It was like a dream. Protestors marched in front of us. Two Jehovah’s Witnesses sat to our left. Two Mormon missionaries stood to our right. It was going to be an exciting morning in the Toowoomba CBD. Our team split into pairs and headed out.
Adrian and I went over to talk to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. D and L were a pleasant, middle-aged couple who were happy to talk. In the course of our conversation I aimed to discuss two questions: “Who is God?” and “What is the Good News?” These two crucial questions divide Christianity from its cultic detractors and the answers lead us to either worship the true Christ or to worship a false Christ who cannot save.
On the question of “Who is God?” D and L denied the Bible’s teaching on the Trinity* and instead they insisted that God created Jesus as the archangel Michael. D also said that Jesus had no power over His own resurrection. I pointed out that in John 2:18-22 Jesus claims that He will raise Himself to life:
“So the Jews said to him, "What sign do you show us for doing these things?"
Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."
The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
“D” countered by saying that in Acts 3:15 it says that God raised Jesus from the dead. I said “I agree with you entirely D...so was Jesus lying when He said He would raise Himself from the dead?” D was unsure of how to answer this question, so I encouraged to him to consider the idea that perhaps God was a Triune Being after all. He then listed a number of Scriptures that he thought disproved the idea of the Trinity, but in reality they only disproved the heresy of Modalism**.
Most JW’s in my experience tend to think Trinitarians are Modalists and when I ask if they actually understand what Christians mean by “God is Trinity” they tend to reply “I don’t know and I don’t care...it’s a false belief anyway”. D&L’s response to my request was no different and so I was stuck trying to explain how John 2:18-22 and indeed all the Scriptures they brought up makes sense in light of the Trinity....a light they expressly claimed to have no interest in learning about***.
It was at this stage I realised I needed to shift the conversation. We then moved onto the topic of “What is the Gospel?” Every JW I’ve met believe that a combination of Christ’s forgiveness and a person’s good deeds will earn them a deserved place in Paradise. D&L agreed with this idea and I endeavored to show them the Good News that because of Christ’s death in our place for our sin we can all be forgiven and are declared righteous completely independently of our good deeds.
Our good deeds are the fruit...not the root... of our salvation. The presence of good deeds in our lives demonstrate that we are saved...they do not contribute in any sense to our salvation from sin. Jesus has paid it all and that is what makes His favour towards people so undeserving as us so incredible.
D&L argued that good deeds do in some way help us to merit our salvation. I asked D to read out Romans 4:3-8 with its special focus on God counting righteousness apart from works:
For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered,
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."
I also asked him to look at Romans 3:28:
"For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law [e.g. obeying the 10 Commandments]."
Some people might think this means that good deeds are optional in the Christian life, so I made the point to D&L that good deeds are important and necessary and that they demonstrate that we are saved. But they do not help merit our salvation in any way.
D&L grasped this and said they would like to get back to me on this topic. When our time came to a close we thanked each other for the discussion. While we disagreed on critical issues I was immensely grateful for their candor and their respectful discussion.
Meanwhile, the other team members were having some good discussions as well. Johnno and his friends from Goondiwindi travelled up to Toowoomba for the outreach and both he and Callum found themselves speaking with the protestors we’d all seen earlier. It turned out that it wasn’t a protest after all, but rather a public march of solidarity and welcome for Toowoomba’s growing refugee population.
Johnno and Callum had a few conversations with some of the immigrants who attended the march but it was rather challenging with the language barrier between them. They were able to speak with others during the day as well, such as a man on a bike who was willing to talk and also an older woman. Overall it was a good day with a number of tracts handed out and a number of good discussions were had. Please pray for this ministry and keep us in your prayers as we seek to faithfully share the Good News of Jesus with our city.
*** To explain the Trinity, I’m thinking of printing out the ever-helpful Athanasian Shield for outreach and for home use when the JW’s/Mormons come knocking... see
****Note: This is a report of October Outreach. Reports from November and December will follow soon:
Rain! This was going to be a test: can effective community outreach occur in constant rain (it didn't stop for the whole 4 hours I was out today)? And the answer is: yes!
I had to do some walking before finding my first good spot, and I had some fruitful conversations there, before I got asked to move on as I was technically on private property! Of course I complied with the request, and took the opportunity to introduce myself. They took tracts!
I found a new dry spot further down the mall, but sadly there wasn't much foot traffic. When my friend Jermaine, of The Salvation Army Sydenham, joined me for the last hour and a half (thanks brother!), we ended up trying some new spots (see pic of Jermaine sharing the gospel with his new flip chart) and we found a really productive spot outside the bus exchange.
Security wouldn't let us use the flip chart, but after introducing ourselves and politely asking for permission, we were allowed to hand out tracts and chat with people about the gospel.
I'm so encouraged that God allowed us to be effective, even in pouring rain. May those that heard the gospel today come to know the grace of Jesus!
Finally, a shout out to St. Paul's Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church for providing me with free city parking - what an incredible blessing, that I'm so thankful for! The parking site also has the white chairs that commemorate the lives lost in the earthquakes. There is urgency to get the gospel out to people - please continue to pray, and please, join me out there!
Back to work today! 4 hours, all based in 1 spot (literally) on Cashel Mall, with pretty much constant gospel conversations for the first 3 hours (thank you Lord for the encouragement!).
At one point I even had a queue of people waiting to chat?! Lots of people out (and it's only a Tuesday), including many high school aged kids, due to the Christmas/summer holidays. Nice weather too. The harvest really feels ripe - if anyone has some free time to join me, now is a good time.
Wow, what an incredible afternoon out proclaiming the good news of Jesus in Cashel Mall and Cathedral Square! Many wonderful conversations occurred: some young men seemed deeply impacted, and agreed that today was the day of salvation and nothing was stopping them from repenting and trusting in Jesus. One of those young men, from the Belfast area, accepted contact details.
Yet there were others who didn't seem to like the message of Jesus.
We need to share with all - yet we need to do so with gentleness and respect -- we can't force our message on anyone.
This was highlighted today when multiple team members were approached by 2 brash young ladies who insisted that baptism and speaking in tongues were required for salvation (no; we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone, so none can boast, and God alone gets the glory). There was nothing gentle about their approach.
It was a wonderful reminder to the team about how not to do evangelism! With Gods help, may we continue to be good ambassadors for Him! Please pray that we will continue to be so. And please consider joining us! The Tell Me team would love to help you in taking your first steps.
I'm not under any illusions about how difficult adjusting to my new job will be. Yesterday was hard, I didn't want to get out of the car! But I did. And half way through I wanted to give up. But I didn't. It was cold and windy initially. And I had a "Christian" man get suddenly very angry with me - which I had to defuse.
But God allowed me to have some wonderful gospel conversations too! And I checked out some new potential locations for outreach.
I will be pacing myself with the view of a marathon, and not a sprint.
Will you please pray for me and the gospel outreaches I'm working on establishing? And, please, join me!
As I was driving into work today, I passed Ara and had the idea to scope it out as an outreach spot. Andy had the idea in the past and we had scoped it then - but it didn't come to anything. Can't hurt to try again! But as I made it to the campus - there was no one around, and then it clicked - the students will be on holiday! I had a walk around any way and prayed.
But heading back out to the street, I ended up having 3 great sets of gospel conversations right on the side walk - for just under an hour. 1 of those chats was with a group of about 7 guys.
The rest of my 4 hours out was fruitful. Some highlights: I had a long chat with a very thoughtful high school graduate, I bumped into some old work mates, and I preached in the Square which led to some follow up chats (Photo credit Damian).
I'll try 4 hours again tomorrow (Thursday). Prayers appreciated, and join me if you can (PM me).
First day on the job (yesterday). 6+ hours. A bird pooped on my hand! Note to add hand san to my outreach kit!
Steve the Athiest heckled my preaching. Had lots of chats with people. Had some time when not much was happening too.
Beforehand I had a meeting with the person helping me with my CV - ended up discussing the gospel, and why God allows evil! And on my way back to the car at the end of the day, I was handing out tracts and I was very surprised when a young "suit" took one and launched into a conversation with me (people in suits rarely take tracts or want to talk).
This guy asked deep, genuine questions, like: why does hell have to be eternal? He had to leave for an appointment, but asked for literature, and gratefully accepted a booklet! I hope to see him again, and will be praying for him!
On Tuesday evening for the first time in a number of days the rain had ceased and as a result the crowds were enormous! This resulted in many tracts being handed out and great opportunities for the Gospel to be shared. If you're wondering about what time of year you should begin sharing the Gospel, this is it. This year, if you've struggled to share about Christ before, could be the first year you do so! Maybe it is by door knocking your neighbourhood, maybe by speaking to your friends and family or it could be by coming out and joining the team these next few days! You will be glad you did!
Four conversations in a row were had with people whose names started with the letter A. Andy the Hindu, Andy the Catholic, Ann the Mormon and Amy the Australian.
Andy the Hindu man loved the "freedom" that Hinduism allowed for, people being able to worship any god, how they pleased. He was shown his sin by the law and pointed to the one who came to save sinners. Andy took a tract and said he would read it.
Andy the Catholic was a natural Spanish speaker from Brazil and knew about Jesus and actually was interested in talking and asking questions. It was a privilege to share the Gospel with him both bad and good news and Andy then said, "So how can I apply this to my life?" or in other words, "What must I do to be saved?".
He heard what it means to repent and believe and was seriously left and encouraged to count the cost of following Christ and to trust in Him alone for salvation!
Following this, Ann the Mormon wasn't really interested in talking but she was challenged on one question, "When you read the Bible to you read just a verse here or there, or do you read whole books, whole chapters and seek to understand what the authors meant when they wrote it?"
"Just verses here and there mostly" she responded. She heard that the easiest way to convince someone of something that the Bible doesn't say is by taking pieces of it out of the context. She was encouraged to read Romans 1-8 this coming week and to spend serious time in it, seeking to understand what is the Spirit intentioned meaning of the words!
Lastly Amy the Australian was quite a normal Aussie, she had heard the name Jesus and when pressed could tell you how he died and that Christmas was about Him coming but that was the limit of her knowledge.
That very quickly changed as she came face to face with God's expectations of her, her failure to upload these standards, their due penalty and her only hope, found in God's saviour, Jesus Christ.
It was a rather brief conversation as she had to leave but Amy was encouraged to seriously consider who Jesus claimed to be this Christmas and to take a read of the Gospel of John.
One final conversation was had with Daniella. She too was Brazillian and shared about some of her history, why she had rejected God and why she was angry with the Catholic church (and rightly so). But through the conversation, she was challenged. She was told that it is foolish to judge God on the basis of the evil actions of wicked and selfish people who claimed to represent Him.
She also heard the true message of the Bible and how it was not about being good enough, praying enough, donating enough money or anything like that to get right with God but rather it was about trusting what God had done to save the rebels who had so arrogantly and sinfully rejected Him.
Daniella understood the Gospel for the first time and like many others over these past few weeks was seriously encouraged to consider who this child in the manger is and to not miss Christmas!
As you read this report, may you be encouraged, as hopefully a person who hasn't missed the real meaning of Christmas, to not miss this opportunity to share with others its beauty!
Please can you be praying for those the team was able to speak with that God would continue to use these conversations and tracts to work in their hearts and that they would open their Bibles and come to understand who this God is, that came as a baby!
Please also be praying for the thousands of tracts handed out that God may use each one, exactly as He pleases!
Through the Christmas season, as well as the usual outreaches in the afternoons, there are also nightly outreaches (except Friday) in Brisbane city. You are invited to come along to hand out tracts and share the Gospel with the masses, blindly celebrating the "family time" that is Christmas, missing all together, the King that was born.
Over this weekend, Saturday was a quite busy night despite the rain, meaning thousands of tracts were handed out. On the other hand Sunday due to the rain was almost dead but God, in His usual providence bought around just enough people to keep the five team members in conversations continuously throughout three and a half hours.
Two quick conversations on Saturday were had with Ben a young Muslim and an older man who had created an idol.
Ben the young Muslim didn't know much of the teachings of Islam and knew basically nothing of the Bible.
He left after the conversation with a better understanding of his own religion and serious criticisms of it, explaining why only the Jesus of the Bible can bring any hope. He was left this Christmas to consider the serious question, "How can God remain, good, righteous and just and humanity be anything other than eternally damned?"
The older gentleman on the other hand declared that he did not need Jesus, he was a good guy and if he needed it on judgement day that his uncle in an Archbishop in London. It was quickly shared with him that on judgement day will be alone with nothing and no one to hide behind and this his only hope would be this baby, born in a manger, who came to save sinners.
On Sunday the conversations were far lengthier and there were many more. Three of note were with Joshua, Roman and Dan and Asia.
Firstly, the conversation with Joshua was interesting. He had many ideas and thoughts and was happy to engage. He is a German and so much of the conversation was spent using examples from German history and him being encouraged to read specific German Christians, most notably, Martin Luther.
The main point of his argument was that naturally a human if their follow their heart will live a good life. This was clearly shown to be foolish and untrue and Joshua was left with a knowledge of sin, the serious penalty it deserves and was encouraged, as his name declares, to trust in God, who saves.
Roman, in a similar boat, thought that his goodness was his ticket into Heaven. When he saw, through God's perfect standard and law that this would be of no use Roman was then open to hearing who Jesus is and what it means that He has come to save sinners.
He came to understand the Gospel after a few different ways of it being explained and was seriously challenged to read the Gospel of John before Christmas and to trust in this humble God, who came to save proud sinners.
Lastly a surprising conversation was had with Daniel and Asia. It was surprising because it isn't often that you deal with people so self-absorbed that they can't even see it.
Daniel (a name that fittingly means, God is my judge) and Asia claimed to be skeptics BUT clearly showed they were nothing but willful rebels. They asked question after question after question and without letting a single answer finished being given they would raise another objection.
What made this all the more baffling was that at the very beginning of the conversation and numerous times throughout it was clearly pointed out to them that the issue was not one of intellect but one of pride-fueled, sin-loving hatred of God. Before they even began asking questions they were told what topics they would raise to try and argue against Christianity. The reliability of the Bible, the prophecies it claims, the miracles it records, the Creation account, the goodness of God, the ability of Christ to save and a number of others.
Sure enough, almost as if they "tried" to argue against these things, despite not really listening long enough to hear the entire list, they then proceeded to raise objections, as many as they could as quickly as they could.
Through the conversation this absolute commitment to rejection of God was pointed out. It was shared with them that this was obviously not an issue of intellect. They weren't rejecting God on the basis of anything they knew about this world or about God. Rather, it was clearly a wicked and sinful heart.
Despite trying to claim that they were simply skeptics looking for answers, they would consistently cut off the answers. It was pointed out to them that they were the people described in 2 Timothy 3, "Always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth".
Daniel and Asia, were left with a very clear and strong warning about God's impending judgement and their need to turn from their foolishness to the Saviour of sinners.
After the pair left, a while later Asia walked past again and was handed a Gospel of John and challenged to read it.
Please be praying for the many who had received tracts over these two nights as well as the many who heard the Gospel, were challenged by it to trust in this Christ and were left with the choice of Christ and life or themselves and Hell.
On Friday evening in Cavill Mall the team engaged with many people, despite the wet weather. Due to the rain the team moved around a bit for shelter, at the same rejoicing that they had found shelter in Christ, from the storm of God's wrath.
An early conversation in the evening was had with an almost unbelievably proud man. When you read of the Pharisees in the Bible you can often think they only lived in the time of the Jesus but there are people like that today. Whilst a conversation was going on with another person, this man standing nearby seemed to be trying to gain some attention his way. When the previous conversation finished he was offered a tract and it came with the question, "Will God let you into Heaven when you die?"
This man, absolutely dripping with pride asked, "Do you know who I am?" The answer was given, "Nope, no idea". He responded and said, "I am a deacon, do you know what that is?" The response was given, "Yes, supposedly a humble servant of God". It was at this moment it was explicitly clear that this was a self-righteous man. He was asked the question, "Why should God let you into Heaven on judgement day?"
Without even a moments hesitation he strongly, yet utterly foolishly declared, "My good works". With all the sincerity and sadness this man was told, "Then you have utterly no hope as you currently stand of entering Heaven, God requires perfection and you are a proud man. God will oppose the proud and give grace to the humble, your only hope is to come to the humble God who punished Himself to save wicked men like yourself".
This man sought to try and justify himself but was left no opportunity as he was left with those words ringing in his ears. Please raise him up in prayer that God would strike this mans pride, cut him to the hear, show him how incredibly foolish he is to hope in Himself and to lead him to Christ, the saviour of once proud sinners.
A number of rather encouraging conversations also occurred. One with Latrel and Jaiah and another with Conrad and a final with Jamie.
The first with Latrel and Jaiah was interesting. Latrel the young man was very disinterested. He was playing on his phone with no real desire to listen.
It was sad and despite being really challenged on this a number of times in the conversation Latrel paid very little attention and tried to drag Jaiah away, ultimately succeeding.
Jaiah on the other hand listened. She heard the law, saw her sin and came to understand that sinners deserve Hell. She then asked, "How can I be forgiven?". It was a privilege to share and Gospel and she was encouraged, as John 3:16 stated, to believe and Jaiah said she wanted to, tonight. It was at this moment Latrel tried to pull her away and succeeded.
It was a sad moment but the team member then prayed that God would use someone to share the call to repent, the seriousness of counting the cost and how her life would change. That prayer was answered moments later when another team member further up the sidewalk stopped the pair again and was able to explain all of those things. Even more encouraging was the fact that when asked, "If you were to stand before God and He was to ask, 'Why should I let you into Heaven?' what would you say?" and Jaiah responded, "Because I have trusted in Jesus".
Jaiah heard the other half of the Gospel's call on her life and was seriously left to count the cost! Praise God for answered prayer!
Next conversation was had with Conrad. He took had friends that tried to drag him away and they ultimately left in frustration. During this time, Conrad remained resistant to their calls to leave and stayed for a lengthy conversation. He had Catholic background and through the conversation was able to grasp and Gospel and this Christmas was encouraged to read the Gospel of John and to seriously consider what Christ came to do, to save sinners.
Conrad said he would.
Lastly was a conversation with a lady named Jamie. She walked past early in the night and was challenged with the question, "Will God let you into Heaven when you die?". Later in the evening, she was standing around the team and was engaged in conversation. At first she expressed that she didn't think that was a great question. In response it was posed again and she engaged with it this time.
As a result she heard the bad news of sin, that she deserved Hell and the good news that God can take that penalty so that she can be right with Him. Jamie didn't seem anywhere near as upset by the end and actually responded with gratitude for the discussion.
Please be praying for the many who heard the Gospel, were challenged by its truth and were encouraged this Christmas to give up thinking it is all about them but to come and bow before this Saviour in a manger.