoney
To God be the glory that His gospel went out!
Most Australians would self-identify as being Christians, however, the level of Biblical knowledge is extremely low. We saw that clearly displayed on Tuesday in Woodridge as many people who thought they were Believers actually had no knowledge of the gospel.
The day started off with four of us working to spread the good news of Jesus. It was wonderful to see so many people taking material from our free Bible and literature table. At one point I thought we were going to run out of booklets as people took resources. In particular in was encouraging to see people show an interest in the Scriptures. Many people gathered around asking for Bibles and also copies of the Gospels.
Today, I tried something different for Woodridge, I decided to set up the flip-chart to see if anyone would be interested in taking the "Good Person Test." To my surprise quite a number of people were keen to have a go, and many listened in to the conversation.
The first person I spoke to was a young man who is a Hindu. He had no concept of Christianity, but he had some wonderful questions. I was able to share the gospel with him, and then discuss the issue of their only being one God, and Jesus being the only way of salvation. For him, as a Hindu, he found this hard to believe, so he stated that all religions are true. From that point we were able to have a discussion around the law of noncontradiction and the Christian faith. At the end of our conversation he took a tract and said he'd look into Jesus more.
As soon as that conversation finished another young man approached me. He put out his hand to shake mine while saying, "God Bless You!" It turns out that he is from a local church, but sadly he was trusting in his own goodness to get him to Heaven. I explained the gospel to him, and by the end of the conversation he realised that salvation is only through trusting in Christ.
No sooner than that conversation had finished, a young and rough looking boy approached me. He had been listening into the conversations and had taken some literature from the table. This young man was ten years old, but he had some street smarts. He told me that he had never been the church, and he had never heard of Jesus before. We chatted for a few minutes, and he seemed to be amazed at the love of God towards sinful people. He took a Gospel of Luke and told me he would read it.
Towards the end of the day I was approached by two young high school boys who were clearly looking for a bit of a laugh. We had some fun with the flip-chart and I was able to connect with them. Things became rather serious when we started to talk about sin and how a good God must punish wrong doing. One of the boys knew of Jesus and His death, the other had never heard of it. At the end of the conversation both thanked us for sharing the gospel and they went on their way.
There is a massive need for gospel ministry in the open-air all-around Australia. People today don't seem interested in going to church so we must take the good news to them. Please continue to pray for us as we seek to make Christ known by all means everywhere.
Thank-you to all those who prayed for our Woodridge outreach on Tuesday. Even though our team was small the gospel went out, and we even saw a man profess faith in the Lord Jesus.
Right at the beginning of the day, I handed a tract to a young man who is in his twenties; he looked at the leaflet and asked, "What is this all about?" I replied, "Well, it asks the question, do you think you'll go to Heaven?" He looked up, and replied, "Whoa, that is a big question. I hope so!"
It turns out that this young man attends a church on the Gold Coast, but he wasn't sure on how to have his sins forgiven. He said he had been baptised, but was confused on if that would help him or not. We chatted about how baptism is not a means of salvation, but rather it is an act of obedience done by those who have trusted in Christ. We then went on to talk about how someone can be made right with God, and after hearing about sin, and the cross, this young man said, "That makes so much sense!"
I explained to him that salvation is freely offered to all those who would repent and trust in Christ, and that God is prepared to make all those who come to Jesus brand new. Upon hearing this, the man said, "Can I ask Jesus to forgive me right now?" Then, on the streets of Woodridge we bowed our heads and he prayed to the Lord Jesus.
Of course the question is now asked by many, "Was that young man saved?" My answer is, "I don't know. That's God's department." The man certainly professed faith, and the Lord may very well have saved him. Time will tell.
That young man has now been connected with a local church who will follow him up. I've already heard from them that he is keen to attend on Sunday and also to go along to an evangelistic Bible Study group. Please pray for him.
The rest of the day at Woodridge was spent handing out tracts, and engaging in a very lengthy discussion with a Seventh Day Adventist who wanted to argue about the nature of hell, the Sabbath and judgement. We answered his objections with the Scripture, but whenever we replied, he would quickly jump to another topic. Please pray the Lord would set him free from his legalism.