The thermometer was showing 38'C as we arrived in Woodridge for our final outreach in this community for 2016. The air was still, and people seemed to be moving a bit slower than usual. Even though it was oppressively hot, the heat actually opened up doors for gospel conversations as people wanted to stand in the shade.
When I arrived at the outreach it was good to see Alan and Ryan already engaged in conversations with people. The gospel was spreading and people seemed to be quite open and interested.
My first conversation was a middle-aged man named Tim, who wanted to talk as religion was destroying his family. Recently, his partner had been attending Bible studies with the Jehovah Witnesses, as a result she had been converted and also their children had embraced the heretical teachings of the JWs.
Tim, even though he was not a Christian had enough smarts to know that something wasn't right, so in his words he went out to get a "Lutheran Bible to prove them wrong." Through reading the "Lutheran Bible" he was able to find that the teachings of the Watchtower didn't align with Scripture, but the more he pointed this out, the more the JWs tried to separate his family from him. We chatted for sometime about the cultic nature of the Jehovah Witnesses and also the gospel. When he left he asked if he could have my contact number so that he could talk further. I happily gave him my details and I pray he gets in touch to talk again.
By this time Ryan had finished a conversation he had been having with a man named Tama. It turns out that four years ago members of the team spoke to Tama, and he wanted to chat again. After he finished talking to Ryan, he decided to speak to me. I reinforced the gospel message, and then encouraged him to attend a local church. He gave me his details and asked if a church could contact him. We have already handed his details over to a church in his area, and know they'll follow him up.
The conversations kept flowing today. At some points it was a case of going from one conversation to another. Straight away after talking to Tama, I got talking to a black African man named Arthur. It turns out that Arthur goes to church but thought to be saved he had to keep the Ten Commandments. We examined the Law, and he soon saw that he had failed in keeping the Commandments, this then opened up into a wonderful conversation about the gospel and how Christ loves sinners. At the end of the discussion Arthur said, "I am going to trust in Christ today. I finally understand." Please pray that the Lord would save Arthur.
As I was talking to Arthur I noticed a man standing nearby eavesdropping. When I finished my conversation with Arthur I walked over to him and began to chat. This man is Romanian and had grown up in the church; his brother is also a Pastor. He readily acknowledged that what we were sharing was the truth, and that Jesus is the only way to be saved. He even went on to explain the gospel very clearly, but then he said, "I'm not trusting in Jesus." I asked him, "You know it is all true; you know that Jesus is who He says He is, so why aren't you trusting in Him?" The man hung his head and said, "I don't know. I need to." I shared the gospel with him again, and he shook my hand saying that he would give the matter some more thought. Please pray that the Lord would rescue him.
By this stage I was feeling on a bit of a high; we'd had several wonderful conversations without any opposition, but then entered a young black African Seventh-Day Adventist. She was fired up and full of her own self-righteousness. She boldly told us that to be saved someone had to keep the whole law and trust in Jesus. I pointed out that this is works righteousness, and that according to the Scripture a person cannot be saved that way.
She strongly disagreed, so I opened my Bible and asked if I could read God's Word to her. She agreed, but said it had to be NIV only (this is the first time I have met an NIV-onlyist!). I found an NIV on my phone, and read to her from Galatians 3:10-11; after I had read the passage I asked, "Are you relying upon the Law to be saved?" She said she was. I then asked, "Do you keep the Law perfectly?" She claimed she did, so we began to look at the Ten Commandments. It soon became clear that she had and was breaking many of God's Laws. When she admitted this I read the passage to her again, and stressed that she was under a curse. I then went onto read Galatians 3:13 and explained how Christ became a curse for us.
She didn't like the idea of Jesus saving and us having nothing to do with it, so once again she argued that if we don't keep the Law perfectly then we would be damned. I asked, "If you lie to me now, then walk out and get hit by a car and die, would you go to Heaven?" She said, "No, as I hadn't repented of that sin." This is the trouble of works righteousness; you can never have assurance of salvation, and you live in constant fear that you could accidentally sin and be lost forever.
I explained the gospel to her from 2 Corinthians 5:21, and stressed that we are perfectly righteous because of Jesus, but she wouldn't have any of it. I then took her to Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5, and asked her according to these passages what role works played in our salvation. She read the verses and said, "None, salvation is all of God." I thought, "Finally! She's got it." But then she turned around and once again started to spew the dribble of works based salvation that the SDA had taught her.
Once again we went back over the gospel, but I noticed that the more I stressed the salvation is all of grace the ore aggressive she became. No one likes to hear the truth that we cannot save ourselves, but that is what the Bible says. The message of the gospel offends our pride, but we must realise this truth. Eventually, I broke away from the conversation, and that is when she really lost it. She began to yell and me, blaspheme God's name, and swear.
A friend of hers then came up and said she was going to spit on me and my Bible, and the SDA just started screaming, "GIVE ME YOUR BIBLE AND DON'T JUDGE!" At that moment I imagined this must have been how the Pharisees responded to Jesus; the self-righteous hate the gospel. Please pray that the Lord would humble this lady and bring her to salvation that is all of grace.
The seed was sown today and the Lord will bless the sharing of His Word. Please pray for all those with whom we spoke.
Woodridge Team (QLD)
Meets 2-5pm every Tuesday afternoon at the Woodridge train-bus interchange on Station Rd.
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.