It has already been 1 year since we began the work of evangelism at Warwick, praise God!
All Glory to God for the opportunities that He continues to bring each week. So many tracts have gone out and each and every conversation has been God's Providence and we rejoice knowing that it all will be used by our merciful loving Holy God.
This week a Christian brother we have had the privilege to build a friendship with his Granddaughter. While he was in conversation with Rick, I heard her saying "it didn't turn orange!!!" Trying to get their attention she kept looking at it wondering why the good person test was not giving her a pass. I was not far away and had been talking with a lady from our church who had stopped by to see how we were going. I said to this young girl that no one will pass the test. This led into a time of sharing the bad news talking about the commandments in which she knew a few and admitted to breaking them. I explained the courtroom analogy. The Gospel was shared using Easter and Christmas to explain the love of God in providing a way to be saved from hell punishment.
The lady from our church was listening in and I pray that she will be encouraged to use Gospel tracts to start off conversations with people where ever she goes. Pray for this young girl as her Granddad follows Jesus she will see her great need to have her sins forgiven to be able to have a right relationship with our Creator God Jesus. It's all His work as we share the good news.
All praise and Glory to Jesus.
Praise be to our Glorious heavenly Father for His continued mercy and grace upon us. He is answering prayer each week as we ask Him to provide opportunities to speak to the people who He brings our way through the streets of Warwick and to prepare their hearts to receive planted seeds from His word. We pray that He will grow these planted truths into a saving harvest.
A young guy happened to pass by the bible table and was handed a tract and he asked what it was, so explaining that it was a gospel tract which asked, "are you a good person?", he said that he thought he was. "Would you be good enough to go to Heaven?" he said he hoped so. We explained the bad news firstly and he said that he didn’t want to go to hell. We shared the good news that Jesus offers us forgiveness for our sins which he paid for when he willingly laid down His life for us on the cross. We need to trust in Him and so we challenged him that there was nothing more important than knowing where we would spend Eternity and to get right with God, for we don’t know if we will have tomorrow. Please pray for M that he will respond to the Gospel and that our Lord draws him unto salvation.
Another chat with a guy who had already been witnessed to in Brisbane came up and started talking with us. He was a friendly guy and very talkative but trying at many times and from different ways to get him to answer questions and pin him down about what he believed would happen after he died proved very difficult. After some time talking to him he had to go. Please pray for (I) that the Lord would convict him of his sin and bring him to salvation.
We are thankful to God in all He is doing.
All glory be to Him.
Rick and Glenda
Thanks for praying with us that our Lord would bring to fruition the seeds of faith planted today:
- Park was not going to do anything with his new understanding of God's good news because his family members had different views. Harry asked him which was the more important: peace at home and going to hell, or receiving peace with God and being brought into God's family? He got the point. May God stir him to be reconciled to God by trusting in His Son as His Saviour and Lord.
- Lee-Anne and Railee met Rudolph and Catherine who turned out to be Mormons but were sadly trusting in what they did to get to heaven. It seemed that she was understanding the gospel but failed the checking question. He wasn't really listening to anyone but himself. May God grant them spiritual eyes wide open to grasp the good news and hearts tender to His salvation.
- Fynn had a chat with the Lifeguard who was keen to defend his own life-view. Ask our great God to convict him of his sins and see the uniqueness of Jesus and the need to rely on Him alone for salvation.
- Ryan had a laborious chat with an older couple who heard the whole message as God caused one, then the other to engage in the chat. She spent the last part of the chat saying that she did not want to hear any more but her husband would not disengage. May God remove the blindfold from their eyes that they might see their urgent need of the Saviour.
- I had another lesson in persevering. Fynn started a flip chart chat with a Chinese woman and her 2 small children. She was quite open about her sins. As soon as she heard about Judgment she said that did not believe in a hell. About 8 more of her family approached the jetty and she left with them. Some time later, a young Chinese couple, Sabrina and Kastrel, went through the flip chart with me (Fynn was speaking with the Lifeguard at this time). They concluded that they had never heard the Bible message explained this way before. They took a gospel of John and were going to download a Bible. We parted.
At the close, when Railee and I were walking up the hill to get our car, I saw them coming in company with some of the other family members who had been responsible for giving the mother and 2 children an excuse for leaving without hearing the full message. I told Railee who handed out some Easter tracts to them all and cuddled Sabrina. They seemed genuinely pleased to see us. May God do want we cannot and save them.
God receives all the glory for increasing our faith even as we show our love for Hom by obeying, in a small way, His GREAT COMMISSION. Holy, holy ,holy is the Lord of hosts - Is. 6.
Saturday is an interesting day to come to the city to witness because so many other religions / cults are out on this day of the week too leading to some interesting conversations for the team!
Sunday saw a team of four set up at the corner of Cashel and Colombo for what was a fruitful time of ministry.
I spend a lot of time each week having Gospel conversations. And sadly I’ve become quite used to people being completely unmoved by the seriousness of sin, and the amazingness of grace.
But today, I had a very encouraging conversation. I offered a tract to a guy who I completely expected to ignore it. But to my surprise, he was interested and took it - wanting to know more. He was happy to try the flip chart (see picture), and indicated that he was the best person on the chart!
But then as I started to take him through the law, to my encouragement, a look of concern crossed his face - and didn’t leave. I then proceeded to explain why we call Good Friday good.
He listened intently.
When I asked him if he had any questions, he wanted to know what church I went to, and said he wanted to come along. From what I can tell, he has friends who are Christian who have been talking to him about church. He gladly accepted a contact card for my local church, and I wrote my contact details on it. He said he would be in touch if he had any questions.
It would be so wonderful if he did get in touch, but - as always - I leave him in God’s hands.
To finish the outreach we moved to Cathedral Square to open air preach. We couldn’t decide who should go first, so we ended up trying something different: we both preached! I introduced us, Andy went through the bad news, and I finished with the good news and a call to repentance and faith in Christ. We both had opportunity to interact with people while we were speaking.
I’m looking forward to a rest on Monday. Please keep the Christchurch (NZ) team in your prayers! Thank you for your support. SDG!
In contrast to Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday & Friday was filled with many wonderful Gospel opportunities for the Christchurch (NZ) team, in spite of the weather (rain).
The city outreach on Thursday afternoon started with Andy talking to a man via flip chart who I had already spoken to at the Eastgate bus stops in a previous week. He seemed really blessed by the follow up conversation, and took a Gospel booklet this time. And we are so encouraged that the Lord is providing multiple opportunities to talk to the same people - even at different locations.
I open air preached. It was very encouraging having people come over to interrupt me with good questions. One of those questions were about how God felt about homosexuality, which I addressed biblically: God is the basis for knowing right and wrong; I don’t hate homosexuals (or anyone), but homosexuality is a sin of which there is forgiveness of through repentance and faith in Christ.
After the preaching, Andy & I had wonderful opportunities for ‘walk up’ Gospel conversations.
I spoke with a couple, one of whom I had spoken to before in front of the bus exchange (although I had no memory of it).
I also sat down next to a man who was very open to the things of God and talked about his need to ‘accept Jesus into his heart’, something he was giving serious consideration to. But through discussion, it was clear he didn’t understand some of the important concepts of the Gospel: esp. the serious nature of sin or that we are saved not by our own effort, but what Christ did for us on our behalf. He allowed me time to unpack some of this for him - as best as I could - and also explain why ‘accepting Jesus into his heart’ is not a biblical concept.
After our time in the city, we again headed to the Eastgate bus stops. And, again, had a busy outreach with many Gospel conversations (see picture of Andy pleading with some young people).
I think I could write a book sharing the wonderful testimonies of the conversations had at this place! I’ll give one. I had a feisty conversation with a young man who thought the concept of God made no sense, and that the only logical conclusion is that nothing made everything! As I was wrestling with him on this, suddenly another lady joined the conversation and started having a go at me. I now was in a battle on two fronts at the same time. I persisted, doing my best to answer the questions and objections coming at me. Through it all, I managed to get an opportunity to start talking about the law of God - and the attacks calmed for a moment, as they listened (esp. The lady). I then, very briefly, got to explain the solution to the dilemma of our sin in light of a holy and just God: Jesus Christ. It was a testing and difficult conversation, but I praise God for it and the opportunity to share the main thing: the Gospel. We all parted on good terms, I leave them in God’s hands and hope I will see them again.
Friday was a day of four seasons: autumn leaves, spring rain, winter wind and cold (in the shade), and summer heat! Many times I had to switch between my beanie, and my sunglasses and cap. But none of this stopped the Gospel being proclaimed.
Andy preached before having an early lunch and then setting up flip charts on the corner of Cashel & Colombo.
The rain did not stop Gospel conversations. In one situation it started raining just after a conversation commenced, but it was important enough for everyone to ignore it. I even had an extra person join in! Please see the funny photo I took afterwards: the dry spots are where the people were standing.
The team had many wonderful conversations through the afternoon, and we then enjoyed some fellowship at a local cafe.
But the day didn’t end there, in the evening, we headed back out.
Initially, the evening outreach was a bit slow. But then the Lord provided 3 wonderful opportunities to share the Gospel. The last one is pictured. The first one was a walk up opportunity in Cathedral Square, where the young man had been to a youth group, but was still pondering what life was all about.
But the middle one, came about from a conversation between evangelists about how to start a conversation. The technique being discussed was by starting with: “Excuse me, may I ask you a question? It’s a deep question.” And then the perfect opportunity presented itself with two men walking towards us. So I tried it. And, for me, it lead to the highlight conversation of the night. The men were very engaged, and the important concepts of the Gospel were covered in depth. And they left with a challenge, not to just intellectually think about the Gospel. But to respond!
Our last two outreaches have been radically different from one another.
This outreach was discouraging for a number of us. There was a very real, almost tangible spiritual hardness in the CBD and very few people would receive tracts or even less people would engage in conversation. Normally the majority of people take tracts and a small minority want to engage in spiritual discussions. Not today. After almost an hour of persistent rejections, our team was tired. There was however, one conversation that myself (Doug) and Elisa had with two older Indigenous men.
When we offered them a tract, D-- and N—told us they have their own spirituality. When I asked them what they believed, they said they believed in Indigenous spirituality. As the conversation progressed, they explained that they believed that history runs in a cycle (there is no such thing as “progress” in history) and that the Mother Spirit inhabits the Earth. This spirit is personal and is expressed in every created thing. This Mother Spirit has a particular relationship with the original inhabitants of Australia, as they cared for nature and lived in (relative) harmony with it. One day Mother Earth will cast out all non-Indigenous people from Australia and history will once again reset.
It was at this point that things took an unexpected twist. At first, D—and N—claimed that Indigenous people are the first of Mother Earth’s creation and are the “most pure”. Everyone else in the world are “less pure” races that were created afterward. A little while later they changed this somewhat racist claim to instead say that every race is descended from the original inhabitants of Australia. Those races who inhabit land outside of Australia were cast out many millennia ago for violating tribal law.
Throughout this time, Elisa and I did our best to listen respectfully and also to gently probe how they knew these things to be true. D—and N—replied that Indigenous culture is the longest surviving culture in the world, and therefore their beliefs must be true. Before I could point out that this doesn’t necessarily follow (non-sequitur fallacy), both men said that Christianity was false because it was a crutch for the weak and the Bible had been changed many times.
Elisa then powerfully shared how God had been a crutch for her through many difficult seasons and together we explained how every person on Earth uses a crutch to get through life’s difficulties. Whether it’s alcohol, family relationships, an upcoming holiday...you name it, we all use crutches. The real question is whether they will break in our hands when we lean on them heavily enough. I shared that only the infinite God is strong enough to bear the weight of our pain and suffering, because every finite thing and every finite person we use as a crutch will one day fail us.
D—then fell back on the “Bible has been changed many times” objection. This objection requires a small amount of historical knowledge and explanation to defuse*, but unfortunately due to time restrictions Elisa and I needed to go. Overall, this conversation went for over an hour and Elisa and I spent the majority of the time listening, which is in many ways one of the most crucial skills for all Christians to grow in when engaging with others. We hope that this discussion was one that could open doors to future dialogue and all four of us shook hands on good terms and departed.
Once we returned to our team we heard just how hard the day had been for many of us. In hindsight, we all know some months will be harder than others, but the challenge for us to trust God as He refines us and to hold firm to His promises. Jesus is the good King and we are thankful that He sees our difficult days and is powerful enough to mould everything together for our good. Not because we are good...but because He is love (1 John 4:16) .
*For info on how to deal with "The Bible has been changed many times" objection
This month we introduced the OP513 flip-chart into our ministry. This flip-chart has the “Good Person Test” on it and is designed to be set up and used to engage interested groups of people who come over for a chat or through open-air preaching. After the team ran a few practice runs, we split up to either draw interest to the chart or to hand out tracts and begin conversations.
It wasn’t long before two interested teenagers came over to Merv and I to do the “Good Person Test”. A—and H—were friendly young men who engaged the presentation and asked some good questions. After we had shared the Gospel, A—said “This makes sense! I’ve heard about this in Youth Group!” We encouraged both of them to engage a Youth Group and gave them some tracts as they left to consider.
We then switched gears and Merv began to preach, using the chart as a guide. He did an exceptional job and I noticed a number of interested people at the traffic lights with their windows down watching the presentation.
Overall it was a very interesting outreach. We praise God for the privilege of sharing His good news for humanity through words, flip-charts, tracts and the many varied ways that He has allowed us to use this month. Only in eternity will we know the true impact in people’s lives.
On Wednesday afternoon there were seven team members out, including local business men (maybe one day a business woman will join us during her lunch break to proclaim the gospel). The sky was cloudy and the cover meant more people than normal took up residence on the seats in the square. After a few short introductory conversations Peter and Terry were approached.
These two men were wearing suits and were sitting down chatting. They were approached and graciously were open to talk. When asked what they thought would happen after they die both said that they would go to Heaven. This is quite common but what was unusual was for Terry it was actually true. When asked why they would be going to Heaven Terry gave a quite extensive but simple explanation of how he was a sinner who had been saved only by the blood of Jesus. But oppositely Peter said, "I think I'm a pretty good guy".
Then the opportunity was opened up and the gospel was shared with Peter. He saw his sin, the penalty sin deserves and therefore that our hope cannot be in ourselves but can only be in Christ and His perfect life. Peter understood and was challenged. This then provided the perfect opportunity to encourage these men, who work together, to discuss this more themselves and maybe even in the next few weeks read John's Gospel together and come face to face with who Jesus is and the challenge he places before us, to trust Him or perish.
The conversation was finished a quick challenge. With Easter coming up it will be a reminder of one of two things, either that God's judgement is coming in Hell or that God has paid my debt so that I can be with Him eternally. Peter was left to ponder what it would remind him of this Easter.
The afternoon was filled with many more exciting conversations where God's providence was on display. Monica came to understand the gospel and said she would consider it. God took away one conversation to replace it with another where three young men came to grips for the first time of God's gospel and were seriously considering trusting in Christ. But one exciting conversation, where God was showing His mercy was with Gen.
She was just sitting on a the bench and was approached and with a few early questions it came out that she had a Catholic background, had once gone to a school that was strongly Catholic but she never really believed it and had been offended at the self-righteousness of those around her who always looked down on her for not being as good as them.
Early in the conversation a lady sit a bit further around interrupted and tried to push Gen out of the conversation. She had been listening and said, "You shouldn't be forcing this girl to believe what you do. She shouldn't have to listen to you!" At this stage in the conversation, four questions in, nothing about Christianity had been shared, only some simple diagnostic questions had been asked. This interrupting lady wasn't really arguing because what was being said was wrong but because she hated God.
Gen responded that she was happy to keep chatting and the other lady went back to her business. For a few moments there it seemed as if God was stopping the conversation and it was a little struggle to get back into the discussion with Gen but it all went okay. The other lady soon left with some loud complaints about how stupid God is and headed off.
This is where God started to work. Gen was shown how we know God exists and she said she didn't think that was true but didn't have a reason. Then she was shown God's law and saw her guilt. Then the conversation went back to the building builder analogy. It was pointed out to Gen, that her incredulity was unwise. It wasn't that there was no evidence for God. It wasn't that we can't know there is a God but rather as she had stated earlier, "I don't want to believe in God".
She was shown why she didn't want to believe. God has standards, we're guilty of breaking them and therefore we try one of two things, to get out of the judgement, pretending there's no judge or pretending we're not guilty. She acknowledged this with a cheeky smile. After this moment there was not one single argument against God's existence rather a willful desire to know what the real solution to her sin was. Gen came to understand the gospel, to acknowledge that she needed Jesus alone and she finished by saying, "Thanks for the conversation, I am really glad we were able to talk, I shall have to think about what you have said". She was left with the same serious reminder about Easter as Peter and asked if she could keep the gospel tract because she loved the picture of Christ suffering the wrath, protecting believers on the back.
Please be praying for those who heard the gospel today that they would come to trust in Christ. Please pray that Peter may come to know God personally, that Terry may be a good witness and have the words to say and that Gen would take the gospel to heart and trust in God's offer of hope, not some human centered ideas.
On Tuesday the outreach to Riccarton started with some letterbox dropping.
As I was walking around a corner, I encountered two teenagers and offered them a tract. To my surprise, one of them said he had already talked to me before - at Eastgate!
It turns out we were only a few paces away from a small bus shelter, and there were more teens there. I had a wonderful opportunity to briefly discuss the things of God with them before a bus turned up and they hopped aboard. But before that, I was encouraged that when I shared the building = builder / creation = creator analogy, one of them said: “that makes complete sense” (or words to that effect). They all received an Easter tract.
After the letterbox dropping, I went to a slightly different spot on Riccarton Road to have Gospel conversations. And I also didn’t use my flip chart (I forgot it as I rushed out the door). Well, for two hours, I wasn’t able get anyone to stop for a full Gospel conversation. I don’t think it was the new spot - I was able to give away plenty of Easter tracts. Or the lack of a flip chart. Although I did see plenty of people I have talked to on previous outreaches. Maybe I need to find a completely new spot for a while?
Yet I was not discouraged. The outreach, at the very least, was a success, as I had obeyed Jesus in going.
On Wednesday conversations were, again, difficult to come by - but they did occur this time! :) May God be glorified in our efforts, even when they don’t go as well as we hope.
As we march on towards winter, an added blessing is that the sun is now low enough that the hospital building is shading my prime spot in front of the entrance. I thank God for this small blessing.
On Tuesday at Woodridge again there was a team of seven out! What a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with those who were in and around the area. During the afternoon with a range of conversations there were two moments of great excitement as God was at work.
The first was with a lady named Kelly. She had grown up going to sunday school and had a little understanding of Christianity but sadly didn't know the Gospel and hadn't been to church in a very long time. But through the conversation it came out that during a hard time in the last year her friend had given her a Bible and sometimes she would open up to some passages here and there and said they made her feel nice. This opportunity was taken to point out that although she may be feeling subjective feelings of happiness, the Bible currently should leave her in great fear.
The law was shown revealing her sin and God's promises of judgement against the wicked were explained. She was shown that as she currently stands, the Bible should simply be reminding her that judgment is coming but that there is also hope. Then this true hope was explained that God purchases sinners from Hell by His work on the cross. She offered the salvation that Christ has purchased and she seemed to understand the simplicity of the gospel and the beauty of the cross and was encouraged to consider it.
Before any checking questions could be asked her bus arrived and so she was encouraged to read John's gospel from front to back over the next few days to see who this Jesus is more clearly!
Another conversation was with Evelyn. She again was very open to hear and saw her sin and the judgement it deserves. She was intently listening and engaging and knew that as she currently stood she was in trouble. Then for the first time in her life Evelyn understood the gospel! She saw what Christ had done and how it was the offer of salvation to those who believe and Evelyn was moved! Tears were streaming down her face in response to the gospel!
She heard of the response that we as Christian's should have to this gospel, that we will turn from our sin and serve God because of the salvation he has provided us. Evelyn was overjoyed at the offer of forgiveness and was thankful for the conversation. She was recommended to a local Church and said she would think about going this week!
Please be praying for these two women that God would use the conversations they had to draw them unto Himself, that they may know joy, peace and forgiveness for the first time in their lives! Please also pray that they will begin to attend a local Church and will grow in depth and understanding.
What a wonderful God we serve, may each of us be able to rejoice in the glory of God and declare to others what He has done!
On Monday at Capalaba a team of four assembled again and covered the bus stop with the Gospel. There were many exciting conversations over the course of the afternoon, with many people coming to understand the Gospel.
The first conversation of the afternoon was with a man who said there was no God, when challenged with buildings need a builder analogy he said it made sense but really didn't want to believe it. This was further cemented when he was shown God's law. As the law revealed his guilt, he went straight back to saying there was no God. It was a sad conversation because he preferred to be in denial than to hear the real solution. In the end he ended the conversation by saying that he didn't want to talk about this anymore and was left without a solution.
A following conversation was with Ashton who had heard some different things about God but believed in Heaven and Hell. He though that he would probably go to Heaven because he was a decent guy. He was shown God's law and saw his guilt and was impacted by the reality of it. Then he heard the penalty and was taking it seriously. He proposed all of the things he thought might be able to remove his guilt but none were able to but then he heard the Gospel and said it made sense!
It took a little while from him to grasp the simplicity of the message that it is trusting in Christ alone that saves a sinner and he was able to answer the checking questions correctly. His bus arrived and he wasn't able to stay but said he was thankful for the chat and would think about what was shared.
There were a few other exciting conversations with three other people all who heard, understood and responded positively to the Gospel and were challenged to consider it today. A final conversation of the afternoon was had with a lady named Sophia. She was sitting waiting for her bus and was approached and asked the same question, what do you think happens after we die?
Sophia thought she was good, thought she was heading to Heaven and attends a local Catholic church but for the first time in her life she understood the simple Gospel! She was at first even scared of saying the word Hell but as the conversation flowed she came to understand the importance of acknowledging the reality of judgement as it emphasises the height and depth of God's love in saving sinners.
The moment at which she understood the Gospel for the first time she was overjoyed and let out a little squeak, "I really needed this! It didn't really make sense to me up until now but now it makes sense!" She said that she wanted to trust in Christ!
At this moment she explained that she goes to a local Catholic church but she was challenged to have a read of Romans 3-5, and to come and see what Paul has to say about how someone is made right before God. She was challenged that if she read what Paul had written and believed that he was preaching a grace based Gospel (which he is), she was encouraged then to find a local Christian Church to attend.
Please be praying for those who heard the Gospel today that God would change their lives through the message preached. Please be praying that they would come to a knowledge of the truth and be relying on Christ alone for their salvation!