After a wonderful week's leave, it’s great to be back on the streets of Christchurch! :)
On my first day of leave, I had a very encouraging email. It came from a guy I had talked to on the streets a few times and we had been emailing, but the conversation petted out. I’d last heard from him about a year ago. Yet, I still pray for this guy regularly. And his question couldn’t have been better: “Essentially, what does someone have to do to get into heaven.” So we have been emailing back and forth again dealing with that question and also the question of why God allows evil to exist. He is still resistant as ever, but he is genuinely trying to understand the Christian worldview. With God, all things are possible - even a change of heart in this young man!
While I was away, Andy was still on the streets and he shared with me some very encouraging reports of follow up conversations with people who seem to be responding to the gospel! Praise God for that.
On Tuesday I spent two hours online before doing two in Riccarton with Roger.
Some highlights from the online outreach were conversations with Muslims: one from Algeria, the other from Morocco. The guy from Algeria seemed pretty stunned as he saw the logic of how only Jesus could solve the problem of justice & mercy at the same time - which was encouraging. The guy from Morocco was more resistant. It’s interesting that often these Muslims will point me to YouTube to get “answers” to questions they can’t answer.
I also had a fascinating chat with a 10 year old kid who was playing Fortnite (a computer game) while talking to me. I took him through the law. He admitted to lying and stealing, but when I explained that Jesus said that God sees our anger like murder of the heart. He stopped and stared at me, then he just disconnected. He either thought I was crazy, or he understood what Jesus was meaning.
The highlight from the Riccarton outreach was a follow up with a young man from a local high school. I started with a checking question, which he got right! And then the conversation went down a track I didn’t expect. He started talking about how one day after sports he came home and would normally sleep, but this day he had an urge to read the Bible, which he did for about an hour. He was trying to explain that something had changed in him. And then he sat me down, and the conversation turned very pastoral. I really didn’t know what to say, but I just listened, and prayed. Earlier, he told me how (on a previous outreach) some girls had been telling people not to talk to me. And he confronted them, and stood up for me! I was touched (both that people would take enough notice of me to tell others not to talk to me, and that this guy stood up for me). It was a very encouraging conversation. He is opening up. Something in me wanted to uproot him, and plant him in my local church so I could really start discipling him. But I knew I couldn’t do that. We have to be patient, water the seed, and let God bring the increase to his glory. I hope to see him again. I’ll be praying for him.
I had a touch of the “fear of man” - I get it often. I was walking towards a lady, and thinking, she’ll reject me. But I swallowed my fear and as politely as possible, interrupted her and asked “what do you think happens after life?” I was surprised by her response, she smiled and said, “oh, I think about that all the time”. She wanted to chat! Sadly, her phone rang early in the conversation and then her ride came. But she gladly took a tract.
Today I spent two hours in the city, and then two hours online. It was raining lightly when I headed out, and I nearly decided to do the whole day's outreach online. But I’m glad I didn’t as I had one of those days where you just go from conversation to conversation.
It started with a follow up with one of my regulars. This guy instantly went on the defensive and was talking about his performance as the way to heaven (and the lack of it that would lead him to hell). This coming from a guy who had cried at the understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus in a previous conversation. It amazes me that no matter how many times I talk to people they just don’t grasp the gospel (I shouldn’t be amazed, as the Bible says this, but…) I patiently listened, and tried to explain that performance is not the way to heaven.
I then went on to have another four sets of conversations - all with surprisingly open people, two of them even approached me rather than the other way around - very encouraging.
The online outreach ended with a very interesting conversation. It started with the guy I’d connected to accusing me of being a pervert! Normally when that happens, they instantly disconnect, but he didn’t. I was able to explain why I was online - by sharing the gospel with him. And he was floored, during the first checking question he said, “whoa - I get it now”. With a Catholic background he went from understanding that his good deeds would get him to heaven, to understanding that it was only Jesus' sacrifice for his sin (through faith) that would get him there. He was deeply appreciative - quite a contrast to the start of the conversation!
I thank God for the wonderful rest from last week, and for the opportunities of these two days. Thank you for your prayer and support (and that you actually made it to the end of this report! ;) ) God bless. :)
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.