The Christmas outreaches of 2018 in Brisbane have concluded and we praise God for what He has done through the team over these past 2 weeks.
With 47,000 gospel tracts going out into people's hands, as well as 500 Christmas children's DVDs and hundreds of gospels of John, please be praying that God will save many. Thank God that He sustained our voices, our bodies and that He used us for His glory.
Please consider joining the team for any of our outreaches in Australia, NZ, or the UK: https://www.operation513.com/street-evangelism-teams/
One day, it's a drought, the next it's a down pour. That's how it felt between yesterdays outreach and todays. Yesterday, no one was interested in stopping for a chat, but today it was non-stop conversations! A shorter outreach today, as most of the team are away on holiday, and I am heading off for 2 days camping, this afternoon, myself. Praise God for re-creation.
The outreach started with a fire incident! Luckily it was a false alarm, but it did provide opportunity to hand out tracts.
After some walk up gospel conversations in Cashel St and Hereford St, I set up my flip chart at the entrance to Cathedral Square. This is a great spot on Friday's as there are lots of stalls and food carts in the Square.
Some highlight conversations:
1) This one was devastating: an older man was keen for a chat but shared that he had terminal cancer and only had 6 months to live! I shared my heart felt condolences, and listened to him share his story. But sadly, every attempt to swing the conversation to eternal life was swiftly shut down. And he wouldn't accept a tract. There is nothing more I could do, but while he is alive, there is still hope - I pray that God would continue to bring him upon the path of Christians who he will be open to listen to the gospel. It could be you. Are you ready?
2) I then had a series of conversations that all rolled into each other. It started with a young man walking right up to the flip chart and wanting to know what it was about. He seemed to understand the message, but, sadly, there was a resistance to it. Then another man on a bike stopped and wanted to know what it was about. He was willing to sit down and wait his turn! But when the first man had left, and the man with the bike had his turn, he also seemed to understand, and yet, sadly, also rejected it. Yet they both seemed to appreciate what I was doing. My prayer is that God would use the gospel seeds sown today - and the law, which ploughs the heart - to bring a conviction of sin and lead them to repentance and faith anyway. I've done my part, it is in God's hands. Finally, while I was talking with the man on the bike, an old work mate walked past and wanted to chat! I couldn't talk to both, and so, sadly, I didn't get to have that chat - but he did take a tract. When it rains it pours! ;)
The outreach ended with preaching in Cathedral Square in speaker's "corner". I started a bit earlier than normal, as a 2 man band has started playing when we normally preach on Fridays. But the local buskers tolerate us, and allowed me to share the gospel with any that could hear my voice. I was then able to have a follow up conversation with a lady who had listened. Our resident heckler turned up, just as I was finishing up (good timing!). I thank God for the freedom I had to share the gospel today. What a privilege it is to have this freedom! A work has been established in Christchurch, I want to encourage you to come out and get involved! No experience is required, God uses people of all gifts, abilities, and ages to share his simple message. Please get in touch today.
Today ended up being a day where few people would stop for a tract or to do the flip chart. But instead many conversations occured after simply approaching people to start a conversation. Yes, I know that sounds completely un Kiwi like! But I was surprised how open people were to it. And often expecting a rejection, I would get people very keen to talk about the important subjects of life! Now you might be thinking - that's easy for you, you are gifted at this, that's why you are an evangelist. No, I'm terrified of it, and I'm just as gifted as you (actually, I'm sure many reading this would be way better than me). But out of my love for God and people, I have learnt to overcome my fears. And so can you. You can do this, I encourage you to get involved with the Great Commission.
2 examples from today:
1) Twin guys were encountered and approached in Cathedral Square, they were open to a conversation and I made it up to the 3rd of 4 commandments of the law that show us our sin before they needed to leave suddenly. They took tracts, but I was sad that they weren't able to hear of the amazing grace of Jesus. But later, when I was in Cashel Mall with my flip chart, the twins and their family walked past! The family and 1 of the twins didn't want to stop, and kept walking, but 1 of the twins stopped, and wanted to know what the 4th question was! He had open ears as I was able to talk about the last of the 4 commandments: adultery (and just looking with lust is adultery of the heart!) and then, with the context of the law showing the seriousness of sin, I was able to share the good news of Jesus. Praise God that He directed the steps of this young man so he could hear the whole presentation. May He save him for His glory.
2) Feeling a bit discouraged from the slow day, and because I was feeling the fear of man, I decided to head for home 15 minutes early. Realising that this was not the attitude of a good leader, I ended up deciding to try handing out tracts to the people sitting in the mall as I was heading to my car. And I was so encouraged that the first guy I approached was very open and keen for a chat. I was able to sit down with him for about 20 minutes as he was waiting for his wife and children to come out of a shop. When he was young, he had been one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and so the conversation centered around the deity of Jesus and the reality of Hell, but the key thing that was discussed was the subtle but very important distinction between salvation through grace alone, and salvation through grace plus works. Through out the discussion, I always tried to come back to the serious nature of sin, and the gospel of Jesus - as it's only the gospel which is the power of God for salvation: Romans 1:16.
Photo: 1 of the few flip chart conversations of the day for the team. Did you know, that the Summer Sale is On Now?! Up to 60%! ;)
The first Boxing Day outreach for the Christchurch team occurred today. It's hard to remember a time when so many people were in Cashel Mall! It's wonderful to see the central city coming back to life as shops and facilities re-establish post the terrible earthquakes 8 years ago.
And with more people comes more opportunity to share the gospel. Labourers for the harvest required, no experience needed, please apply within! :)
So many conversations today were with people who had had a connection to Christianity but didn't understand the simple gospel message of the grace of Jesus. What an honour to have the opportunity to correct that. May God use our feeble efforts in sharing the gospel to bring salvation for His glory.
It was an extremely hot day today with the mercury rising to 37’C and high humidity. The weather wasn’t perfect, but we still went out to share the gospel with as many people as we could.
Over the past few months we have noticed that Redcliffe seems to be progressively becoming harder ground. People seem apathetic towards Christian things and dismissive of the gospel. Today that ground was as hard as ever; yet we still saw the gospel go forth.
Since it is Christmas in a few days, we decided that we would hand out copies of “The Essential Jesus,” which is Luke’s Gospel, so that people could read the Christmas story for themselves. Over the course of two hours we handed out around 50 books. We also handed out a couple of hundred tracts.
As the day progressed some people stopped to talk. Several atheists expressed their displeasure at us being there, and a group of Jehovah Witnesses gathered to engage us; but they quickly retreated when we spoke about the deity of Jesus.
We also saw several young people come up saying they had never read the Christmas story, so they would like a copy of our book. The West which once flourished with the gospel is now becoming a new dark continent.
Please pray for all those we spoke to, who took tracts, and who received the Scripture. May the Lord Jesus save them.
A day of handing out a few tracts and little interest in doing the "good person' test, and then Lee-Anne met Aria. Please pray for this Mormon lady. She was taken through the law and gospel. The chat also covered some ground in evidences for the Christian Scriptures vs. the paucity of 'backups' for the Book of Mormon. Aria said she would check this matter out. The matter of how revelation is given received was also brought to her notice including the 'angel of light' masquerade, cf. 2 Cor. 11:12-15. May the Lord lead her out of that cult into true saving faith in th real Lord Jesus Christ.
We thank God for the pleasure of serving Him this year & growing us. What we do we do for His exclusive glory.
Enjoy praising God and keep eager for our Lord's return - as promised by God who cannot lie; He is absolute truth and unchangeably so!
What better way is there to orient your mind to rejoicing in Christ, the Saviour, this Christmas than to spend some time declaring to others who He is and what He has done to save sinners like us?
For this reason, you're invited to join us in Brisbane City tonight, at 6:30-9:30pm for the final Christmas outreach, and you're invited to join us on Boxing day from 1-5pm.
As the Christmas outreaches draw to a close it is exciting to see how many conversations the team has been able to have as well as the amount of tracts that have been handed out! Here are a few highlight conversations from the last few days.
One scary, yet exciting conversation was with a man named Abinar. He (and his wife) are from Brazil and have come to Australia for a while. They have grown up in a Church back where they came from but sadly had completely missed the Gospel. As the conversation began he was asked, "Will God let you into Heaven when you die?" Adinar responded, "Yes, because I have tried my best to be good".
He was then taken through the law, showing the desperate state he is in before God and was lead through the Gospel, that God's solution isn't for sinful people to try harder, rather for a Holy God to deal with sin, so that those who trust Him can be forgiven, on the basis of what God has done.
Abinar after hearing the Gospel said it made sense and said he would read Romans 3-5 with his wife and seek to understand what Paul is saying about how one is made right before God! Please be praying for this young couple, that God would have used this short conversation to bring them to a saving knowledge of the truth, for the first time in their lives!
Another encouraging conversation was with a young man named Luke. He had a SDA background and had left the church there are while back and had ended up in agnosticism, just living his way. The Gospel was prioritized with Luke, so that he could understand what God had done to save sinners and how they can be made right with Him.
This was followed by many of Luke's questions being answered. He came to understand God's judgement and Hell, the sinful state of a human heart, the miracles and prophecies and their role in the Bible, among other topics.
Please be praying that Luke comes to Christ, the Christ of the scriptures and that in doing so he may receive eternal life!
Lastly a conversation was had with Alice. She had a Catholic background and had rejected the Catholic church and was now just living the life of a pagan, doing everything she wanted or desired and living her way. Alice was challenged with the Gospel, left with a clear understanding of what she deserved and God's only solution and was left with the question, when would she give up her pride-fueled rebellion and come to trust in God's Saviour.
These three conversations are quite typical of the Australian streets, people who have some sort of religious background but little to know understanding of the Gospel. This is why is it so needed and such a privilege to be out on the streets, being able to explain to anyone God brings along, what God has done, said and promised.
Please keep the team in prayer over the next few outreaches and even consider joining us yourself on the public holidays!
On Wednesday afternoon the team headed into the mall for another long but joyful day of ministry. Starting soon after lunch and finishing up after 9:30, around five thousands tracts were handed out and many conversations were had!
Some notable and encouraging conversations were had and here is a taste for you, that will hopefully encourage you this Christmas season, to take any opportunity and to even "create" some yourself by asking people the simple question, "What do you think Christmas is about?" followed by mentioning that the original Christmas was about Christ coming into this world and then asking, "Do you think God will let you into Heaven when you die?"
A conversation that followed that very simple progression was had with a young lady named Georgia who made some of the team dinner during the break between the outreaches. In less than five minutes Georgia came to understand what Christ was about, why it is such good news and why this year she should strongly consider what Jesus has to say, "Repent or perish".
Another interesting conversation was with James. He is a biologist and as expected, had combined his biology with his desire for their to be no accountability for his actions and had agreed with the common, yet foolish theory that it is normal and natural to assume that we live in a world with no Creator and therefore no right or wrong.
The first point of call with James, just as with any person is the Gospel. So that is what James got to hear, who God is, what God asked of us, how desperately we have failed to obey, in fact, willfully rebelled and the eternal consequences of these choices. James then got to hear what the kind and humble God has done to save rebel sinners, He came into His own creation to die the death we deserve, suffering the Hell punishment in our place that all those who place their trust in Him can be made right before God and be redeemed to the humanity they were designed to be.
James hadn't heard this before and was seriously challenged about it and not left with any wiggle room. As the conversation flowed though, it was time to begin to answer some of James' objections and all the while, pointing back to the Gospel as the questions were answered.
As the conversation drew to a close the final point that seemed to have James very stumped came off the back of the explanation given as to why humanity know what is good and yet desire to live selfishly and do evil. It was explained that other world religions try to explain why we know what is good and have some adherence to it but fail to explain why humanity is so sinful at the same time. On the other hand atheism has this idea of the "selfish gene" and tries to explain why humanity is inherently selfish and then attempts to paint it as positive.
The issue is, both have major flaws and do not accurately describe the world we live in, with people knowing what is right and sometimes even desiring moral actions whilst being inherently evil and selfish all the time.
What left James speechless is the incompatibility of selfishness with what atheism claims, that the purpose of humanity is to pro-create. His attempted intellectual argument found one massive flaw, that is not how atheists live.
Rather, we find that atheists don't have enough children to even have a sustainable world, the required rate per is 2.1 children per family (to keep the population growing). What we find is that atheists (in America from a 2015 survey) have around 1.6 children per family and agnostics are even lower at 1.3 per family. Why do the statistics not align with the supposed "belief system" that our sole purpose is to procreate. The reason is because this proclaimed "selfish gene", is not a gene at all, it is just a cover term for sin.
The belief system atheist's claim to have, is simply sinful selfishness disguised as intellectualism. Every person knows that children are trying to ones patience at the best of times. A selfish desire to "pass on ones DNA" is in no way powerful enough to overcome the interruption that children will have on ones own abilities to live however they want.
It was pointed out, with one final serious challenge to James, that His attempts to explain the world from an atheistic perspective will always fail and be inconsistent because it simply isn't true. It is just the latest attempt of proud humanity to convince themselves they are not guilty by attempting to explain away the God of this world.
At this James actually had no response, he was challenged with the truth of sin one final time and was pointed to the Gospel, that Jesus could save him from his rebellion, rejection of God and the consequences of it.
One final conversation on more sad note was with an older gentleman. He was asked where he would spend eternity and initially seemed quite pleasant. He said that he didn't think about Heaven and Hell much because he was just living his best life and said that would probably be enough.
When Jesus in Matthew 5:48 was quoted to him, "You must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect". He responded by mentioning that no one is perfect then asked, "Are you perfect?"
To which the answer was given, "Not at all, but entry to Heaven is certain for those who have trusted in Jesus' perfection and sacrifice on the cross".
He repeated that he wasn't worried about the afterlife and this moment was taken to stress why that is a foolish position to take, "God has been clear that after death comes the judgement and as you currently stand, you will be found guilty of breaking God's law and you will be sent to Hell, your only hope is to come to this same Saviour who came into this world on the very first Christmas to die to save sinners".
It was at this moment he exploded, declaring that did not want any saviour and dropped a few profanities in his request for the team member to leave him, ironically "in peace".
Please be praying for those conversations had today, the tracts handed out and the opportunities God provided to speak with people. Please praise God that His Gospel went forth and that He will do exactly what He desires with it!
Please also be praying for Georgia, James and the older gentleman who wanted to trust in himself. Please pray that this seed falls on good soil and that it will grow and bear much fruit!
Timaru - Christmas
If it’s about numbers... hundreds, even thousands of tracts ... then it was not a success, at least humanly speaking. It was very quiet, with no one out on the streets of Timaru at 09:00. I tried the day before, but the weather blew & rained all away. By 10:00 today, I tried again and by God’s grace was able to hand out about 20 tracts. One elderly gentleman actually turned back to ask for a tract! :) The low level of foot traffic, which was very strange for this time of year, helped me focus on why I was there handing out tracts to the few people out and about... Jesus said to go out in the world and preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15). He didn’t say only go when you can preach/ witness to multitudes. Gospel seed was sown... God was glorified, may He use what was sown to gain a fruitful harvest. Please continue to pray for fellow Christians to come alongside to help. Even if the foot traffic remains low, we could have edifying fellowship as we engage in Evangelism. Thank you. Psalm 67!
In November we were able to have some significant conversations with people in the Toowoomba CBD. The first of these conversations occurred between Merv and a group of teenagers. This group was eager to engage and spent a fair bit of time talking with Merv regarding spiritual things. During the course of the discussion, a number of them claimed that they didn’t believe in Christianity due to evolution.
This is a very, very common objection with younger people and so Merv began to unpack some of the issues surrounding this important topic. As Merv was speaking his wife, Alisa, came over and also began to speak with the teens. One of the teens picked up that Alisa was agreeing with Merv and asked her “Are you with him?”, a statement which delighted our faithful husband and wife team. The conversation eventually wound down and the teens took some tracts and were left with much to think about.
Another one of our team members, Sarah, had a much different conversation. She struck up a conversation with an older bloke who said he was once a Christian but had stopped following Christ. He also intriguingly believed that everyone will be in Heaven one day. It was a difficult dialogue and the bloke didn’t really want to talk. In moments like these, it’s best to respectfully leave the conversation to another day and so Sarah bid the man farewell and continued on.
In all honesty, speaking with people who describe themselves as “ex-Christian” is often the most painful part of following Christ, especially if they are your friends or family. Few experiences are more emotionally agonising, though it shouldn’t surprise us. Jesus predicted that many would follow Him yet eventually choose to turn away from Him. He even included this warning in a number of His parables, such as in the parable of different soils (Matt 13:18-23) and of wheat and weeds (Matt 13:24-30, 36-42).
Consider Judas, who saw spent three years living side by side with Jesus. Judas travelled with Jesus, healed people with Jesus, saw countless miracles by Jesus and shared numerous meals with Jesus. If Judas could turn away from Christ after following Him into full-time ministry, how much more should we be to prepared for the reality of apostasy* in our own midst? How much more do we be prepared to live together with and love those who have turned away from Christ?
It’s not over till it’s over...and thankfully God has brought many a Prodigal son (and daughter) back to Himself over the years. This is a hope that drives our ministry on the streets whenever we encounter ex-Christians. We have the beautiful hope of a powerful, patient Father whose children can take a million steps away from yet need to take only one step back.
All in all, it was a challenging outreach and we look forward in faith to see what God will do in the coming weeks and months in the lives of the people of Toowoomba.
*Some helpful resources on the topic:
Christmas Lights Outreach
Each year our team has the privilege of handing out Gospel tracts at the Queen’s Park Christmas Lights festival. We met together at 6pm and after a time of prayer we split into pairs to cover the various footpaths around the event. As usual, it was extremely busy and almost everyone we encountered was in a festive mood and were happy to take tracts. We were able to hand out a couple of hundred tracts in a very short period of time.
We had one memorable encounter with a volunteer from the event. She walked over to us and say quite pointedly “What are you fellows handing out?” I responded, “Gospel tracts ma’am”.
Suddenly her entire demeanor changed and with a big smile, she exclaimed “Great stuff! Praise the Lord!” and with a spring in her step, she returned back to her post. Talk about a change of attitude!
At the end of the night, we assembled together again and told stories of how our respective adventures went. God has blessed us with an incredible team and as we look to the future we’re excited to see everything our amazing and faithful God has in store for us in 2019.