The team met as usual at our now local cafe for a time of fellowship, coffee, devotions and prayer. This has become an important time for us as we prepare for an evening of ministry.
Heading into the square I got ready to preach open-air. This afternoon I popped into Homebase and bought a new stepladder and it was great to get back up again to preach. During the first half of my message only a few people stopped to listen, which is fine. Whoever the Lord chooses to bring in is all in His hands. However, things were about to change…
A large group of young people walking past decided that my preaching warranted some investigation and so they strode up to me, all the while throwing questions and various taunts. They were all quite young, probably around 15 o 16 years of age. They were also fairly drunk, some more than others. I stayed standing on my ladder and engaged them in debate, but when they came up close and surrounded me I stood down. This is something that can be very frustrating and difficult to handle. It would be far better if they would stand back and “be the crowd.” However this happens from time to time and as yet, apart from firmly asking them to stand back, I have yet to find a working solution.
A young girl, who was not fully drunk but clearly had been drinking, approached me and said that she had been blessed by some Christians the week before and that she was now a Christian. I asked her what had happened and she told me that that she had been led to “say a prayer” and that upon doing so she was now a Christian. Two emotions arose in me as she told me this: anger and sadness. I was angry because it was very obvious that the gospel had not been properly and clearly communicated to her. She was not able to tell me what it meant to be born-again, or even that a person needed to born-again. She did not know what repentance meant. The way she conducted herself and the speech coming out of her mouth was almost clear evidence to me that she was not saved. Yet she had been told that she was. This happens so many, many times in the church today. The heresy known as antinomianism has taken the form of “easy-believism”, this idea that it is easy to become a Christian. It is not easy; it is in fact very hard to become a Christian. This is because a person must be prepared to surrender their entire life, they must be willing to deny themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow Christ. (Luke 9:23) As John MacArthur has said many times, it is hard to believe. I would encourage you to watch a video where Kirk Cameron interviews John MacArthur about this very issue. Click on part 1 and part 2 to view.
I was angry because it is not our job as Christians to dumb down the message or make it more palatable. By removing those parts that are hard to say we in effect change the message. When we remove the offence from the gospel then we have removed the gospel. So I was angry and of course I was also sad. Here was a girl who had been told she was now a Christian. Here’s my question: how is that love? How is it love to lead a person into a false sense of security only to see them die and go to hell? This is something that needs to change in the body of Christ today. We must preach the true biblical gospel, or we should rather not preach at all. So I would ask you to pray for her. Her name is Mary. Just so you know, I share with her the truth of the gospel, although she was pulled away by her friends before I could finish. She did take an in-depth gospel tract and also a Bible, which she had asked for. Do pray for her.
I also spoke with a young man named Billy. He was not quite sober himself, but he listened to me and said that I made a lot of sense. He was not prepared to surrender to Christ there and then but he sure was made to think. I am always amazed at how simple the gospel is when it is communicated rightly. It may be an offence to many, however it is not difficult to grasp. Christ Jesus came to this earth to save sinners. The good news of the Gospel is that the Son of God has substituted Himself in our place, has incurred God’s wrath for our sin, so that we might go free. It is indeed a simple message, but a message that is most profound and most life changing. Nothing will ever come close to it. Many tracts and Bibles were given away and we had some great conversations. I did preach a second time and got in a conversation with a woman who believed in evolution. She was simply aghast when I told that evolution was an embarrassment to true science and was completely erroneous. I rebutted her arguments and told her that there is indeed a God who made this world, One who will judge both the living and the dead. On that day we must all be ready. (Hebrews 9:28)
Soli Deo Gloria!!
After spending the afternoon on the Gold Coast we headed to Brisbane for our weekly outreach. Tonight was to be a busy night since it was “Earth Hour”, which is an event where people turn off their lights for one hour to save the environment. Upon arriving in the city we found it abuzz with people there to party for the earth. Which I found rather amusing, since they are trying to lower carbon emissions by throwing a party. Maybe I missed something in “Save the Environment 101”.
The preaching had a delayed start tonight since we had to wait for the Brisbane Council party to die down. This eventually finished at 9:30pm so we began to preach from then. Ryan got up and preached, and as usual Alex was there to greet Ryan with verbal abuse. His arguments have now been reduced to one word answers, which show that he has no arguments and has no hope in his atheistic ideals.
Andre got up an preached after this, I am finding myself more and more impressed with the preaching of Andre. He has really grown in the past year, and he is becoming a rather competent preacher.
The night was becoming more and more lively, people were stopping to listen and to abuse. A few times I thought there would be a fight but each time it died down. That was until the end of the night. Andrew Hsu was preaching and Alex was going ballistic. While that was going on a drunk man kept shoving Andrew so I stepped in and told him not to touch the preacher. The drunk turned to me and said “Do you want to fight me?” With that the man swung a right hook and punched me in the side of the head. It wasn’t that hard of punch, but the man kept advancing. Alex jumped in the middle and tried to talk the man down. At the same time team members went to get the police. The drunk was very proud of what he had done till he saw the police coming for him, he quickly apologized and asked me not to press charges. The police let him go on the condition that he does not return to the Queen street mall that night.
A lively day had a lively ending, but all in all God got the glory!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Sound of the rain greeted me this morning as I awoke, normally if it is raining it isn’t worth going down the Gold Coast to witness as no one is around. But, it was decided that we would still head out, trusting that God would provide opportunities for us to witness.
As Ryan, Joel and I drove to the Gold Coast we once again were greeted by more rain, and the clouds on the horizon promised more rain to come. We started to re-consider if it was wise us going out witnessing today, however, we pushed on. We were joined by Andre and Tamara also, so we had a good size team today on the Coast, all we needed now was a break in the weather.
When we finally arrived at the beach the weather had changed, it was now fine and sunny. Every now and then there would be a sun shower but nothing much. Ryan immediately began to hand out the new Operation 513 Big Money tract, and it was great to see so many people going out of their way just to ask for this tract. Before the day was out we will have gone through thousands of this tract.
The first preacher up for the day was Ryan. The crowds were a bit slow today. He preached and a few people stopped to listen. It was around this time that we were joined by our brother Heath from Western Australia. Ryan preached and explained the gospel to those who would listen, but we put it down to the weather to explain why things were so slow.
After Ryan finished preaching it was time for Andre to preach. He like Ryan began to expound on the law of God to show people that we have all sinned. Once the fact of sin had been established he then moved on to explaining why Christ came. The crowds once again were small, but we rejoiced in the fact that the gospel was preached.
Later in the afternoon it fell to me to preach, personally I didn’t want to preach. I looked around and saw that there were very few people on the beach front and now the wind had picked up so it would make it hard to preach. All these excuses ran through my mind. As I planned not to preach a thought ran through my mind “Did you not pray that God would bring in a crowd?” That was true, we pray that each week. We ask that God will bring a crowd not us. So if that is our prayer, then shouldn’t I preach? As I stood to preach I breathed out a silent prayer, “God, these are your people, bring them in to hear your Gospel.” With that I began to preach, a few people stopped to listen, but not many seemed interested. For about twenty minutes I preached but very few stopped. There was this one young man who had been listening for the whole time so I decided to do a call out on him.
I looked at the young man standing to my right and said, “Mate, if you died tonight, where would you spend eternity?” The man hadn’t expected the question, so he replied “I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell.” Within seconds of the discussion beginning a crowd began to form. For the next hour Andrew (the heckler) and I went back and forth in regards to the gospel. He would pose a question and I would try my hardest to answer.
God was using Andrew and his heckling to bring a crowd in to hear the good news of salvation. Towards the end of the discussion the crowd began to get rather vocal, cheering when a question was answered and clapping at good comments. These all served to bring in more people. The very last thing Andrew declared to the crowd and I was this, “I am glad my sin killed Jesus! I am happy I killed Him!” The crowd fell silent, it was such a shocking statement that even the listeners didn’t know what to say. My heart broke for Andrew so I pleaded with him to be reconciled unto God. Then I turned to the crowd and pointed out we were the sinners that cried “Crucify Him” when Jesus faced Pilate. But, even thought we did that, we are still the ones for whom Christ cried “Father forgive them!” I went over the gospel once more with the crowd, then wrapped it up. Many of those in the crowd took tracts. Please pray for Andrew and also for the crowd, that God may save them!
The rest of the day was spent in one to one witnessing and also tract work. Many people got to hear the Gospel today, and once again I learnt the lesson that I am to trust in God more fully when I evangelize.
This week Suhkraj and I worked the area of barkers pool together, beginning with a time of fellowship and prayer. We encouraged each other in the Lord and prayed that He would go with us as we witnessed and then went to it with tracts and tried to talk with people.
During this time I spoke to a very mixed up young man named Trevor who was a satanist and very openly homosexual. I began by asking him what he thought would happen to him after death and who Jesus was. This produced a string of rapid fire comments, not all of them clear or understandable, but the gist of it was that he believed that the antichrist would eventually conquer and that God hated him because he was a homosexual. I tried to speak with him about the foolishness of pinning your hopes on anyone other than Jesus and the great love God had already shown in sending Jesus to die in the place of sinners. This went down like a ton of bricks and after a bit of back and forward he left claiming that he would live on the seven hills in conquest over God (I believe that he was referring to Babylon the great in revelation but I am unsure). Please pray that this mixed up young man would be radically changed by God to repent of his sin and trust in Jesus and truly conquer.
We set up to preach and Suhkraj stood first to preach the eternally great news of Christ crucified and risen again. As always Suhkraj did a great job of preaching from where people are at, beginning with the economic down turn and using it as a springboard to our eternal hope and security that is found only in Christ. One man stopped to speak with Suhkraj but disappointingly he did not stay for long and typified the atheistic approach. He claimed that there is no God and that evolution has disproved God. When Suhkraj endeavoured to engage him on this he said that he wanted to believe there was a God but could (or would?) not. With this he walked off. Suhkraj also spoke with a young lady who was very quietly spoken for some time she would not listen either it seems but eventually walked off also and he continued to preach and then urging the people to turn from there sin stepped down.
I preached next and began with the great natural blessings we have from God but do not appreciate, such as the rain that so many grumble about in this country. I preached for some time and no-one stopped to speak to me, then Trevor the buhdist arrived. I don't think that he really want to interact but rather it was a bragging opportunity for him. Trevor claimed to have a PhD in religion and wanted to speak to me about the arguments regarding God rather than about God and his need of a saviour. Normally I would rejoice to speak with someone who understands something of the Christian faith but is not a believer. Trevor though was out to parade his knowledge and boast, because of this I would not engage him on that front, rather preaching a plain gospel and asking him what he made of Jesus and the resurrection from the dead. This didn't please Trevor at all and soon the protests came out, what about homosexuals and what you're saying is irrelevant anyway. He protested loudly but when I tried to engage him on those points he then quickly decided that I wasn't going to play ball his way and left.
The next person to stop was a middle aged man who was very drunk I think and said "bore me, come on bore me". So to bore him thoroughly I began to speak about evolution and how he was nothing but an accident, very tongue in cheek. This upset him thoroughly and he began to gesture angrily at me and I think he would have tried to do something if it wasn't for the policeman who stepped in and moved him on. Throughout the rest of the preaching no-one stopped to interact but I preached the gospel many times and then having urged the people towards their only hope I stepped down.
As it was now late Suhkraj and I prayed together for those we had spoken to and for those who had heard and then leaving all in the hands of God we went home.
But God was not finished with me for the night it seems. A young lady across the street having heard some of the preaching wanted to know more and as I passed a conversation started. I rejoiced to share the gospel with her and despite some protests about the justice of hell (which I hope I answered for her), she listened to all the gospel and gladly took the tract I left with her. I left for home rejoicing that the gospel had gone forth.
Once again I had the immense privilege of being able to go out and labour alongside my brothers and sisters in the field that is white for harvest. Tonight we had the added joy of having Forbes and Celeste join us from Adelaide, and also Heath from Western Australia. While we all came from different parts of the country, we all had one goal and one objective, and that was to make Christ known.
We weren’t at all surprised when we walked up the mall to see Alex with his iPod on, already warming up for the coming duel. Ryan rose to the challenge and immediately began to preach and actively engage Alex. Much like last week Alex would just hurl abuse, and not actually engage the argument, but God used this heckler for the advancement of His Gospel. While Alex may think he is shutting down the gospel, in actual fact he is making more people stop to hear the good news of Christ Jesus coming into the world to save sinners.
Ryan engaged the crowd, and used their questions as a jumping off point to swing into the message about the cross of Christ. While Ryan was preaching a bunch of hecklers climbed up behind him and began to yell, I was able to engage one of them in a conversation and it soon became clear that he loved his sin and he hated the light of the Gospel.
The crowds were a decent size tonight, and many conversations were going on. As the night wore on I preached, and once again had to engage the irrational arguments that come from the atheist camp. It is sometimes hard to deal with Alex since his arguments are stupid at best, but I must remember that my objections to Christ were also stupid, but He saved me, and there is still hope for Alex.
At the end of the night Forbes got up and preached. He has a great voice, and he did an awesome job of preaching Christ on the streets in Brisbane city. All in all it was a great night of outreach. Many people got to hear the gospel, and many tracts were handed out.
To God Be the Glory!
Soli Deo Gloria!
By God's grace and great favour we continue to head into London each week to minister the gospel in Leicester Square. In recent weeks we have had some fantastic conversations with people and have seen many Bibles, tracts and DVD's distributed into the hands of men and women who do not know the Lord. On a very encouraging note we have seen someone attend our church after he stopped to listen to the gospel being preached and then spent some time talking with us afterwards. His name is Yang and he is from China. He is working in the UK and has been here less than six months. When we got talking with him he told us that he knew of Christianity but that he had no idea what it was all about. He was intrigued enough by the message to stop and listen, which was really something. Here was a man who had never heard the gospel before in his life and had never step foot in a church. When he attended my church he was quite surprised to learn that very few people in this country attend church, due to such a widespread lack of belief in God, as well as a failure to see the relevance of attending church. Yang is very much intrigued by western culture and so his desire to find out more about Christianity is driven by that. It may be that the Lord uses this cultural curiosity to expose him to the truth that has been blinded from him. Whatever the Lord chooses to do, it is my hearts desire that he would come to a saving knowledge of the truth. He has said that he would like to attend church again and he plans on coming to us again next Sunday. Do pray for him.
On Friday night we headed into London minus a stepladder. I had left it on the train the week before and only realised what I had done so when I was halfway down the road on the walk home. I have not had the opportunity to purchase another one just yet and so we spent our evening speaking with people one-to-one. Jannah spent some time talking with a group of young Muslim men. She admits that she finds Muslim's to be quite difficult to talk to, largely due to their unreasonable behaviour. Often they will ask you a question without giving you the opportunity to answer. It is true that they wish to convert us, as we do them, however Islam is a religion that produces an aggressive and militant people. Jannah is experiencing that in many of her conversations that she is having when talking with Muslim's. Even so, she knows that there are some Muslim's who will genuinely stop to listen and such was the case on Friday night. I was encouraged to hear from Jannah that she had been able to proclaim the gospel to those who did stop to listen.
Ben was able to talk with some young men as well. Although they listened to the gospel they were very indifferent to its message. This can be very discouraging, but we have to keep on sharing the message and trust the Lord that He will cause the seed that is sown to germinate and bring life. I told Ben not to be discouraged. We must simply do our best to drive home the seriousness of the message to those who would dismiss it, and then we must trust the Holy Spirit to open the eyes that are blind.
I had a very encouraging conversation with a young man named Edward. A friend was also with him; however her name has slipped my mind. I find this always to be frustrating but I can pray for them both knowing that the Lord knows exactly who they are. Both Edward and his friend stood to listen for at least half an hour as I shared the gospel with them. I could see I had their whole attention and they appeared to understand that if they were to die in their sins, apart from Christ, they would go to hell (John 8:24). At the end of the conversation I implored them to think carefully about this. They said that they would and Edward took the time to thank me for sharing with them. My heart really went out to them and nothing would please me more than to see them in heaven one day. Do pray for them.
We had a great evening. Closing in prayer we thanked the Lord for all the opportunities He gave us. As we make ourselves available to Him the Lord will open up opportunities for us. We must preach the word, in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2), for the Lord Himself has appointed us to make His name known.
Soli Deo Gloria!!
Going to our regular preaching spot at the top of Barkers pool I was met by Gemma and Carl who had said they would join me for the night's outreach. We began the night with prayer and then went to it with tracts for all the people flowing past as they went to their night's revelling.
Quickly two conversations started and I was engrossed with Conrad and his friend and likewise Carl and Gemma with another guy. Conrad stopped to ask me about the birth to death tracts that I was handing out so I spoke with them about the certainty that there is life after death. It was one of those rare conversations where I could speak and they would listen and could end with the gospel. I spoke of the evidences that Christ rose from the bible itself, from the historical context of the new testament, from the historical recordings of other historians. At the end Conrad and his friend had to go but not before I could urge them to consider Christ's words that "None come to the father but through me" and to look to Christ for salvation from God's just condemnation of sin.
Carl and Gemma it seems had a harder conversation and the young man they were speaking to left after many justifications and evasions. They were faithful to bring him the truth and having done that we leave the rest to God's hand, praise Him that He breaks even the hardest of hearts.
I set up to preach from what is now our preaching post (or information board as it would otherwise be). Shortly after I began a heckler popped up and the ensuing debate (if it could be called that) continued for the next 45 minutes. The young man who never gave his name was an atheist and loudly proclaimed that there is no God - I responded that he had just claimed absolute knowledge with that statement putting himself in the position of God and contradicting himself. Not only that but the atheistic claim that there is no God is immensely arrogant, claiming not just to know better than the theists but to know all things.
I proceeded to argue that there is a God and He is knowable, generally from the things that are made but also as personally revealed in history through the bible and the person of Jesus Christ. To this he responded with what seems to be the atheist's holy trinity, evolutionary science, historical uncertainty and misinformation, and finally personal scepticism and scorn. The debate as such went back and forth and I offered the many evidences and arguments that meet with those assertions. Unfortunately he kept going to scorn and scepticism and seemed to think that closed the matter. So in response I said that he had only given me his opinion, this was most offensive to him but he could/would not give any support to his comments. He stormed off and I continued to preach the gospel.
A couple of other people stopped to talk and I tried to present the gospel to them having failed with the first hard hearted young man. Likewise they were not interested but would scoff and laugh only. When they left I stepped down and having defended but not really been able to present the gospel - a hard night in a hard hearted city.
We spent some time praying that God would use our work and then headed home giving out tracts to the opera crowd as they came from city hall as we went.
Praise God for even the hard nights, there is a time for everything under the sun, and God works all things together for the good of those who love Him.
This is mainly a photo report. We had six people on the Gold Coast team this week. Josh Williamson, Joel Barnard and I took turns preaching at Surfers Paradise, while the rest of the team handed out tracts and talked to people. Even though it was cloudy for parts of the afternoon, various people stopped to hear the preaching and many good one2one conversations were had. Praise the Lord!
It was a with some nervousness that I made my way to Brisbane city tonight, after last weeks confrontation with members of the Brisbane City Council I was wondering what would happen this week. Also, it was the night for all the St. Patrick Day parties, and for us that means the second hardest and second most violent night on the streets.
As I walked through the Queen Street Mall I was surrounded by a sea of green and many people were already stumbling around drunk. I looked at my watch and saw it was only 7:15pm. The night was young, yet people were already drinking in sin like water, or in their case like booze.
We met as per usual on the far side of King George Square for a time of Bible reading and team prayer. Then after that we spent some time in fellowship.
As 9pm rolled around we were in the Queen Street Mall setting up for the night, tonight we did hit one major crisis, and that was that we actually ran out of all Bibles, New Testaments and Gospels of John’s, but this was a great problem, as anyone who wants one must be witnessed to one to one first.
The first preacher up for the night was Kevin Bessent, he started off by talking about “RIP - Where Will You Go?” Not long into his preaching a crowd had gathered, so he engaged them with the question of his sermon. Also circling at this time was our “friendly” neighbourhood atheist, who was turned rather mean and nasty of late. Alex, was throwing his comments in, but Kev avoided them and stuck to the Gospel. Alex yelled a little louder, again nothing in reply from Kevin. So in the end Alex just simply walked off, but returned a few minutes later with two atheist friends in support.
One of the atheists flew off the handle as soon as he came within ear-shot of Kevin. He ran into the group and started to yell obscenities, this is always a sign of a man who has no argument. If they have to fall back onto abuse then you can rest assured that they have nothing of substance to add to the discussion. This one atheist was becoming rather hostile, and members of the team thought he would become violent. So I circled in near him, and waited till he started to yell, then I direct challenged his question. He turned from yelling at Kevin to yelling at me. This freed up Kev to continue to preach the gospel to the crowd.
The man continued to yell at me until I stuck my hand out and said, “My name is Josh, what’s yours?” He was shocked but it calmed him down. He shook my hand and we continued our discussion in a civil tone. The man was hurt in the past by religion, and he was looking for anyway in which he could get the gospel derailed. Within minutes of the discussion starting he had backslid to an agnostic, and a few minutes later he believed in God. Now, we had a foundation to work with in order to make Christ known. So for the next forty or so minutes I shared the gospel with him and answered his questions. In the end he took an in-depth gospel tract, and as he left he thanked me for taking the time to talk to him. One less atheist in the world, and one more person who heard the good news of Jesus Christ.
During this time I was impressed to see so many people in the team out witnessing and handing out tracts. Every time I turned around there was one of the Operation 513 team witnessing to someone. It was so encouraging to see the Gospel marching forth. Even though the atheists had come into stop it, the Gospel cannot and will not be stopped until such time as God says “Game Over!”
Andrew Hsu was the next preacher up for the night. He did a good job as usual, while he was preaching he had a bunch of drunk Irish hecklers come in and start to make threats of physical violence. One of them shoved Andrew, and then started to say that he would take the stool Andrew was standing on and then smash his head in. I considered the threats as credible, so I got one of the team members to go and get the police. The police arrived and issued move on orders to the drunk Irish. They all left, one of them still breathing threats.
Toward the end of the night, Ryan got up the preach. He tried to engage Alex and his atheist cohort but they don’t really like to take on someone who actually can show from logic, philosophy etc. that there is a God. Ryan made known the truth of Scripture, and presented the Gospel to any who would stop to listen.
Alex was being his normal self, and was becoming rather angry and screaming abuse. Rick challenged him on this. Alex just ignored him, but about thirty minutes later, he stormed up to Rick pointed out him and started screaming at him. Once again it shows a man who’s arguments lack substance. In my view, I think Alex is much like Germany in 1944 - 45, in that they knew they were beaten, but they held on fighting out of pride, because they are too stubborn to surrender. Alex is the same, he is out of arguments, and he knows that God is real, but he loves his sin too much to surrender.
I would ask all of those reading, right now to stop and pray for the conversion of Alex. May God grant him repentance and faith.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday, March 8, 2009
The night was fairly warm and the humidity was high. Just normal Brisbane weather, but even though it is fairly uncomfortable weather, we still went out to witness in the Queen Street Mall.
As I was walking though the mall, I thought it would be good to hand out a few tracts, and as I did so I heard the call of “Mr. Williamson!” I turned around found myself face to face with the head of Queen Street mall management. He stated that I was not allowed to hand out tracts as it was violation of local law. So I asked him what law I had broken. He quoted it to me. Later however, when we looked it up we found that no such law existed.
We met as usual, and it was good to have a brother from Houston, Texas join us for the nights outreach. The team spent some time in prayer and Bible reading before we headed up to the mall.
Ryan was the first preacher up for the night, as usual he did a good job. Especially when the atheists opened fire on him. While preaching he also got to engage a few other hecklers and present a very clear gospel message.
The night was fairly quiet, it was good to see Alex was back, however, he had changed. He has turned into a rather mean atheist, he is constantly swearing and in general being rather aggressive. This is different from the Alex before Christmas.
During the night quite a few good one to ones happened. Rodney was able to get into a great conversation with a young man who had been heckling. Also, the night had its hostilities. A bunch of islanders were wanting to fight the atheists in order to make them “believe in God”. For most of the night, I found myself trying to get them to calm down.
Towards the end of the night I got up to preach, and I spoke about the economic down turn. This brought Alex in for a confrontation. As per usual his arguments were off the wall and he made no sense.
Overall the night was fairly good. Many tracts went out and people got to hear the gospel.