Even though we are apparently having an extended Autumn in the south of Australia it still feels cold in Hobart to me as an “ex-pat” Brisbane boy. That said God blesses us with beautiful wind streaked skies and amazing sunsets and rises over our picturesque river city. More than that He blesses us with the opportunity to share the gospel.
We spent a fair amount of time at the bible table chatting with people as they came. Things are quieter now that the cold months are here but there is still a steady stream of bibles and literature going out every week. Several Christians dropped by to chat also and they were encouraged to hear about the Dark Mofo festival outreach.
I preached once in the afternoon as there was someone else who wanted to use speakers corner. I preached about the revealing nature of our words and actions. The recent Dark Mofo festival had featured several quite dark, disturbing and plain gross “art” installations. I used this to point to the darkness that is present in the hearts of the organizers and the artists. From this I pointed out that we cannot point fingers at others though as we each have darkness and sin in our own hearts. I urged the people to hear what God says about our sin and rebellion and flee to the savior Jesus Christ.
There were a few people who stopped to listen as I preached. Karl had a conversation with a young guy who has cancer and is struggling with the recent loss of a friend. He said that the preaching really spoke to where he was.
Just as I was wrapping up a young lady Miss C. came and spoke to me about homosexuality. She was very friendly and open to hear what Christians and particularly the bible says on the treatment of homosexuals. We had a good chat and I underlined the responsibility of Christians to treat people with love and respect. I also clarified that love and respect do not equate with agreement and facilitation. Christians love and respect others but will never agree with or seek to facilitate sinful aspects of their lives. This applies to homosexuals and heterosexuals, sexual sin and all other forms of sin. Miss C. understood and appeared happy with what I’d told her. We also chatted about the bible and particularly what it says about Jesus. I encouraged her to read the new testament asking the question “Who is this man?”. Please pray for Miss C. that God would encounter her and bring her to faith in Jesus Christ.
The someone else who wanted to use speakers corner was Mr S. my regular heckler. He set up his atheist’s equivalent of a bible table and spent an hour talking to the couple of people who came to his table. Unsurprisingly I recognized a few of my past hecklers amongst his visitors. Much to the apparent upset of Mr S., Karl and I wandered up the mall and handed out tracts for the hour.
As the day of outreach ended we prayed together and asked our sovereign Lord to save the sinful and dark hearts of the people of Hobart.
Praise God for another glorious day in His service.
(Picture: PAUL FLEMING on Twitter (@lovethywalrus))
- Dylan, with a spiritually mixed up father, hearing the gospel was a delight as we know the truth will set you free as you abide in it. He received a gospel of John. Pray the Lord opens his spiritual eyes so that he comes in repentance and faith in Christ alone to seek God's mercy;
- Ann, concerned for difference between her Bible and the Watchtower version. Explained how the Jehovah Witnesses call themselves Christians but are not (they worship another god, Gal. 1:8). Then we looked up 1 Jn. 5:1-13 and I challenged her to receive God's assurance based her trusting on the perfect object of faith, the Lord Jesus Christ;
- A person named Ryan thought the Bible might not be true. I related my wife's coming to faith from the same position of doubt. Going through the gospel he is now left to verify the Biblical facts from his own prayerful study and told that he needed to make a commitment that he would not renege on.
And some had never considered gospel truths:
- Ashley, very receptive to gospel. He received John's gospel to explore.
- Cam, gospel heard, "makes sense"; counting the cost
and whatever else He enabled team member Ryan to communicate in the ensuing hours.
What a joy and privilege to serve our great God. Oh, yes, there was the usual types who heard the reason to abandon their worldview but they preferred the life of sin. God, thankfully, has the last word in every witnessing encounter. Glory to Him alone!
Every year around winter solstice Hobart hosts the pagan “Dark Mofo” festival. It is without fail a festival that insults the values of Christians and often aims insults at Jesus Himself. It is all based on Bacchanalia according to Leigh Carmichael the artistic director of the festival, all about “…the link between sex, death and beauty…”. Most go thinking they are going to enjoy good food and art but really the festival is a celebration of all things dark, violent, licentious and pagan. I could go into the horrible examples of this but those of you with a need to know and a cast iron stomach can google the horror for yourselves.
Into this darkness, myself and 4 others went armed with bibles, tracts and backed by the prayers of many. We went to the street outside “Dark Park” on the wharf in Hobart. We prayed before beginning that God would act to save people from the festival and allow us to witness freely to the crowds.
As this was the first year we’d tried this I was tentative and brought what I thought would be enough tracts. This caution very quickly proved unnecessary. Within 30 minutes every one of my tracts went out to the passing crowds. Most people took the “Eternity” cards thinking it was to do with the festival, but most kept them even after reading them praise God! As is always the case there were some who refused or returned the tracts as “God stuff”.
During this time, I had a quick chat with a Chaplain from the north of Hobart who was excited to see Christian witness at the festival and encouraged me to continue the work next year. I also encouraged him to continue reaching out to the kids in the schools, a vital work, and assured him that we would be back next year.
After so quickly running out of tracts we stopped to pray again and then set off to find an area to preach from. I found an ideal spot across the street from the main gates of the park. As the street is pedestrianized for the festival there were many people milling around in the street and not many cars.
The symbol of the festival is a red cross on a black background, so bouncing from this I preached about the Cross of Christ and the gospel of free salvation by faith alone in Him alone. Many passing looked and listened and some even gave a thumbs-up as they went past. There were a couple of heckles but for the most part the preaching was uninterrupted. The security and festival staff were not pleased to see the Gospel preached and most of them were on their phones and there was a lot of pointing and discussing happening on the other side of the street. Shortly after this the police turned up and after speaking to the staff they loitered near the gates obviously checking out what we were doing.
I opened the bible to the account of Lazarus being raised to life by Jesus, showing Him clearly to be Lord over both life and death. At this the police came and spoke to Tim, one of the team. They asked what we were doing and when Tim told them they responded that we should be careful as the “ratbags” will be out and about soon. With that they left!
As if being left unhindered was not enough of a blessing, one of the festival staff gave a clear contrast between peaceful, lawful gospel proclamation and the heart of the festival. She came rushing over as the police left to shout abuse at them (I can only assume for not removing us) and then disappeared back into “Dark Park”. I have no doubt that those two officers will remember the contrast.
We prayed together before heading away for the night, celebrating the great blessings of God and praising His name for blessing us with the opportunities we’d had tonight.
In his meditation booklet on Ps. 51:7b, A. Murray gives us this personification, "... the law of God stands at the gate of heaven and guards the entrance to it. It lets no one in who is not "whiter than snow"."
Angelika, a young lady from Germany, joined us today for some more experiences on how we witness. We pray that she learns the things needed before she leaves in 2 days time.
Today, how to hand out a tract but not as planned: I drifted across the bus stop area to intercept a mother with her teenage son and a much younger child. As I neared them, I had to stop and 'blow' my nose. By the time I had finished, the mother had taken her youngest back to check the bus arrival time. So I sauntered over to the teen and asked him if he would like a tract (a Jesus one) for the family. He smiled and said yes. As I handed it over (he had never read the Bible) I had time to introduce him to the facts of eternal life or eternal death.
When his mother arrived, he showed her the tract and she muttered, "No! No!" He was still smiling so I left him with a challenge to check out the claims of Christ on his soul. God, our gracious sovereign God, countered my intentions which would not have gotten a tract into that teenager's hands. He did it by causing my nose to drip so we can praise Him for as Isaiah 55 says, His ways are not our ways and Jesus stated that in salvation,there is nothing impossible with God.
What else God achieved through His frail servants, we do not know but we can give Him all the glory because He alone is worthy to be praised.
It is amazing to see God prepare people's hearts to hear the gospel. Last night at the Gold Coast, as one person on the team was preaching with many listening in, others were handing out gospel tracts or getting into converations.
One conversation that started was with a man named David. He was asked whether he thought he'd go to Heaven and he said, "I don't think I will. I constantly think about this day and night, about where I am going to go when I die. I try my best each day but I know I fail every time. I don't know what to do, I think I'll be sent to Hell."
What he said, called to mind the words of Jesus when He said, "Come to me all who labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28) So the team member explained the gospel to David and it was as if a light bulb went on in his mind, and he said, "Oh I get it now!"
David was also encouraged to make sure he counts the cost of following Jesus first before he sets out to, because it would be worse for him to put his hand to the plow and look back. He was very thankful for that chat and said he would get into the Bible that evening.
To God be the glory!
Over a thousand gospel tracts went out yesterday during our outreach in Brisbane city, and we spoke with about two dozen people. There were 4 of us on the team.
One long chat we had was with a man named Jacob who subscribed to the idea that our life is happening on an infinite number of worlds in a multiverse, and the one we are in is the one that will give us the longest life. He had no evidence for it, but just liked the idea.
He hopes that there is no afterlife, in essence so that there are no consequences later on for his actions done here. But he still thought if God judged him, he would be good enough for Heaven.
The gospel was explained to him and he really appreciated the conversation and said, "If nothing else, this has made me want to read the Bible."
Please also pray for a man named Sunni from Nepal. He said he has a brother-in-law in Korea who is a Christian who keeps reminding him about finding God, but he hasn't done anything about it yet. He came to grasp the gospel and was happy to take a gospel of John to start reading.
To God be all the glory!
After each outreach we go home rejoicing that the gospel went out and that each of the people who heard the gospel will never be the same again in eternity, whether they come to faith or not. It's never a waste!
Yesterday at Woodridge, we got to speak to a bunch of different people, including a man named Walter who said he wanted to have a fight with God on the day of judgement as to why God let some bad things happen in his life.
We explained that we can never charge God of doing anything wrong because if you think about it, everything we have is from him anyway. God gives and can take away as He sees fit. We didn't even make our own arm, in fact our whole body is from him. Even our very mouth that we might be using to accuse God of wrong, He made it!
We encouraged him to look at the book of Job, and in particular God's response to Job who wanted to have his day in court with God (Job 38-40). For example, God says in Job 38:4 - "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?"
The law and the gospel was explained to him, please pray that Walter humbles himself and realises that what he so desperately needs is to come to faith in Christ.
Also pray for others we spoke with throughout the afternoon including George, Micky, Tristan and April who in separate conversations were intently listening and were each happy to take a gospel of John home to start reading.
To God be the glory!
As we began our outreach in Brisbane city yesterday, we noticed plenty of people in Maroon or Blue for the State of Origin. By God's grace, we were able to have some extensive gospel conversations with some of them, and hand out plenty of gospel tracts.
One man we spoke with was named David. He said he has been heavily involved in secret societies in the past and it appealed to him because it supposedly explained everything beyond all religions. But we were able to explain to him how Christianity is completely to different every other religion.
For all other religions are attempting to reach their god or the good place by doing more good than bad, but the problem is, that is not how justice works. No good judge could let a criminal go free based on how many good deeds the person has done compared to their crimes. Christianity is different in that the only way we can get to Heaven is by having a perfect person take our punishment for us - which satisfies God's justice so He can then show us mercy.
For David though, he expressed how even though God may be true, He doesn't like that God would direct people to live a certain way. He likened God to a dictator, not realising that God has been so abundantly kind to us all, giving us life, food, rain and sunshine, different seasons, sunsets, an immune system, and so on. And being our maker, He obviously has the right to say to us how we should live. And yet even though we have all been rebelling against Him, how amazingly patient has He been in not wiping us out the moment we sin?
Please pray for David, we spoke with him for over an hour. Pray also that God would save many through the word that went out yesterday.
Who did the Lord bring under the sound of His good news today at this bus stop? 2 examples:
- Jake had some unusual questions like"Why does the Bible state thieves should be stoned?" Stoning was God's commanded punishment for certain crimes under Israel's law when it was a theocracy. Stealing incurred a fine and restitution, not stoning. After answering some questions, Ryan was able to proceed with the law and gospel. At the conclusion, Jake said he had more important issues to consider. Ryan challenged him to make 'where he will spend eternity' his top priority - today. Pray Jake does consider his precarious position today.
- Hayley has a religious Mum but was not conversant with the Bible. She knew about the 10 commandments and after admitting her sin of lying said that God could not let her into His perfect heaven. After proceeding through the substitutionary work of Jesus, She was interested to know more. She said that she could read her mother's Bible. I suggested that she read John's gospel and ask God to show her who Jesus is.
There were gospels of John handed out plus tracts of course. As I was leaving, I saw 7 skate boarders. 6 of them were being young guys and the 7th was listening intently as Ryan told him the good news.
Thanks for praying!
Glory be to God alone.
The Essex Team met in Romford today and we preached Christ crucified and risen from the dead. The team was Andrew, Chuck and Jacob. Many heard the Gospel and many Christians were also encouraged. SDG