Hobart Team (TAS)
Elizabeth Street Mall.
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The social distancing of this time has some difficulties in reaching out but also some amazing benefits that come with it. Here in Hobart we are all keeping each other at arm’s length and trying to keep out of public as much as possible. We work from home and do outreach online where possible.
Each day people are encouraged to get an hour’s exercise and with this in mind I have each Tuesday and Friday been walking through Hobart praying for the city. During this time, I have encountered many people I know or who know me from the outreach in the Mall. This has been a blessing and lead to many gospel conversations.
One of the recent conversations was with a young man who walked past me and yelled “Homophobe”. I called out that he should come back and speak to me if he really believed that was true, that he should show some courage. Praise God this young man had just that. After about 15 minutes he came back. We talked for quite some time and discussed what the bible says to homosexuals like his friends and to heterosexuals like he and I. It was good to be able to show him respect in hearing what he had to say, but at the same time to defend God’s good ways and wisdom.
Real marriage is between one man and one woman for life, faithful before and during, until death parts us. All the fake simulacrums that this heart sick society throws up for us are destructive parodies that ultimately lead us away from God and true joy that can only be found in Him. While we did not agree by the end of our discussion, we both agreed it would be good to talk more, so I encouraged him to come and see me at speakers, corner sometime when the restrictions are lifted.
Another of the discussions I had was with a frequent visitor to the mall, a troubled lady that often is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. She said that things were difficult, confusing even, at the moment and it was hard to know where to look. I smiled and looked to the heavens saying "I look to Him, I look to Jesus". She smiled and agreed, "That's where we should be looking isn't it? I do believe in Him." I encouraged her to follow him closely and with that she left. I pray that she will repent of all sin and look to Jesus every day.
There have also been a large number of Christians that have stopped to share a moment of fellowship in passing. These precious folks have repeatedly lifted my spirits and reminded me of the love of our Father in heaven. It is wonderful to see the joy on the faces of my brothers and sisters. They are such a witness in these times. There are so many people who are fearful and heavy laden, yet they are confident in the King of all kings!
They are delighting in the joyful reality that nothing of these current trials will be remembered in the life to come. Their treasure, safe in heaven, cannot be threatened by disease any more than any of the other slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. And oh, the ways that they are speaking of their Lord and Saviour! The gospel is going out and the people of Australia have been humbled such that they are listening as never before.
May God graciously raise up a great throng of saved souls through these times. Glory to Him alone!
What a glorious day to be in God’s service here in Hobart! In the midst of so much fear and anxiety we were able to reach out with the hope and security found in Jesus Christ alone.
There were many encouragements and great conversations had through the day today as Kieron and I were able to preach and read the word and run the Bible table. Repeatedly we were able to speak with Christians and so many of them were calm and joyful, such a contrast to the panic that seems to permeate the media these days.
Mrs P. – an American Christian who came to the Bible table asking for resources while I was reading from Romans 8. Very please to hear about the regular outreach in the mall and encouraged us to continue in the work. Was interested in getting some tracts to do outreach at work. Was able to supply her with some and the link to purchase more from the Operation 513 webstore.
Christian couple from Cambridge (Tasmania not England) – part of a fellowship in the Cambridge community hall (Praise God for raising up churches!). Likewise, very please there is an outreach happening in the mall and took some tracts to use around Hobart and Cambridge.
Ms D. – Regular visitor to the outreach who we all love and pray for regularly. Has faced many struggles and continues to face hard times with medical concerns and the sins of others around her. She sat and talked and listened for some time and we were able to encourage her and assure her of our prayers.
School student – Has stopped previously and I was able to encourage and hopefully bless her with some of the comfort that God offers. She was struggling with how to be generous with those who would use that generosity to damage themselves. I encouraged her to continue to be generous but not to give in to demands that it be purely be financial. I pointed her to the examples in scripture that teach us to offer help in such a way that it is blessing others. I also told her that when I have people in the mall ask for help, I will offer to buy them food or something similar rather than giving money. She thanked Kieron and I for the outreach and then encouragement of the preaching today, and I praise God that it blessed her, because her encouragement blessed me.
Mr M. – A regular Italian visitor, we often talk about world events, and today it was about coronavirus and other health concerns. I was able to encourage him to be careful and look to the Lord for security in these times. He also encouraged me in the work and particularly the preaching.
What a beautiful day today in the mall. God blessed us so richly! There are always many good things that God blesses us with but today it was almost like there was a flag flying in every window telling us of God’s great love.
The first part of the outreach was spent at speaker’s corner reading from the Word of God. Most of my reading came from Acts, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes. During this time there were many that stopped to listen for a period and many nods and smiles.
It is always a blessing to read out the Word, but today there was a real sense of Grace that the team and I experienced in reading and hearing it. The blessing of Scripture is the twofold action that it has on the human heart. On the one hand there is great blessing to be had from hearing the words of our loving heavenly father that teach the entirety of our being how to live in the blessed way. On the other hand, there is the correction to sinful humanity that confronts us with the lies and sins of the past. It is an irrefutable condemnation of our wrong deeds and a powerful call to repentance and faith. For those who will receive the Word in humble faith and trust, both of these works act to build them up in Godliness and joy.
The other blessing was a long conversation with Mr Se:
He is a visitor to speaker’s corner several times but this is the first time that I have had a decent talk with him. He’s past and the wrongs that filled it are something that he repents of and fights against but as scripture says, “And such WERE some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:11. Praise God the life he once lead is now a witness to many people and he is able to offer grace and kindness to them in the name of Yeshua. As a Messianic Jew, he, Kieron and I all had a lot in common and the conversation flowed well. He encouraged us that there is a lot of common ground that we and others share in Hobart, not least a dislike of the radical progressive agenda’s that abound currently in the news and internet. While the things we talked about were very serious and important, there were lots of jokes and we parted company smiling and laughing. I hope to meet with him again soon.
At the end of the afternoon we finished in prayer thanking God for His love and kindness and the ongoing blessings as we seek to reach out to the city. We prayed that God would stop sin and the Devil from having their way in the hearts of the people of Hobart. We asked that God would convert even the hardest hearts and bring to salvation and joy sinners of every stripe. Finally, we praised God for all that He has done in conquering sin and death.
It is such a joy to serve God who fights on our behalf. Those who oppose the gospel should be intimidated when God’s people pray, for then the Lord of hosts goes into battle for them! How can unrighteous man stand against the maker of the universe and Lord of heaven and earth?
May He conquer all the more!
Dear friends there has been a busy couple of months that have flown by this summer. My apologies for not writing sooner, a number of you are probably wondering if I’ve fallen off the bottom side of Australia. No, the work continues down her in Tassie and there are many good things that have come from the work lately.
I have had the privilege to have the support of Kieron, Cynthia, Penny, and Monica over these last couple of months. They are a wonderful help and encouragement. Kieron has particularly been a great help and his ability to connect with others never ceases to amaze me. I have even petitioned him a number of times to step into conversations with hecklers and it has been great to see people opening up to him.
The work in the mall has continued in the signature manner that it has always, we have a big focus on preaching and reading the Word aloud and handing out tracts when we can. We are a small team and often need to focus on one or two things at a time. We have been able to have the Bible table out a little more over the summer with Kieron’s car’s help.
Also, we have had a number of great regular conversations, it’s almost like there is a scheme going to ensure that all sorts of wonderful people to come meet with us. Many of these folks are youth and it is good to see their passion and idealism, but there are also quite a number of older folks who come and seem to know just the right thing to say to encourage and help us along.
Needless to say, there are still quite a few opponents. Most of them come and then go again having said little. Some apparent opponents become opportunities to have some fun and joke around with people and turn opponents into smiling acquaintances. Sadly, there are also a number of people who can’t seem to keep the council rules for Speakers Corner. I’ve been forced to write to the council a number of times, asking that they would intervene. Thankfully the Hobart City Council has been very helpful and has often reigned in the worst of the bad actors.
In all of these things God is faithful and there is great blessing that comes from the work. We have lately seen a number of people find a church through contact with us and there have been a few conversions that have occurred praise God!
I will write again soon; God bless you each.
This last Friday in the Hobart mall we had a wonderful time ministering for the Lord. The weather has been fine which always helps with gathering a crowd and encouraging people to stop and talk. A number of repeat visitors came to speak with the team:
Mr. O – a catholic student who has come repeatedly to encourage us in the face of opposition and to show solidarity on the issues that we agree on. He and I have a number of things that we disagree on but the debates are always congenial and end on a positive note.
Mr. B – a repeat visitor who has had many challenges over the years. He came to encourage us and to talk and be (I hope) encouraged as we share life together. In the face of many challenges God is moving Mr. B towards an affection for Christ and we continue to share Christ with him and pray for him.
Mr. M – an Italian gentleman who comes frequently to the mall to listen to the preaching. There are many different questions he brings and this week the consideration was geostationary satellites. He stayed to listen to the gospel preached and spoke with us a little afterwards.
Older gentleman – stood listening while I preached the gospel and afterwards when I approached him asking what he thought of the gospel preaching he simply said, “You preach it well brother.” I thanked him for the encouragement and after talking with him said farewell with, “God bless you brother.”
There were many opportunities to preach and pray and read the Word over the course of the afternoon and even when there were atheists using the area there were friends stopping by to fellowship and pray with us. So, God blessed us when there was time to speak at speaker’s corner and when there was no time to speak.
There are some who have treasured the hope that the preaching in the mall will be stopped. Days like today make me confident that God will continue to bless His people and add to His people regardless what form outreach in Hobart takes into the future. It matters not how the Word goes out, the gospel will conquer the world and draw countless people to Christ our Lord.
Praise to God in the highest!
God has continued to be generous to us in the outreach to Hobart. Over the last couple of weeks there have been some fantastic conversations and the response to the preaching has been encouraging.
In the preaching there is always people who take exception to the word of God been preached, but praise God there are also people who love to hear. There have been people trying to stop the preaching with threats and complaints. Some of these are old hecklers (Mr S.) and there are some new ones too. God is generous to us though, there has been protection around the team and I and the preaching continues.
I wont dwell on the difficulties though, there have been numerous people coming to engage with the team. A selection of them:
Mr O. – A high school student here in Hobart who regularly comes with friendly questions or rebuttals to my preaching. It has been a real refreshment to have him coming over the last year. He is willing to listen and will clearly and logically lay out his perspective and listen to my responses thoughtfully. He is a spiritual guy with an interest in Quakerism. He spoke to me about what he described as “a real presence” when he was at his final grade assembly recently. As we talked about this and other spiritual matters it occurred to me that God is moving in this young man’s life. So, as he was leaving I recommended he consider the poem “The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thomson.
Mr O. – A high school student from a local catholic school who has been coming for some time to listen to the preaching and conversations. His first question to me was “Can Roman Catholics be saved?”. I responded that yes, they can if they are trusting in Christ for salvation and not the Roman church. We then went on to talk about the eternal fate of unbelieving friends and people from other religions. He wanted to know if they would be saved? Scripture says that no they cannot unless they repent of unbelief or belief in other gods and put their trust in Jesus. Under all this was a deeper question about Mr O.’s grandfather who had recently passed away. Keiron spoke with him at length about this and prayed with him.
Mr B. – Has been coming for some time now on and off. He has previously varied in his view of the witnessing in the mall. He began to be more open to Christian things since investigating Gnosticism, God moves in mysterious ways. We now have a lot of agreement between us regarding what is preached and spoken about in the mall. Mr B says he is aghast at the state of society, particularly the porn epidemic, abortion, and effeminacy in men. Several of his friends have also come to visit and have stayed listening to some of the preaching. Mr B. has also had long discussions with Mr S. my old heckler and looked at the video’s Mr S. posted online. He noted to me the anger, inconsistency and distortions present in many of those videos. Encouragingly Mr B. is keen to continue coming to listen to the preaching and wants to visit Cornerstone Church.
Two catholic guys – After I finished preaching one day two guys came up and wanted to encourage me to continue preaching. They also said they have seen the team in town for some time now and that they liked what we say as a team and that the work of the team is courageous. A couple of times since then they have given me the thumbs up as I have been preaching.
Praise God for encouragements and opportunities!
As things begin to warm here in Hobart so too does the responses that we get to the preaching and Bible table and conversational evangelism. There are more people in the mall and stopping to listen when the word is preached. This is wonderful, as is the ongoing multilingual witness from Hana! Tragically there are some people who interact with us who are a study in not throwing pearls before swine. Gloriously there are others that are willing to hear and appear to be changed by interacting with God’s word.
Last week there were two people who stood out as the first category:
Young female scientist: This young lady came to the Bible table after I finished preaching last Tuesday and stayed for almost an hour and a half. Unfortunately, the whole of that time was fruitlessly spent. She began by saying that she disagreed with what we were doing in the mall and I asked her to explain what she meant. Over the next 45 minutes we debated evidences for the Bible, scientific supports for the Biblical worldview, and the worth of Christian evangelism and Christian social activism. In all this every gospel presentation, argument, evidence, support and reason were rejected and ultimately, she kept coming back to the slogan that she held to: Religion is dangerous and harmful. Hana attempted to speak with her afterwards to the same end result. Eventually, we both had to end the conversation as there were others that needed to hear the gospel and she was clearly committed to preventing that from happening.
Man with the big beard: For many months now this man has been taking periodic “shots” at me particularly but also the entire team. The first time he came making all sorts of personal insults and demanding answers to his many questions which he allowed no time to respond to. Since then he has attempted the same a couple of times and I have refused to engage as he is obviously only interested in slandering God and insulting us. Now when he comes through, he merely scoffs, laughs and casts slander at us.
Both of these people can be saved. If God wills it, they will one day confess their sin and trust in Jesus and bow to Him as savior and master. But in the mean time the most that we can do is pray for them. Continuing to attempt to speak with them is casting pearls before dogs and swine, it will only allow them to heap up more sin against God. We must be jealous for the name of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Giving these people (and others like them) ongoing opportunity to slander the Name is neither right nor good. We must pray for them but also limit their opportunity for ongoing sin. Tragically some people must be left to their sin.
Today there were two people who were at the other end of the spectrum, willing to listen and even showing signs of change.
Mr O: He has been coming to talk to me for quite some time and I always enjoy our conversations (I’ve even enjoyed a particularly good book series he recommended). He does not believe in Jesus as far as I can tell but he is always cordial and often insightful. Many times he has come to be for clarification after listening to the gospel being preached, clearly he is listening and thinking. There are a number of times that we have disagreed, particularly about LGBTI issues, but always there is a willingness to discuss rather than resorting to vitriol and personal attacks. I pray that God will allow our conversations to continue for many years to come and ultimately save this thoughtful young man.
Mr B: I’ve had the privilege of speaking with Mr B. for a couple of years now. Praise God there has been significant change in his life over that time. A fair bit of it he credits God with effecting in his life. Again, this young man is not (yet) a believer but in all our conversations there is an openness and willingness to listen to what God’s word says. Today he joined us for the preaching and for prayer afterwards. May God continue to change and lead Mr B. to life eternal!
Praise Him for all His grace to all us undeserving sinners in Hobart!
Over the last couple of weeks, we have been blessed in the mall by the local Korean Church coming to preach the gospel. It was wonderful to see Hana, a missionary from South Korea, preaching the gospel in multiple different languages. My heart thrilled to see so many people from China stopping when they heard the gospel in their heart language.
The first day that Hana came into the mall to speak, there was a number of us in the mall supporting her including her husband, son and her senior pastor and his wife. This group was fantastic because a crowd always attracts a crowd and people gathered to listen.
Of course, when this happens there is always counter moves by the enemy. Who should turn up in the midst of things, but Mr S. my old heckler and another repeat heckler. Mr S. immediately went on the attack with all sorts of slander and demands that I answer his questions. In one way I was pleased, he left the gospel preaching alone and targeted me (which I duly ignored). At the same time, it was very sad to see the hardening that has been taking place in Mr S.’s life. At one point the other heckler exposed herself at me and the other Christians present and Mr S. was not even troubled by this. It appears that despite years of hearing Christians proclaim the gospel he has only hardened his heart in rejection of God and embrace of sin. Please persist in praying for Mr S. he is lost in the darkness of sin.
Despite some small opposition there have been a number of great conversations happening also.
Mr SA – he was listening as I preached and came over to chat after Keiran approached him. His was a very sad story of alcoholism and estrangement from family. He had liked my bad jokes about the coming football grand finale, but as an atheist disagreed with the message of the gospel. He liked us as Christians and was happy for us to believe and speak on faith, but sadly believed he could not have faith in or help from God due to his demons and sin. We offered to pray with him but he would not let us. He left and we prayed for him afterwards and will continue to pray for him.
Miss S – she had stopped by another day while I preached and spoken at length with Keiran. She is a nurse in training and a Christian, and was very happy to see the gospel being proclaimed in the mall. Keiran had encouraged her to be faithful to God in her studies and work. She came after we finished talking to Mr SA, and was wanting us to pray for her to have greater faith. We talked about how powerful God is and Jesus who has her in His hand, and encouraged her to look at Him not at how small her faith might seem. We all prayed together that God would strengthen her faith in Him (and ours too!).
Mr T. – he had listened as I preached and came up to ask a number of questions. The biggest was “How do I reconcile the existence of evil and the goodness and power of God”? Five others gathered to listen to the discussion which lasted for almost an hour. There were many opportunities to point people to God and the Bible and provide good reasons to trust in Jesus. At all points Mr T. was very polite and the discussion went back and forth smoothly. It was a joy to share these things with people engaging openly with what the word says.
Praise God for all His goodness to us!
As the days in Hobart warm up people are becoming more likely to heckle the preaching in the mall. Praise God this brings people in to listen and the many good conversations have continued afterwards and there are many opportunities to share the gospel.
Recently there was a climate change protest/strike by students, unfortunately on this occasion there was much anger in the teens that gathered in the mall after the march. So many of these young people are fearful and confused by what is happening around them. Tragically they have been taught climate activism but also rejection of God who gives us the planet we call home and are commanded to care for. This overflowed in anger at the gospel being preached publicly.
One group of young men repeatedly swore at me as I preached and told me that no-one was listening. When this didn’t appear to be working, they began to make threats but thankfully left before anything happened. As this is so often is the case, anger is the go-to option for people who are badly scared. These young men were very scared of the future and climate threats and so their anger was natural. God save them and us all from wicked people who frighten children into protests to achieve what they can’t with normal persuasion.
As I continued preaching a young man who has stopped before to heckle came. My heart breaks for him, I continue to pray for him, he is lost in the darkness. He claims to be both a sociopath and an atheist. As had been the case last time he came to heckle again. He came trying to disprove God. He came with as many arguments as he could find. He came with pride like armour around his heart and mind. He came, unwilling to listen to any reason or persuasion to trust Christ, leaping on any excuse for unbelief. As I said, my heart breaks for him, I tried to move him to see all the evidence for God and Christ Jesus. I preached the gospel but I fear in vain, I just pray that God will soften his heart.
While this was happening the group of young men returned and surrounded me making threats and trying to disrupt the preaching. After a few short interactions it became clear that they were only seeking to “troll the preacher”. So, told them that I would preach over them if they were unwilling to be civil. As I continued preaching the police arrived and the young men quickly took off. Praise God He looks after me so often.
The rest of the afternoon was similarly tense with other teens likewise aggressive and threatening. It is tempting to think that all the outreach was a waste, casting pearls before swine. That would be forgetting to look around the people at the front of the crowd and see the large number of people listening behind them. There is always a double crowd in the mall. The questions and answers and heckles and responses and gospel preached goes through one ear and out the other of some hecklers, true, but it then hits the hearts and minds of more responsive people behind them! God’s Word never returns to Him without achieving His purpose in any situation. Praise Him there is always many who “overhear” the word preached or discussed.
It was good to be in the mall this afternoon in Hobart and even better to have other Christians join me in prayer for the city before we began the outreach. We prayed as we have so often that God would give us the right words to reach out to the people and that the Holy Spirit would act to prepare the hearts of the people for the word.
The afternoon went well with a number of regular visitors coming to talk. It was good to see Mr B again who stayed to listen for the whole time we were in the mall. He has been struggling for some time and while some things have improved in his difficult life, recent loss of his job is making things difficult for him. We prayed together for him at the end of the afternoon. Please pray that God will heal his wounds and give him a job to work in and most of all that God will grant him salvation.
Mr O. also dropped by with an interesting question; what does God think of street art? It seems that there is a new set of artworks (as distinct from graffiti) that have gone up in Hobart CBD. I responded that God obviously would be offended by blasphemous art of any kind, but otherwise the Bible does not give us any clear guidance regarding art. Art that draws us upward to consider the great things God has done and show the beauty of creation are obviously of greater worth than the doodles that are sometimes call “art” today. We chatted a little more and then Mr O. left with a wave and a smile.
During the preaching today Mr J. came and interacted with me for a long period. He disagrees with Christianity and the Bible’s teaching, but praise God he believes that we should be civil in disagreement and everyone is entitled to their own perspective. I was grateful that this young man understood one of the underpinning values of healthy society; the need to disagree without angst. If only some of his “elders and betters” could only learn this lesson!
I was discussing evolution when Mr J. came up and when I asked him what he thought of what I was saying he asked a question about God and suffering. How can a good God coexist with suffering? In particular he was thinking of the tragic loss of his Grandfather and the trauma of being threatened at gun point as a child. I discussed the paradox of God and suffering in two ways with Mr J. Firstly, I said that the question under the philosophical one is one of care: Does God care about our suffering? Does God just leave us to suffer or does he do something about it? To this I pointed to Jesus, the Son of God, God in flesh, who came to live, suffer, and die for the sake of sinful people. God cares about us, He cares about our suffering. So much so that he came to share in it and redeem us from it and from death. Secondly, I said that the philosophical question is one of evidence. Baldly put, is God even there? To this I pointed to the amazing world we live in and the mountains of evidence that points us to God being our maker and the sustainer of all life. No reasonable person could deny God has given us more than enough evidence.
At this we went to discuss evolution and the counter claims of that theory regarding fossils and change in animals and people. But the discussion didn’t last for long, there was something bigger that Mr J. wanted to discuss: What did I think of abortion? My initial response was that everything we know from ultrasound and intrauterine surgery indicates that the occupier of the womb is a living person with independent responses and desires. As such any living human person needs to be protected where-ever they are found. No argument can justify the premeditated taking of a human life because of the “right to choose” of another. Mr J. brought forward a number of normal objections that support the pro-choice perspective, for example; impact on the mother’s outlook on life, the mother not being ready, severely disabled children and threat to the life of the mother. Interestingly when pressed on these issues none of them stood up to the consideration of if it was ok then to take a human life.
We discussed for a long while and one particular point that appeared to move him was the consideration of if he as a man had a say in what happened to a baby carried by another. It was the consideration of impact on him as a family member. He would be mourning if he lost a sibling, niece or nephew, a child, or grandchild, because they were part of his family. In the same way any baby he sired would be his family when it was in the womb. Men should be intimately involved in the love, nurture, protection and support of their families. This is no different before they are born.
Ultimately Mr J. left saying that we were unlikely to make him a Christian. I asked him to simple think on these things. I am happy to leave the rest to God, we cannot change people, but He is more than able to change human hearts and minds.
Praise God for all the wonderful opportunities He gives.