On Tuesday I normally go to Riccarton which is west of the City, but I decided to try a new outreach location: Northlands Mall in Papanui, which is north of the City.
I like routine, and so this broke it. I ended up feeling as nervous as I used to feel when I was first getting involved with street outreach. It’s good to feel that, as it gives me empathy for all you Christians who are just getting started! But I went out anyway. I consoled myself with the fact that I could just hand out tracts, which helps me with my nerves.
But as I walked down the street, towards the mall, and the bus stops, I was surprised at how many people there were. So I started saying “Hi” to people and working on getting a conversation started.
Admittedly, it was a bit awkward initially, but I was quickly into a Gospel conversation with a young man. It turns out he was heading to the doctors with heart concerns! So the conversation was timely. He was happy for me to walk with him, and I was able to share the law and Gospel - which he seemed to understand and appreciate it. I challenged him to respond to the Gospel.
The outreach then proceeded from conversation to conversation. Praise God, my nerves had evaporated. And I had “broken soil” at a new outreach location. It seems to be a wonderful location, with more bus stops than at Eastgate (east of the City). Please join me in praying for this new outreach location.
Wednesday was back to routine, with an outreach in Cathedral Square, and then to the Hospital for a regular (not abortion) outreach.
In Cathedral Square there were two stand out conversations.
The first was a brief chat with a Christian tourist. Very early on he said: “I try”. Instantly I had concern, and so I stopped him and explained that, for salvation, we don’t need to try. It is a completed work done by Jesus, on our behalf, on the cross. Salvation is a gift. He then mentioned something about “regret”. Which is great - we should all regret our sin. But regret, alone, does not remove our sin: we must place our faith in Jesus. Yet he still didn’t seem to grasp what I was saying until I explained a third time. He seemed to appreciate our chat and smiled as he left, after we shook hands. He gladly accepted a tract.
The second was a complete contrast. Firstly, the conversation went for an hour! But the key difference was that the guy I was talking to completely rejected salvation by faith alone, and insisted that works were required for salvation! He seemed to accept the Bible (including the OT, the Gospels, the general epistles, and Revelation), but he rejected the Pauline epistles! He insisted that repentance was required for salvation, and that it is a work. I agreed the repentance is required for salvation, but had the opportunity to explain that repentance is not a work at all, but a change of mind away from sin and to God that leads to obedience (works). We are saved by grace, through faith and not by works, but for works. This issue is critical to get right. If you think you need to do any works to be saved, then you can’t have your faith in Jesus alone to save you!
I ended up getting the guy to say something amazing. I asked if I needed to be circumcised to be saved, and he hedged. So I asked if I needed to keep all the food laws of the OT to be saved. He ended up admitting that we did need to do both! So I asked him, assuming I knew I was dying in a few day, what I needed to do to be saved. He seemed stuck and then said: “Well, I would recommend you give $1000 to the first charity you can think of - that should help”. I was shocked. This guy was trying to earn his way to heaven by his own effort. Something Jesus clearly explained that is Impossible to do (see Matthew 5:21-29 and Mark 10:17-31).
It was a very friendly conversation, but at the end, I had to call this guy to repentance (ironically). He was wrongly trusting in his works to save him, which would lead him to damnation. I told him he needed to change his mind and only trust in Christ to save him: to accept the gift by faith.
He lives out of town, but I made sure he knew how to get in touch if he wanted to discuss further. I hope to hear from him.
The Hospital outreach was surprisingly active, with some really good Gospel conversations: including a man who regularly went to the mosque to pray - but had not been there on that fateful day.
Later, while I was talking with someone else, suddenly an angry lady broke into the conversation. She was angry that I was outside the hospital doing what I was doing. She stormed off before I could really interact, but she made it clear she had called security.
Sure enough, a security guard came past five minutes later. He walked up the steps and watched me for a minute (I know because the person I was talking to told me) - but they left me alone. I’m on the sidewalk, which is public property, and I have every right to be there and talk to people about my religious convictions.
Yet, the intensity of her anger unsettled me. I need to get used to this, our next abortion outreach will be Friday morning…
As always, your prayer and support is much appreciated. All this work would not be able to happen without it. It is truly amazing what God is doing in getting regular outreaches established in Christchurch. Thank you!
Christchurch (NZ) Team
Heads out on to the streets of Christchurch usually 6 days a week to various locations.
Including Fridays in Cathedral Square from 12:30pm and in Cashel Mall after that till 3:30pm. Also Sundays in Cashel Mall 1:30pm till 3:30pm.