Friday night and Saturday saw the Christchurch (NZ) team at the Stand for the Gospel conference where the main speaker was Joel Beeke. Because of this (and the heavy constant rain all day!) there were no outreaches on Saturday. But it was wonderful to be challenged and encouraged from the word of God and to enjoy a time of fellowship.
I was surprised to learn that people actually read these battle logs that I write! So I was very encouraged by that. Thank you! :)
Sunday afternoon saw a team of four (including a newbie!) head out for the usual outreach to Cashel Mall. There was rain in the morning, but there was respite by the time we headed out, allowing us to minister the Gospel without the need to find shelter! The sun even decided to come out for a short period. :)
I started the outreach talking to a young Chinese man who was finishing a holiday and flying home in the evening. Sadly, just as the conversation was warming up, the rest of his family came out of a shop and he had to move on. But he took a Gospel tract to (hopefully) read on his flight!
I then approached an older man with a Gospel tract and was surprised when he responded with hostility. He was a Catholic who wasn’t happy with us rebel Protestants! I tried to calm him so I could start to reason with him, but he wasn’t open to it. He initially wouldn’t shake hands with me, but in the end he did (but he said it doesn’t mean anything!). He kept the tract I had initially given him.
Meanwhile, Tim and Sophie were busy handing out tracts, and ended up having conversation after conversation (see all the pictures in this report, with others on the cutting room floor!). Praise God for that.
I ended up having a follow up conversation with the two young men. It turns out one of them was doing an essay for school trying to make sense of the Israel Folau controversy. It was a wonderful opportunity to talk about how we know things to be true which challenged his postmodern worldview. The young man ended up taking a copy of God and Sexuailty by Ray Comfort to read.
This is the last outreach for Sophie for a season, she is about to embark on an exciting adventure to Israel. We will miss you Sophie, and we’ll be praying for you! Have a safe, and blessed trip! :)
After the outreach had ended, and as I was loading my flip chart into my car, I encountered a man whom I’ve spoken to a number of times before, but is resistant to the Gospel. He was drunk, but I still took the time to reason with him about the seriousness of sin, and the grace of Jesus. This Gospel is the power of God for salvation!
Thursday saw the Christchurch (NZ) team back at the bus stops: Northlands and Eastgate. A team of three - it was great to have Kim of OAC joining Andy and I. These bus stops are an immense harvest field with pretty much constant opportunity to chat with people who are keen to talk about what comes after life.
Starting at Northlands, my first conversation was with a young man who had just hopped off a bus and was walking past. He accepted a tract, and the question “do you ever think about what comes after life?” piqued his interest. He was open to listen, and did so intently as I shared the law and the Gospel. I then asked if he had any questions, and he slowly but thoughtfully responded with, “no, I’m just thinking it over”.
Another conversation was with a young man who was volunteering at a church, but was not sure about the existence of God (which I found fascinating). As per Romans 1, I explained how we know God exists - through creation, in the things that have been made - and then presented the law and the Gospel to him.
At this point I touched base with Andy, and he had just had an exciting Gospel conversation with a man who had been reading Christopher Hitchens on his Kindle when Andy had approached him. Already thinking on such philosophy, Andy was able to provide another perspective!
Moving to Eastgate, as I arrived an older man was walking past. It turns out he was a retired physicist who sure liked to talk! Sadly, he was completely closed to a reasoned conversation about God and the Gospel, and decided to disengage early.
But I had a very encouraging conversation with a man from the Philippines, who was Catholic. He said that of all his time in New Zealand, I was the first to talk to him about the things of God - how sad is that! He was open to a Gospel conversation and seemed challenged.
My last conversation at Eastgate was a long one. I handed a tract to a young lady who I expected to not be interested. To my surprise, she was very interested, and had many questions to ask. It turned out that someone had given her a Bible (King James) five years earlier (outside her school), and she had clearly been reading it. She seemed to understand the serious nature of her sins, and didn’t think she would be good enough to go to heaven and deserved hell (which is absolutely true, and very refreshing to hear). She understood the justice of God, but not His mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord! So it was my privilege to recap the law, and share the amazing Gospel with her - how we could be justified before God, through faith alone (not works) in Christ. After this, she had question after question. She seemed to know she needed to be connected to a church and had only recently started to investigate this. I’m glad, as assuming she understands the Gospel and places her trust in Christ, she needs discipling! She gladly accepted a New King James Bible, and other literature. And what most encouraged me, was that she expressed a deep desire to talk to others about the things of God. She was excited at the idea of joining us out on the streets! But I said she needed to get committed to a local church first. She knows how to get in contact with us - I deliberately left the ball in her court in that regard - I pray that she does.
Friday saw forecast rain hit with a vengeance. Standing, exposed, in the cold rain outside the hospital holding signs is miserable. So, sadly, we decided to cancel the Gospel + abortion outreach this week. Instead, while I was letterboxing, Andy had a fruitful time of ministry outside the bus exchange (under the shelter of the large extended roof).
A team of three gathered in the afternoon for flip charting and walk up conversations in sheltered spots. All glory to God, we were able to have many opportunities to share the love of Christ, in spite of the rain.
A group of girls walked past me and took no interest in my attempt to start a conversation with a Gospel tract. It often happens! But then I turned around and noticed that the girls had all stopped and gathered around Roger’s flip chart (pictured)! Roger is obviously a much better evangelist than I am. ;)
My highlight conversation of the afternoon was with a young man I first encountered during the summer mission. I’ve had at least three other solid follow up conversations with him since then (including today) and I regularly pray for him. He is blind to the serious nature of sin, and is absolutely unwilling to turn from his sin that he loves. He is stubbornly holding to the idea that there is nothing after death. This reminds me (not that I need it) that I can’t convince anyone with logic or reason, but that salvation is of the Lord. Even though we both strongly disagree with each other, we enjoy engaging. And we parted ways with a hug. I will continue to pray for him.
Every week is just as good as the last because when its God's work it's always good.
The one that was most memorable was a man I have talked with before. He was walking past and looked at the tract said um no, then he turned back and said oh ,ok I'll take it. Then a while later he was walking back and stopped. At first I hadn't remembered what he had believed and I said I know your face and we've chatted before and he said yes I'm an atheist. I got his name again and we chatted.
It was good he said that he wants to be a person that keeps learning, so he wants to be teachable. He talked about the climate change and said I would not agree with him. But on what he was saying I did agree with him that we have a responsibility to care for the earth God has given us. But again went to the fallen state of the world talked about Adam and Eve the consequences of sin, our broken relationship and the curse of sin on humankind and creation. I remember this man from last time and God is really doing a stirring work in his heart. He was challenged again about the truth of the Bible message.
Pray or him and all those we have had the privilege to share the truth in love. Again we continue to have other Christians stop to encourage us and we are able to encourage them as well. All praise honour and Glory to our Sovereign triune God.
Last week a young girl came up and asked for a Bible. It is always so wonderful to have people wanting to receive a Bible. Also its great to be able to ask some questions and encourage them in the Gospel. God is doing all of the work in the heart. We are just like a sign post pointing to the salvation message that we have joyfully received by God's Mercy and Grace. It's all for His purposes and Glory.
When asked if the Bible was for herself, she told me she had read and studied it in the past and that she wanted to investigate it more. I shared the most important message is to be made right with God. To have God's Spirit and a new heart. First we need to hear the bad news and Gods Word and work is needed to admit we are sinners in great need for God's Grace (I like to use the song “Amazing Grace”) and talk about how it says a wretch like me ... and how blind sin makes us. Then when we see our problem it helps us. God’s grace gives us ears to hear the sound of God’s call and to see our greatest need as He opens the heart to believe and appreciate the good news of Jesus!!!
She was asked some questions, we talked about the condition each person is in because of our sin. There is nothing we can do because we are spiritually dead only Jesus can save us. I wrote down some Scriptures gave her a couple of tracts and asked her to read them and if she needed any help that we are here on Fridays. She had to go, it was a wonderful conversation.
Rick listened and talked to a man who had been through some not very nice things, poor man is also new in town. We were able to give him information where he could get help with food if he needed to. He was taken through the flip chart and given tracts. He was admitting his sin and heard the message of salvation as a gift not works.
We had a few young kids with parents take tracts this last couple of weeks of school holidays. Sometimes the parents take the tract read a few lines then pass it to their child.
We were giving out the tract "The intelligence test" also other tracts and booklets continue to be handed out praise God.
On Wednesday in Brisbane City the events going on the the square were gone, meaning there were a whole heap more people sitting down around the area! There were also seven team members out meaning seven people could hear the gospel at one time! Over the course of the afternoon many people were approached and had conversations of varying lengths.
The first lengthy conversation took place with Liam, who had just gotten out of prison for attempted murder. You would think that he would have thought he was a bad person and deserving of Hell but you'd be wrong. Liam thought that as long as he improves his life from here on in God would welcome him into Heaven on the final day because he is generally a decent guy. Throughout the conversation he came to understand the simple message of the gospel, that faith in what Christ has done is enough for someone to get to Heaven but it turned out that he didn't want to give up living his own way.
He said, "I would prefer to keep stealing to provide for my family and go to Hell than to trust in Christ and not be able to provide". It was an attempt to be noble but it was pointed out that there are a myriad of other ways in which you can survive with a family and it came out that there were certain things that He spent his money on that were not only sinful but illegal. Liam wanted sin more than he wanted God. He walked away knowing what Christ says the way to Heaven is and took a tract. Please be praying that God would humble him and give him a desire to trust in Christ.
A more exciting conversation was with Andrew and Zara. Andrew was in his late fifties and Zara was his eight year old daughter. Andrew at first professed to be atheistic but it turned out that he rejection of God wasn't evidence based but upon the fact that he desired to live his own way. Andrew was shown some simple apologetics for how we know God exists and he said they made sense. He was shown his guilt through God's law and came to understand that if he kept living his own way and died God would have to send him to Hell. At this point Zara came over and joined in the conversation and the pair came to understand the simple message to the gospel, that the solution to sin isn't living better but trusting in Christ to pay for it.
It was wonderful to see that Zara, who attends a Catholic school, came to understand the gospel and Andrew, after attending many years at a Lutheran Church did as well. They were challenged strongly to trust along in Christ for their forgiveness and were given a gospel of John and a tract to read together.
The afternoon was filled with some other chats, including a catch up with a man who had been struggling last time. Over the afternoon though, a range of people came to understand what Jesus says the way to Heaven is and were challenged to count the cost and to trust in Christ.
Please keep those who heard in your prayers and even considering finding a time when you're free to come on out!
A very eventful couple of days of outreach for the Christchurch (NZ) team early this week.
The Tuesday afternoon outreach in Riccarton saw the team size double from one to two for the first time, very encouraging! We set up on either side of Rotherham Street - along Riccarton Road. Neither of us had too much down time.
I took note of at least five Gospel interactions for myself during this outreach.
Firstly there was a Hindu man who wanted to go to heaven, and happily went through the flip chart law and Gospel presentation, but afterwards, he made it clear he was a Hindu and followed Kirishna. When it was re-explained that only Jesus was perfect and the only hope for forgiveness of sin as our substitute, sadly, he walked away in disgust.
An Asian couple were very interested in the flip chart, when asked who was the best person, she clearly exclaimed that the Dalai Lama was the worst person! It was clear that this couple was from China, which indeed they were! They did not stay to hear the law and the Gospel, but when she said she was an Atheist, I had a brief opportunity to explain how she knew God existed, she didn’t deny the logic, and said she would read the tract and look at the Operation 513 web site.
I had two young women walk past looking like they were out to party. They were keen to try the flip chart, and seemed to understand the simple message it conveyed. But this put a damper on their party mood, and they were keen to move on (sadly), but were polite enough to stay to hear to the end.
I then had a brief, but encouraging, conversation with a delivery truck driver who I often see driving past when outreaching at this location. He had parked and had hopped out looking for an address to deliver to. I was able to help him with that. But then he became curious about me, and wanted to know what church I represented. It was clear that he had been noticing me week after week - as I had him. He gladly took a tract and said he would read it (he couldn’t stay as he was working). I hope to have an opportunity to talk to him again.
My final conversation was a long one with a young Christian guy. Some of his Christian concepts were a little mucked up, which was concerning, but then he did show a clear understanding of the most important concepts, and claimed to be trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice for his salvation. He even talked about some key changes he had made in his life as a result of this, including reading his Bible daily. It turns out his pastor had been encouraging his church to get out and share the Gospel, which to him meant inviting his friends to church. So most of the conversation was about what it meant to share the Gospel, how to share the Gospel, and what our responsibilities were in evangelism. This young man accepted some tracts from me, and I encouraged him to share them with his friends. I also encouraged him to get in contact, and to join me for an outreach.
The Wednesday outreach to the city was hampered by rain. But in spite of this, I was very busy in many wonderful Gospel interactions.
Pretty much the first gospel tract I handed out, caused a lady to stop and engage. She was a feminist, and denied the Christian concept of God. Using some basic apologetics, I was able to engage her long enough to communicate some basic Gospel truths. In the end, she walked off claiming she was looking forward to oblivion. I responded that there is hope in Christ. She laughed. But I’m confident God’s word had struck home.
I then had follow up opportunities with three people, one after the other before moving into a long conversation with an older lady, who wanted to know if I was one of those “born againers”. It turns out she had been deeply hurt by some hypocrites, and yet, I was able to share the full law and Gospel message with her three times in the conversation. The last time was when she wanted to know what my flip chart was all about. There was resistance in her, but she was also open. She knows how to get in contact with me. There was a warmth about this lady, I hope to see her again.
The pre lunch outreach finished with a wonderful flip chart presentation to a mum and her three children. I always find these situations a bit awkward, often the parents want to get their children away when they realise I’m a Christian who takes the Bible seriously. So I’m always very up front. But the mum was fine, and so I was able to clearly articulate the Gospel to this family. The mum seemed appreciative, and gladly took a tract.
Some light rain had started by now, and so I headed off for a lunch break. But during lunch, the heavens opened. I decided to do some letterbox dropping, and continued to do so for two hours as the rain poured. Finally, the rain stopped, and so I was able to get into the city for a final hour of outreach.
I was amazed, in spite of the lack of people around, how fruitful that hour of outreach was. I was able to have a number of follow up conversations with various people, I encountered an old workmate, who accepted a tract. And I got to see Mr. Angry again! He had been watching me talking with some people about the Gospel, and when they left I looked up and noticed him. I smiled and waved. But he turned around and walked off (with his friend). I will keep praying for him.
I had intended to just hand out a few tracts, while joining up with the Operation 513 Christchurch team, especially since it has been some time since I last went out. God had other plans. I ended up having various good 1-on-1 conversations. It was good to have the support of like minded Christians.
At least two of the conversations were with professing Christians, wherein I asked them to witness to me as if I was not a Christian, asking clarifying questions as the conversation continued. I also tried to make sure I presented to them the Law & Gospel. One conversation that stood out, was with Logan (white hoody) and his friend. Logan professed to be a Christian, while his friend was still searching for answers, and willing to listen. It was clear throughout our conversation and afterwards, that Logan's friend was thinking over what was said. This conversation started with another team member who handed them a tract, but who had to move on.
Another conversation was with the local atheist who admitted that it was his mission to target Christians. Not exactly the most enjoyable experience, but it kept him busy from disrupting the Evangelism conversations of the rest of the team??. It's frustratingly sad to see someone so committed to being so hateful towards God (who he obviously doesn’t believe in). In addition, it is helping me to realize how grateful I should be for God's Grace and how ashamed I should be for neglecting that same Grace at times.
I am busy reading "The Christian in Complete Armour - William Gurnall" and have found it to be a valuable tool and much needed encouragement, conviction and challenging. I can highly recommend it for your personal reading, including for evangelism.
PS - I did end up handing out a few tracts ;-)
Another weekend of outreaches has passed for the Christchurch (NZ) team.
On Saturday I was in Cathedral Square under a clear blue sky (pictured), and many people were out and about - some who were willing to take a tract or have a conversation.
The conversation that stands out in my memory was with two teens. The After Life tract pricked their curiosity, and so they stayed for a chat. I took them through the logic of the reality of God, known through creation. That we know right and wrong, through conscience, meaning there must be justice after life. All to which they consented to. So I then took them through the good person test.
Sadly, in New Zealand, many people don’t understand some basic terms, and I’m having to explain them all the time. One of those terms is “adultery”. I guess In a society where marriage is now completely optional it is understandable. Well, this was true for these two young men, so I found myself explaining the concept to them, and amazingly (once they understood) they came up with reasons why adultery could be justified!
In spite of this, they were tracking with me as I explained the serious nature of sin by looking at the heart of the law, for example: that lust is the root of adultery.
So I was able to then carefully explain the Gospel: that Jesus lived the perfect life that we couldn’t, and is now offering his perfection in exchange for our sins through faith alone in His sacrificial death on the cross and resurrection.
They were still tracking with me, as a checking question confirmed their understanding. One even asscented that they should put their faith in Christ today. So I challenged them to do so, with an explanation of the paradox of the cost of accepting the gift of Jesus. They accepted literature and know how to get in touch. I leave them in God's hands.
Sunday had heavy overnight rain and forecasts for hail and thunder in the afternoon. Two of the team resolved to commit to outreach anyway. And the weather held off! So there were many people out and about and many good Gospel conversations.
As soon as I had set up my flip chart, I instantly had some interaction, with a young lady who said she had done the good person test with me in Riccarton (I didn't remember her). I asked if she had passed that test, and she said she had. I raised my eyebrow and moved into a fresh law and Gospel presentation with her and two others that were with her.
After sharing with them, I ended up asking if she had a Bible. She said she had a JW one. I again raised my eyebrow! :) I asked her if I gave her a proper Bible if she would read it, she insisted she would - so I did so, with an After Life tract sitting at the book of Mark and a request for her to get in touch so I could guide her to a good local church.
As I’m finishing up this report (Sunday evening) in the warmth of my study, I can now hear the rain has started. For whatever reason, God decided to hold the weather back. I pray that those who had their hearts plowed with the law, and received Gospel seed would come across others who will water - and that God would bring an increase of salvation, for His glory alone.
I have a day off tomorrow, and so tonight I’m going to be able to enjoy, with my family, watching the Cricket World Cup Final between New Zealand and England, and rest. Go the Black Caps. ;)
Thursday and Friday were exciting and busy days of outreach for the Christchurch (NZ) team. I ended up taking 84 photos, only five of which have made it into this report - many good ones are on the cutting room floor.
Thursday saw an afternoon of outreach to the bus stops in Linwood (outside Eastgate Mall), and Papanui (outside Northlands Mall). We switched the times of when we go to each mall to try to minimise encountering the same people all the time - and it worked.
A highlight conversation for me at Eastgate was with two teen girls, there seemed to be genuine shock in understanding the serious nature of sin in light of the holiness of God’s law written on our hearts; and then genuine appreciation of the amazing grace found in the Gospel.
Another conversation, although sad, was with three young teens - one of whom said she had talked to me before (but I don’t remember it). These teens had been through some trials in life, including one who had been raped, and two of whom had attempted suicide. I was gently peppered with difficult questions that related to suffering. I did my best to answer them biblically, and to show my genuine care for them. It was a good conversation. After initially refusing Gospel tracts, as I was leaving they all took one. One of them I saw again on Friday in the city. I hope I will have further opportunities to continue the Gospel conversation with all of them.
My whole time at Northlands was spent in one conversation with a passionate Muslim girl. Andy ended up getting involved as well (pictured). She was so passionate, that she wanted me to watch a YouTube video with her that shows why Islam is right and Christianity is wrong! In the end, I agreed to watch a short one on my phone, while she watched one with James White explaining the Gospel for Muslims. The key issue she didn’t have an answer for was how God can justly forgive. She accepted a “Which One in Right?” tract.
The first of three outreaches on Friday was the Gospel + abortion outreach outside the hospital. Encouraging having a team of seven, including a newbie (my mum!). This freed up three of the team to be able to have “walk up” conversations with people and hand out “Life is Precious” tracts. One conversation Andy had went for a long time (pictured).
A team of six were in Cathedral Square and Cashel Mall in the afternoon for the second outreach of the day. Due to the school holidays, there were many people out and about, and many of those people were open to a Gospel conversation.
One of our hecklers (pictured sitting down next to Roger’s flip chart) came and decided to interject himself into some of the conversations we were having. It became very difficult at one stage, with Roger trying to share the Gospel with a group of teens, while the mother was resistant and engaging me, while our heckler was trying to contradict everything Roger said. We did our best!
One of the team ended up getting into a long conversation with the heckler, freeing up the rest of the team to have Gospel conversation after conversation. Praise God!
The last outreach was in the evening with a team of two. The weather was mild, in spite of it being the middle of winter, and plenty of people were still out in Cathedral Square leading to some wonderful conversations (one pictured).
The school holidays have started in New Zealand. And the first Gospel conversation, on Tuesday, was with five teens enjoying their break in Riccarton. The conversation was facilitated with the flip chart.
Later, to my surprise, a Muslim lady, with her two young sons was keen to give the flip chart a try. They took their religion seriously and so they were very engaged in the conversation. The eldest of the boys (who I estimate was about seven or eight years old) asked some very challenging questions. I was able to present the law and the Gospel, with a focus on how Jesus resolved both justice and mercy at the cross, and that we are saved by faith alone, and not by works.
Another conversation with a very engaged teenager was interrupted by a driver saying out their window: “don’t listen to him”. This is very encouraging to me - that I’m becoming so well known in the area, that people feel the need to make a comment like that! The young teen ignored the advice and stayed to hear the law and the Gospel, then ask questions.
Wednesday saw a change to the usual plan, I decided to join Kim of OAC in some door to door outreach in Kaiapoi (north of Christchurch).
Most of our time was spent at some retirement villas. Evangelists often say that the older people are, the harder they are to reach (or the more closed they are). In some ways, that might be true. But all people are “dead in their trespasses and sins” and God can save the hardest people, through the power of the Gospel. It’s our job to share the Gospel with all.
And we had some wonderful conversations, and were able to challenge some hard hearts. One lady resisted the simple concept of creation being evidence of a creator. Another couldn’t stand the concept of justice, insisting that God is only “love”. Both happily received tracts to ponder in their own time.
And we had a real encouragement, a wonderful Baptist lady was very encouraged to know that we were going door to door, she almost started “preaching” at us at how important it was for Christians to share the Gospel message. She was certainly preaching to the choir! Later we saw her again outside at a street crossing (pictured: she is crossing the road) - she gladly received tracts to distribute to those she came across. If she can do it, so can you! :)
The final conversation of the outreach was not at a retirement villa, and a young lady was very open to a conversation. But even after hearing of the law (that brings the knowledge of sin), and the Gospel, checking questions showed she had not grasped the concepts. We did our best to continue to explain, but it just shows - young or old, all need God to open their eyes to see the glorious Gospel!