The Battle Log is the place where reports from each of the Operation 513 evangelism teams are posted.
It gives you a brief idea about what occurred during the outreach and some of the highlights.
Even though there is not a report from each team on the Battle Log every week, all these teams do meet according to the schedule (usually weekly).
So please keep them in prayer and consider joining one if it is in your area.
How can I describe what Newquay is like during this summer months? Our normally quiet streets are overflowing with masses of humanity from all different backgrounds, contexts and beliefs. At this time of year all of the UK seems to make its way down to the Cornish Coast in order to enjoy a nice holiday. For us this means we are in a strategic location which, if evangelised well, has the potential to impact the entire United Kingdom.
Our outreach commenced with a time of prayer at Newquay Baptist Church as without prayer our evangelism will be futile. We need the Lord to show His mercy, so we asked that the Father would draw many to the Lord Jesus Christ.
At around 1pm we made our way down to the High Street and as was expected we were greeted by crowds of people. The challenge we now face was where we should set up for our open-air meeting, but the Lord had gone before us and in His providence He had arranged for a street stall to pack up and move as we approached.
As Nigel and George of the Faith Mission set up the open-air board, I commenced handing out tracts. Nearly straight away I was engaged in a conversation with a lovely older lady who professed to be a Christian. The concern for me was that she attends a liberal and pro-LGBT Church of England congregation here in Newquay; whenever I hear of someone going to a gospel-denying church I have to wonder about their conversion. As we chatted it became clear that this lady had a grasp of the gospel, but it still wasn’t clear why she attended such a church; eventually I discovered that she had been hurt by other churches, but at the Church of England she found friendship. It should rebuke us to know that the Christ-deniers seem to be friendlier than those who profess to love Jesus; may Christ forgive us for the times that we as evangelicals have failed to love one another. This lady and I had a good chat, and she took the details of our church and also a tract on true and false conversion.
By this stage the open-air board had been set up, so I decided to do something which I have never done before - I used George’s board to preach the gospel. This board was designed by the Open-Air Mission and it contains a magnetic backboard and tract holder; the way the board is used is that the preacher puts up quotes and Bible verses while he preaches, thus enabling people to hear and see the gospel.
My message focused on the question of “Who is Jesus?” I used Matthew 16:13 as my text, and from there I began to show how Jesus is the greatest man who ever lived, died and rose again. The open-air seems to have gone well, and this method of preaching is something I would like to try again.
Today there was a sense of a hardness in Newquay, which made the preaching and the one to ones difficult; for instance after I finished preaching, an elderly man took a tract off Nigel then ripped it up. As he walked by me I said to him, “Sir, may the Lord grant you repentance and faith for tearing up the gospel; one day you will stand before God and give an account of your actions.” The man seemed rather shocked and taken aback, I pray that this one line warning would be used by the Holy Spirit to convict the elderly man and bring him to repentance.
It now came time for George to preach; his message this week focused on “Ultimate Questions”, which included queries such as "Where did life come from?” As George preached he would put on the board what man thinks and what God says. As he did this I noticed a family listening to the preaching, the father was clearly opposed to the gospel, but his young son turned him and said, “Dad, I think the answer is what God says.” Truly the young child speaks the truth!
While all this was going on an elderly lady walked past mocking the gospel, I decided that I would challenge her on that so I asked her, “Why don’t you believe?” Well that question opened up a floodgate! The lady told me that she is a former Roman Catholic but now doesn’t believe in any religion. She went on to list all of her good works and how if God is real He would be happy to have her in Heaven because she is such a good person who never does any wrong. It was then that I said something which I don’t normally say, I said, “You are an older lady, so I will speak to you directly and with respect as I would my own grandmother, but you are self-righteous and the moment you close your eyes in death it won’t be Heaven where you are going, it will be Hell.”
The lady seemed taken aback (I must admit I was shocked I spoke so directly), but once again she began to list all her good works and deeds; again I took her back to self-righteousness and how efforts do nothing to save. This elderly lady had the false teaching of Rome jammed down her throat, and even though she had abandoned Romanism she still had the doctrine of antichrist in her thinking. The more she stressed her works, the more I stressed that her works would damn. I should make clear that this conversation even though it was direct all took place in calm and conversational tones, as I listened to this elderly lady my heart was breaking as I realised that she was in the final hours of life, yet here she was waving her fist at God.
The lady was clearly angry at Romanism (I join with her in denouncing that evil system), but instead of looking at what the Bible says, she kept holding onto the lies she had been taught. After talking for awhile she asked, “If God is loving why the world so bad?” I answered by saying God isn’t to blame for the world being the way it is, rather we are to blame because humanity sinned. When I spoke of sin she went back to her self-righteous ways by talking about how good she is and how she has been married to the same man for sixty years. I commended her for her marital faithfulness, but pointed out that won’t help her when she stood before Jesus. I explained the gospel to her, and called on her to trust in Jesus, but she refused. I asked her, “Are you saying no to God’s love and compassion today?” She looked at me and said, “I’m saying no to Jesus!”
The elderly lady told me she is 80 years old and that in her life she has never seen God do anything good. I looked at her and said, “God causes it to rain, He causes the crops to grow, He causes you to have life, He causes you to have the air within your lungs, He gave you a good husband for sixty years - every good gift comes down from our Heavenly Father. How can you say God hasn’t done anything good?” It was at this point a softening and change occurred, the lady looked at me and said, “How can I be right with God, I am too old to bow and do all the things Roman Catholicism said I have to do.” I stressed to her that God doesn’t look on the externals rather He looks upon the heart; I once again explained the gospel and called on her to repent and trust in Jesus. As I spoke to this lady I majored on the love of God for sinful people and His amazing kindness; I then asked her, “You are old enough to be my grandmother, would you take a gift from me as if I was a grandson giving you something?” She said she would, so I offered her the Gospel of John. She took the Gospel willingly saying that she had read it before and she liked that book. She assured me that she would read it so that she could understand God’s love more.
This elderly lady’s name is Shelia - I told her that I would be praying for her (and I hope you will too); she said she would appreciate all the prayers she can get. May Shelia no longer say no to Jesus, may she instead come to Him in humble repentance and faith.
While all this was happening, George had finished preaching and Ian was locked in a good conversation with a gentleman on an electric scooter. It was this point we realised the outreach time was nearly gone, so Nigel finished the day off by preaching about God’s love in the gospel.
Even though it felt hard today, we rejoice in the knowledge that our God changes hard hearts. Please join us in praying for all those we encountered.
On Tuesday I spent a couple of hours online before heading to Riccarton for a couple of hours.
I was a touch late to Riccarton - Roger was already deep in conversation when I got there (pictured). He had a good early run of conversations.
It started a bit slowly for me, I had two good follow up conversations, and then I got into an interesting chat with a young lady who was mildly intrigued at what I was doing. She saw my flip chart which said “the good person test” and instantly assumed I was in a religion that taught good deeds to “make it”. She said she could be good without religion, and the conversation went from there. She accepted a tract, but handed it back - she was resistant but, strangely, she opened up and hinted at serious trials she was facing in her life at the moment. She didn’t stay long, but she did accept the tract back again. I was encouraged.
We had a bit of a lull in the middle of the outreach, and I was beginning to think on new locations for outreach when it finished with a bang. The outreach went nearly 30 minutes over!
In a recent Riccarton outreach report I talked about some Christchurch Boys High students who I took through the flip chart. I was discouraged because of their resistance. I specifically remember the one who understood it the quickest being the most resistant!
Well, three of them were back - including the most resistant one - and they had four friends with them! We had a long conversation, where I took them all through the flip chart and then spent time working through an excellent series of questions they had. The most encouraging thing was seeing Mr. Resistant thinking deeply.
Roger ended up coming over to join the conversation. He had frozen yoghurt for me that the Muslims in the shop had given us. I gave it to the boys, who seemed to appreciate it.
Just then, one of my regulars went past - a satanist. I left the boys with Roger and fell into an easy conversation with my satanist friend (yeah, those words were as weird to write as they are to read!)
Then the strangest thing happened, the CBHS boys had finished talking to Roger and had moved past me. One of them came up to me and gave me a hug! My satanist friend was as surprised as I was! I chucked a checking question at the kid… and he got it right. I challenged him, “when should you start doing that”? He said, “I already am”, and he ran off to catch up with his friends. I pray that that is so.
But it only gets stranger. I wrapped up my chat with my satanist friend, and I shook his hand and said, “I’ll be praying for you, I want the best for you.” As we were parting ways he said, “oh, why not… I’ll give you a hug too”. And so we did. If only hugs could convert - this guy would be saved. But it’s only God who saves, through the gospel. Oh God, save his soul for your glory!
What a fantastic outreach!
On Wednesday I decided to spend the whole afternoon in online outreach. One of the conversations that stands out was one with a couple of teens. One said they were a Christian, so I asked them what they had to do to go to heaven. They both said, “be good”. I shared the law and the gospel with them, and moved straight into my first checking question, the response from the Christian was still, “be good”. So I re-explained and checked again, and to my shock it was still “be good”. I was lost for words. She looked at me like I was queer and then disconnected. She seemed completely blind. I encounter it so often, I shouldn’t be surprised. But it’s so frustrating. Luckily my last conversation of the day was with a “Christian” who did come to grasp the true gospel.
Thank you Lord for the many gospel opportunities of these two days. And thank you for your support of the Christchurch (NZ) team. We so appreciated it! To God, alone, be the glory.
It’s election time in NZ, and on Saturday I had one of the candidates for my electorate knock on my door. I had a wonderful opportunity to share my thoughts on some important social issues that affect our society, like abortion - which needs to end. The candidate and the person with them both received a “How we know God exists and why it matters” tract, and a “Life is precious” tract. Do you have tracts at your door ready to give to whoever comes knocking? Order some today: NZ, AU, UK.
I also spent four hours in online evangelism. I was able to join the Aussie team’s online outreach.
Some of the conversations I remember include:
A chat with a young man who instantly started calling me grandpa! But he sobered up quickly when he realised why I was on Omegle. He was quiet and didn’t ask many questions, and yet he seemed to grasp the gospel very quickly. He was very appreciative at the end.
I also had a good chat with a Muslim guy who seemed to be challenged. Although resistant, there were moments where he was quiet as he contemplated the gospel. I pleaded with this guy to respond to it.
Sunday was outreach Sunday for Redemption Church. I had two families join me. And we also had an old street evangelism friend from years back join us again. Great to have you with us Daryl!
It was a difficult outreach. In last Sunday’s report, I mentioned a guy who got arrested (and I didn’t know why). Well, today he was out again, and I understood why he may have been arrested. He was obnoxious, and threatening.
Sadly, he disrupted one of my flip chart conversations. Because of this I lost an opportunity to share the gospel, and also an opportunity to demonstrate how the flip chart works to some team members.
The guy finally went away, but it wasn’t long till he was back. For this reason, we decided to pack up and move locations. God in his providence used it for good, as we had some wonderful gospel opportunities in Cathedral Square.
Andy was going to open air, but ended up having a great one to one (well, one to two actually) instead. Pictured is that conversation - it shows Andy using the “Says Who?” tract. It has a great “cross” illustration that you can see him using.
I ended up falling into a very long and intellectual conversation with a fellow software engineer. I kept coming back to how we know that God exists, and it started to frustrate him. Yet the logic is sound and I refused to budge. He did get to hear the law and the gospel and he left with a “Says Who?” tract.
While I was in that conversation, some of the less experienced team members had some great opportunities to use the flip chart and share the gospel! Well done team. :)
Covid-19 brought some radical changes to our evangelism in Toowoomba. We had one Saturday before the social-distancing restrictions kicked in and we used it to share the Gospel in the CBD.
I had a really interesting encounter when I gave a gospel tract to a young man with long black hair. He was dressed like an academic at the beach. After skim-reading the tract he came up to me and said with a thick European accent "If your Jesus was to come back today, do you think He would recognise the Christianity as taught by the institutional Church?
I replied "That's a good question. I think it depends which Church you're talking about. There are a lot of "Churches" who weaponise religion for their own gain. There are also a number of solid Churches who continue in the faith handed down from the Apostles."
The young European bloke then came over to me and stood next to me. He draped his arm over my neck. It was now getting intimate. Real intimate. "What if I said to you...." continued the man "...that Christ would completely disagree with your Christianity?"
"Really?" I responded "How do you know?"*
At this question, the bloke disengaged his arm and quickly walked away. I was so taken aback by his sudden reversal that I didn't know what to say as he made his speedy exit. I was somewhat disappointed by such an outcome, but my hope and prayer is that post-COVID we shall meet again someday and continue our discussion.
After this memorable outreach, the social distancing restrictions began and we needed to change the way we shared the Good News about Jesus with the wider community. Our team undertook OP513 on-line evangelism training which taught us how to use Omegle. Using Omegle is not for the faint of heart and requires appropriate safeguards. However some of the Gospel conversations that I saw on this platform were incredible.
After a significant amount of prayer and discussion, our team decided to instead focus on "tracting" suburbs i.e placing tracts that explain the Gospel in household's mailboxes across certain suburbs.
So far this year we have tracted Rockville, Harlaxton and Drayton. This month we will be tracting Newtown on Saturday the 29th August from 10am-1130pm. There are unique benefits** of this particular approach of evangelism, and if you would like to join us you are more than welcome. You can contact us through the OP513 contact page***. The harvest is indeed plentiful but the laborers are few. Please be in prayer for us as we seek to bring the truth of who Christ is and what He is doing in our world to the people of our community.
* Special thanks to Greg Koukl for this insightful question. I highly recommend his book:
I've found the question "How do you know?" one of the most useful questions to ask anyone when they posit their opinion on a controversial topic. It respectfully allows a person to present the justification for their position and it very quickly reveals to all parties just how well-thought out (or not) a person's position actually is.
**If you're skeptical about the effectiveness of Gospel Tracts, check out:
This week I was at the OAC Conference at a camp just north of Wellington. It was wonderful to be able to spend time in fellowship with fellow evangelists from across New Zealand. It was encouraging to know I’m not alone in what I do.
On Thursday, we split into teams and drove down to Wellington for outreach. Our team was based at the waterfront. We divided into pairs and after some lunch made the most of our time to reach people with the gospel. I was with Maria, and we focused on starting walk up conversations. Maria and I agreed we would take turns so that we could learn from each other. Central Wellington seems to have a lot more people than central Christchurch, so I felt like a kid in a candy shop trying to decide who to approach!
I started with a conversation with a guy on his lunch break, as usual, I was upfront with why I was interrupting his day - but it didn’t put him off, he was happy to talk about what happens after life - although he did mention that he had to head back in five minutes. He heard the law and the gospel, but he wasn’t convinced that heaven or hell were real. I went back to explain how we all know there is a God and that there must be justice quite a few times. By this stage we had been talking a lot longer than five minutes, so I wrapped up the conversation saying I didn’t want him to be guilty of stealing time from his employer! ;) He left with a follow up tract.
Later I approached a guy and struck up a conversation in my usual, direct, way. He had his bike with him, and was working on a laptop. It turns out the guy works in behavioural change which led to an interesting conversation where I explained the gospel was the only thing that could make a behaviour change in someone. He agreed that postmodernism didn’t make sense, but there were things (like God) we just couldn’t know. I agreed that there were many things we didn’t know, but that God wasn’t one of them, and I was able to explain why. He heard the law and the gospel. He seemed curious at what I was saying, if not challenged. He also accepted a follow up tract.
Maria then had a long chat with a young man who had been through some difficult times in his recent past. It looked like he was trying to discover himself. He asked deep questions and heard the gospel.
To finish the outreach, we approached two young girls. Maria took the lead on this conversation and used a little mini flip chart (different to the one I use) to take them through the law and the gospel. Both these girls had had Catholic backgrounds, but both had heard the gospel before and were wrestling with it (in different ways). We were able to work through an objection one of the girls had that was holding her back from placing her faith in Christ for the forgiveness of her sins. They really seemed to appreciate the timely conversation and we left them with multiple gospel tracts.
It’s always wonderful to outreach in new locations - I love it. And it was great to work alongside evangelists I don’t normally work with it. It was a great time of idea exchanging.
But it’s great to be home, and looking forward to getting back to my usual outreach routine. Thanks for your prayer support of the Operation 513 outreach team in Christchurch (NZ).
On Saturday I met one of our team members Laurie in the City Centre again to preach and hand out tracts as was another glorious day. While walking up to our spot I passed 5 older teenagers sitting talking on a wall, and asked if they fancied doing a quick intelligence test in a few minutes if they thought they were smart enough?! They laughed and joked about who was the smartest, and thankfully after setting up the stuff they walked up to answer the questions.
It turns out they attended the same school I had over 23 years ago and knew some of the Teachers that had taught me that were still there! I said that the intelligence test dealt with their brain and intellect, but the good person test dealt with morality. I asked them if they had a conscience and if they ever listened to it? We had a very good discussion and they stayed and listened for around 20 minutes which was great, taking tracts and becoming quite somber when listening to what the gospel message entailed, especially seeing the picture of Jesus taking the wrath of God on the cross in the place of sinners, and how they could be forgiven too.
I went to the toilet and when I came back, Laurie was in discussion with a Deliveroo driver from the McDonalds we are normally right outside. He was a Muslim and Laurie asked if he had any assurance that he was going to Heaven as a Muslim? He said he didn't but again hoped that Allah forgave due to confessing sins and doing good. Laurie spoke with him about why a good judge can't let someone off the hook for just saying sorry or trying to outweigh the bad with good, and explained why Jesus was the only person who could pay for his sins in full as he was 100% man and 100% God. The man just believed Jesus was a prophet etc, and said he would never believe anything different about Jesus, but took some tracts to read which was good before he zoomed off for another delivery.
After handing out some more tracts, Ed from our team came along, and so patiently listened to me preach about the fear of the Corona virus, losing jobs, money etc that all of society had, and the masks that people were wearing to try and cover up their mouth to protect them. I tried to link this to man trying to cover up his sins with good works, and how all other religions fail to do this, as seen with Hindu's repeatedly washing themselves in the dirty river Ganges every year which they think makes them clean, is what our good works are like to God. I also tried to explain that stapling on apples to a dead apple true will not convince anyone that the tree is alive, and that a bad tree will always produce bad fruit, which is why although people try and do 'good things' it is always tainted with sin because we have a heart born in sin and so will always produce bad fruit.
I showed that in Adam, we are all born in sin, and we needed to be transplanted into Christ, to have a new heart with new desires and start again, instead of covering up, and that Christ offered them that fresh start and cleansing from sin today!
A few people passed by and stopped to listen, one man that sells the Big Issue walked past and commented that if God existed why did his brother die. I said it was because of sin that all of us will die, and the man exclaimed that his brother had never sinned and was a good person, and didn't like my response that we have all sinned in various ways. He walked off cussing and swearing. Later 2 PARC officers that deal with City Centre incidents before the Police arrive, stopped to listen to me preach (with a small amp on) and radioed to their superiors of what I was doing. Although I presumed it was about a complaint/ too loud, they apparently said to Ed that if I mentioned Covid 19 and if a member of the public complained then I would have to stop preaching, but fortunately no one complained and I finished without any problems.
A youngish couple had been sat on a bench listening for a while, and Laurie went across to speak with them and share. They were from Romania and listened intently as Laurie shared the gospel with them and gave some tracts. Also earlier on a man that looked like Robert Downie Junior/ Iron Man look alike sat down and listened to the preaching and had long chat with Laurie and I afterwards. He was convinced the masks were pointless and that this was all a hoax from the government and a way of controlling people. He had a Buddhist/ New Age background of sorts, and at times agreed with what we all shared, and other times didn't, but he took a Bible and some tracts that we offered him and he was very grateful and gave us a hug! He said he had seen us here before so hopefully we will bump into him again.
It was a good day, and after a bit of a slow start was very encouraging, and we prayed for the people we had spoken to that day before going for coffee and fellowship. We hope to go back to Exeter and down to Newquay soon to meet up with Josh and his team again, and were very thankful that God gave us people that were open to listen to the gospel message and we just pray they see Gods goodness in the gospel that would lead them to repentance.
The weekend saw outreach in the central city. And there were lots of people out and about on both days. There were some free winter related events attracting people - which was wonderful, because it provided many gospel conversation opportunities!
And on Saturday, the longer the outreach went, the better those conversations were. I’m going to mention the last four.
A construction worker was attracted by a local busking act, but ended up talking to me. Once he realised I wanted to talk about spiritual things, he recognised me and said that I had already talked to him once down by the river. From memory, I think that was during the last summer mission. He remembered going through the law, but he didn’t remember the gospel. So we spent some time focusing on that. He ended up mentioning a relative who was involved with the WatchTower. I used that as an opportunity to talk about the difference between a religion requiring works for salvation, and the grace of Jesus dying on the cross to pay our hell fine for us. They penny really seemed to drop for him, which was really encouraging for me.
Next up I two intellectual types spot my flip chart and decide to take me on. I was upfront with what the flip chat was about, and they appreciated that and we fell into an apologetical tussel, where I was about to keep touching on the law and the gospel. They ended up disengaging, one refused a tract, but to my encouragement, the other took one. It had been a draining conversation, but a very rewarding one.
A lady walked past from a distance but was staring at the flip chart. I indicated that she should try it, and she decided to come over. We had a long and frustrating conversation where she insisted that she needed to be good to go to heaven, and yet clearly understanding that she wasn’t good! She ended up referring to an incident in her past where someone she respected had told her she can’t use God as a doormat. I laboured to get her to see that we are saved by the grace of God, which would lead us to not want to use God as a doormat. It was very encouraging watching her processing this vital information.
Finally I had an English couple stop, the guy was very interested in what “the good person test” was all about. The conversation started talking about a mutual love: cricket, but they guy insisted I talk him through the good person test. He was an atheist, but he believed in “family values''. He and his wife came to hear why Jesus is good news and how God is the only basis for having family values.
So some very encouraging opportunities on Saturday! And Sunday was just as busy. A team of seven.
My first conversation was with a young couple who heard the law, but the guy became confused while I was explaining the gospel. “A man has to die so I can go to heaven?” I used the courtroom analogy to explain why justice is required, and yet how mercy can be given. He was still confused, so I just flipped to the “Jesus fireball” page. All of a sudden, understanding seemed to come - Jesus died on the cross for our sin. They seemed open to what I was sharing, I challenged them to respond to the gospel, after counting the cost that would come.
Later, for the first time ever, I had someone arrested by the Police while next to my flip chart! I was sharing the gospel with three guys, suddenly I had a strange man standing next to me and trying to interact. It was difficult, but he ended up sitting behind me, and then he moved behind the guys I was sharing with. All of a sudden, two Police officers were arresting him. I have no idea what that was all about. But I continued to share the gospel with the guys I was focused on.
Throughout the afternoon of outreach, there was a homeless girl sitting not far from me who was watching everything the team was doing (flip charting, handing out tracts, conversations). Eventually she came over and wanted to try the flip chart herself. We had a wonderful conversation where we were able to go through the flip chart in full. It was also a great demonstration for the new team members watching.
It was a busy afternoon of outreach - a real team effort! Well done team :)
On Thursday I spent a couple of hours online before heading out to the bus stops.
I had one very sad encounter near the start. I was connected to a girl who looked to be about 8 years old. She wanted to show me something, and she showed me the private parts of a doll. I was deeply saddened. I said that this was not a good place for her to be, and asked if her Mum and Dad knew she was doing this. I then heard a ladies voice say, “she is 13”. Soon after they disconnected. Very, very sad. We live in a broken world that desperately needs the gospel. I was sad that I didn’t have an opportunity to share the gospel with this girl and the lady.
I was connected to a guy from Mexico who didn’t have good English. I gave him a link to needGod.net while I continued to try to communicate with him. All of a sudden, I heard the voice of Ryan Hemelaar sharing the gospel! It gave me a fright! But then I realised this guy had gone to needGod.net and had started playing a video of Ryan sharing the gospel. I chuckled to myself - the power of technology!
I connected with a kid who instantly started cussing me out. I ignored it, and asked him what he thought happened afterlife. Slowly he started engaging with me. He was very sharp mentally and quickly came to grasp the gospel. Part way through he apologised for swearing at me. He said there was nothing stopping him from trusting that Jesus had died on the cross for his sins today. So I challenged him to do that, after counting the cost.
One of the last conversations was with a very open hearted lady who came to an understanding of the gospel and was very thankful.
After this, Andy and I were at the Eastgate and Northlands bus stops for the afternoon. There were two highlight conversations (of many).
Andy had a very special conversation with a high school student. Comments from the guy, upon understanding the gospel, were “I’m totally blown away”, and “this has been life changing”. How very, very encouraging!
The other one was a conversation I had with two high school students. As they walked past I asked them, “Hey, can I ask you a question?” They stopped and it turns out they were hardline atheists. I suddenly had an intense discussion on my hands. But I enjoyed it. One of them did all the talking, while the other just listened. Throughout the conversation I presented counter arguments to everything that was raised. And over and over, I touched on the law and the good news of Jesus. At one point, the guy who was listening piped up and said, “It’s really good hearing the argument from the other side”. May God save them both for His glory!
Friday started with the gospel + abortion outreach, as usual. The first half was relatively peaceful - I had a wonderful gospel conversation with a young man. But in the second hour we attracted an emotional and illogical young lady who wouldn’t give up. Sadly, we couldn’t reason with her, and she was completely closed to the gospel - I didn’t even try. She ended up attracting two more ladies who wanted to give us a piece of their mind too. I find the hatred difficult to deal with, yet in love we will persist.
I open air preached in Cathedral Square in the face of hecklers. One of the hecklers did his best to drown me out. It sounded terrible. I tried to engage him, I tried to articulate my love in the face of hatred. I did my best to moderate the sound of my voice so I could be heard, and yet not sound like I was yelling at people. I’m not sure if I was very successful. After presenting the gospel, I gave up and switched to one to one.
I approached a construction worker on the other side of the Square and it was a guy I had talked to the week prior! We had a great follow up chat, and it was clear that he had been processing our last discussion. He said he wanted a book where he could learn more about Christianity. So I pulled out a New Testament and gave it to him with a gospel tract (different to the one he received the week before). I also gave him a contact card for my local church. I hope to see him again.
Later, Andy, Roger and I spend a couple of hours at the Bridge of Remembrance.
The highlight conversation was with an Indian guy with a Hindu background. He heard the law and the gospel, and then I instantly moved into my first checking question. His response was that he needed to be good to go to heaven. Not surprised, I went back and re-explained the gospel. The penny dropped, and a light came over his face. I was encouraged, so I moved straight into another checking question. To my amazement, his response was still that he needed to be good to go to heaven! So I went back to explaining the gospel, in different ways. I used a courtroom analogy where someone else pays our fine, and his response was, “but I would need to pay him back”. I continued to labour, and then he said, “I’m really confused”. The idea that salvation is a gift was so foreign to his thinking - I wasn’t surprised at his comment! He finally said that he needed to get going, but he wanted to talk more about this. We agreed email would be best and he sent himself an email from my phone so we could connect.
I finished the day of outreach with two hours online in the evening. What sticks in my memory was the resistance and hatred I received in response to the hope of the gospel I was attempting to share. With the help of God, I won’t give up.
Newquay Evangelism: Atheism and the Gospel
It was an absolutely gorgeous summer’s day in Newquay; as a result the high street was jammed full of people who were out enjoying the sun. Upon arrival we found a nice spot for today’s outreach; as George and I set up the open-air board and literature table, Nigel and Ian began to hand out tracts. It was encouraging to see people take the printed page in order to read of salvation in Christ alone.
Once the open-air board was set up George began to preach. As he spoke a young woman walked past and yelled out, “I am gay. God hates me!” George replied by pointing her to the love of Christ, but the woman kept walking. What appeared to be a ‘drive-by’ comment would actually be a hook that drew this young lady back to the discussion later on.
George continued to preach for several minutes and then the young woman returned with her friend. She began to heckle, but she was one of those hecklers who would say her comment then let the preacher respond. George did an excellent job in reasoning with her and pointing her to Christ. By the end of the open-air she seemed to have softened considerably.
Of course heckling begets heckling; now that a young woman started the ball rolling the big burly men decided it was their time to jump in. My role was to engage these hecklers one to one as George continued to reason with the young lady. The first man I spoke to claimed to work in the science field, but it was clear he didn’t have an understanding of basic scientific principles. His main objections centred around the question of evolution and also the philosophical question of “Where did God come from?” I answered those questions then brought it around to the biblical message of salvation; whenever we got to the issue of sin and the gospel the man would engage in mockery.
His claim was that sin didn’t exist and that the world is good; keep in mind that he said this while wearing all the safety equipment to protect him from COVID-19. I used his face-covering as an illustration showing that the world is corrupted due to sin; but he he kept on rejecting the message. Finally, I encouraged him to simply go home and watch the news, then as he watches the reports about murder, violence, war and chaos sit back and say, “This world is good; there is no sin here.” The point was made, but his response was to scoff and walk away.
The next heckler I spoke to could have almost been reading from the same playbook, he too claimed to work in science and his main objections centred around evolution and where did God come from. I said to this man, “To ask, ‘where does God come from’ would be like me saying, ‘the Sun gives light, but who lights the sun?’” The man laughed at this and said, “The sun just is!” I smiled and replied, “And God just is. He is outside of time, space and matter; He is the uncaused cause of all things.”
The man then began to engage in the infinite regress fallacy, which I was able to answer; so finally he said, “Prove to me that God exists!” I pointed to one of the buildings which lined the high street and asked, “How do you know that building had a builder?” The man answered, “Because it is there. It is tangible.” I followed up by pointing to a painting in a shop window, “How do you know that painting had a painter?” The man replied again by saying, “Because it is there. It is tangible.”
I then asked him if it would be idiotic to say that tangible things, such as the building and painter, had no painter or builder?” He agreed it would be; so I asked, “You are tangible, as is the world and all created things. How do we know that you and all things have a Creator?” The man paused as he saw the trap that he was in - slowly he replied, “We just happened.”
My point had been made so he was quick to change topics; he began to argue that he knew for sure that the Bible was in error since it is full of contradictions; I asked for just one contradiction but he couldn’t produce it. Finally I said to him, “Jesus tells me why you are an atheist. You love your sin, and you hate the light. You won’t acknowledge God, even though you know He is real, because the moment you do you have to accept the fact that you are accountable to Him.” At this the man mocked and walked away saying, “This is getting too freaky.”
Truly the Psalmist spoke the truth when he said, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.” (Psalm 14:1)
By this stage George had finished preaching so the hecklers disappeared back into the crowds of people. After letting the crowd move and change, I decided it was time for me to preach. Today I thought it would be good to use my flip-chart as a tool to assist in the open-air.
As I began to speak a few people began to gather to listen; I particularly enjoyed seeing a man leaning out of a pub window in order to hear the gospel. I used the flip-chart to explain that none of us are good people, and that we all need the Saviour. I had a few people make comments, but unlike George I didn’t have any good hecklers.
I am so thankful that the Lord allowed the gospel to go out clearly today in Newquay via tracts, one to one witnessing and open-air preaching. My prayer is that the Father would draw many to Jesus through these outreaches.
Tuesday and Wednesday ended up being days where I feel like I spoke to a lot more “Christians” than usual. And yes, I used double quotes there. Some of those I talked to were clearly not a Christian, yet with others it was unclear.
I’m glancing through my notes from my time online on Tuesday and the last three conversations were with people saying they were Christian. I can’t remember it, but my notes say the first guy didn’t know the gospel. I remember the last one, it was with a guy who said he was a Christian, but only from a cultural perspective - he pretty much denied that God existed.
The middle conversation was long and good. The guy had a reasonable understanding of important concepts, yet some of the wording he used made me suspicious he was trusting in his works and not faith alone in Jesus dying on the cross to pay his hell fine. We got to talk that through. The guy was really appreciative of the conversation; I encouraged him to get out there and start sharing the good news with others.
After this, the outreach in Riccarton was busy. In two hours I was able to have gospel interaction with 14 people!
One of the homeless guys Andy and I are getting to know was able to articulate the gospel, even frequents a local church. Yet when I challenged him on the change that comes with faith in Christ, he quickly backed away. He clearly doesn’t understand the wonder of the gospel… yet.
I spoke to two groups of boarders from Christchurch Boys High School. They heard the gospel, but there was no interest - sadly. One of those kids stands out the most in my memory. He was the most resistant, but he was the quickest to grasp the gospel.
I had a timely conversation with a “Christian” who initially claimed good deeds would get him to heaven, but with some gentle prodding was able to explain the true way to heaven: Jesus. It turned pastoral, and something triggered me to be straight with him, I asked what sin he was struggling with. He looked dejected, and asked if he could marry an unbeliever, using 2 Corinthians 6:14 I was able to encourage him that it would be a disaster if he did. Interestingly, his father had given him the same advice. The cost of following Jesus is great. Only with God’s help can we do it.
My final conversation of the outreach was with one of the Unicef street workers. She is a “Christian”, even going to a local church and we have mutual friends, and yet, she couldn’t articulate the gospel, again defaulting to good deeds - “following the commandments”.
On Wednesday I started at the northern end of Cathedral Square. Not many people around, yet I was able to have four conversations in short order. My first was with a “Christian” who said his goodness would get him to heaven! With some prompting he was able to give a better answer, yet he insisted that we had to “try”. Sadly, he had to go before we were really able to unpack it.
Next up I talked to a very open hearted man who knew he wasn’t good and deserved hell, and came to understand the gospel, he said he would trust Jesus died for his sins today. I then talked to a young lady who came to grasp the gospel.
Finally, I encountered a Christian couple with their son. Their son wanted to answer my question… “you have to follow the ten commandments”. NOOOOO! His Dad knew better and said “you have to be born again”. So I asked, “how does that happen?” We quickly got to the right answer, and I was able to point their son to it!
I decided to head down to Ara to finish the outreach there. Straight away I was into yet another conversation with a “Christian”. After going through the gospel with him, I asked when he last read his Bible, and what Church he was attending - he asked me if I had recommendations. I told him to get in touch with me, yet I doubt I will hear from him.
I finished up with a bit of an apologetical tussle with a friendly young student - he heard the law and the gospel.
To finish the day, I spent two hours online, and had seven conversations - many of them wonderful. The highlight was with some black lives that matter. They warmed up to the conversation and heard the law and the gospel. I challenged them to respond, but they said they already were. So I asked them what they said they had to do to go to heaven at the start of the conversation - “be good”. They could see that they weren’t trusting that Jesus had died for their sin. They were very challenged.
Christians, we have to get back to basics. Tell me, what do you have to do to go to heaven? The answer is NOT, “be a good person”. But what is the answer? You need to understand this. You need to understand the gospel and respond to it if you haven’t already.