Friday was warm and breezy and in the sunshine with the beauty of the green countryside all around it was easy to think of the great blessings that God has given this country. One particular blessing we have is the freedom to stand and give the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus by grace through faith. Jim, Peter and I joined in prayer before Jim began to preach.
Jim began by discussing the very prevalent thought that "All religions are equally valid". Jim did an excellent job of showing that polytheistic Hinduism and atheistic Buddhism have very little in common with the monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Likewise he showed the foolishness of saying salvation is by working hard (Buddhism and Islam for example) is the same as salvation by grace (Christianity). As Jim preached on this I prayed that God would draw in a crowd and I was pleased to see that a couple of people were gathering around. As a group of four of them left I went to intercept them with a tract and was caught in a wonderful witnessing encounter.
After five or ten minutes I turned back to the preaching and found that God had graciously answered prayer and drawn a crowd of 40-50 people. As Jim was hard at it with Muslim apologetics, I went and stood by him as a support as Muslims can be very aggressive sometimes.
Jim kept at it for some time and gave a great defence of Christianity and preached the gospel a couple of times over. The crowd was a real mix with atheist and Muslim and agnostic hecklers and even a couple of Christians smiling encouraging and amending to Jim's words. After a period Jim tagged me in as his voice was going and the crowd was not abating at all.
I jumped up and engaged the couple of Muslims that had been heckling by asking them to consider what Jesus said. From this I discussed many different topics including the veracity of God's revelation with an atheist through to the deity of a philosopher cum Muslim. As often as I could I pointed people back to the glorious gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ alone. Though there are many different objections and protests against the preaching of the gospel, the crux of the issue for most revolves around the question "Who do you say I am?" (Mt 16:15-16). There are only two possible reactions to Jesus, He is either the Lord God or He is to a lesser or greater extent despised and rejected.
After almost 2hrs of continuous preaching and apologetics between Jim and I, the crowd was still present but neither of us had any voice to continue. As I closed I was glad to see that many people had tracts in hand, but unfortunately with only three people in the team we were only able to talk with a handful of people before the crowd dispersed. Please join us in praying that there would be more people raised up in Sheffield to witness with us so that these great opportunities would not be wasted.
With the rain coming down and the weather more consistent with winter rather than summer Anna and I headed into Sheffield, after a time of prayer together we walked into Fargate and I set up to preach under the trees.
As I preached a couple of girls stopped in a nearby shop and then approached to find out what I was doing. I went through the good person test with the three of them but unfortunately they left shortly after getting through the law and it's demands. It is very common that people will leave or begin to object when they come under the magnifying glass of God's standard. I agree that this is an uncomfortable thing, but as any good doctor will tell you, sometimes we need to go through difficult and painful experiences in order to live (cancer treatment for example).
Shortly after this a group of three American missionaries stopped and asked me if I thought that street preaching and witnessing "worked". This is entirely the wrong question, I am in no position to tell if witnessing of any kind works, God is able to see the end results I cannot. I told them that the reason that we witness on the street, is because of the great opportunities God provides there. Many of the people we are able to share the gospel with, are not only "un-churched" but rather they and their parents have never attended church. These people do not look at church as something they know and have no interest in, but rather it is as foreign to many as it would have been to the first British pagans.
After closing we began to give out tracts and talk with whoever would speak to us. I had a wonderful encounter with a young couple that I was able to share the gospel with and though they had to leave for work they left with tracts. Anna also spoke at length with one of the charity workers and though she thought she would be going to heaven because she was good she heard Anna willingly. Just before the rain began in earnest and we went home Anna also spoke with two young men and again the gospel was given and we pray they would turn to Jesus and be saved.
Alister, Tim Neale, and I met at our regular time of 2pm at Redcliffe ready to do some witnessing. Firstly we prayed together, then started walking down the jetty with our tracts.
I first had a conversation with a middle-aged couple and when asked whether they thought they will go to Heaven, The lady said, "Yes". On the other hand, the husband said he doesn't believe there is a Heaven or God. So I proved to him using the cosmological argument why God exists. But the man responded by saying, "I just don't want to believe there is a God. I believe that there is no god by blind faith." I was really surprised that an atheist actually admitted that, because most atheist's don't.
I asked the lady why she thought she was going to Heaven. The usual response came back, "Because I'm a good person." So I brought her through the law and then explained to her the good news of the gospel.
A number of the people we talked to today were postmodern. In particular a Roman Catholic family I chatted to were having a problem with God being just. They couldn't believe in a God that sends people to Hell. They said, "My God would never do that." I pointed out that they are breaking the second commandment because they are creating a god in their own image, a god to suit themselves. However it is one that doesn't exist! They said, "For me, God is like this, but it may be different for you." So I explained what God really is like, our wretched sinfulness, God's holiness and justice, and what we must do to be saved.
Twenty minutes before it was time to head home, I met a man from New Zealand named Jamie. He recently moved over here and wanted to get involved in some evangelism teams. It was really good to meet him, and so we spent the remaining minutes witnessing to some people together.
If anyone else is keen to get involved in any of our weekly Operation 513 evangelism teams, then please contact us and we would be honoured to serve the Lord with you.
A lot of seeds of the gospel were planted today, in forms of one2one conversations and the gospel tracts that went out. To God be the glory!
The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise 22nd June 2008: Operation 513 Gold Coast
His Majesty, the Lord Jesus Christ, was pleased to permit the public proclamation of the eternal gospel in the ears of both his children, and the lost, perishing wicked. May His Majesty, be pleased with those things he ordains.
The Lord Jesus Christ, my precious Saviour and friend. There is no other like him, amongst the children of men.
Today was a wonderful Australian afternoon, exemplified by beautiful Queensland weather. Waves washed gently against the soft white sand, and the breeze moved softly across the land. Concrete buildings soared up from the ground, and decorated the landscape for kilometres, and in the midst we prepared to be obedient servants of the Lamb.
Today, Snow (Victor Barwick) preached with me again. It was good to have him with me. David Strachnan also assisted with the camera. These men are a pleasure to serve with.
Imagine a conveyor belt, that carries people from one place to another. Now imagine, that conveyor belt starts about 500 metres away, and is arriving near where we preach. Be imaginative, and consider every three minutes, a new heckler arrives, with an argument as to why God doesn't exist, or why logic must be used to arrive at the illogical argument that "nothing became something..", etc etc. Put a grinning christian preacher in front of them, and you have our Sunday the 22nd of June, 2008.
By God's grace we saw muslims, new ager's and all sorts of other "believers" hear the gospel together. A few people took mobile numbers, and wanted to talk more over a coffee. An agnostic argued for a long period of time, and created a wonderful opportunity for lots more people to hear the law and the gospel, through the medium of polite, public debate.
David spent time with a New Age lady who tried to help him find peace with God. She was a relativist, agreed with the gospel, and tried to ask him for money. She left unhappy.
I made a mistake today. That should get your attention. A nice young lady, who was quite affectionate for her sin, mocked me by saying: "next your going to tell us the sky isn't blue.."
I responded by saying, the sky was not blue, but clear, and really just a reflection of the water, to which the crowd nodded. She agreed with me. Poor crowd, poor me. Snowy corrected me later, and gave me the physics reason as to why the sky appears blue. Then you have it, public confession.
Now friends, this is our report for the week, I trust you shall make busy promoting Jesus name, in a perverse and evil generation. Pray that God grant us boldness, and to open our mouths to speak when we ought!
May the God of all peace, order your lives for His glory,
Well, it was an interesting night. The results of the night were rather interesting, as our "friendly enemy" Alex has decided to start his own blog in which he attacks the ministry of Operation 513.
The night began with our normal time of Bible reading, and prayer as a team. Then at around 9pm we headed up the Queens Street Mall. I was expecting a lively night, as today was the big homosexual parade in Brisbane and history has shown that in the past it is normally the homosexuals that respond most violently to the gospel proclamation in Brisbane city. It was interesting to run into Riley, who is a regular. He openly admits to being homosexual, but tonight he was running around with fairy wings, and a halo on. Also, shouting about taking five ecstasy pills.
Andre was the first preacher up, and as normal Alex was standing in the back throwing a few heckles out. Andre ignored him and continued to preach the gospel. During this time it was encouraging to see a few people from my church stop by and watch. I didn't know they were coming, but I was glad to see them there, and also encouraged to see them witnessing to some of the people in the area.
Once Andre had finished his preaching, I jumped up and began to immediately to engage Alex in open air debate. I really enjoy his debates, and the cases he tries to make for evolution and atheism. Although, some other Atheists have commented that they disagree with the arguments he uses. Nevertheless, we began to have our open air discussion. Alex started in trying to prove evolution, this time he used E-coli a ‘proof' of evolution. The case he tried to build was that we have observed E-coli evolving, however, he failed to mention what he believed to be evolution. What Alex described was what is known as "micro-evolution" or variation within a species. Now, any Creationist would agree with Alex over "micro-evolution", the E-coli that "evolved", went from one kind of E-coli to another kind of E-coli. This did not prove his case of "macro-evolution" (one kind becoming another kind - I.e. Primates to Humans") But rather that we observe changes within kinds. However, the case that Alex made was simple "If there is a lot of little changes within the species, then it is possible for it to change into another species". Sadly for the evolutionary camp there is no evidence of one species becoming another species. The "argument" that was put forward by Alex was nothing more than an "argument" built upon speculation. The argument he made has some major holes in it, for instance, "Where did the new information come from in order to create this new species?" If you are going to have one kind evolve into another kind, then new information must be added somewhere along the line. Now where does that new information come from?
After we wrestled over the issue of E-coli for awhile, I decided it was best to make a line for the cross of Christ. My reasoning for this was that earlier when Andre was preaching, Alex argued his hardest against Christ dying on the cross for the sins of His people.
Alex objected to this, which was to be expected, as the Bible makes it clear that those who are not Christians find the message of the cross foolishness, and abhorrent to them. But, I still preached the cross, for it was on the cross that Christ Jesus paid for the price of Alex's sin if he would repent and believe.
I always wish to be fair in open air debates, so I addressed the crowd and stated that I would make a five minute case for the existence of God, and the Christian worldview, and then Alex will present the case for atheistic evolution. Alex corrected me and said that he would present the case for "evolution without the need of God". So I made my case, and Alex then made his case. He stated all these ‘facts' but failed to bring any support for them. And in his speech he spent time attacking Christianity. So I wonder how attacking actually counts as evidence for your claims?
Alex then called on the crowd to vote, and I admit there were 10 known Christians in the crowd. So the crowd put there hands up over which side they agreed with. Without much surprise the theists won. But Alex managed to get three votes. So then Alex launched into another speech on how his view point was correct. [It should be noted the crowd actually grew in this time and no one left]. Then the call to vote was give again, this time Alex lost votes from those who had been with him previously. This makes me wonder how Alex can claim victory on his blog when he actually lost ground with the crowd...
Some of the arguments that Alex presents are self refuting, for instance one of his favourites is "There is no evidence for God!" However, he fails to realise that logically speaking, for him to make that statement, he must have seen ever bit of evidence in the universe, and have all knowledge of everything. Now, if that was the case and he knew everything about everything, then by definition he would be "God". It would be far safer for Alex to say "In the knowledge that I currently have, I am yet to see evidence for God".
This of course led us into the argument of "What evidence is there for God?", this week I thought I would ask Alex a question to see what he would accept as evidence. His reply was "If God is real, then let Him come down to earth, and appear before me!" Now, there are some problems with this demand, firstly, God did come down to earth in the form of a man, and they nailed Him to a Cross. Secondly, Why should God bow to the will of Alex? If there is a Supreme God who controls everything, and He chooses not to appear before Alex, does that make Him any less real? No! The problem is, Alex wants God to conform to his ideals and also to his standard. Basically speaking, Alex is wanting God to be subservient to him, and that he becomes the sovereign.
From here we went onto the argument of the "proof of God", and after reading Alex's blog, I am rather perplexed over why he failed to mention on his atheistic blog for all his atheistic friends, on why he admitted (on video camera) that there could be a God, and since there is a God He could do whatever he wants! No correct me if I am wrong, but I was always under the impression that an atheist believed that there was ‘no god' (a= no; theos= God), however, what Alex admitted to was not being an atheist, but rather an agnostic (a=no; gnosis=knowledge). Was this backsliding on behalf of this member of the Brisbane atheist group? Going from "No God" to "There could be a God" is a fairly big leap for one who champions the cause of there being no god.
This revealed something interesting, the Alex does not have an issue with God. But rather his issue is with Jesus Christ. So I asked Alex "If there is a God, can He do whatever He wants?" to which Alex replied "Yes", that admission destroys Alex's argument against the Cross of Christ. For if there is a God then He is perfectly right to provide one to die in the place of sinners.
Something that I did find rather interesting throughout the whole discussion was the fact that Alex maintained that there is no "right and wrong", and under some circumstances he believed that rape and even child molestation could be ‘right'. Yet, whenever a case was made opposing his view argument, he would very loudly shout "you're wrong!" How can one be "wrong" if there is no "right and wrong"? All these arguments really just go to show the silliness of the atheistic worldview.
Alex then tried to make the classic case of religion being responsible for the deaths of millions. To which I agreed, religion has been the cause of many wars and deaths. Alex then said "Christianity has been the cause!" This is where I had to get Alex to define his terms, what did he mean by "Christianity", his definition was "someone who claims to follow Christ". I disagreed with his definition, and pointed out that if I claim to be a doctor, it doesn't necessarily make me one. Then I pointed out that a Christian is one who has repented and trust in Jesus Christ, as a Christian is a Christ follower. Now, if that is what a Christian is, then we should be able to judge the fruits of those who claims to be Christians. For instance, Jesus made the case in the Gospel of John, that if someone kills you in the name of God, then that person does NOT know God. Jesus also made it clear that as Christians we are to love our enemies, and bless those that curse us. So by definition those who kill in the name of God, are not Christians. But rather they are religious.
From here I made the case that atheistic communism is responsible for more deaths than any religious movement. And that if one takes the time to look at the top twenty dictators you will not find a Christian among them, but rather you will only find Atheists and Muslims. Alex rejected this argument, stating that Atheism is not violent, however, I would like to reference Alex's blog from June 19, 2008: "CASE dislikes violence of any kind (unless it is necessary to futher the One True Cause: Atheism)" [http://casehq.blogspot.com/2008/06/case-note-street-preachers-instigate.html]
Really the question has to be asked, which is more dangerous: A Christian preaching, repent and trust in Christ, Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And love your neighbour as yourself! Or an Atheist preaching, the use of violence to advance the cause of atheism?
I will let the reader decided which one is more dangerous for society...
By the end of the hour of the discussion, Alex who openly admitted that there could be a God, and that God could do whatever He wants, made one final attack before withdrawing for a cigarette. His closing argument was "You Christians believe in God by faith!" To which I replied "I accept God's existence by faith, even though I can see evidence for Him, and the atheists accept God not existing "by faith", and I don't have enough faith to be an atheist!"
I tagged Ryan in, and the reason for this was that Ryan has spent a lot of time studying atheism, and the evidences for the existence of God. Each time in the past when Alex has engaged Ryan in debate it has ended up with Alex's arguments being smacked for six. It is interesting to note, that Alex even though he was present did not engage Ryan this time for discussion. So, Ryan preached the gospel to the good size crowd that had gathered.
The rest of the night was quite quiet, with many people being witnessed to, and many people getting to hear the gospel. One highlight for me was a friendly long haired atheist who came up to me, and thanked us for taking the time to come out and debate and discuss many issues. He stated that he enjoyed the night, and hopes to come back to talk again some time. It is my hope that this man would heckle, as he is really friendly and calls himself a ‘rationalist atheist'.
In closing, I must mention, that on Alex's blog he invites other atheists to come out on Saturday nights to the Queen Street Mall. So, I would like to on behalf of Operation 513 encourage the atheists to come along and have some friendly chats. We look forward to our future discussions!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Having met up with Antonio on Friday evening at Tooting Broadway, Phil and I hopped on the tube and headed to Leicester Square. (Antonio stayed behind to hand out tracts to all those coming in and out of the tube station.) We arrived at 8.30pm and immediately met up with Andrew and Virgil. We opened in prayer and spent a short while handing out tracts and talking with people. After about twenty minutes or so I stood up to preach.
At first only a handful of people stopped to listen. People came and went, but then after about fifteen minutes or so a young man by the name of Chris stopped to heckle me. In return I started heckling him (well, not really, I simply engaged in open debate) and in about five minutes the crowd grew from about ten people to about thirty people. Oh the drawing power of a good heckler! Chris openly professed to be a good person and so I took him through the law of God and showed him that just like the rest of us he has fallen short of the glory of God. I reiterated to the crowd the predicament we all in and that we all desperately need a Saviour. This allowed me to expound on the amazing grace of God, fulfilled with the coming of His Son Jesus Christ, who substituted Himself in our place so that we could go free.
At one point a Muslim man began asking me questions about prayer, particularly whether or not God answers our prayers. I told him that there are three responses to our prayer requests: yes, no, or not yet. He had a book on prayer, presumably a Muslim book. He came right up to me and asked me to read a section from it to the crowd. He was quite insistent and at one point I felt rather intimidated. I took stock of the situation and gathered my thoughts as to how I should deal with it. The Lord very graciously helped me to think quickly. I turned to the man and, holding my Bible in my hand, said, "Sir, I am not here to promote that book, I am here to promote this book. If you wish to promote your book then get your own little stepladder and stand here next to me and promote it." At this he went rather quiet and was at a loss as to how to respond. The crowd thought it was very funny and although it was not my intention to embarrass the man it did serve to remove him and win the crowd to me even more. In open air preaching winning the crowd and keeping the crowd is your main task. Your ultimate objective is to preach the gospel so that the people may be won to the Lord.
After I finished preaching I got talking with a Muslim man called Farrukh. He was not aggressive and so that made talking to him much easier. He was, however, loaded with some preposterous notions concerning Christianity and the Bible. He repeatedly attacked the Bible, saying it had been changed and was corrupt. This has become a very common objection that I seem to continually encounter. I will in later posts, provide answers to these objections, evidence that shows the Bible is actually the most authentic book in all of antiquity and that it is not full of error at all. I was able to get Farrukh's email address, so I will be writing to him to show him the overwhelming evidence that supports the veracity of the Bible.
The rest of the team had all been chatting with people and handing out tracts. Open air preaching is wonderful in that after the preacher has finished many one-to-one's can take place. We left a little after 11:00pm. It had been a good night!
Saturday morning came around and once more we took the gospel to the people of tooting. Andrew, Antonio and Barney, Phil and I made up the team. It was great to have Barney with us as he can't always make it, however whenever he's with us he certainly sets to work! After I had preached we all set to talking with people and handing out tracts. I spoke for a short while with a young man named Ian. He'd had a Christian background and certainly had a fair amount of knowledge concerning the Bible. One of the objections he put before me was that the Bible is in affect contradictory because it shows a very different God in the Old Testament compared with how God is presented in the New Testament. I explained to him that this is based very much on the two different covenants we see in the Bible. The Old Covenant, found in the Old Testament, is broken by God's people, and so He makes a new covenant with His people (Jeremiah 31:31-34). "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). Ian was quite pleasant to talk to and he seemed willing to listen. He mentioned that he would like to talk some more so I took down his details and told him that I would send him some information to help him with his questions.
We all had a good afternoon talking with the people of Tooting. Barney, in particular, spoke with a number of people and very kindly wrote up a report of those conversations...
I spent 45 minutes talking to an atheist who openly rejoiced in his sin. Initially he was very confrontational, ridiculing Christianity and the Bible. I was forced by his approach to deal with a couple of individual issues he raised (e.g. Adam and Eve as real people), but I was then able to move him on to consider his own sinfulness before the Creator's law and the saving work of Christ. Towards the end, he was much more open to considering the gospel, but still far from Christ and also, sadly, unwilling to meet again.
I spent a while talking to a Muslim student. She gave the standard Muslim objections to the Bible, which I quickly dealt with and then we used the law to discuss our sinfulness in God's sight and the sacrifice of Christ which deals with sin. She was particularly intrigued as I explained that the Old Testament prophets point to sacrifice, as the answer to sin rather than good deeds, something Muslims know nothing of despite animal sacrifices during their festival of Eid. She has agreed to attend a church service with my wife and I, pray that she does.
I spent some time talking to a group of 6 Muslim teenagers. After talking about our failure to meet God's standards from the law, I explained that arguing from your good deeds on judgement day would not do any good and gave the example of a normal law court. They agreed that they were therefore likely going to hell, but didn't seem worried as apparently they have been told hell will not be eternal, but rather will be like Catholic purgatory (i.e. paying for sin for a while then heaven afterwards). I will have to research this as no Muslim has given this as an objection to me before. Anyway, I explained that the Bible does teach hell as eternal punishment and (continuing the law court example) that Christ's sacrifice is the payment of our fine.
They were not convinced, but one gave me his email to follow up.
All in all, a great weekend of ministry.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Dan and Ralph were running a bit late today, so while I was waiting for them, I partially overheard conversation that two people were having on a seat nearby. They kept mentioning the word 'spiritual'. So after Ralph arrived and we prayed together, we went over to them to offer a tract and start up a conversation. They both mentioned they were Christians. When I asked them how people get to Heaven, the lady said by living a good life, however, the guy corrected her by saying, "No, our good works cannot get us to Heaven, it is only by grace are we saved."
So I asked the gentlemen, what Church do you go to? He said he has been going to many Churches, but currently he is a Mormon elder. So I brought up some critical points of contention with the fellow, such as, "Who is Jesus?", "Do we need to be baptised to be saved?", etc. Some of his responses were in-line with the Bible, while others in-line with the Mormon Church. So on those issues, I presented a Biblical viewpoint. However, the man went very post-modern. He said, "Well that's just your interpretation. There can be many interpretations for a passage." So I said, "I interpret it that way because that is what the text says. There is only one correct interpretation to a text of scripture, but there may be many different applications." The gentleman said, "We could talk about this for hours, but I don't want to." So then we moved on.
I have found that from my experience so far at Redcliffe, the majority of the people I have spoken to are post-modern in their thinking. That said, it is not hard to show why post-modernism is false, however it just seems that this philosophy is abundant here.
Ralph and Dan also had some great conversations with people and many gospel tracts went out. To God be the glory!
15th June 2008 - Open Air Preaching & Witnessing for Jesus
"Holy Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory" - Seraphim before the King
The Majesty of heaven, ordained gospel proclamation all over the earth this weekend, and much was accomplished by His order. The hardening of men's hearts as His word was preached, and perhaps even the softening and drawing of some men and women to himself. God only knows, and God alone shall be glorified in it.
The Lord Jesus Christ, is my majestic King, the holy One of Israel, the glorious Saviour and defender of my soul. It is such a pleasure to serve him, and observe his hand at work where I was in the Gold Coast this weekend.
Within minutes of preaching, some Arabic lads approached, whose names will be protected for thier sakes. After professing average goodness in themselves, we began to examine the ten commandments of God together. After a few minutes, our first Arabic aquaintance, began to look around and seemed to want to leave, but he stayed with us, until it seemed to much for him, and he left with his friend.
Sometimes it is difficult for a preacher, when people leave before hearing the good news, but God is Lord, and will accomplish with His word what he intends. Shortly after a Seventh Day Adventist named Michael came along, and he took the good test humbly, and then admitted salvation was only possible by repentance and faith in Jesus alone. I stepped down and had a private chat with Michael. Snowy Barwick, began witnessing while I chatted to Michael.
One of Snowy's three young men that he was witnessing to, handed back a gospel tract, and laughed that evolution could be false. Since he stepped away from Snowy, I challenged him while I was sitting on the concrete block. He laughed and we began to chat, and shortly I was standing and preaching to the gathering crowd that God had called in. From this point in, things started to get interesting. All sorts of people started to ask questions, and challenge Christianity, to which God graciously answered all thier questions and refuted the false strongholds that exalted themselves against His holy throne.
The gospel was able to be preached during the apologetics session more than once, although we began to have some apparently devilish attacks during the preaching. A man with black sunglasses came in, and began to shout very loudly, slandering God and calling Him, wicked. He would not dialogue, and many people thought him to be a very angry harsh sort of person. The older SDA man, began to get very angry with the devilman, and things started to get very heated. While they argued angrily, I answered the quiet questions of a little asian women, who had drawn close to the preaching.
I decided to step down, in accordance to some advice given to me by a kind Surfers Paradise Police Constable, and allow the situation to dissolve. Almost immediately a tall man, whom I have nicknamed Smokey, started putting his finger in my face, and telling me that christians never listen to others. He walked off without letting me respond. May God bless him. I thank God for Smokey, because it reminds me how hard my heart was towards God before he changed me, and made me into one of his little children. God can save Smokey, because he saved me.
The crowd began to dispurse, once I stepped down, and thankfully the devilman having lost his opponent, also dissappeared. The Constable's advice was very effective, and I thank God for it. A number of people accepted gospel tracts, and I returned to chat with the older SDA man. Benjie the young man who had first argued evolution with the preacher, was sitting next to Mr SDA, and even helped hold my bible, so I could put my bag down and talk to this guy. Mr SDA didn't like what I had to say, and was quite mean in the way he spoke to me, but praise God for His grace, I was able to be gentle with him. At this point the SDA man, calmed down and stopped pointing at me. (He was quite an animated character for an older gentleman).
Just then two Senior Police officers interupted the conversation and asked Josh Mitchell, what he knew about reports they had received, that a fight was going to break out. My report of a man with black sunglasses coming into the open air and yelling loudly, and not talking being the cause of the problem was confirmed by Victor Barwick, and two old men who were bystanders to the event. We followed the advice of a Police Constable a number of months back, that if someone crazy or angry arrived near the preaching, we should just step down and let the situation dissolve. This we did.
A lady with her children, encouraged me to keep preaching the gospel, and gave her word to email and pray for the preaching ministry. She is was a lovely Presbyterian lady, whom God used to encourage me muchly.
May Jesus name be promoted high in the Gold Coast,
Jim and Peter joined me this Wednesday, witnessing of our risen Lord in Fargate. Thank you to all of you who faithfully pray week after week for us as we work, I am sure that the Lord has moved many times in the past and recently in response to your appeals to Him.
This week Jim preached first and again the gospel sounded forth in the dark town, we call home. Jim had a couple of interactions with people who stopped and was able to give them the gospel and challenge them with the law of God. I did not get to hear much of the preaching as during it, a young lady came up and spoke with me. She is from a local church and said that she had heard us preaching a couple of times and had spoken to Jim before. Encouragingly she was interested in street ministry and wanting to know more about what we did. I gave her some information and an action pack and then unfortunately was drawn away from speaking further first by a phone call from a friend and then a conversation with a Muslim man.
The Muslim man was discussing Islam and Christianity with Peter, I joined the discussion and we talked for quite some time. As all Muslims do, Muhammad (I think) sincerely held that the Qur'an and their prophet Muhammad are the final revelation of God for the world. It is a massive offence to the Muslim people to tell them that the prophet they follow and the scripture they have trusted in are false, so I always try to do so carefully. We discussed for some time on the many aspects in which our two faiths contrast and contradict each other. The two things that seemed to make him stop and think were the command for Muslims to trust the prophecies and scriptures of the Jews and Christians (Sura 29:46 and 10:94) and the command for people to honour Jesus as God from those scriptures (Jn 5:22-23).
After Jim finished preaching we were kept busy for a period with one-to-one conversations and handing out tracts. As I left, the one-to-ones were going on still.
Praise God that He draws people to hear the gospel!
Just for a change this Friday it was rainy and grey, we have actually had great weather for the last couple of weeks. I arrived to find that Jim was already witnessing to a young man down by the bus stop at the end of Fargate. As Jim was in deep conversation for quite some time, I set up and began to preach while I waiting for him to come and join me under the trees that have since become our regular witnessing area.
As the gentle rain fell I began to preach on this great blessing of God that Britain receives regularly (and Australia doesn't). From this I called the people of Sheffield to think on the kindness of God to both the righteous and the unrighteous and how this demands that we should likewise love those around us, as it is written:
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mat 5:43-48)
While I preached on this two young ladies stopped to heckle and raised the thought that it is not right to love a paedophile. I responded first by pointing to the fact that Christians are called to hate the evil that people commit, yet love the people who commit evil. Also that it is sin for a person to hate anyone, making them guilty of murder in their heart before God. Secondly I pointed to the love with which we are to love them, a love that is not romantic or even sentimental, but rather a love that wants the best for them and wants them to be godly. God has modeled this for us in the person of Jesus; he loved God-hating sinners like us, and transforms Christians to live holy and godly lives through the work of the Spirit.
After this a group of Muslim men stopped and protested that someone could be right with God regardless of what they do, if they do enough good deeds. I spoke to them with difficulty because of the language barrier, but they listened carefully, sometimes requiring translations from a friend. Beginning with God's standards being much higher than ours I pointed them to the futility of pointing to good deeds as an excuse for crime before any judge (human or divine). Using this as a springboard I expounded the gospel to them and urged them to trust in Jesus and not their good works.
I wrapped up and stepped down from preaching, there were a few one to ones that were starting and I spotted an Indian-descent man standing nearby who had listened. Going over to him I spoke with him at length about the one True God who has made the heavens and the earth. He is a modern hindu and believes that there is no need for any particular religion as long as we work to be good to each other. I reasoned with him for some time and hopefully he left with something to think on as well as the tract in his hand. During this time Jim and Peter were hard at it giving out many tracts and speaking with people. As I finished speaking to the Hindu man the rain began to fall and Peter and I found cover under an awning for a time of fellowship. Shortly we were joined by Jim when he finished speaking to some school kids.
We pray that God would use all the words spoken in these two days to His glory and to save the souls of people in our city.
Saturday, 6 June, 2008
The weather had been threatening to rain all day, the news was reporting the possibilities of showers. For a state that is gripped in drought, it is amazing how much rain we are actually getting. Normally on a Saturday night when we want to evangelise!
Andre and I were the first team members in position, and shortly after we arrived I was joined by some of the other guys. It was good to have a time of fellowship, prayer, and Bible reading as a team. By doing this it creates a greater team unity, and it allows for us to come together on the streets and beseech the Almighty God for His blessing.
As nine o'clock neared, we headed up to the Queen Street Mall, where we were joined by Andrew and Desma. It was really good to have Desma come out on the streets with us, she is a vital part of the ministry. She has been away for awhile, which is fully understandable due to her preparing for the upcoming wedding. So, it was good to have her in Brisbane tonight.
Andrew informed me that he had a sore throat, and as a result he would not be preaching tonight, that was fine since I expected to have more than enough preachers in play. First preacher up for the evening was Ralph. Now Ralph is one we have to watch, he is a very smart boy, and has a great passion for God. While he is only new at preaching, he has been growing in leaps and bounds.
Tonight as he preached, I had complete confidence in him as a preacher, normally I am really cautious around newer preachers, but Ralph proved himself. He did a good job at proclaiming the gospel, and dealing with hecklers. He had a quite a few hecklers open fire tonight, and each one that launched an attack he did well to handle.
While Ralph was preaching, Andre was on the Bible table. This table is by far one of the best things we have put in place in the Brisbane team. We set up a simple card table with some tracts, Bibles, and Creation Ministry booklets, and then hang some signs simple saying "FREE BIBLES", it is a magnet that draws in many people for a one to one conversation.
I was watching the Bible table, and making sure everything was running alright, when I heard a woman walk up to Andre and say "Are you against gay marriage?" Andre replied "No ma'am, I am not against it, the Bible is!" The woman then said something, grabbed a bunch of the Creation Ministry booklets, and began to rip them up and throw the paper on the ground. The woman then walked away and began to abuse the preacher, she had more tracts, and booklets so she ripped them up also, and threw them into the air. She made a rather big mess in the middle of the Queen Street Mall. She then started yelling out to Ralph, "People are gay! It's not wrong!" Ralph's reply was brilliant, he said "Yes, people are gay, people also steal, lie, and lust, yet just because people do those things does not make them right!" The woman walked off, and Ralph continued to preach the gospel.
At around 9:50pm, Ralph stood down, the call then went out for Andre to prepare to preach next. Andre got up, and with Bible in hand began to expound on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not long into his message a rather vile man in a yellow shirt became very hostile and started to hurl abuse at the preacher. Andre tried to reason with the man, but he refused to listen. So Andre kept on preaching. The man then came in really close, and started to curse Andre and also God. I moved into position just it case it got violent, as I got into position the man reached out and grabbed Andre while he was preaching. Instantly Andrew and I moved in and pushed the man off, telling him to step away from the preacher. The man became more vile, and showed his hatred all the more. I noticed that some of the people he was with, were actually some of our regular hecklers. So I spoke to them, and they were reasonable about not abusing the preacher.
By now the man in the yellow shirt was screaming at our camera man, so Andrew moved into position to guard the camera. The man soon lost interest in the camera, and started to threaten Andrew. Upon seeing this, I walked over to tell the man to calm down or we would be forced to call the police. The man just cursed, and me then bent down to get something out of his backpack. As the man bent down, another man emerged from the crowd and started to abuse the man in the yellow shirt. He was screaming that he should get some respect for the preachers, and also that he should shut up. Of course that is the sanitised version of what he said. Yellow shirt then started to challenge this other man to a fight, so I stepped in and told both of them to back off and walk away. As I worked on breaking those two up, and cry was heard from the crowd. I turned and saw that a fight had erupted in front of the preacher.
Two hecklers were locked in a fight on the ground, one of them was bleeding the other was being punched in the face. As they wrestled with each other, I noticed one of them shove his fingers in his opponents eyes, and twist them. This cause the man that was punching to yell in pain. The man on the bottom then took the advantage, and spun the other guy over and started to beat him up. I tried to break it up, but they refused to listen. Then I noticed one of our regular hecklers come running in to join the fight. This was fast becoming a full on brawl. I sent two of the team members to run and get the police. The only problem was the police weren't in their usual location, so we had to wait some time before they arrived.
By now one of the men in the fight was being held down, while someone else began to kick him in the head, ribs, and stomach. The man doing the kicking had steal toe boots on, so I grabbed him, and spun him out of the fight. He was rather hard to hold back, and he got a couple of extra shots in before he backed away. While the two original fighters fought on the ground, I turned to the regular heckler who had been kicking, and gave him a good dressing down. He apologised, and then hugged me. While he was hugging me he decided to give me a few quick kisses on the side of my neck. This was truly turning out to be a strange night!
By now there was a massive crowd watching the fight, security guards were present but they did nothing but watch on. The fighters must have realized that the police were coming, because they stopped fighting and ran. Since the crowd stood there in stunned silence, I decided to jump up and preach a quick two minute message to them. While I was preaching all I could see was a sea of blue police uniforms running up the mall. Quickly I gave the order to the team to tract everyone up, so the team set about tracting everyone in the crowd.
About fifteen police responded to the brawl and arrested all parties involved. Some of the fighters wouldn't learn, they say in hand cuffs abusing the police, and threatening them. Pray for the police, they have a tough job but they do it well!
This incident took about an hour out of our time, as the police wanted to talk to a few of us, and to also review our video that we caught of the fight.
After the police left I stood up and preached for about 30 minutes. And after that excitement of a fight, the night went a bit more slower. I had very few hecklers, and I did my best to make known the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I had finished preaching, I was informed that the man sitting to my left was a Jehovah's Witness, so I went across and began to talk to him. The man was very unfriendly, and called me a paedophile since I attended a Baptist church, he then started to talk about how the Baptist church was founded by Satanists, and the Illuminati. The man eventually got out of "conspiracy theory" mode, and we began to talk about the deity of Christ, and if Jesus Christ arose bodily. His arguments were standard Watchtower Arguments, he didn't know why he believed, except for the fact that he was told to believe. After awhile, I got Andre to deal with him, as Andre is well versed in Jehovah Witness apologetics.
By now it was nearing midnight, so we began to pack up. Ryan was busy dealing with a man who was rambling on about something to do with animals having souls the same as humans. So Andre after finishing with the JW decided to wade into the apologetic debate. Then Andrew decided to join in, the man just kept going in circles, so they wished him good night and left. As we were preparing to leave the man came back, and this time wanted to talk to me, within minutes the man admitted that he chose to rebel against the Bible because he loved his sin. He said he did want to repent, even though he knew the gospel was true, because that would mean giving up his sin. I hit him with the gospel, and the man left promising to email me.
Overall the night was rather interesting! Praise God that His Gospel went forth!
Soli Deo Gloria!
This past Friday the team began its ministry by meeting together at Tooting Broadway. I arrived before Antonio and Phil and got talking with a young Latvian man named Alex. At times his command of English meant that I had to repeat things more than once, but this was too much of a hindrance. I was able to share the whole counsel of God with him and I could see that he was of the temperament, in that he was willing to listen to what I had to tell him. He particularly liked the Ten Commandment coin tract I gave him. Please pray that the Lord will minister to him through the Word that was sown.
We arrived at Leicester Square a little past 8:30pm and were joined by Virgil. We were few in numbers, which was a little unusual, but we were still looking forward to being used of the Lord for His glory. We were blessed in that there was an opening for us to set up in a spot that I particularly like, namely against the railing, opposite the Empire Theatre. We were not centre but rather over to the left, a good distance from the artists who are stationed in front of the railing. Even so, an artist to our immediate right came up to us protesting that if we preached it would rob her of her business. While it is not my intention to infringe upon a person who is working a business, this particular person was most unreasonable. We were a good distance from where she was sitting. It seems to be an ongoing issue that we face each week and I am not sure what we are going to face each week. Please pray for us that the Lord would continue to keep the door open for us to preach at Leicester Square.
After we prayed we went up speaking with people and handing out tracts. We met with a wonderful couple from Texas who are Christians. They were very supportive when we told them what we were in Leicester Square to do and so they decided to hang around while I ministered the Word. After a little while I stood up to preach. I drew a few hecklers, which caused a small crowd to form. My hecklers were Muslims, and even though they are a challenge in terms of their many objections and the aggressiveness of their approach, they do serve to bring in a crowd. After a little while my small crowd moved on and even though there were only a small few who were now listening I continued to preach. After a little while a new crowd formed and I was most grateful to the Lord for this. I had considered stopping but was glad that I had not.
After I finished preaching we all got to talking with people who had been listening. Even our new friends from Texas were getting involved! I got talking John and Rachel who, although they were together, were quite different in the beliefs. John seemed to be saying that he did not believe in God, even though he could not categorically say that there was no God. Rachel seemed far more open. At one point the conversation turned to evolution. I explained to Rachel that one of the major problems with evolution is the lack of transitional forms found in the fossil record that serves to support the notion that various species of animals have evolved from one form into another. An article on the subject can be found here. Rachel found this piece of information quite interesting and I pray that God will use it to cause her to question things further. After using various apologetics I was able to share the gospel more easily. Leaving them with both an in-depth gospel tract I thanked them for their time. Please pray for them both.
I turned to see both Phil and Virgil in conversation. Virgil was chatting with a young couple, and I found out later that the young man he had spoken with claimed that at one point he was a Christian but felt that he had now lost his salvation because he had so drifted. Virgil rightly explained to him that a true Christian, someone who has truly repented and trusted in Jesus, cannot lose their salvation, since when they become a Christian they become a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come. He reiterated the gospel to them both and left them with tracts and his details. Virgil correctly pointed out to this young man that the proof of anyone's conversion is the fruit of repentance in their life. A true Christian continues to live repentant for the rest of his or her life. You may want to view the following video that speaks of the perseverance of the saints. Our perseverance does not secure our salvation. God secures our perseverance.
Before we left to go home I got to speak with a few more people. One in particular was a young man named Alex was is only 15. I was happy to see that he understood the gospel and what he needed to do to be made right with God after I had finished sharing the gospel with him. I also got to share the gospel with three young men from Georgia. They had grown up in the Eastern Orthodox Church and after I had spoken with for a short while they had a works-righteous mindset. I stressed to them that we are justified by faith in Christ (Romans 1:17), and that faith is proved real by the deeds that we do (Acts 26:20). There was a small language barrier and so it is my hope that I was able to communicate to them clearly that they must turn from their own self-righteousness and trust purely in the atoning work of Christ. We left about 11:15pm.
We were not out Saturday because my Mum was down for the weekend. Friday evening had been a good night. May the Lord grant repentance and faith to all those who heard the Word.
Soli Deo Gloria!