Today we had on the team Bekk, Yarran, Dan, Rick and Glenda, Chris and Gary, and a few others from CWMF. It was great to have such a large team again. Since we had a decent sized team we split up, some of us went to different areas of Surfers Paradise for parts of the outreach. Bekk and I went down Cavill Mall, we didn't get very far before we were in a number of conversations.
One of the conversations we had was with a guy who was still very hung over from drinking the night before. He was telling us that the woman whom he has a child with broke up with him yesterday, and so he decided to drink his sorrows away. He said that he also spent $1200 at bars last night in buying drinks for strangers in order to try and find another woman whom would have sex with him, but to no avail. I asked whether he likes the way he feels now, being hung over for drinking so much. He said no. So Bekk asked, "If you recognise that the following day you'll have a headache and be depressed after getting drunk, why do it?" He didn't know, but did say that this morning in order to not start thinking of drinking again, he went to the local casino and spent $1000 on the pokies. But admitted that he'll most likely go out drinking again tonight.
I then asked him about whether he thought he was going to Heaven. He thought so, because he said he's a stand up guy. So I went through the commandments with him, showing him that he would be guilty on the Day of Judgement. After this he said, "I believe in mother nature." I asked him what he meant by that. He said, "Well it means that I can do whatever I want because I am god." I responded, "Really? Can you prove it? I would love to see you hover into the air and then start flying around." He obviously couldn't, but kept claiming that he could do anything - he even said he could get the numbers of all the girls walking past. I was thinking in my head, how come he couldn't get any girls' numbers last night if he really can do anything. I just kept warning him that there is a day of Judgement coming, that he isn't god, and he needs to repent and trust in Jesus to be forgiven. But he wasn't interested at all in conceding that he's not god.
Another conversation I had was with a guy from Belguim who said he was an atheist. I asked him how the universe came about, since he agreed that it had a beginning and that all things that have beginnings have causes/creators for them. He resorted to saying that the universe was self-caused. That means, he thinks the universe created itself. This viewpoint is clearly illogical, for it means that the universe would have to exist before it existed in order to make itself. But if it already exists, it doesn't need to make itself. And so therefore, it didn't make itself. To put it another way, how can something exist and not exist at the same time? It's impossible, for it violates the law of non-contradiction - that A cannot be A and not-A at the same time in the same relationship. I explained this to the man and he conceded this point, agreeing that there must be an external cause to the universe. But he would not allow the possibility of God being that cause.
At this time, Yarran had began preaching on the usual preaching block. After a short while, he had two hecklers in which he was engaging. Since these hecklers were very close, causing Yarran to not speak as loud, I indicated to Yarran that he should continue talking to them in a one-2-one conversation instead of in the open air. About a minute after this, two police officers (whom I had never seen before) looked like they were coming to speak to Yarran but since he was in conversation with the two individuals who were heckling, they waited around for a few minutes before wandering off. We haven't had any hinderance from the police in a long time, possibility these officers were just new ones to the Gold Coast region that didn't know that we do this each week and that the Gold Coast council have no problems in doing what we do. We don't know for sure whether they even wanted to talk to Yarran, for it seems they had a piece of paper with mug shots of people they were looking for.
Yarran and Dan (who joined the conversation) stayed talking to these two folk for about an hour and a half, well past when the outreach usually concludes. I thank God for raising up so many keen laborers who love sharing the gospel. To God be the glory!
Today it was just Bekk and I on the team, but not long after arriving a husband and wife who usually also hand out tracts on weekends at the coast met up with us. It's always great meet other people who have a great desire to share the great news of the gospel.
Soon after this, a local who has determined to try and engage us in conversation with him each week (so that we can't talk to others - but even in the conversation with him, he won't let us speak) arrived. He generally rails against doctors and the government. He was doing the same today, and as he was progressing in his monologue, he started swearing. So I pulled him up on that. He insisted that he didn't swear. But it was clear as day that he did. So I said, "Look if you can't even admit that you swore, I don't want to continue this conversation." As I was walking away, this person recognised that he had lost my attention. So he made a scene, and started shouting, "I am so low! I am not worthy. Can I kiss your feet? I have sinned against almighty God" in a very sarcastic and blasphemous way. I simply ignored him because I was already in another conversation by this stage. Thankfully the man left after that. A local soon after that came up and said, "Good thing you walked away, that guy is an idiot."
After a few further conversations I decided to start preaching. I began by speaking about a tourist who had died just two days earlier when they drowned at a beach nearby. Since where we preach is right in front of the beach, stories of drownings really do bring it home that death could happen to any single one of us at any time. I then talked about sin, the cross and what someone must do to be saved. After about 30 minutes of preaching, I stepped down.
As we were walking back to the car, we got into a conversation with two teenagers. As I gave one of them a tract, he replied, "I got one of these at Schoolies last year." So I then asked him whether he thought he would go to Heaven. He said he didn't believe in Heaven or Hell, but he believed in God and that God was good. So I explained that how if God is good, He would make sure those people that do horrible atrocities would get punished one day. He agreed. So I said that that is why there must be a Hell - a place of punishment and a Heaven - a place of no punishment. He said, "Oh that makes sense".
So I went through the commandments to show him that he too was deserving of punishment because of his sins. "But if I do good things, doesn't that cover it up?" he said. I explained how justice doesn't work like that. He responded, "Then everyone will be going to Hell." I remarked that it is true every one deserves Hell, but God provided a way to be forgiven of our sins and that is by the death of Jesus. So I explained the gospel to him and told him that he needs to repent and believe to be saved. He said would seriously think about it. Please keep this guy in prayer.
We found that almost everyone was willing to take a tract today, and it was very easy to get into conversations. To God be the glory that the gospel still goes out abundantly even with few team members!
As I was leaving home, it looked like it was going to be a rainy day, as the sky was filled with clouds. But as I drove further to the coast, the clouds seemed to vanish and so by the time I arrived at Surfers Paradise, there wasn't a cloud in sight.
I was joined by Bekk, Rick, Glenda, and seven people from Christian Witness Fellowship. Everyone was very excited to be out on the streets again, and there were quite a lot of people about due to it being a long weekend. After prayer together, we began handing out tracts and starting conversations. Since we had a sizeable team, I sent a number of groups of two people down Cavill Mall to witness down there. As the flow through of people traffic through the usual area where we witness can be covered with about five people.
However after an hour, it started to rain even though it was still mostly sunny. So we decided to have lunch.
After lunch, we went back to the usual preaching area and I got into a conversation with a man who seemed very shy and timid. He said he attends Surf City Church and thought he was going to Heaven because he has lived very good life. So I asked him whether he had broken any of God's commandments. He had and so I explained that since God is just, He cannot let the guilty go unpunished. He understood this, but argued that his good works would cover the bad things he has done. So I compared what he said to a judge in a court room. A just judge cannot let a murderer to go free if he argues to him "I've helped the poor", or "I've worked for charities". This seemed to make sense in his mind. So I then went on to explaining the gospel and stressed that he needs to trust in the death of Jesus alone for His forgiveness. He said he would, and also start reading his bible.
After this I stepped up to preach, starting on how even though Australia is a free country because of the brave and honourable actions of the Anzac soldiers (Anzac Day is following day), most people in Australia are still in slavery. I then read from John 8:31-34 where Jesus explains that "the truth shall set you free". I said, "Jesus is saying here that a person who lives in a lifestyle of sin is a slave to sin. So even though you may live in Australia, a country free from oppressors or cruel dictators, in reality you are still in slavery if you are living in a sinful lifestyle" I then went from there to the commandments, that when we break the commandments it shows that we are sinners. The truth Jesus was talking about was the truth about Himself - that His death on the cross is the only way to be freed from being a slave to sin and to escape the wrath that our sins make us deserve. I encouraged every listening to repent and believe the gospel. After this I answered some of the questions that were raised by the crowd.
The rest of the team faithfully handed out lots of gospel tracts and many people were spoken to about the amazing message of the gospel. To God be the glory for another great day of witnessing!
I arrived at the usual meeting spot at Surfers Paradise just a a few minutes late, and Dan Carkeet was already there. After a short time in prayer, we started handing out tracts.
One of the first people I chatted to was a young Jewish man. When I asked him the question whether he thought he was going to go to Heaven, he said,"Do murderers go to Heaven?" I responded by saying that they can if they repent and trust in Jesus. He then went on to explain that he was an Israeli who had been in the army for 3 years. He said that he didn't believe in Heaven and Hell, instead he mentioned that he believed in karma - if you do good, you will receive good in this life. And if you do bad, you'll receive bad in this life. When I asked him why he believed that, he said he thought it was just a good principle.
So I responded by saying, "But it seems karma does not really happen in the real world. For there are many people who do horrible atrocities and yet they don't get caught and they don't seem to receive bad things." He acknowledged this point and so I asked, "Do you believe God is good?" He responded in the affirmative. "Therefore, God must punish those people who do wrong. This doesn't seem to happen in this life for everyone. And so this punishment must happen after we die. This place is what we call Hell. But there also must be a place of no punishment, where God rewards the faithful. This is what we call Heaven." He agreed, and so I asked him whether he had done any bad, and pointed him to the commandments. He recognised his guilt and his deserving of punishment.
I then asked this Jewish man what Yom Kippur was all about. He said that they celebrate on that day. I asked him what were the origins of it. He explained, "It was the day of atonement, when a lamb was sacrificed for the sins of the nation for that year. The lamb had to be without blemish. We don't sacrifice a lamb anymore though." When I asked him how then his sins can be taken care of, he said that he had no idea. So then I talked about Jesus, that He was the lamb of God who died to take away the sins of His people. Jesus was sinless; no fault could be found in Him. He died, but then conquered death by rising from the dead. I then explained to this man that he must repent and trust only in Christ's death for His forgiveness. He had never heard of why Christians follow Jesus, and he said he now finally understood. He said he would think about it and at some stage get around to reading the New Testament.
Soon after this, I sat down next to a middle aged man holding a surf board, enjoying the midday sun. His name was Jason. I had chatted to him last week about the gospel (not the Jason I mentioned in last week's report). It was good to see him and I was glad I had the opportunity to witness to him again. He wasn't worried about the Day of Judgement coming, because even though he recognised he had done wrong, he thought God would understand that he had learnt from his mistakes. He was saying that that is the way people learn. I tried reasoning with him, saying, "It is obviously better to know the right thing to do in the first place without making those mistakes. So it leaves us without excuse on Judgement Day. A murderer wouldn't be let free if he tried arguing to a judge that he has learnt not to murder now since he murdered that last guy." I then went on to explaining the cross and repentance and faith. After this I asked the man whether he had read much of the Bible before. He hadn't. So I challenged him to read it, and he understood that it is foolish to reject Jesus without first understanding what he said and did.
Snowy also joined us a little bit later on. Lots of tracts were handed out and many conversations had. Dan commented that he was excited that in the conversations he had with people today, he thought he was really making progress. The people were open to hearing about the cross of Christ and really thinking about eternal things. Praise God for the encouragements He gives us at times.
To God be the glory!
As I was driving down to the coast, it was overcast and it looked like it might rain. But as I arrived, it had become a perfect day without a cloud in sight. I was excited to be out on the streets again this week (after having a break for Easter) and I knew the team would be of a decent size again today. Rick, Glenda, and about 6 people from Christian Witness Ministries Fellowship joined us again this week. I thank God for raising up more labourers who are keen to proclaim the gospel at the Gold Coast.
There was a guy named Jason in his early twenties who walked by and Rick tried offering him a tract. He rejected it, saying that he was closed to anything to do with Christianity. Later on, I offered him a tract (not knowing Rick had already tried to). He briefly looked at it, asking what it was and then gave it back, saying he wasn’t interested. So I asked him whether he thought he would go to Heaven. He said, “We cannot know where we will end up.” He then expressed his doubts about what is really true regarding religion and eternity, and asked why he should believe what Jesus said. So I explained that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is an absolute verification of His claims, and then gave some reasons why we can trust the gospel accounts when it records his resurrection. Such as, embarrassing facts, the origin of the disciples’ belief in the resurrection, multiple attestations - all providing evidence to think that the historical documents written by the gospel authors were actually accurate (see this post on the Apologetics Blog for more information). They seemed to make sense in his mind.
After talking to him for about half an hour, I challenged him to read the Bible. As he had never really read much of it. So I challenged him to read it first before dismissing it. He agreed to this, and then was willing to take a tract and read it. So I thanked him and he started to walk off. But this guy saw Rick, and Rick was in another conversation at the time. But he said, “Sorry to interrupt you, but I have got to say I’ve changed my mind. I am now open to this stuff; I will now read my Bible. This is truly from my heart.” Praise God that he can change even the most hard-hearted person and make him to be open to the gospel.
After having a bit to eat, we returned to our usual spot and I got up to preach. I started by reading the parable of the rich man who built bigger barns to store all his crops, and used it to show that so many people in society just live their life striving to achieve a certain status in society, or to own a certain amount of cars or houses, or to acquire a certain amount of university degrees. But what use is all that at death? I then went onto explain that there is a day of judgement coming where how we have lived will be seen and judged by God, and since we’ve all fallen short of His standard, we need forgiveness. And that forgiveness is only through the death of Jesus.
A bunch of Middle Easterns had been listening for a little bit and then one of them decided to ask a question, “If faith saves, why not simply go living in sin?” So I explained repentance, the natural thing that will follow the genuine faith that a person has in Jesus. She then asked, “If praying and other good things do not get a person to Heaven, why do them?” I talked about how the gratitude we have for Jesus for what Jesus has done for us and the love we now have for him will make us want to do good things. But it’s not like those good things will save us at all.
Another guy piped up asking, “How many Bibles do you have?” This seems to be a usual Muslim argument, but one simply based on ignorance. So I asked him, “Do you read Greek or Hebrew?” He said, “No”. I continued, “Well they were the languages that the Bible was written in, and since most people no longer know those languages, there has to be translation committees who translate the text from the original languages to the languages of today. Since there is not always a word that is exactly equivalent in our languages to the original languages, decisions need to made how they will translate it. People have differing opinions about this and that is why there are quite a lot of different English Bibles. No English Bible is actually inspired of God, only the original manuscripts were, but if you examine the English Bibles you can see that they all agree with each other pretty much everywhere in the meaning of the text.”
The Muslim fellow recognised he was way out of his depth, and so he asked another question, “Name one of the author’s of the Bible” So I answered, “The Apostle Paul”. He then asked, “What was Paul’s last name?” By this question he thought he had found the absolute shut down argument against Christianity, and he began celebrating. So I responded, “Last names did not come about till around the middle ages.” The crowd was utterly confused at this Muslim man, for they had no idea how that argument at all was any good at refuting Christianity. The man soon after walked off.
A bunch of young ladies came in right in front of me and after a while, one of them gave a thumbs up to me. So I asked her, “Are you a Christian?” She said, “No.” So I then went through with the ladies the good person test, seeing if they have lived up to God’s standards. Like the rest of humanity, they hadn’t. So I then warned them that their sins make them deserve eternal Hell, but there is a Saviour Jesus Christ. A number of them seemed very convicted by what they heard, please pray that God will draw them to Himself.
I praise God for the faithfulness of the rest of the team, who spread many seeds of the gospel today, in both tracts and speech. Please pray that God will give those seeds growth.
To God be the glory!
As I arrived to our usual witnessing area in Surfers Paradise, Rick and Glenda were already there busily handing out tracts. They had arrived about an hour early, as they had to leave the outreach earlier than usual. It is really great to see them both so keen for witnessing that they do it even before the rest of the team arrives.
Today was a unique day, as just recently a local Church had finished their evangelism training programme, and so they wanted to all hit the streets together and put what they had learnt into practice. So there were about fourteen of them, making today's team definitely larger than usual.
Before those guys arrived, Rick and Glenda had gotten into a conversation with two Mormon ladies from New Zealand. Rick called me over after a number of minutes asking if it says anywhere in the Bible that we were all pre-existing, as this Mormon lady was claiming the Bible did say it. I told her that in the beginning was just God, and He made everything (Gen. 1:1).
I then tried directing the conversation to talking about salvation, and how she thinks a person is saved. She said that if a person doesn't get all their sins worked off in this life by doing good, they can be worked off after they die. I was happy to hear a Mormon actually admit that their doctrine of salvation is actually work-righteousness, for so often they like to claim it's all by grace, yet in actuality they believe in salvation by works.
So I pointed Scriptures to her, such as Ephesians 2:8-9 and Galatians 2:16 which both talk about salvation not being by our works. Instead of addressing those Scriptures, she diverted the conversation by asking, "What is the work of God?" I then said, "Jesus Himself was asked that very question, and so let's take a look at what He said." I then turned to John 6:28-29 - 'Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”'
She, first of all, had a problem with the Bible we were using, because it was a New King James at the time, and not the King James. So I said, "Here, I have the King James Version right here on my phone." I then read it out to her. She followed along and said, "No keep reading" So I did.
"So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”"
At that, she exclaimed, "See! It mentioned 'work' three times in that passage. We are saved by our works!" She was fully serious, and so it was hard to hold back the laughter. I tried explaining to her that even though it says 'work' in that passage, it doesn't talk at all about working for our salvation. In fact, it pretty clearly states the opposite, Jesus was exhorting them to 'believe in him whom he has sent.' Faith not works.
I challenged her whether she could really know that she was going to go to Heaven and whether she believed in and followed the real Jesus. She then stated, "Of course I do, the Church that I go to is called, 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints'! So I definitely follow Jesus." I had to be to the point with her, and so I said, "Look, by what you've been saying, believing you are saved by your works and so on, shows that you aren't actually a Christian. And the reason I am telling you this is because I don't want you to get the surprise of your life when on Judgement Day God would have to say to you 'Depart from me I knew you.'" I then turned to the passage in Matthew 7 where Jesus said this and read it out to her. I explained that the people Jesus would reject are those who proclaim to have done many good works, but those works did not save them. But she rebutted, "This can't be the Bible, for there are no summaries at the start of the chapter telling us what the chapter means!"
She continued, "Both Revelation and Matthew so clearly teach salvation by works." We asked where abouts exactly, but she couldn't point to any verses. So we explained the real way a person is saved to her, not by their works, but by grace through faith alone, because of Christ's death alone. She wasn't very open and had taken offence that we would even think that she was not a Christian. She kept stating that she was born a Christian because her parents are. Rick responded, "If I was born in MacDonald's, it wouldn't make me a hamburger." After a bit further discussion, she said that she didn't want to talk about it anymore, and so we thanked her for her time and said goodbye.
By this time, the Church group had since arrived and were already handing out tracts. They all seemed very keen, which was awesome to see! They were all anxiously waiting to see someone preach in the open air, as most of them had seen Ray Comfort do it on DVDs, but they wanted to see it done in real life. So after not too long, I got up on the council provided preaching block and told a true story about a man who drove the wrong way up the freeway in Sydney for 50km without realising it. I used that story to show that even though many people think they're heading in the right direction, heading for Heaven, it could be that they are mistaken. They don't realise they're heading in the wrong direction. This story is an interesting one, and so it attracted a crowd, but I didn't do any call outs to try and get hecklers because I didn't know who was part of the Church group and who wasn't. So I preached the awesome news of the gospel, calling everyone who was listening to repent and believe.
I then noticed one particular fellow who was listening intently, so I called out to him, asking, "Do you think you'll go to Heaven?" He thought so because he was stand-up bloke. So I went through the commandments, showing him that in fact we are all sinners deserving of God's judgement forever. This seemed to concern him, so I told him that there is a Saviour, Jesus Christ, and that His death can atone for all of this fellow's sins. When I share the gospel with a person, I always try and see if they actually understand what the gospel is at the end of it. So I commonly ask, "If God was to ask you the question, 'Why should I let you into Heaven?' What would you now say?" This guy didn't get it at first, so I explained the gospel again to him and it seemed to click.
However at this point, a very loud women started to heckle. She started complaining about how bad the Church is, that all Christians are bad people and God doesn't care about the world. She explained that she had tried going to some Church's for help, but they didn't help her. She asked why God would let her be in an abusive relationship and not do something about it. So I responded by saying, "God will definitely make sure all the injustices that people commit in the world will be dealt with one day. And God has given us governments to maintain justice in society in the meantime. Governments are instituted by God and we are to obey them." At this point, a regular heckler piped up talking about how rubbish governments are. Not to let the discussion go off the topic at hand, I told the regular heckler to wait his turn. I then addressed the lady again, explaining that not everyone who says they are a Christian is actually one. And even though a person might have bad experiences with Christians, that is not a rational reason to dismiss Jesus. She explained that she had been living on the streets for a number of weeks due to her abusive husband. At this point, a person part of the group from the Church went up to her and gave her $40. She was ecstatic and very appreciative of the generous gesture.
Since the lady had been very loud and vocal, it had caused a sizeable crowd to gather. So I made sure to preach the gospel to everyone listening, as the lady didn't seem interested in talking any further at this point.
After preaching for about 45 minutes, I stepped down and had a conversation with a person who had been listening near my feet. I asked him what he believed. He explained that he knew every religion was wrong, especially Christianity. He claimed this because he said Christianity had been copied from other belief systems. So I asked him, "Even if that was so, does that prove that the beliefs of Christianity are wrong?" His face changed, and he seemed to realise the flaw of his thinking. I continued, "Furthermore, similarities between two books does not necessitate copying. Moreover, in actuality there aren't really many similarities at all!" He resorted to saying, "Well I still do kinda believe in God" I was able to briefly share the gospel with him, but he wasn't very open.
At this point, we all had lunch as a team. The team did an excellent job today, handing out lots of tracts and many conversations were had too. There were so many of us, that we had to split up and go to different locations. That's a great problem to have!
To God be the glory!
I was glad to be out on the streets again today, even though I was the only one on the team. The Gold Coast City Council had set up a big Christmas tree in Cavill Avenue, but the area was still mostly deserted. It seems the Global Financial Crisis has taken a bit of a toll on the tourism at the Gold Coast. Another big factor I think is the construction works they are doing down there, for they have taken out lots of the seats in Cavill and along the Esplanade.
One of the first conversations I had was with a guy named Jason. He was about 25 and obviously works out. When I asked him whether he thought he would go to Heaven, he explained that his parents actually go to Hillsong. They've been constantly pleading with him to convert. He said that he knew he should one of these days, but he thought he wasn't ready yet. I then asked him what he thinks a person must do to be saved, for his parents possibly told incorrect things. He responded, "Go to Church and do good things." So I then spent next few minutes explaining that no one is good in God's sight and we can only be saved through the finished work of Christ on the cross. At the end of the conversation he thanked me greatly for the wake up call.
I then saw Tom, a mid-twenties guy who lives in Surfers and I regularly see. It was good to catch up and answer a lot of the new questions he had, and always bring it back to the gospel. He explained that he just loves sinning and doesn't want to turn from them. I asked him why he gets drunk about every weekend. He said it was boredom, he had nothing else to do. I explained that there are so many other things that he could do instead and gave him some suggestions. The conversation went for about half an hour, constantly pleading with him to come to Christ, but his heart was very hard. Please pray that God softens his heart.
As I was walking back to my car, I was handing out the million note tracts, one bloke called me back asking about it. He said he was a Christian and attends an Evangelical Lutheran Church. When I asked him how he thinks a person is saved, he responded, "If they believe and are baptised they will be saved". I asked, "And be baptised?". He responded, "Yes." So I asked him whether he believed passages like Ephesians 2:8-9 that talk about being saved completely by grace through faith and not through any of our own works. He said he did.
I then asked, "Was the thief on the cross baptised?" He responded, "Well we don't know if he wasn't baptised before he was put up on the cross." I said, "It's unlikely seeing as though he was a horrible criminal, and secondly, does not the baptism need to follow the faith, not precede it?" He agreed with this.
He then responded by asking, "So do you ignore the verse in Mark 16:16 that says if you believe and are baptised you will be saved?". I responded, "No, but you've got to take all the passages in the Bible and see what they say and not just a single verse." He agreed with this. So I explained that the overwhelming majority of passages regarding salvation talk about it being through faith that a person is saved, not baptism. I then went onto show him how even in Mark 16:16, the second half of the sentence says: "But whoever does not believe will be condemned." It doesn't mention baptism there as something someone will be condemned for. At this point, it seemed to click in his mind. And so he said, "I actually agree with you now."
Another great day of outreach, to God be the glory!
Rick, Glenda, Chris, and I were all part of the Gold Coast team today, and after arriving we firstly spent some time in prayer. Then we began handing out gospel tracts. There didn't seem to be that many people about. However, there were definitely remnants of schoolies who were still there. But it seemed the schoolies had made all the locals and other tourists leave. So that is why I didn't preach straight away.
I had few good conversations, one was with three Catholics who were from Europe. One of them had chatted to a Christian just recently who pointed out the vast differences there are between the Roman Catholic Church and Christianity. These guys had further questions on that. After explaining the difference on how one is saved, whether it is completely by grace through faith alone (as the Bible teaches), or whether it's by grace initially then a person must work to attain eternal life (as the Roman Catholic Church teaches), these guys sided with that latter option. I pointed to various passages in the Bible, such as Eph 2:8-9, and these guys said that the Bible has been changed. I was not expecting to hear that from a Catholic, usually Muslims say that but not Catholics. However, they couldn't provide any proof to support such a claim. So I clearly explained the gospel and pleaded with the guys to trust in it alone for their forgiveness. The conversation lasted about 25 minutes.
Just before we were going to have lunch, I got into a conversation with a man named Abbey. He was from Sydney and when I asked him whether he thought he was going to Heaven, he responded: "Yes". His reason for thinking that he said was that he though he was good enough and had done enough good. He said that he grew up in the Church, but recently had stopped going. So I simply showed him that none of us are good in the sight of God, for we all sin. And since God is just, He cannot overlook sin and so therefore the sin that we commit makes us deserving of Hell. He understood that, so then I shared the news about Christ's death on the cross to pay for our sins. He said it made sense. To check whether a person I am talking to actually does understand the gospel, I like to ask: "If God was to ask you, 'Why should I let you into Heaven?' What would you say?" So I asked the man that question. He responded that it was because of his own goodness. So I re-explained the gospel and after that second time he understood that it's own by Christ's death all his sins are forgiven. He said he would go home and repent and trust in Christ. Praise God!
As the afternoon progressed, it did get busier. And so after lunch I got up to preach and proclaimed the gospel for the remaining twenty minutes that we had.
Rick, Glenda and Chris all faithfully handed out heaps of gospel tracts. They also had some really good conversations.
Today was the first time we were using the new Operation 513 Million dollar notes with a gospel message on the back, and they worked wonderful. There were a couple of Japanese tour groups that walked by and we made sure they all got a tract. I have found, people from a certain Asian countries generally do not take tracts, but with something out of the ordinary like the Million dollar note and the Big $100 note tracts, it overcomes this barrier and so they take the tracts.
To God be the glory!
Today marked the first day of Schoolies for 2009, and we knew there would be lots of young people about at the Gold Coast. The Schoolies celebration is where about 35,000 year twelvers who have just graduated, spend about a week at the coast partying and hanging out with friends. Unfortunately, many of them spend their time getting drunk and doing all sorts of sinful activity. And since they are at a pivotal point of time in their life and often don't have much to do at Schoolies, we knew that this was a perfect opportunity to share the gospel with them.
So Blake, Lucy, Peter, and I arrived at the coast at 12pm and firstly had a time of prayer. We then got stuck into handing out gospel tracts. For the schoolies event, they had set up a lot of fences surrounding the Schoolies-only party area and there was a fence blocking the concrete block we usually preach from. But there was still an elevated concrete platform to the right of that spot that they had not fenced off. So we decided that that is where we would do some open air preaching that day. I brought a soap box and set it up at that location.
I then stood up to preach, speaking about how undoubtedly many school leavers at the Gold Coast have planned what they are going to do next year, and even what they are going to do this next week. But I pointed out that even though we have all these plans, we are never guaranteed that we'll be able to carry them out, as we could die at any moment. I then recounted the parable of the rich man building bigger barns to store his grain, which lead onto talking about eternity. I then spoke about the Day of Judgment to come, the fact that we've all sinned, and thus need the Saviour's forgiveness by His death on the cross.
After stepping down and tagging Blake in to preach after preaching a while, a Schoolies event security guy came up to us saying that we cannot preach here or hand out tracts. We asked why, he thought it was some council law, but we let him know that there isn't any council law against doing this. He then suggested for us to just go to the event security headquarters to ask them why they instructed him to tell us that weren't allowed to do this.
After finding the place where they were, they basically said that they have no authority to stop us doing what we're doing and so they said that we can keep doing it.
So after returning to the preaching area, I stood up to preach again, and within minutes two event security came up to me saying that I can't preach here. So I explained to them that we went to the event security HQ and that they themselves said they cannot stop us. I also then explained that we are here every single week. At that point, one of the security said, "No you're not, I've never seen you here". As he was saying that, a council cleaner was walking by, so I said, "Go ask him, he sees us every week." Then they responded, "But people don't want to hear you...Fine, do what you want." As they were walking away, a schoolie walking past called out, "Hey, you're the guys that preach here every week!"
So I resumed preaching and another schoolie shouted out, "Oh I saw these guys here last year!" (even though they didn't know about the conversation I had with the event security). At that point a very vocal schoolie began asking all sorts of questions which attracted a large crowd, and said that he loved having the discussion taking place. After answering his questions, I pointed him to the cross and exhorted him to repent and trust in the Saviour's death for forgiveness. During this, one of the event security guys returned and listened to the preaching for about 15 minutes before walking away.
After this, Blake did some further preaching as well. By this time it was 3:15pm, and we had run out of gospel tracts. This week was the first week we had the 3 new business-card size gospel tracts, and this week I gave the 'Good Aussie' card a test run and it worked great. I would ask people, "Did you get your good Aussie card?" and almost everyone was like, "Aussie? I'm an Aussie, I want one!" And even those who were not Aussie took one because they thought it was an Australian souvenir card. This tract is highly recommended.
At 3:30pm, Luke, Rhoi, Doug, and Greg arrived at the coast with lots of gospel tracts. While fellowshipping and handing out tracts, two police constables came up to us saying that we're not allowed to tout. I agreed, but then pointed out that we are not touting (that is selling products), instead that we're simply handing out Christian literature free of charge. They said that we're not even allowed to do that. I then pointed out that council has no problem with us doing what we're doing. As the conversation progressed, it turned from one where they were telling us to stop, to warning us that other police might tell us to stop and that they thought schoolies might not want to receive one. As the police were walking away, a Gold Coast City Council local law officer came up to us wondering what the police said, and he told us that it's perfectly fine to hand out gospel tracts. He just encouraged us to pick up any tracts that people might have dropped on the ground.
Soon after this, Blake and I left the four new arrivals to continue handing out tracts while we headed back to Brisbane for the team that was on that night in the city.
It was so evident today that God is truly sovereign. Whenever we ran into problems with authority trying to stop us proclaiming the gospel, God provided a way for it to continue.
God alone belongs all the glory!
Rick, Glenda, Chris and Blake joined me today at the Gold Coast and it was a beautiful sunny day. After praying together, we started our outreach. We noticed that there was a crowd already gathered near the area where we usually preach and so I thought it was a great idea to start preaching straight away.
After preaching for about half an hour, I stepped down and had a conversation with two guys on holidays from a nation in the pacific. They obviously had some sort of Catholic upbringing, for they mentioned that they plan on having their sins forgiven by a priest absolving them of it. So I explained the message of God's justice, that God cannot forgive them simply by going to a priest because God is good. Then I explained the message of God's grace, that Christ can take the wrath of God that they deserve on their behalf by dying for them if they repent and trust in the Saviour's death as the only reason they are saved. At that point, it seemed to 'click' in their mind, and thanked me very much for telling about it. They said they would think seriously about this and start reading the Bible.
Blake then did some preaching too and he faithfully proclaimed loud and clear the message of the gospel. After he got down from the preaching spot, he got into a discussion with a guy from Sydney. While at the same time I chatted to his mate. They both had some sort of Roman Catholic background, but the guy I spoke to was very keen on the idea of sin. He loved it and was unwilling to turn from it even though he knew the consequences of it.
Meanwhile, the guy Blake was talking to had a hard time understanding grace. Firstly, he thought he was saved by his works and that he was a very good guy. After showing him the extent of his sin, Blake explained the gospel. The conversation went for over an hour as Blake explained in many different ways the atonement that is only by grace through faith alone. By the end, he did seem to understand it.
After that, we had lunch together and had some good fellowship. It was Chris' second time out on the streets with us and she did a wonderful job again handing out tracts. Rick and Glenda have been very good guiding and teaching her how to evangelise. Rick and Glenda also handed out many tracts and had some good witnessing encounters today.
To God be the glory!
PS: If you are ever in the Gold Coast area, feel free to be part of the Gold Coast team, for as Jesus said, the workers are few but the harvest is plentiful. Please contact me for more information to be part of the team.