Day 9 of 10: Christchurch (NZ) Summer Mission
Today we took the chilly bin of cold drinks and focused on walk up conversations with people: both in the City (including an excursion down to the Botanical Gardens), and at Sumner Beach.
Using soft drinks to start conversations is a wonderful tool (something unique to our Summer Mission). Proverbs 18:16 (ESV) "A man's gift makes room for him and brings him before the great." It is only a tool - a non essential, unlike the gospel message - which is essential. But many times today it caused people to stop when it was clear they wouldn't have otherwise - and often a wonderful gospel conversation was able to occur.
An example of this was first thing this morning, as we were walking down High Street towards Cathedral Square, a young man ended up walking parallel to us. An Eternity tract was offered and accepted, but it didn't look like he would stop for a conversation. When offered a free drink, he seemed genuinely surprised and gratefully accepted. By this stage we were waiting at the lights to cross into Cathedral Square and I was able to start discussing the law and gospel with him. He became engrossed, and we slowed down to a stand still in the Square as I finished explaining the gospel and offered a booklet with more details. I was surprised when he said yes, and that he would sit down right then and read it! I've never had that happen before. This young man sat down, read through the Eternity tract, and then picked up the booklet and started reading through it (see first picture, where another of the team is also sharing the gospel with someone else). I took the time to write out my contact details for this young man and gave them to him. I then moved elsewhere and had a separate gospel conversation; when I came back, he was still reading. Praise God! Our job is to share the gospel, God does the saving - for His glory alone.
Many other gospel conversations were had today. We thank God for the opportunities He provided to share of His mercy and grace - and we trust Him with the results. Your prayers and support are a vital part of this mission - please continue to pray as we move into the final day tomorrow.
Day 8 of 10 of the summer mission to Christchurch (NZ)
Today was a day of gospel conversations in the most unlikely of places and ways.
We loaded up the chilly bin with cold drinks to give away, with the intention of eventually making it to the beach for evangelism there. But we never ended up making it.
We decided to start in the central city, as we had to follow up with authorities in regard to the flip chart drama from the previous day.
Using cold drinks or tracts as conversation starters, or the flip chart - we had limited success in sharing the gospel message with people. Although some good conversations were had.
After lunch, we decided to head for the beach. But on the way to our cars, as we were walking down Cashel Street (the part outside the central city, and so with low foot traffic) we noticed a skateboarder who looked hot and in need of a cold drink! It was gratefully accepted, and turned into a wonderful gospel conversation (see picture).
While this conversation was going, another team member had other opportunities to hand out tracts & give away drinks as conversation starters. One of those conversations was with 2 construction workers on a break. This conversation was special for 2 reasons: 1) Every morning of this mission, as we have headed to the streets, we have passed a big group of construction workers on their morning break, some of whom received tracts. 2) 1 of the 2 construction workers approached today had received tracts on a previous day! This was a wonderful opportunity to follow up, and he started by saying "Religion doesn't make any sense". In as much time that was allowed, and starting with this statement, objections were answered, and the law and gospel was shared - with a call to repentance and faith. I'm hoping this will lead to some thinking on their part, and lead to more follow up questions in future mornings, God willing.
Once the conversation with the skateboarder had finished, we continued heading towards our parked cars, when a guy we had talked to the previous day saw us again, and was keen for a follow up conversation. This man had had some kind of powerful spiritual encounter a year or so ago, but was now believing in something that included Christianity, but wasn't Christianity. Specifically, he thought the Bible was interesting, and Jesus was important. But that God spoke to him directly. He was convinced that people are generally good, but yet he loved the hymn amazing grace (that saved a wretch like me). We continued to challenge this man about the sinfulness of man, and the gift of Jesus.
So, after all these conversations in the least expected of places, we had run out of time to head to the beach. But the day wasn't over.
One of the team decided to head back to Cashel Mall to do some more gospel sharing before the end of the day, and at the Colombo Street intersection an "Eternity" gospel tract was handed to a young man while waiting for the lights to go green to cross the road. A conversation got going, and neither of us ended up making the crossing. The young man was new to Christchurch and was lost. He needed to get to Riccarton Mall, and asked if he could walk there. It was too far, and since that mall was on the way home, a ride was offered and accepted. All the way to the car (back down Cashel Street), and on the drive over to Riccarton Mall, a wonderful gospel conversation occurred. This young man had gotten involved with Christianity through a youth group in his home town. But he had no understanding of the gospel, and was calling himself agnostic now, in spite of once being a passionate "Christian". He seemed to really appreciate the new gospel information I was giving him, and he gladly accepted a Bible, gospel booklet, DVD, and tract with contact details. The last photo on this report is of him just after being dropped off. Oh, may he understand, repent, and believe the gospel - to the glory of God alone!
Day 7 of 10 of the Christchurch (NZ) summer mission.
No rain today, but it was overcast, so we decided to go to Cathedral Square (instead of heading to the beach). Before heading out, we prayed together as a team and read some Proverbs. 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. And 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. Little did we know that those verses would need to be applied today - but God did.
On our way to the Square, we ended up having some great walk up conversations with workers on breaks. But once we made it to the Square, it was a bit slow - esp. at our usual spot at the southern Colombo St entrance.
Some of the team decided to move into Speaker's Corner, in front of the Cathedral. And this became a very fruitful spot for gospel conversations.
But sadly, to our shock and surprise, we had one of the local coffee stall owners abruptly pull down one of our flip charts (see photo) and try to put a stop to what we were doing! We refused to be intimidated, and so continued to use our flip charts to have gospel conversations with those that were interested - even with the stall owner continually coming back and trying to stop us. Those verses from the book of Proverbs were put to good use.
It's nothing like the book of Acts, but praise God we were counted worthy to face opposition, may it cause the gospel to prosper!
And today the gospel certainly prospered! The team headed home, clicking our heels, due to all the wonderful conversations that were had. A lot more gospel booklets (something we only give out to people that respond positively to the message shared) were given out today than usual.
Because of what happened today, it also provided opportunity to get to know some of the other stall owners that witnessed what happened and gave us the opportunity to start building good relationships with them. God uses all things for the good of those that love Him.
Tonight we will be having our weekly team prayer meeting - we have much to pray about after today. Please be praying for the team as we head into the last few days of our summer mission. May the lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!
On Saturday 12th January, George, Harry and myself met at 11.30am in the top of the city Centre for outreach. This was the first one we had done collectively in the New Year, and I believe all of us have had different conversations individually with unbelievers in our day to day work before Christmas. I am quite prone to buying things on Facebook Marketplace and never like buying anything new if I can buy it cheaper on there first, and this has led to many chats with people, particularly when after exchanging 'real' money for the item, and then asking if people have any change for a million pound note tract. This has been a great way to share the gospel with people and give them a card for our church with some good solid Bible websites on, (of course one being the 'operation513.com' site) with the gospel message on the back.
Today George was preaching at the top of the main high street who, along with his twin brother, are full time evangelists with Faith Mission, and they had updated some new signs for their board to show people just how far the gap is between unbelievers with their sin against a Holy God. Their pictures are nice and big, bold and visual to get peoples attention, and a great way for people to focus on what he is saying. Three lads walked past, probably in their late teens/ early twenties, and having been offered a tract by Harry while George preached, they declined it and carried on walking. However I tried to catch them as they walked off by asking if they had any change for a million pound note, and having got one of their attention managed to have a good conversation with all three of them.
I tried to focus on why at present God was probably the last thing on their mind as they thought they had no need of him, as if there was a God they probably thought there were many more people worse than them. One was 'religious', and hoped his good works and saying sorry would help him out. However I managed to show him that none of our good works can help us bribe a judge, but we needed payment on our behalf. They said they had recently celebrated Christmas, so I tried to refresh their minds about what that and Easter was all about.
They all seemed quite young and healthy, so after asking if anything bad had ever happened to them like an accident or illness, one lad in particular said he had been in hospital before with a life threatening condition, and so I managed to show the scars on my leg and again show how short our life is, and that even healthy fit people like them can die young. I asked them if their was any sin that they presently enjoyed that they thought was worth holding onto for this short life, rather than giving up and repenting of to gain eternal life. They were quite silent and hopefully pondered the thought, and I managed to give them some tracts to read and to point them in the direction of 'www.fullyfreefilms.com' for some good short Christian films on the subjects we had discussed. I thanked them all for stopping to chat for a while and I hope the firm handshakes I received back were a sign they had something to think about.
I later preached for a while and started by sharing my love of Reptiles and exotic animals and feeding my tarantulas and Chameleons and how the cricket run away and try and hide when the lid is taken off, relating this to the scripture where Jesus said 'men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil..' I tried to convey to passers by that they were not ignorant of Gods existence as they couldn't be due to the creation around them and their conscience telling them right and wrong, like Jimeny Cricket from Pinocchio, but that people avoided thoughts of God due to their love of sin, which by nature we all had.
A group of students seemed to have stopped to listen, and a conversation occurred afterwards- one was a young white Muslim man that was very pleasant and congenial, who didn't believe in the Hadith's, but respected and honoured Jesus etc. We talked for a while about why Jesus would have to be God the Son to take away our sin, the trinity and how to have assurance of eternal life now, rather than living his whole life hoping his good deeds outweighed his bad, We left on friendly terms, again with all taking some tracts to think about.
I left at 1pm for a Wheelchair Basketball game, and Simon, Laura and Ed came to join George and Harry from 1.30- 3pm, with Della and Robbie both unfortunately unwell. The weather had started to deteriorate when I left and so was quite wet and cold, but George managed to preach again but unfortunately ws stopped by questions from a man called Rusty? Apparently he was speaking to the group for about an hour with many varied questions, but kept trying to change the subject when important matters were brought up.The group said they all spoke to him and others and continued to hand out tracts, but we all said was was speaking to Rusty beneficial- was he just trying to waste time to stop the preaching or were his questions genuine?
Maybe he was genuine and God was working in him and convicted him through the preaching and tracts, but to discern whether he was genuine maybe only God knows! God willing we are meeting again in the next coupe of weeks, but all of us will share on our Facebook evangelism group of any interesting or memorable encounters and conversations we have before then in the week.
Day 6 of 10 of the summer mission to Christchurch (NZ). We awoke to rain. Heavy rain. But we decided to not let that stop us. From previous experience I knew, at the very least, that we would be able to hand out tracts and have conversations outside the bus exchange. And that is exactly what we did, after first gathering for a time of prayer.
2 solid conversations were had there, in spite of the heavy rain. 1 with an atheist from the UK, and 1 with a young Jewish man. We praise God for that! The rain finally eased enough for us to move out to other parts of the city.
But, unfortunately, even the Buskers Festival wasn't running due to the weather, and there weren't many people about.
We had an early lunch as a team, before heading back again in the afternoon. The weather steadily improved drawing people out, and more conversations were able to be had, including a long conversation with a group of homeless men. And then, finally, the sun broke through!
We headed to Cathedral Square and ended up having a wonderful conversation with 2 kids out on their scooters. As you will see from the pictures, 1 of them was particularly impacted, and you could tell he was seriously processing the gospel message being shared (sadly, his friend got bored, and scootered off).
One buskers act did occur, and a crowd gathered for it, allowing tracts to be distributed. And late in the day, a man who was fighting stage 4 cancer, heard the gospel via flip chart -- his wife didn't want to be involved, waiting down the foot path, but the man wanted to stay to find out why I was there, it was my privilege to present the simple gospel message to him!
I told him my prayer is that he would be healed, and fully recover - but the reality is that we will all die and face God on judgment day. He was challenged to repent and put his faith in Jesus today.
Everyday is a good day to share the gospel and this Friday on the streets of Warwick was no exception.
S approached the bible table and asked how much for a bible, pointing to the signs pinned to each side of the table we said they were free. He said his 8 year old son would love to have one, so we gave him a hard cover CEV.
The CEV bible was donated by a young man some weeks ago who was impressed to see us out on the streets talking about God and giving away free bibles and resources, that he turned up with some extra bibles laying around home so that we could give them away - Praise God. This was explained to S who was really grateful to take this donated bible for his boy. S was asked if he himself is a believer - he said that his Grand Parents were. Glenda said that they would have been praying for him. He agreed they surely would have.
We took him through the law and gospel in which he was saying that he understands while nodding as he was answering, sometime was spent spent with him talking about eternal matters and what that meant personally for him and that there was nothing more important than getting right with God. He took a booklet about the ministry, we also gave him a resource on some basic facts about the bible and how to read it, that was given to us from our pastor’s wife, they have been quite useful to accompany the bibles we give out.
Please pray that God would draw S unto salvation and that the enemy wouldn't steal the planted word from him. Pray for his son as he now has a bible that our Lord will do the work in his life to bring him to faith in Jesus by His amazing grace.
A mum and her two kids stopped by to encourage us saying that this was a great thing that we were doing, she is a believer from Tamworth up here on holidays, so after having a chat we gave here some ministry info, tracts for her and her children. We encouraged her to look us up online and share the Gospel where she lives.
We spoke to M and then a bit later on J, two guy’s who believed in reincarnation, we asked where they got there information about there belief, M said it just sounded good to him. J said his mother told him when he was young about a truck driver who died the day he was born and when he grew up he became a truck driver. We told them that they were basing their belief on feelings not facts. Both were short chats but tried to plant a few bible truths with some gospel tracts, so we pray that the Holy Spirit will convict them of their false belief and bring them to a saving faith in Jesus.
Today was our first Operation 513 outreach in Redcliffe for 2019. Team members from three different churches all gathered at the waterfront for a couple of hours of gospel work. It is always a joy to work with these brethren as they are passionate about the Lord Jesus. Personally, I find them quite encouraging in the work, especially in those times when I feel flat.
Over the past few months we have noticed that it has been increasingly difficult to get gospel conversations, so today we changed tactics. Instead of having our “Free Bible and Literature” table, we decided to split up into small teams so we could move around the whole area to witness.
I partnered with Mike and we set up his flip-chart and handed out a few tracts. It soon became very clear that our location was not good for conversations so we moved to the other side of the road to witness near the entrance to the pier.
Upon arrival in this new location, we noticed that Sheldon was locked into a deep conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness who was out spreading his heresy. Mike and I set up in the new location, and before too long gospel conversations were underway.
Mike managed to speak to a young man who seemed very open. The conversation went well with the young man taking a Bible. While Mike was talking to him, I managed to get into a discussion with the man’s mates. These young guys were out on the waterfront, just relaxing and planning to play some basketball. Initially I engaged them in some small talk over who was the best NBA player of all time (it is clearly Michael Jordan!), then from there I swung the conversation to the gospel.
I asked this group, “What do you think someone has to do in order to go to Heaven?” They all replied, “Accept God. Believe in God.” I followed up with another question, “Do you guys have any kind of religious background?” One said he had no religious upbringing, the other two said they went to church. It was then that one of them said, “I am a youth leader at my home church.” He then told me about the large Pentecostal church where he was a leader. Well, this information made me change my tactics. I said to the youth leader, “Ok, let me put you under some pressure. Imagine I have been stabbed in the back, I am bleeding out. I have three minutes to live. I am not a Christian. What will you say to me so I can go to Heaven?”
At this question his face went into a look of panic. “I don’t know!” was his reply. “Two minutes left!” I called out. The youth leader said, “Ummm… Believe in God.” “So, I just need to believe God is real?” “Yes!” was the reply. It was then I turned up the pressure even further, “The devil believes in God. Will he go to Heaven?” By this stage the youth leader seemed to be stumbling over his words and had no response.
The response from this youth leader is not uncommon. I have met many church leaders who cannot explain the gospel, which leads me to believe we have many unconverted men in leadership positions of churches. I cautioned this young man that James 3:1 warns us that all who teach will face a stricter judgement., and then I proceeded to share the gospel with him. As I explained the good news of Jesus, the church leader said, “That makes sense!” I gave him an in-depth tract, I encouraged him to read over it, and then to teach it to those whom he leads. He shook my hand and said he would be explaining to the youth what the gospel really is about.
After this, Vesa and I managed to get into a conversation with a lady who was very spiritual, and very confused. She is one of those lovely people (she was a really nice lady!) that could talk with a mouth full of gravel, so we spent much time listening. When we were able to talk we shared snippets of the gospel with her in the hope that some seed would be sown. She took a couple of tracts and promised to read them. Please pray for her.
At this stage I had to leave the outreach early in order to complete some other work, but as I was leaving Mike was locked in a conversation with a group of young men. I heard later that this was a good conversation.
Praise God that the message of Jesus continues to spread!
The regular Sunday afternoon outreach for the Christchurch (NZ) team went well. Today we had a small team of members from 2 local churches. Due to the Buskers Festival, many people are in the central city. One of the performance areas is in Cathedral Square, and so we set up at the entrance.
At the end of each performance, there is a rush of people leaving, and it's a great opportunity to hand out tracts and start conversations - of which many were had (as per pictures). May God use the gospel message shared today to bring about salvation of souls -- for His glory alone!
Gearing up for the final week of the Summer Mission - please keep the Christchurch team in your prayers this week! :)
Day 5 of the summer mission to Christchurch (NZ) is complete. We are now officially half way through. We appreciate your encouragement, prayer, and support that is allowing this mission to happen!
Today is the first day of the Buskers Festival, bringing many people into central Christchurch -- to hear the gospel! But the day started slowly. I was feeling tired, and I wasn't getting any takers for a conversation. A little bit of doubt started to creep in. Are we being effective? Is it worth the effort we are putting in? But as I thought this, my thoughts came back to something I often say: even if no one stops to chat, or I don't give away a single gospel tract - I'm still being effective, and it's still worth the effort - simply because I am obeying my Lord who has asked me to go. At the very least, I will be worshipping Him, as I stand on the street looking like a fool for Him. He is worthy.
And it's not foolish, soon after: a man stopped, a conversation had started, and he heard the precious gospel! It was only up from there, person after person stopped to hear the gospel - they were wonderful conversations, all glory to God.
Then something special happened. The previous day I had preached the gospel, to seemingly little effect. Afterwards I had handed out tracts to the few that had listened - but none wanted to talk. But today, a group of 3 came past the flip chart - 1 of whom had heard me preach the day before and had taken a tract from me. Today he, and his friends wanted to talk - praise God. The conversation was difficult initially, as questions were being fired, left, right and center. I had to rely heavily on the wisdom of God's word, and the experience he has given me in dealing with these situations. But through it all, I managed to steer the conversation through the law and the clear evidence of creation and conscience. The bluster of the initial exchange eventually died down, and the questions became genuine and serious. A somberness came upon the conversation, and in light of that, I was able to share of the amazing grace of Jesus. Sadly, there was still resistance from all 3 in the group - but they all took tracts as they left (except for the 1 who had received one the prior day - he still had his). I pray that the discussion about the law and the seriousness of sin, would weigh upon their minds and hearts, having a plowing effect, that they would eventually hear the gospel again and it would find fertile soil in their lives - all to the glory of God alone.
Today being Friday, we also ran our new evening outreach, and in spite of the rain, there were many opportunities to share the gospel. With: a group of 4 men from Belgium across from the bars and restaurants on Oxford Terrace, a young Israeli man in Cathedral Square, and a lovely vegan lady who was with a group of animal rights activists who were bringing about awareness of their cause (see photo - it seemed quite effective, could be an idea for doing something similar in the battle against abortion? But maybe without the masks!)
It was a little bit intimidating sharing the gospel with this lady surrounded by her activist friends. But all need to hear the gospel, and God is with us! I deliberately worked hard to make sure the conversation didn't turn into an argument. I also did my best to understand what she believed and why, and what the differences were between her and her friends beliefs (e.g., she believed in a god, but others were atheist). I did my best to share the gospel, but the conversation didn't follow the usual template. I talked about how there was no death in creation before the fall, and that, one day, God would restore creation where the lion would lie with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6 "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb..."). But I talked about how God killed an animal and used the skin as a covering for Adam and Eve after the fall - which prophetically pointed to Jesus, the lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world. Sin has drastic consequences - including the death of animals. We parted with a hug, and she gladly accepted a gospel tract. May she, and her friends, come to know the only hope there is for the problem of death: Jesus.
Saturday we will be taking a much needed rest, Sunday we will run our usual afternoon outreach, and then from Monday to Friday next week will be the 2nd, and final, week of the summer mission. Please keep us in your prayers.
Day 4 of the Summer Mission to Christchurch. A hot day today, so we decided to hit Sumner Beach with a chilly bin of cold soft drinks to give away with the gospel message! But first we headed to the central city to: hand out tracts, for some "walk up" & flip chart conversations, and to preach in the Square.
Once at the beach, we simply walked up to groups of people offering them a cold drink and starting a conversation. Some people appreciated the drink, but it was clear they didn't want to hang around for too long - those conversations went quickly, but the law and gospel was still able to be presented. Others were keen for a chat, and would ask great questions. 1 engaged young lady even said "I'd always wondered what Christianity was about" - now she knows, but she was warned that it wasn't simply something to understand intellectually, a call to repent and trust Jesus was given.
We appreciate your prayers as we head into Day 5 tomorrow, before taking a much needed rest on Saturday.