This week I was working alone and so after beginning with prayer I began to tract the people passing through Barkers Pool. I was planning to preach tonight but God had other plans. Just as I was weighing up weather to preach now or a little later a conversation started that lasted the rest of the night. Two young men took tracts from me and then asked what they were.
Walking with Sam and his friend I asked them the question worth more than millions of pounds, will you go to heaven when you die? Both of them said immediately that they would not go to heaven, yet they laughed at the thought of going to hell eternally. We had walked by now up to the local skate park and they invited me to come and speak with their friends.
Going down to the park I handed tracts to all the youth that were there. Many of them saw that it was regarding God and promptly left, which left me with a group of about 5 or 6. We then had an extended discussion of the Christian world-view and what they believed and I presented the gospel to them. Some of them had some idea of what Christians believe but many of their ideas were a mix of Roman Catholicism, urban myths/heresy and the truth. We discussed many things but the conversation focused around a couple of major topics – Who is God, “God vs Science”, Heaven/Hell, Sin and the Gospel.
Throughout the conversation we kept moving towards an understanding that we all deserve hell but God gives grace to those who trust in Jesus. Unfortunately this is where one of the biggest misunderstandings for people arises. Most will say one of two things: No-one will get into heaven then (despair); or You mean then that Christians are so good that they don't deserve hell then (works righteousness). I tried my best to emphasise to them that no Christian deserves heaven but it is offered to all if you will repent and trust in Jesus. I think that they understood this and it gave me another chance to glorify the work of Jesus and point them to Him as their only hope.
After a period the conversation became somewhat silly with some of the less interested friends in the group coming to disrupt things. This was not a huge problem as I had already been able to share the good news with those who were listening.
At this point Sam came over and wanted to know if he would go to hell for his homosexual and premarital sexual acts. I began by asking if he was married, no. I then spoke to him and his friends at length about the fact that sex of any kind outside of marriage is abhorrent to God but they are the symptoms of a greater problem. Our hearts naturally hate God and we'd declare war on Him if we could. Again I pointed him to the only cure that is offered, the atoning death of Jesus Christ in our place.
At this point I was about to leave as quite a few of them were getting drunk and very rowdy, but praise God there was more to do yet. Calum came to give some of them a lift home for the night and I struck up a conversation with him. Initially he said that he didn't believe the bible or in Jesus or in God. So I asked what he did believe in, he was not sure. I gave him a short gospel presentation and asked if he'd read the bible and if he would read one if I gave it to him. He said he would and took one immediately.
Mark also arrived at this point and so I asked him what he believed. An elementalist was the reply, the belief that the world is made of conflicting elements and there is disharmony in the “equation” of the universe. He also believed that we need to work hard to improve our part of the “equation”, but equally that the universal “equation” would one day be rewritten.
We had a facinating discussion using this bridge of disharmony to look at the gospel. It went something like this: The disharmony comes from sin, rebellion from maker of the “equation” who made all things in harmony with each other. We cannot rewrite the “equation” because we are so flawed in our own “personal equation”. We need someone else to do it for us and harmony only comes when God intervenes and re-writes our equation for us through trusting in His work seen in Jesus Christ. This brings us into harmony with Him and the universe. One day soon the universal “equation” will be re-written, your choices determine if you will be a part of it or not. Only those fitted for it through Christ will be there, the rest go to the outer darkness and fire. Mark still wanted to rely on own efforts to change his life. So I warned him that choices determine where we end up and that he'd gone far but not far enough, he needed recreation not just reformation. I urged him to trust in Jesus's work for us and not rely on himself.
I said my good byes and left for home rejoicing.
I began tonight on my own but was shortly joined by Carl, we used tracts for a short period and then I set up to preach. There were people around and at the beginning of the preaching a small group of youth came up to listen to what I had to say but they left quickly on discovering it was “God stuff”. The rest of the preaching was relatively unprofitable with few people stopping to interact but I pray that the small amounts people heard would be used of God.
Suhkraj joined us after the preaching and we continued tracting the area and a couple of good one-to-one conversations came from the time. For quite some time I spoke with one of the local security guards and I noticed both Carl and Suhkraj in conversation with people also.
The security guard was unfortunately typical of most middle aged people in Britain. He believed he was a Christian and that he was trusting in Jesus for salvation. Unfortunately his life did not reflect that trust but rather reflected an almost casual indifference to God. He believed that his good deeds would merit him getting to heaven and almost despite this could not recall the last time when he'd read the bible or prayed when not in need to God. Because of his work there is no opportunity to attend church yet he was not seeking out the fellowship of believers in other ways. I urged him to focus on Jesus and Jesus alone for his salvation and if he would claim to be a Christian then to be more serious and diligent in his Christian walk.
The three of us joined together to pray and after some fellowship together left for home. A quieter night, but may God use it powerfully. Amen.
This Friday was very quiet despite a warm night and daylight stretching out until after 9.30pm. I was expecting crowds of people to be out on the town enjoying the brief spat of warmer weather. Not only was the night quiet but also the people were not interested in talk or tracts for the most part.
I worked up and down Barkers pool for a while handing out tracts and getting very little interest which is uncommon for a Friday night. Having done this for a period I stood to preach. I was very nervous as I was on my own, it is something that I find regularly, without the encouragement of others there is a real battle that takes place to get up and preach the gospel. If you are a part of an evangelism team, try to encourage the person who is going to preach next or offer to pray with them. There were a couple of heckles from people passing but most would not stop to engage with me. I stepped down after preaching the gospel to all in ear shot, urging them to repent and turn to Jesus for salvation.
I continued to tract the area for the next half hour and was then planning to go home. As I was leaving I spotted a group of young ladies and was prompted by the Lord to go and speak to them rather than going home immediately. Reluctantly I went (having fallen into the trap of thinking in human terms, i.e. that no-one would respond tonight) and spoke to them giving all of them tracts and asking them if they would get into heaven. From here God generously gave my doubtful heart yet another lesson in trust and faith. The conversation lasted an hour, with the four girls of 15 or 16 listening intently as I spoke of the gospel and all that God has given us to support faith. Naturally speaking there is no logical reason why four 16 year-old's would listen to someone talk about God for an hour on a Friday night. But God was working to soften their hearts and as we spoke my heart was thrilled and refreshed in seeing such openness. I ended our discussion by urging them to trust in Jesus and read the bibles they all had. I left them and headed for my car praising God and praying that He would save them bringing them to a loving relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
Having an unexpected morning free I went into Sheffield to share the Gospel with anyone I could. It was a nice morning and refreshing to start the day with witnessing to our Lord's great works.
With only a few people around at first I began by handing out tracts to everyone I could. After a short period of this I noticed a familiar face coming down Fargate towards me. It was a young man that I have witnessed to multiple times both in Fargate and the Peace Gardens. He is normally with his friends but today was on his own. We discussed regular things of life for a little and then I swung to the question that really matters. Have you considered Jesus and accepted him as your Lord and saviour?
No was the short answer, but there are many excuses and distractions that were a part of that response. Without his friends distracting him now I was able to speak at length with him about what a rejection of Jesus' loving work to save sinners means. Very quickly this young man assented that hell was reasonable and just and that he did deserve hell for rejecting God. So I asked what would stop him trusting in Jesus. When it really boiled down to it the only thing that stopped him from being a Christian was the response of his friends.
I walked him through the many responses they could have from lynching him to rejection to ridicule to nothing at all. In all these I endeavoured to show this young man that what he would lose is far less than what He would give. Even if he was to die for his faith as a Christian, even then the promise that God would let us share in Jesus' triumph over death means he would win. I urged him not only to consider this but also the fact that what he was afraid of losing was short lived and what he would gain as a Christian was eternal. After talking through these things he said really there was nothing of substance to keep him from becoming a Christian but was still undecided. I suggested he think on it for a short while and come back and pray with me if he wanted to repent and turn to Jesus. He did not return but I know that God's word does not return void and I hope and pray that God will use today's conversation to save this young man.
I stood to preach next under the trees of Fargate, I began intending to speak to the love of God and the hate of man. But I was interrupted by Danny and his girlfriend who heckled as they walked past, so I engaged them asking Danny if he was a good person. We went through the good person test and while on some points Danny said that he'd never committed certain sins by the end of the test he like me came out condemned by the law. The worst sin (and the least acknowledged by most people) is rejection of God's right to rule our lives and affections. Gloriously Danny saw this and I believe understood that this was hell deserving and justly so. I rejoiced in my heart to be able to tell this young man the great news that Jesus died to save him from his plight if only he will trust in him.
As a side thought after hearing the gospel he commented that wont heaven be somewhat boring? I am always surprised how many people have bought into the lie that life with God is flat and boring and that heaven will stretch this out eternally. It is a lie, the truth is that salvation and Christian life is a glorious thing filled with satisfaction in this life and the life to come. On a simple level the Christian enjoys all the good things of this life increasingly as they grow, because God redeems our hearts and minds and we can rejoice in pleasures untainted by sin! On the greater level we go through difficulty to prepare us for the glory of the coming life, loosening our grip on this world. I gave Danny a tract as he left and urged him to repent and trust in Jesus.
I preached for a period after this on God's love towards us and the rejection of mankind of that love. I showed that the sins of people are symptoms of our rejection of who God is (reflected in His law). I urged people to repent and turn to the only saviour in the world who can be trusted, Jesus Christ the risen Lord. There were some people who stopped to listen and the occasional muttered heckle as people passed but no-one interacting with me. I was happy to see that some of the regulars from the phone shop came out for their cigarette break and listened a while. Closing with a call to repent and trust in God's love shown fully and finally in Jesus Christ I stepped down.
There were a couple of Mormon's in Fargate this morning and as one had been listening for a short period during the preaching I approached them. I got into a conversation with one of the younger men and we discussed who Jesus was for a short period until the other elder who had been with me during the preaching cam over. The conversation then continued between the two of us and the younger man just listened. We spoke of the common points between Christianity and Mormonism and the contrasts. This spun off a discussion of the trustworthiness of Joseph Smith in light of the book of Abraham which has been shown to be deceitfully translated (if you could use the word). If one of his works was a work of fiction and deceit then how can the other books of "holy writ" that he received then be trustworthy?
Likewise we discussed the contrast between works and faith and their place in a believers life. The Mormon faith asserts that we are saved by faith but also by works and that if our works are not sufficient then we could still lose our salvation. This is in direct contradiction of Eph 2: and Gal 2: and the numerous other passages of the bible that assert that we are saved by faith and grace and not works. The bible also teaches that we will do good works, but that these will be a direct consequence of our salvation, not that our works save us. It is the work and worth of Jesus alone that saves us. The whole conversation was very congenial but we did not come to any agreement, this is often the way but I pray that God would work in them to change their minds to see the truth.
What a great day! Praise God!
Well just to show that it is truly summer here in the UK, this Friday was an especially cold and wet night with a periodic howling wind to accompany the rain. There was much to be thankful to God about and many opportunities to shine the light of Christ in the darkness. Praise God that He gives us both the time and heart to go and proclaim the gospel, I know there were fifty or more excuses that sprang to mind why not to go tonight.
There were still plenty of people around in Sheffield tonight and the tracts were going out at in a constant stream the whole night through. Most people were unwilling to stop but most would take a tract as they went by.
One conversation I had tonight was with a homeless man that was begging in front of the corner store. I purchased him a meal because I don't believe that it is right or good to just to put money in the hand of a beggar, rather they need some real material needs met. After this we chatted for a while and I encouraged him to be serious about the faith he claimed to have while we talked, he is currently attending church but is not very consistent. It is always hard I find to talk with people in that sort of situation because their problems often overshadow everything else in life and they are unable to think clearly about eternal things. I left him with a tract and I pray that God would work to meet his spiritual needs and physical also.
Pray that God will move in this cold hearted and desperately indifferent city. To Him be praise for all that is done in Sheffield and all the world.
It would appear to an observer that Wednesday is the day Sheffield's different evangelists gather in Fargate to talk and evangelise as one. It would be wonderful if this was the case in the future but for now it is an informal arrangement that has fortuitously come together. This week Andy, John, Clive, Cedric and I all witnessed together for the afternoon and many good conversations were happening throughout.
We began by tracting the local crowds that push through Sheffield city centre every day in their various pursuits. Not many people were stopping but lots of tracts were going out, it is so good to see the gospel seed spread far and wide. After a short period of this I got the urge to preach but just as I was beginning a brass band began to play 20 meters away down the mall. Completely drowned out and unwilling to waste my voice I headed up Fargate a short distance and then began again.
I preached today on 1 Cor 6:9-11 and who it is that will inherit the kingdom of God. Beginning with this list of various moral failures (that heartbreakingly are not uncommon in the UK), I urged people to examine their consciences and think soberly about the judgement to come. Then with joy I pointed to the hope that is in Jesus Christ if only people will trust in Him and stop relying on themselves. A couple of people stopped to listen and I was glad to see many one-to-one conversations starting afterwards.
Before Andy got up to speak I had a good conversation with a group of youth and was able to tell them not only a little of why I believe the bible to be true but also that we need a saviour and pointed them to Jesus. At this their attention waned but one girl appeared to have listened and I pray that God will open her heart.
Andy spoke next and did an excellent job clearly portraying the three major questions we have (Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going to?), and the answer man and God give to them. I didn't get to hear much of his preaching though because I spoke for the next 30-40 minutes with a young man I believe called Steven (God knows him even if I got the name wrong). We spoke about why the bible is true and there must be a God. Steven responded that evolution and changes in the bible discredit the message of the bible and that he was a Buddhist anyway. We discussed Buddhism at length and I reflected to him that much of Buddhism is built upon a contradiction at the start. If Buddha had truly achieved the state of enlightenment and gotten rid of all desire, why then did he desire to share his enlightenment and make disciples to follow after him? This coupled with Buddha's indefensible abandonment of his family to follow a self focused goal makes Buddhism a system that I could never follow even if I was not Christ's. Steven and I talked for some time and I was able to present Christ to him as the best model to follow and the only saviour from our deserved condemnation before God.
Steven had also experienced much hurt from friends and now felt very suspicious of others, and hearing what he'd been through I couldn't help but sympathise. But after talking together he left smiling and saying that he was glad to have spoken with someone who he could relate to, I pray that God will use this conversation to break down some of his distrust of others and of Jesus.
John preached next and made a solid call to Godly grief and repentance towards God and a trust in Jesus only. From this a couple more one-to-ones arose but my time was up for the afternoon so I headed home.
Praise God for all His work in Sheffield!
Tonight was one long conversation that Suhkraj and I had with two young muslim men. One of them was a philosopher at heart and was interested in debate and closed up like a clam shell the moment that Jesus Christ the Son of God was mentioned. The other was more receptive and listened carefully to what we had to say. It appears the second young man had heart Jim and I preaching some months back in Fargate during the week. Praise God that it was still being kept in his remembrance. Pray for these young men that God would settle their objections and show them clearly and winsomely the truth that Jesus Christ came to save sinners just like them and open their hearts to the saviour.
Praise God for such a week of good work that I was privileged to be a part of. Praise Him for all the holy men and women who I met and was encouraged by. Glorify His name that Jesus Christ saves both slave and free, woman and man, Muslim and atheist, Jew and gentile; all those who will trust in His name!
I joined Jim and Andy this week it was nice to get out and be involved in serving the Lord evangelistically on the streets of Sheffield after what seems like a long time away. I arrived mid afternoon and found the pair of them in full swing with Andy just stepping down from speaking and Jim about to get up.
I set to handing out tracts and very quickly found myself in conversation with two young ladies from the local mobile phone shop. While somewhat distracted with work (sales to the passing crowds), they were willing to talk with me. I asked them how they thought someone got to heaven and if they thought they would get there (having given them a big money tract with that exact question on it...). The both thought that they would get in because they were good people and had not done anything wrong in any big way. We discussed for some time what would happen if there was justice only for the three of us. We've all broken the law of God and as criminals in His court we could only expect judgement and punishment. This did not go down well with one of them and she switched off from the conversation from that point onwards. I was able to talk with the other young lady for some time and reason with her about her need of a saviour and appeal to her to turn to the only saviour Jesus Christ. She listened and was receptive to what I said to her, I pray that God will open her heart to the gospel seed that has been planted in her heart.
As this conversation ended so did Jim's preaching and so I went and spoke with him and then stood to preach myself. I preached on the need that we all have for a saviour and that most people are not honest when they say that Christianity is for weaklings and those needing a crutch. In the light of the uncertain future and definitely in the light of eternity, we all are weak and needy. I urged people to look to the help that is offered by God to save us from the eternal and temporal consequences of our sin and from sin itself which enslaves us. Today there were no hecklers as such but there was a good number of people floating around the periphery trying to look like they weren't listening. Also as I preached I had multiple Christians stop to encourage me.
Please note any Christian readers of this report, one of the most encouraging things you can do for a Christian street preacher (if you believe they are biblical of course!) is to smile and give an encouraging word to them (God bless you or the like...). Believe me most people have no idea how much of a blessing it is.
I ended the day speaking with a young man named Ben, please pray for Ben. As a philosophy student he has plenty of theories to hide behind and tries to use them to run from God. Pray that God will strip away these "fig leaves" and bring him to the saviour that his blindness, sickness and death would be healed and he would know life in Jesus Christ.
This week Suhkraj and I worked the area of barkers pool together, beginning with a time of fellowship and prayer. We encouraged each other in the Lord and prayed that He would go with us as we witnessed and then went to it with tracts and tried to talk with people.
During this time I spoke to a very mixed up young man named Trevor who was a satanist and very openly homosexual. I began by asking him what he thought would happen to him after death and who Jesus was. This produced a string of rapid fire comments, not all of them clear or understandable, but the gist of it was that he believed that the antichrist would eventually conquer and that God hated him because he was a homosexual. I tried to speak with him about the foolishness of pinning your hopes on anyone other than Jesus and the great love God had already shown in sending Jesus to die in the place of sinners. This went down like a ton of bricks and after a bit of back and forward he left claiming that he would live on the seven hills in conquest over God (I believe that he was referring to Babylon the great in revelation but I am unsure). Please pray that this mixed up young man would be radically changed by God to repent of his sin and trust in Jesus and truly conquer.
We set up to preach and Suhkraj stood first to preach the eternally great news of Christ crucified and risen again. As always Suhkraj did a great job of preaching from where people are at, beginning with the economic down turn and using it as a springboard to our eternal hope and security that is found only in Christ. One man stopped to speak with Suhkraj but disappointingly he did not stay for long and typified the atheistic approach. He claimed that there is no God and that evolution has disproved God. When Suhkraj endeavoured to engage him on this he said that he wanted to believe there was a God but could (or would?) not. With this he walked off. Suhkraj also spoke with a young lady who was very quietly spoken for some time she would not listen either it seems but eventually walked off also and he continued to preach and then urging the people to turn from there sin stepped down.
I preached next and began with the great natural blessings we have from God but do not appreciate, such as the rain that so many grumble about in this country. I preached for some time and no-one stopped to speak to me, then Trevor the buhdist arrived. I don't think that he really want to interact but rather it was a bragging opportunity for him. Trevor claimed to have a PhD in religion and wanted to speak to me about the arguments regarding God rather than about God and his need of a saviour. Normally I would rejoice to speak with someone who understands something of the Christian faith but is not a believer. Trevor though was out to parade his knowledge and boast, because of this I would not engage him on that front, rather preaching a plain gospel and asking him what he made of Jesus and the resurrection from the dead. This didn't please Trevor at all and soon the protests came out, what about homosexuals and what you're saying is irrelevant anyway. He protested loudly but when I tried to engage him on those points he then quickly decided that I wasn't going to play ball his way and left.
The next person to stop was a middle aged man who was very drunk I think and said "bore me, come on bore me". So to bore him thoroughly I began to speak about evolution and how he was nothing but an accident, very tongue in cheek. This upset him thoroughly and he began to gesture angrily at me and I think he would have tried to do something if it wasn't for the policeman who stepped in and moved him on. Throughout the rest of the preaching no-one stopped to interact but I preached the gospel many times and then having urged the people towards their only hope I stepped down.
As it was now late Suhkraj and I prayed together for those we had spoken to and for those who had heard and then leaving all in the hands of God we went home.
But God was not finished with me for the night it seems. A young lady across the street having heard some of the preaching wanted to know more and as I passed a conversation started. I rejoiced to share the gospel with her and despite some protests about the justice of hell (which I hope I answered for her), she listened to all the gospel and gladly took the tract I left with her. I left for home rejoicing that the gospel had gone forth.
Going to our regular preaching spot at the top of Barkers pool I was met by Gemma and Carl who had said they would join me for the night's outreach. We began the night with prayer and then went to it with tracts for all the people flowing past as they went to their night's revelling.
Quickly two conversations started and I was engrossed with Conrad and his friend and likewise Carl and Gemma with another guy. Conrad stopped to ask me about the birth to death tracts that I was handing out so I spoke with them about the certainty that there is life after death. It was one of those rare conversations where I could speak and they would listen and could end with the gospel. I spoke of the evidences that Christ rose from the bible itself, from the historical context of the new testament, from the historical recordings of other historians. At the end Conrad and his friend had to go but not before I could urge them to consider Christ's words that "None come to the father but through me" and to look to Christ for salvation from God's just condemnation of sin.
Carl and Gemma it seems had a harder conversation and the young man they were speaking to left after many justifications and evasions. They were faithful to bring him the truth and having done that we leave the rest to God's hand, praise Him that He breaks even the hardest of hearts.
I set up to preach from what is now our preaching post (or information board as it would otherwise be). Shortly after I began a heckler popped up and the ensuing debate (if it could be called that) continued for the next 45 minutes. The young man who never gave his name was an atheist and loudly proclaimed that there is no God - I responded that he had just claimed absolute knowledge with that statement putting himself in the position of God and contradicting himself. Not only that but the atheistic claim that there is no God is immensely arrogant, claiming not just to know better than the theists but to know all things.
I proceeded to argue that there is a God and He is knowable, generally from the things that are made but also as personally revealed in history through the bible and the person of Jesus Christ. To this he responded with what seems to be the atheist's holy trinity, evolutionary science, historical uncertainty and misinformation, and finally personal scepticism and scorn. The debate as such went back and forth and I offered the many evidences and arguments that meet with those assertions. Unfortunately he kept going to scorn and scepticism and seemed to think that closed the matter. So in response I said that he had only given me his opinion, this was most offensive to him but he could/would not give any support to his comments. He stormed off and I continued to preach the gospel.
A couple of other people stopped to talk and I tried to present the gospel to them having failed with the first hard hearted young man. Likewise they were not interested but would scoff and laugh only. When they left I stepped down and having defended but not really been able to present the gospel - a hard night in a hard hearted city.
We spent some time praying that God would use our work and then headed home giving out tracts to the opera crowd as they came from city hall as we went.
Praise God for even the hard nights, there is a time for everything under the sun, and God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.