I've had the honour of preaching the Gospel in many places throughout the world, yet, one of my favourite places to preach is in my home city of Brisbane. After nearly two years absence I returned to Queen Street Mall for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel.
It was around 7:30pm when I met with Ryan and a few others in King George Square for a time of prayer and Bible reading. It was soon becoming clear to me that there were many new faces in the Brisbane evangelism team, and that I was now the new bloke. I was greatly encouraged to see these new faces, as that means that new people are constantly being raised up to be faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ.
At 8pm we headed to the preaching spot in the mall, and we began to set up. I set up the Free Bible and Literature table, while Ryan prepared to preach. We weren't sure how long we'd have everything set up as it was threatening to rain.
Even though I had been away for some time, there are certain things that do not change. For instance, there were three members of the Brisbane Atheist Society present at the open-air meeting. Apparently, these guys come out regularly for the purpose of trying to disrupt the meeting, and argue with Christians. Personally, I think these guys must be some of the saddest and loneliest people around. Even though they claim that there is no God, yet, they devote their weekends to talking about Him with strangers. Personally, I don't believe in fairies, yet, I don't spend my time going to 'fairy festivals' in order to prove my point. The reason I don't waste my time on this kind of thing is because I know that fairies don't exist. Yet, the atheists come out to debate, and argue. It is as if they are trying to suppress the truth in unrighteousness for they know that God exists (Romans 1).
Ryan began to preach and at first not many people stopped to listen. But soon a drunk heckler came along who began to shout and rant. He argued that God made the world flat, but science made it round. Ryan tried to answer the heckler but he wasn't prepared to listen. However, the heckling soon brought in a good size crowd to listen to what was happening.
The crowd kept growing for sometime, but eventually the heavens opened up and the rain began to fall. At first I thought this would disperse the crowd, but all it did was push the crowd back undercover. Many remained to listen as Ryan explained the Gospel of Christ to them.
While all this was going on members of the team were engaged in one to one conversations and handing out tracts. It was during this time I got to spoke to a young lady who identified herself as a Christian. She approached us as she was concerned that it was 'unloving' to preach in the open air, and that Jesus wouldn't do it. This lady was not looking to fight, she was a well-meaning Christian who was concerned for the Gospel. For that I commend her. I asked this young lady if she had read Matthew 23, to which she said that she had. From there I pointed out that Jesus engaged in action that would be deemed 'unloving' by many today. After looking at this Scripture I then went to Acts and showed how the early church engaged in public preaching. I stressed to her that just because something may seem confrontational doesn't mean it isn't loving. After speaking for awhile she seemed to come around to what I was saying. Before she left I was able to encourage her to be a witness for Jesus in her own life, and in a way that she is comfortable with.
The rain was still coming down at this point, and Ryan was still preaching. I was soon approached by a Muslim man who had been listening to the preaching as he wanted a Bible. I was more than happy to give him a Bible and encourage him to read it.
By this time Ryan had finished preaching, so the team focused on handing out tracts and talking to people one to one. It was decided that we wouldn't preach again until the rain had stopped. For around thirty-minutes it poured down, but then it began to clear.
At 9:30pm, I stood up to preach my first open-air in Brisbane in nearly two years. My text was 1 Timothy 1:15 - "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
My message began by explaining how there are many different views of who Jesus is, and depending on who you ask will determine the answer you get. From there I went on to stress that the only way we can know who Jesus is and what He taught is if we let Jesus speak for Himself. To find out who Christ is, we need to open the Bible and read what God says about Himself.
This was my launch pad to explain who the Biblical Jesus is, and also what He has done. I spoke about how He is the Creator who made all people with value and worth. I spoke about His love in coming to earth to save sinners, and then I spoke about how we as human beings are the sinners who have rebelled against God.
While, I was preaching a Roman Catholic man began to heckle. He declared that he was a good man and that he'd go to heaven. He then claimed to have kept the Ten Commandments, so we began to look at them. As I engaged the heckler a crowd began to gather. This Catholic man didn't view himself as a sinner, and thought that no matter what he did, he'd go to heaven because he is good. I explained the Gospel to him, and then he took offence at what I said. He disagreed with the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation.
As I answered his objection a group of young atheists decided to stop and heckle. These young males (they weren't men) were the perfect picture of what society would look like if God's Law is ignored. They were foul mouthed, hostile, and when challenged by a lady walking pass they raised their fists and threatened her. When they threatened the lady I issued a warning to them. I will not tolerate any male threatening a lady. As I finished my message I pointed out these boys as a visible example to the crowd of what atheism leads to. I then reminded them of the solution to such chaos, and that solution is found in the Gospel.
Please pray for all those who heard the Gospel tonight. May Christ save them and bring them into His Kingdom.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Brisbane Team (Night) (QLD)
Meets every Saturday night in King George Square 7-10pm.
Brisbane Team (Day) (QLD)
Meets Wednesday afternoons 1-5pm in King George Square (near Adelaide St crossing).
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.