This afternoon at Capalaba the team had the privilege of engaging with a host of different people. There were less people than usual but conversations weren't hard to find. This afternoon was filled with unusual conversations and these are usually sad. Uniqueness in a religious belief isn't good, because it means the belief differs from God's clear revelation.
The first was with a man named Keith. He proclaimed to be a spiritual man and "very intelligent". Keith believed that God existed but that all religions are wrong. He attacked the Bible as false because, "we weren't there, we can't know it is true" and declared that true spirituality is just being good and hoping that God accepts that.
Keith didn't understand the Gospel when the conversation first started but said he understood it at the end.
Sadly, he follow this acknowledgment with, "but it is wrong". He is a man, that is so desperately in love with himself and his own ideas and on this basis has rejected God's very clear revelation about Himself.
Please be praying that God would be gracious to Keith and lead him to repentance.
Another conversation was had with a man who asked, "What do you think Heaven is?"
When it was explained that Heaven is a place, enjoying God and His glory eternally the man scoffed in scorn. He declared loudly, "Who would want to go there, what an awful place. Heaven should be like this earth where we can live how we want and make our own choices".
Sadly this man, also claimed to be a believer in God. It was another scary conversation with a man deluded to think that Heaven would be a place where he could sin at will, without consequence.
Two other conversations were had with a young man named Callum and a Girl named Shania. Neither had much understanding of God except for the idea that He is love. Callum thought that God would just let anyone into Heaven and Shania thought that as long as you try hard God will accept you.
Callum lent towards a buddhist idea of karma and was hoping that God would give some small punishments in this life so he would be okay on judgement day. It was explained that there is no small sin and no small punishment for sin because there is no small God to sin against.
Sadly Callum didn't really think he was that bad, or was that worried by God's judgement but preferred to live his own way.
On the other hand Shania came to understand that God's love is far more than what we call love (having mushy feelings). She learnt that God's love is for the underserving, the guilty, vile and helpless. God had every right to punish us and instead, punished Himself, so that we could be forgiven.
Shania was taken back and had never heard of God's love in this way before. She said she wanted to know more.
Please be praying for Keith that God would humble him. For the other man, that he would come to a saving knowledge of God. For Callum that he would see his desperate need for the Saviour and for Shania that she would seek to know God more.
Please also pray for Caleb a young man who heard the bad news but whose bus arrived before he was able to hear the Gospel. Please be praying that the team could speak to him in the coming weeks.
This afternoon in Capalaba we had a great afternoon! There were four team members out and over 35 conversations during the afternoon. God provided many people to speak with. Some were hostile but most were happy to engage and learn about who God is and what He has done to save sinners.
One exciting conversation was with a young man named Hayden. A little over a month ago he had heard the Gospel and professed to have trusted in Jesus. He understood the Gospel quite well and was glad to talk again. It was exciting to hear and we will be bringing him a copy of the Bible next week.
As many people know, Capalaba is location that is usually populated by two types of people, the first have never heard the Gospel and don't want to and the second have never heard the Gospel but are at least interested or polite enough to engage.
This next conversation seemed like it was going to be one of the first types but by God's grace, in response to prayer, Lynn, who started out with the phrase, "If you're going to talk to me about religion, I want nothing to do with it" and ended by saying, "Thanks for this conversation, it was what I needed to hear".
When pushed a little into why she didn't like God Lynn blurted out that she had been in an abusive marriage for almost twenty years! All the while, her husband professed to be a Catholic. Lynn said she was looking for peace and freedom from suffering. This lead into a conversation about why we know the world is broken. With a back and forth, some interesting questions and gentle answers Lynn was moved.
She came to understand that when sin entered the world it came with suffering and pain. As the conversation drew to a close she learnt that it was God who suffered to bring about the redemption from sin and ultimately a new world free from pain.
Lynn said she would like to speak more, so please be praying she chooses to go shopping on another monday so that she can hear more of God's plan to save the human race, through Jesus Christ.
A third conversation was had with Brittany. She had been spoken to a number of times prior including the previous week and she had some new questions to ask. When asked whether she had chosen between Christ or sin she said she hadn't made a choice yet. It was then explained, that not choosing Jesus is always a choice for sin. Brittany then had to leave, as her bus arrived.
Please asking God to continue working in the hearts and lives of these men and women, that God would use this simple conversations to bring about likeness to Christ. Either taking them from being unsaved to saved or from the beginnings of their Christianity to a mature place.
It was a quiet start for our time but a couple walking by were invited to do the Good Person test and started to do so. The lady left when the spiritual meaning of lust was explained. However Paul, who has no religious background, stayed and heard it all. He has taken a copy of John's gospel and is counting the cost. While Ryan was doing the presentation with Paul, a lady who is very loud sat nearby and made numerous sounds to disrupt the hearing of God's 'good news'.
There needs to be prayers offered to our God to use these 'spiritual attacks' (in other locations as well) for the progress of His name. May He shut down some and use others to attract more people to hear the gospel or whatever He knows will yield the best outcome in each individual case.
In God's providence, two other conversations were had with young men, both named Daniel. Both were "spiritual" in their beliefs but neither understood God's Holiness or their desperate need for a Saviour.
The first Daniel had Buddhist leanings and was all about "enlightenment" and finding inner peace through meditation. He acknowledge that we sin but it took him a while to understand that we are sinners (not just good people who make mistakes).
By the end of the conversation he intellectually understood the Gospel and why it was needed but sadly his bus came and the discussion was cut short.
The second Daniel believed in the Aboriginal dream time and its "spirits". He had gone to a Catholic school but had a range of struggles with Christianity.
The discussion went for almost 40 minutes but the final question he asked, after saying many times "I understand what you believe but I disagree" was, "So if I do want Jesus as my Saviour, how can I have Him?"
With one final summary, Daniel left and promised to read the Gospel of John.
Amongst a range of other conversations with people who had varying levels of understanding of the Gospel, a conversation was had with Brittany.
This young lady had spoken to the team three times prior. She had heard the Gospel and understood it mostly. The only real issue in her understanding was that she thought Jesus' sacrifice was on behalf of all people, whether or not they believed.
This meant she thought that even if she didn't trust in Jesus, she was still going to Heaven.
It was explained to her that Jesus' sacrifice is for those who believe. It was stated, "Simply knowing that He can save you, isn't enough for you to be saved, you must trust Him".
Brittany understood this and was left with a choice to make, will I trust Jesus or myself.
Please be praying for those who were spoken to this afternoon that they may come to Jesus and find forgiveness and life.
A team of 5 today whose age range covered 5 decades. We had 3 in the bus stop and 2 outside the library which is close by.
Lee-Anne had a long chat with Travis who started with "I don't believe in anything I cannot see". As the conversation progressed, it became apparent that he had more than a superficial knowledge of the Bible. He did not like the holiness of God. He would have accepted a god who loved him the way he was and with no judgment. Lee-Anne patiently showed him Scriptures as she worked past his defenses to the good news. He left with a gospel of John and our prayers that God would break through his defenses.
An interesting act of providence: I handed a lady a tract 'Intelligence Test' then realized that was not what I had intended to do. I managed to give her a 'Law' tract. Her response was, "This should be interesting. I am a lawyer"
Meanwhile a trial run with the flip chart was being done.
The results as always are in His keeping. We give Him all the glory for what He does through His imperfect (but justified) servants.
Our first 2 chats were with people we had not seen before.
Ryan chatted with a 15 year old, Connor. He was 'hard as nails' to the gospel but deeply 'in love' with his sins. He had the usual misconception that hell would be full of his mates. He heard that God was in charge of His prison and there would be no partying with his mates there for he would spend eternity under the wrath of God. He did not care. Only the grace of God can help the spiritually dead to come alive!
I had an open chat with Byron who knew much about the Bible, e.g. Jer 23:6/Rom. 4 The Lord our righteousness. He thought he would enter heaven as he was considerate of others and generally sounded like one who was seriously trying to 'love his neighbor'. Pointing out the need to love God first and foremost, and working through the law and gospel, Byron seemed to understand. He also knew the Blondin illustration on believing involving giving the Lord control of his life. He was referred to a church in his suburb - he needs to forsake some lifestyle sins and needs to be discipled. Pray that he follows through.
The work goes on until the Lord Jesus Christ returns. We give God triune all the praise and glory. Amen
School holidays generally means that we meet different people than the usual commuters/shoppers. So it was today.
As exception was young Chris whom Lee-Anne had spoken to a week or so ago. He was polite but not showing much enthusiam for eternal things but enough. So I showed him how to pray for God to reveal Himself to Him as he read through small sections of John's gospel regularly.
Sharon was one who initially did not have time to take a tract but Ryan was able to chat with her once she was settled at her stop. Sounding very much a 'new-ager' and not having a good domestic situation, she listened to the law and gospel. Pray the Lord quickens her conscience.
Some sad stories as we expect in a fallen world. A young Indian lady with a child is here on a student visa. Her husband, also on a visa, has deserted her. Pray she is given the ability to come in saving faith to He who is the Light of the world and our living Hope.
As long as we have breathe we give all glory to God triune, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God blessed forever. Amen.
Our Lord brings an interesting variety of people under the sound of the word of Christ. The Holy Spirit works wherever He chooses and however He has determined. There seemed to be fewer people than usual but I had a chat with 2 people that I had never seen before and that was within the first hour of our team being there.
Please pray for Nori who is studying to become a librarian. She was knowledgeable about the Bible (she guessed the correct answer to the "What is the Most Stolen Book?" tract question), partly due to a loving relative and also from Roman Catholic schooling. Nori was accepting of her own sinfulness and unworthiness of being allowed into God's heaven just as Adam forfeited Paradise as a result of his one transgression. God is perfect and heaven would not be suitable for Him if He allowed even one person in with only one sin not atoned for. We progressed through the difference between justification by faith alone vs. justification by faith plus 'my' works; always imperfect.
As a student until the end of this year, she had not been spending time reading His Word. She gladly received a gospel of John after I showed her how to use it. I asked her what about God impressed her most (she is thinking about this) and shared that I am quite moved when I ponder the pure selflessness of God.
She also was taken through the builder/building analogy and shown how it tied that in with the "How we know God Exists" tract which I put in every John's gospel. Nori volunteered that she would give that to her parents and younger brother.
May our great and awesome God be glorified for He alone is altogether glorious.
It proved to be a coolish day but the conversations were warming to our hearts. Ryan started a chat with a young man and was still engaged after an hour. Lee-Anne had an open chat with Sarah and they had reached the gospel when her bus arrived. She left with John's gospel and Lee-Anne's phone number as she wanted to hear more. Please pray that she does. As Sarah got on her bus and it was departing, another young lady came running for the bus but missed it. Lee-Anne was able to console her and was chatting freely with her as I left.
I met a Philippine lady Muslim who was easy to speak to but not really taking what I said seriously. She freely admitted her sinfulness and need of forgiveness. She ignored the court analogy of simply asking the judge to have mercy on her and then expecting him to let her go free, and asking God for mercy with no satisfaction of His offended justice and expecting the Righteous Judge to let her go unpunished. She stuck to her 'we worship the same god but in different ways'. Her way was from the Koran.
Next was Jordan who was wide open and seemed to understand the message of salvation. He has a Bible and was asked to read John's gospel humbly asking God to reveal Himself. Jordan was also made aware of his need to 'count the cost'.
We can thank God for the cool breeze that swept through the plaza from time to time. It seemed to keep many away but even our long-time 'knocker' passed by twice without interfering. Praise God and to Him be all the glory.
We pray particularly this day for Jack. He was raised Roman Catholic and believes in God. He had no idea on how to get to heaven. However he listened carefully to the law and gospel and understands now how Jesus Christ saves His people from their sins - Matt. 1:21. Jack was told that Jesus wants fully committed disciples so he needed to 'count the cost' to himself of following Jesus.
When asked when he would trust Jesus alone to save him, he responded, "Today!" May he, like Zaccheus, find that this day salvation has come to him. Please pray that he would read the gospel of John he was given (and later on the whole Bible) and also that he would find a Bible-based church. He was warned that the Roman Catholic church had departed even further from the Bible than it had in former days.
The work continues as the school buses arrive and any others the Lord may send along.
As always we thank Him for His gospel which is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes... - Rom. 1:16, and for enabling us to proclaim His unchanging truth. Glory to Him alone!!!
The team did some amazing 1-2s today. Lee-Anne would speak to a group of two people who broke away after a while. Later in the afternoon Ryan was able to follow through with the same people - some of them getting to the point where they could tell why God would let them into heaven - based on Christ's finished work only. However the commitment to submit to God's One and Only Saviour is, hopefully, still to come some other time.
There seemed to be a number of Roman Catholics today who were open to listening to God's true message of salvation by grace alone. One had received a tract as he entered the area and said in passing that he was trusting in Jesus. Later he was receiving a gospel of John from Ryan after being taken through the law and gospel and realizing that he had not been trusting in Jesus Christ ALONE to save him.
The pleasure was ours as He helped us glorify Himself in proclaiming His offer of salvation. May He keep leading us to those He is dealing with. To God alone be the glory!