Hobart Team (TAS)
Meets every Tuesday and Friday afternoon 12-5pm at the Elizabeth Street Mall.
Contact David Gee for more information.
My Church here in Hobart is moving buildings (please pray that we will find somewhere soon) and the office has also been moved. This has meant a loss of the Bible table and preaching crate for the mall temporarily as we reorganize things. And so there has had to be a change to the outreach in the Hobart mall.
I have spent the last couple of days preaching and reading through the Bible many times through the afternoon and then afterwards speaking to those who gathered. It has been an invigorating change but challenging too. Please pray that God will allow me to speak without too much wear and tear on my voice.
Today I began by reading from Luke 11: 1-26. At the end of this I reflected on the truth of Jesus’s words when it comes to nations. Truly the evil that Christianity drives out returns manifold when Christianity is removed from a nation.
Many of the good things we currently enjoy in Australia (a desire for equality of races and sexes, the rule of law, fair work laws, the value of life, the rights of the weak and poor etc.) have come from our Christian heritage. (On this issue a book worth reading is “The Book That Made Your World” by Vishal Mangalwadi.) Secular activists in Australia are determined to dismantle Christianity, or if that is not possible, then to marginalize Christians so far that they are force into a closet. In this they hope to get the fruit of Christianity without the God that gives the fruit or His people who produce it. If the secularists succeed, we are sure to face the return of many dark, destructive and perverse things from the pagan past as we see the loss of Christian influence.
I finished by appealing to people to come in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ. During this there were multiple people who gathered to listen.
After a short break I read from Romans 1-3, at the end of the passage I was interrupted by heckler who claimed that there is no evidence for God. We discussed back and forth for a period and despite being given multiple evidences he scoffed and deigned the existence of God again. He also protested that there is injustice on God’s part because of suffering if God is real. This is a difficult question for the Christian, why is suffering part of our good God’s plans for the world? But even more difficult is the position of the atheist (like the heckler). For if atheism is true then the universe is indifferent and those who suffer will never see justice, and we are left with an intolerable world that our hearts and minds revolt at. In every way I would rather live with the paradox of our good God and the presence of suffering than give in for a second to the sterile injustice of the atheistic understanding of the universe.
After this discussion I was encouraged by a young Christian couple who were enthused by street preaching in Hobart. Also, Ms M. also stopped by for a short chat it was good to see her again after some time away. Her girlfriend was away today but hopefully they both will be back again soon to chat and hear the gospel as they have in the past.
At the end of the day I read from Genesis 1-3 and was planning to preach further from there but again was stopped by a heckler. This man was more agnostic than atheistic but also felt that God and the Bible were not really trustworthy. One of his reasons was that there is no mention in the Bible of Australia and the animals of Australia. There are many things not mentioned in the Bible, as a book mainly focused on God’s dealings with Israel this should not surprise us. As systematic theologians say – whatever the Bible says it speaks with absolute authority, but it does not speak of all things. I spoke with him for some time but at the end he left saying that God would have to accept him anyway because he was a good man.
This became a springboard to the gospel and I then preached on the need to be made right in Jesus through faith rather than walking the road of self-sufficiency and pride. I shared the great need that we all have to be forgiven and the great weight of our sin and the even greater savior who waits to make us clean if we come to him in faith.
Afterwards there were some Christian young ladies who came to thank me for speaking, one of them said she could not do what I do. I said “me too!”, no-one is able to do the work of outreach alone, this work is God’s work and all credit for it goes to Him.
Praise God for His awesome grace and kindness to us!
After a period away from the CBD, I have begun heading into the Mall on Fridays and Tuesdays. It was good to be back witnessing to the people of Hobart again. I have missed the work and have prayed for the people incessantly whilst I was away.
On Friday I spent about an hour or so handing out “Life is Precious” tracts at the traffic lights outside of Centro and Cat and fiddle and then over near the bus mall outside Rivers and then at North end of the mall. Many tracts went out and there were some interesting conversations that came from it:
Two women went past and the first one said “no no no no” but second one took a tract. As they walked away the first said “…its Christian BS” as she tried to take the tract, the second held onto it saying “I want to know what it’s talking about”.
An older man who was very skeptical of God’s existence, I spoke to him for short time. He said there was no evidence for God’s existence. I responded that there is plenty, from nature! The created world speaks of its creator. He responded that he could not believe that such complexity could come from one God. The truth is quite the opposite, complexity of the level we see in nature clearly demonstrates the need for a designer. We also spoke of the Bible and it’s trustworthy and proven nature.
A young lady stopped to ask me about the tract I gave her. She like the other gent asked if there was any evidence for God. She had been in a Church locally until 12, around that time she was convinced by science teachers at school there was no God. When she asked few people at Church would respond to her questions and she felt no-one gave her good evidence for God. We talked through the supports for the Bible, the message of the Bible, and the great news of salvation in Jesus Christ. I thanked and left her to think things over.
On Tuesday I was in the mall with a few supporting people in prayer and in the evening gave out tracts again.
Mr P. dropped by the Bible table. He is a Christian contact who has been coming for a while, who has been working with the homeless and drug addicts. He is a Godly man in a tiring and difficult work. We spoke together for some time about God’s faithfulness in times of difficulty
An older lady came by the table also, she was a Christian who wanted a Bible. She encouraged me to continue as she could see the Lord coming back soon from the way society was becoming increasingly sinful and lost.
I was prompted to preach from Jn 3:16 after a union protest group came down the mall shouting about better pay for our already well-paid public service. They had a message they thought was important to share and would disturb people to get the message across. I have the same conviction and will shake things up with noisy preaching about Jesus because it is so very important. God is even more set on shaking things up, he has turned our world upside down and changed the course of history through the coming of Jesus Christ. He is the only hope of eternal life and God so loves this broken evil world that He came to die for undeserving sinners. I preached on this theme for some time, towards the end a man listening gave me the thumbs up as he left.
Later in the afternoon, prompted by our country’s abominable commitment to slaughter unborn Australians, I preached from Mat 5: 21-26. God views murder seriously, it will lead to the hell of fire (an eternal reality that should shake and sober all of us, Christian and not). Abortion takes the life of a human being made in God’s image, this is murder and the Bible says that regardless of the motivation it will face God’s wrath into eternity. There were some who reacted negatively to this message but Mr D. sat through the preaching nodding and came up afterwards to thank me for my comments. He said that children were precious and that he wished he and his ex-wife could have had some and he wished that people could see how precious unborn children were.
At the end of the afternoon I had a discussion with Mr U. a regular, this time and last has been mostly catching up as I’ve not seen him for a while. When we parted I headed to office with Bible table and then out to do tracts again.
I handed out many “Eternity” and “Life is Precious” tracts outside the bus mall, with many people taking them with smiles and thanks.
I saw Cap Tasmania who I’ve spoken to previously when handing out literature, his partner is very unwell and he’d come from giving her flowers. We spoke briefly before being interrupted and I continued handing out tracts.
Mr U. happened by again and wanted to know what the tracts say. He has been around for a long while so when he read them, he said it was what he has heard said and preached consistently before.
I then headed home after a good day.
In this last week we have been joined by a new preacher, Jackson, a young man full of zeal for the Lord. We have also had a time of peace and increased interest from the public in conversation. Many who have come to talk in the past have come to discuss again and we have seen Bibles going out.
Much of the opposition that we faced earlier in the year has now dissipated and those who have been vocal opponents in the past now content themselves with glares and occasional mutters. This has allowed more time to preach the gospel, praise God for His ongoing protection.
The conversations that happen around the Bible table and after the preaching is an enduring joy for the team and I. A selection of the great conversations that God blessed us with:
Mr G. – a young Roman Catholic gent who has been coming to listen for many months. He was very concerned about the shape of Australia and the very secular and aggressively antichristian attitudes that he had encountered. I was able to discuss some of these issues with him and encourage him to look to Jesus in faith. When the whole world is losing itself in faithlessness and sin and it seems that the foundations of all that is good and Godly are shaking; we can trust in Him to be faithful and save us from all our troubles. Praise God Mr G was keen to catch up again, may God use these discussions to draw him into trust and faith in Jesus alone.
A School Girl – she had visited before in the midst of pain and grief, praise God there was a smile on her face today. She had come to listen with a friend while waiting for someone, they had sat listening and even giving the occasional nod as I’d preached. Afterwards she had a limited time but had a couple of Biblical questions and we talked a little. She was eager to talk again and I hope this coming week.
Mr C. – A regular very fun sort-of-Buddhist heckler who has come to talk a number of times. We talked about hobbies and where able to discuss catching up at another time. Please pray that the meet up would be fruitful and friendly!
Lesbian couple – Two young ladies who have been around the preaching previously during the not-so-silent silent protest by LGBTI people during the same sex marriage debacle. They came asking the same questions that they had many times before: why do I preach against homosexuality, what is wrong with the homosexual lifestyle, what do you think about…., and so on. These questions are not new and the attitude to Christians and Christ was about the same as many in their group. So, the question that has sat in my mind is, why are they coming again to talk to a preacher they disagree with so thoroughly? I hope and pray that the gospel preached at speaker’s corner is beginning to work in their hearts and break away at their hard hearts. I will pray for them until they visit again, as I’m sure they will.
As I’ve said there is a new preacher that has joined us, this is another joy, it warms my heart to see young people passionate to serve God and share the gospel. I had heard about Jackson previous to meeting him, he had been caught reading the Bible in the mall without a permit by the council. It takes guts to get up and speak publicly, but to read the Bible alone and unsupported in Hobart mall where there is animosity to spare is impressive! He joined us in preaching and reaching out to Hobart this last week. He has been reading the Bible aloud and making some comments after reading. He does a good job of it and gives a sound gospel presentation and deals with hecklers with compassion. I’ve heard many times from his mouth the love he holds for those he speaks to. Praise God for another worker in the harvest at Hobart speaker’s corner!
Pray for us here in the South, that God would strengthen our hands and give us boldness. May His name be praised!
As Hobart slowly comes out of its winter hibernation the outreach in the mall has become busier and we are seeing more response to the preaching and more conversations happening around the Bible table. In the last couple of weeks, I have had so many coming to talk some days that it seems I walk from one gospel conversation to another around the city. It is a wonderful experience to see God working in the hearts of so many.
Mr B. and Miss M. have become regular visitors to the work in the mall. Mr B. comes with many hurts from a rough background but gets on very well with Mr T. who has been helping me for some years. He has been coming most days for the last two months and while he is not converted there have been some wonderful signs of God working in his heart. Please pray for him that God will heal his pain but more importantly that God will open his heart to trust and faith in Jesus Christ.
Miss M. and Miss J. are a lesbian couple that initiated a conversation/debate with me some months back and since then they have been semi-regularly coming to see us. Miss J. has moved away but Miss M. still comes to see us. She often hangs around the Bible table with us and just chats, but she also listens carefully and ask pointed questions from time to time. There have been a number of times they have been prayed for by Christians and many sermons they have heard now. Please pray that God will lead them to see the great love He (and we) have for them both and the rightness of living for Jesus.
In the midst of this it seems that Mr S. has found other things to do with his time, as he has not been around for months. Except, that is, for two halfhearted attempts to disrupt the outreach in the mall. Both times the approach is the same. Aggressive leading questions and repeated accusations, all of which have been answered many times previously. While we all pray for him no-one in the team believe that debate with Mr S. is helpful any longer. He merely uses any attempt to discuss God's truth as an encouragement to more sin and slander of God. Please join us in praying for this troubled young man. What he needs only God can give, he needs liberation from his slavery to sin, he needs salvation.
In complete contrast to Mr S. was my conversation with Mr K., a friend of Mr W. a Christian who has come many times and thought we would enjoy interacting on veganism. Mr K. is a vegan and believes that it is immoral to support the slaughter of animals for meat. He equates this to killing and causing suffering for the purpose of pleasure only. Our conversation was great and respectful at all points, he listened as I spoke and I listened as he spoke.
I firstly laid out for him my concern was not in his vegetarian diet, rather I wanted to know why he who did not believe in God thought it was Wrong to eat meat. This seemed to be a new consideration for him as he paused for some time to think. Then he said it was because of the unnecessary death, dismemberment and suffering of the animals. Why is suffering wrong I asked. Well I wouldn’t want that done to me so doing it to them is wrong he replied. I replied, that is just your subjective preferences not a reason that suffering of animals is something that aught not be. As a veterinarian I am committed to preventing suffering in animals if it is humanly possible, but that does not make a basis for morally opposing suffering. Subjective morality is always open to someone else to say what right do you have to tell me what I aught not do? Who are you?
We talked for sometime about the contrast between subjective standards coming from individuals or societies and the absolute standards of God who is over all people. Subjective standards are logically inconsistent and ultimately no-one lives that way. Our conscience will not us get away with living according to our own standards, it comes at all our justifications and accuses us when we do wrong. We can shut it down and suppress it but it still speaks of a standard we aught to keep but do not.
I encouraged Mr K. to consider what God says: that we have done wrong and failed to keep even our own standard; that we have rebelled and sinned against Him our rightful ruler; that we should face justice for this wrong doing; but His love has made a way to give hope to the hopeless and grace and love to the sinner and rebel; that this way is found in Jesus Christ alone and He must be sought in humble faith. I encouraged him to humbly come to Jesus in faith and ask for forgiveness and salvation. We parted with a handshake and Mr K. was smiling as he walked away.
Praise God for good conversations! Praise Jesus our great God and savior!
I find myself feeling a little British in winter here in Hobart, it seems that a lot of life revolves around the weather! The cold and wet influence things a lot and some days it has been interesting with the Bible table in high winds. But regardless of what looms large in our human lives God is on the throne and working out His plan in Hobart. Through the eyes of faith, we can see the hand of God working in all things and through His Holy Spirit we are blessed with unexpected opportunities.
One of these opportunities have come from the local teens, a number of them are interested in debating and discussing with “the preacher guy”. A couple of times over the last month there were 15-30 students from a variety of different schools who gathered to discuss Christian convictions and the Bible. The questions were very cordially worded and there was a cheerful back and forth that developed over the almost 2 hours of discussions.
One particular young lady has been a regular visitor and previously was very vocal in support of SSM. On this occasion she was trying to claim that there was something wrong about preaching in general and sharing the Christian faith in particular. Here’s roughly how it went (picture me with a big smile and her frustrated and then laughing and then frustrated again):
YL: You are forcing your views on other people from up there on that box! You are putting yourself above others.
Me: Ok, now I’m confused, why are you forcing your views on me? You want me to stop preaching, isn’t that by your logic just forcing me to listen to your views?
YL: No, I’m not forcing anything on you, you’re the one pushing what you believe on others from a box. Why are you up there looking down on us all?
Me: I’m up here because I’m preaching and well... I’m short and want people to hear me at the back (general laughter). But ok ok, the box is an issue, got it. Would you like to get up on the seat there and we can talk roughly eye to eye?
YL: No, but you shouldn't be pushing your views on others!
Me: I don’t think that stacks up, here’s why. I am wanting to persuade (some may say force) people to change their minds about God and put their trust in Jesus. More than that I want you all to “force” your view on me! I want you to talk to me and debate and discuss. That’s why I’m here.
You on the other hand don’t want me to force my opinions on others, yet at the same time you reserve the right to persuade or force me to listen to you tell me to stop.
So, I don’t have an issue with what you are doing, I just want to know why you are doing exactly what you are telling me to stop?
At this point someone else quickly piped up with another unrelated question and the conversation headed elsewhere. The conversation was punctuated with me proclaiming the gospel to everyone who could hear. The teens were great and I hope they will be back to talk more in the future, they put the couple of adults who heckled with nonsense to shame with their insight and wit.
Another opportunity that has come from the wetter days is handing out tracts. There have been a number of days where I couldn't have the Bible table up and a 100 or more people “heard” the gospel in print. Please God that number is greater as the tracts are shared hand to hand and curious friends and relatives read them.
I would like you please to pray for the work here in Hobart dear reader. Why? Because there are people seeking to destroy it if they can. This is nothing new. If you read my updates you know the difficulties we have faced over the years and how God has preserved us and delivered us. Praise His glorious grace!
Just of late there have been repeated attempts to discredit this work by slanderous charges, most of them absurd to all but the most blind. One of these it seems has been picked up and run with, it is the accusation that I and by extension the rest of the team, support Neo-Nazi’s.
This desperate ploy has been supported by some very cleverly edited newspaper articles. They referred (without any decent context) to my commitment to freedom of speech for all in my discussions with a Joint Standing Committee from earlier this year. Senator Terryman raised with me the difficult case of Neo-Nazi’s and how this could be managed if anti-discrimination law was altered to remove offense clauses. (The Antidiscrimination Act is very good for defending the rights of some vulnerable people but it never should have included unqualified hate speech and offense-based clauses.) My response was that we should have well-spoken people, clearly and frequently oppose Neo-Nazi views publicly and if they incited violence or defamed others then they should face penalties under the law. As I said in the committee meeting, the horror that is the Nazi view is abhorrent to me and should be to all who call themselves Christian. There is no space for racism when we all share the same parentage, ie Adam and Eve, and God has done away with every racial boundary in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The team and I have publicly held an anti-racist position for many years and I have preached against racism in its many forms more often than I can count. It appears that despite the many years of preaching against racism in Hobart’s CBD there are desperate liars out there who have no regard for truth. They merely look to aggrandize themselves by slandering others and creating trouble. They publish their slander repeatedly and have the gall to call their previous distortions “evidence”. Concerningly one of the supporters of this ploy recently yelled at me that I was nothing but human trash and “we are watching you!”. The threat was clear as was the rage behind it.
As in all things, the most important things first, may God use this to His glory and to the frequent proclamation of the gospel! Secondarily, please pray for protection for the team and wisdom as we seek to clearly present the truth when surrounded by lies.
May God be glorified!
There is a lot of ink that has been spilt over the last month on the festival of Dark Mofo, particularly the upside down red crosses in the harbor. I am tempted to wade in with my opinions on the festival but probably better than that is to thank David Walsh!
I would like to give a hearty thank you to David Walsh for putting this festival on. He has gathered together large numbers of seeking non-Christians in one place – my home town! It is wonderful that not only has he brought all these people here, but he places preaching illustrations around our town to boot! So, for these entirely unintended blessings, thank you very much David!
No actually… I really want to thank you Almighty God for using a blasphemous God-hater to give glorious opportunities and blessings to your people!
Over the last two Fridays a team from Cornerstone and other churches and I have been blessed to reach out to the crowds at Dark Mofo. Over the course of two nights almost three thousand tracts were placed into the hands of locals and visitors to Hobart. It was wonderful to see the tracts going into pockets and bags to be read later and even better yet to see groups of people gathering around people with tracts in hand and to hear the gospel read to them.
We were using three different tracts these evenings, the “Eternity” card, the “You May Not Have Tomorrow” card, and the cartoon “How We Know God Exists…” tract. With the black and white color scheme on the cards and the message about life and death they were the perfect foil to the “festival of death and sex” around us.
It was wonderful to work with other evangelists; the team was varied in age and background. Yet we were united in our aim, to share the good news of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. The team all had their own styles, some very bold, Robyn would walk along-side groups of people talking to them about God and offering them tracts. Some quiet, Andrew would smile and hold out a tract and allow people to take them as they wished. Some serious, Karl would speak to people with a serious, loving and urgent voice and give them tracts. Some cheerful, I would smile and laugh and wish people a good night as I offered them tracts.
The response of the people varied as much as the approaches of the team. One man laughed and declined with a thank you, a lesbian couple eagerly took a tract each interested in life after death, one woman scoffed and handed it back, and an adult family stopped and came back to get a tract each. In all the response was very positive. There were even a few who recognized Karl and I, laughing that we were down at Dark Park too!
Towards the end of each night I preached, there were a moderate number of people who gathered to listen as I spoke. Andrew also spoke at the end of the first Friday, giving a great gospel message. As opposed to last year, we were not harassed by the staff from the festival. Last year they called the police, but the police were utterly uninterested in our work as it is perfectly legal and positive. I think that street preaching and outreach fit the festival rather well, I suspect that a lot of people initially thought the preaching was some sort of street theatre as part of Dark Park.
In the gathering dark of winter and a society increasingly running from God, a great gospel light shone in the streets of the Hobart harbor. Thank you to all those who prayed for the team and a huge thank you to the team for their courage and faithfulness.
Please pray that all those tracts would find homes and that the Gospel message would be used by God to the salvation of thousands!
God is great, God is good, God is merciful, God is kind. Praise His name!
This last month has been a wonderful time with visiting brethren in Christ and many opportunities to speak for Jesus. It has become quite cold and wet as it always does in winter in Hobart. This means that fewer people stop to listen and come to the Bible table, but also more people are gathered nearby under the rain shelter in the center of the mall. There have also been many opportunities to share the gospel with tracts, I have run out yet again!
It was wonderful to have the Hemelaar’s come and visit us and be part of our outreach on Tuesday and Friday. Ryan was kind enough to preach and they both gave generously of their holiday time to serve the Lord. I am always encouraged by Ryan’s work, his ability to start a gospel conversation just warms my heart. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and service together and I saw conversations happening that I had not been able to have, praise God!
Some of the other conversations that have happened this month include:
Another great opportunity that has arisen is outside the mall. Today I will be appearing with my Pastor Campbell Markham as witnesses for the government Inquiry into the Status of Freedom of Religion or Belief. Please be in prayer that we will provide a Godly witness and an impetus to place legal protections around religious freedom.
A small fly in the ointment was Mr S. attempting to get his 5 minutes of internet fame by creating yet another attack video. I suppose it is an attempt to prevent the mainland “celebrity” from influencing Hobart people too much. In addition to Mr S. there has also been the ongoing aggression of pro-death supporters. It is hard to see my friends and my work for God attacked but it is comforting to know that God is our judge and it is before Him that we receive our commendation, not from men. Likewise, it has been good to see just how thin the arguments have been from Mr S. and his friends, most of it as baseless as the recent anti-discrimination case.
We will rejoice in Christ and preach His word, even while others attempt to use Christians as props for their agenda of self-confessed hatred for Christ our Lord. We will rejoice as God uses even the painful and difficult to draw people to salvation in Jesus Christ.
Praise our wonderful God!
Here in Hobart the Secular elites and their minions have been having quite a run of bad behavior over the last year. Just lately our state run and taxpayer funded hospital is to be the new location for an abortion clinic, regardless of what some taxpayers may think of this. If you disagree with the intrauterine killing of the innocent you are free to hold that opinion privately, but heaven help you if you seek to convince others of that conviction. Worse still if you were to start a group that holds to pro-life convictions and register that at the local University student union. Worse again if you publicly stand and speak against abortion. But worst of all is the act of quietly standing outside the hospital with literature or the offer of counsel and support for expecting mothers going in desperation to have their children killed because no-one will care for and support them.
If you speak to others about abortion, expect at least an angry tirade if a progressive even suspects you are influencing others against this “holy cow”. I have lost track of the number of times this has happened over the last couple of weeks.
If you register an organization at the Uni, expect as we have seen lately here, protests on the street and on campus, angry letters to the editor, and formal complaints made to the university. I salute the bravery of those standing for the unborn and for mothers on campus, please do not give up!
If you stand outside the local abortion clinic, no matter how quiet and loving your manner. The police will come and lock you up! Graham Preston is fighting the charges brought against him for standing outside our Hobart abortion clinic. His conviction and bravery humble me, may God see to it your name is cleared!
If you stand publicly to speak against abortion and call people to repent of this horrible crime and sin, expect a fortnight like we’ve just had in Hobart.
I have placed on the front of the bible table a series of signs speaking against abortion and encouraging people to consider the little person whose life is taken. I have spoken a number of times of the sin of our nation in allowing this legislation to be passed and then not removing it after it was enacted. I called men to look after the women of our community rather than use them for pleasure and then abandon them to be single mothers or to abort the child. I have urged the people of Hobart to see that this is murder and that taking the life of a child, no matter how early the stage of life, is still taking the life of a child. I warned the people that God is not to be fooled with and He has a passionate and jealous love for all the children He gives us.
God warns explicitly in Scripture that those who take the life of a child whether for religious purposes or convenience or even through neglect will face His judgement. This is murder and all those complicit in it and encouraging it will face wrath of God for this sin.
But this is not the end of the story necessarily, God in His mercy offers a way for wrath deserving sinners both great and small to receive mercy and grace through the atoning death of Jesus Christ the perfect lamb of God. For those who turn from sin and come seeking Christ no sin is great enough to keep us from Him. But likewise, there is no sin too small that it will be overlooked by God’s justice. We all need a savior and there is only one that God offers. Jesus Christ our Lord!
Needless to say, our sin delighting and justifying society is not pleased when people point out the evil that they have taken as their “right”. We have had the Bible table thrown over and about a number of times, an attack video has been published against us, and I was assaulted for standing in the way of the Bible table being overturned and had to restrain the man involved. I was not badly hurt in case you were wondering.
In all these things we rejoice that God is over-ruling our world and only allows that which we need for growth in holiness and Christ-likeness. Praise God that in the midst of all this opposition there are many wonderful gospel conversations happening and Christians are being encouraged to stand boldly in the city.
Over the course of the last 2 weeks we have had numerous great conversations with people who come asking why we do this and what God’s word says about them and this world. Also, we’ve had a number of Christian people who have made explicit comment that the work in the Hobart mall has encouraged and emboldened them to speak for Jesus also. Likewise, there are a large number of tracts going out whenever we hand out literature.
Please continue to pray that God will graciously call sinners out of the Australian culture of death and sin and bring them by His glorious power into His kingdom of life and light.
Praise God for His abundant goodness and ongoing patience!
Praise God for His great mercies, we are able to preach the gospel here in Hobart still and despite recent difficulties and ongoing slanders against me particularly. This last couple of weeks have been a mixed bag of responses and circumstances, but God is the same yesterday today and forever.
This Tuesday it was a warm afternoon and there were many school kids in the mall looking for something to do. This lead to many opportunities over the course of the afternoon and the gospel was preached!
Shortly after I set up for the afternoon two young guys wandered up to read the “Marriage Facts” sign I have on the table. I then asked them what they though of the sign and one responded that he attended an Anglican school so he was familiar with the ideas. This lead to a fantastic set of exchanges and discussions that ranged over many different topics but repeatedly coming back to the claims of Christ and the gospel. They seemed interested and surprisingly appeared to enjoy my “dad humor” though I suspect they were just humoring me! Our discussion went for almost 45 minutes and after we finished they stayed to listen to the preaching and chat again afterwards. Praise God they were so open and willing to listen and discuss!
Coming into and out of this discussion was Mr K. a Greek orthodox young man who has been coming by in the afternoons for some time with his mates. They are an interesting bunch and I quite enjoy the good-humored bantering they enter into whenever they come.
The preaching today focused on anger, cursing, hatred, abortion, gossip, and murder. I spoke from Matthew chapter five verses 21-26. This is the part of the sermon on the mount where Jesus defines what murder truly looks like in the eyes of God and clarifies what kind of righteousness is required to get into heaven (hint: it’s the kind we can only get from one place…). This requirement is echoing the verse before:
For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:20)
Jesus explicitly links anger and all its horrid children to the crime of murder in the Old Testament law code and its corresponding punishment. This passage bother’s the conscience of many non-Christians because it is so plain speaking about things we all are guilty of. Everyone falls foul of selfish anger and the various ways we express that anger. Shrugging off the wrong doing by saying we don’t care or there is no-one else hurt will not get rid of the accusation of the conscience. Claiming that it doesn’t matter because God is not there only underlines the lie we have swallowed, that God is absent and we are master’s of our own fate. God is our creator, He is present and will judge, the longer we deny and run from this the longer we are divorced from the reality that is plain to our eyes. Not only that but those who choose to suppress the knowledge of God in their unrighteousness will never find the rest, joy and meaning that we all long for. It is found in God alone and repentant faith in Jesus is the only way to God the Father.
As I preached about this a young guy came up and began to engage with me in a joking way. I began to ask him how he would do if God judged him by the eternal standard rather than his own or his mates. It was a good exchange and we spoke for a while but ultimately, he was not interested in hearing too much and went to leave. I urged him to stay and talk some more and listen a while. Praise God he did, and his friends with him.
Three others heckled whilst I preached.
· One older man on a mobility scooter packing a foul mouth repeatedly came to accuse God of wrong doing for allowing suffering in the world. Not only that but apparently “He’s never done anything for me!”, this coming from an obviously well fed and well clothed man riding on a technological marvel. All things he did not labour to create from nothing. I pointed him to the justice and law of God that makes meaningful our upset at suffering, as apposed to the puerile subjective atheistic objection to suffering which amounts to “I don’t like it, in my opinion it is not right”. If we are to appose evil as evil, we need an absolute standard as our foundation.
· The second was an older lady that wanted to know about the other religions in the world? I pointed to sin leading to death and then urged her (and the crowd that had gathered) to consider the founders of the various world religions. Where were they now? All in a grave, bar Jesus. All the other religions of the world were no help to prevent the death of all their founders. Why should we believe they can destroy our greatest enemy?
· The last heckler wanted to know something straight from the bible. What would happen to him if he just would not believe? I gave him the straight answer of scripture: All those who will not believe will not be saved but are condemned already.
From each of these I urged the crowd to turn to Jesus and trust in Him. Only humble repentant faith in Jesus’s work on the cross will save us from the condemnation that we all deserve because of our many sins.
After the preaching I had a chat with one of Mr K.’s mates who is a Muslim and we discussed some of the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity. We chatted for a period about the prophets and I am going to get him a copy of the writings of the prophets of God.
Despite the prating of blatherskites in the background, there were a number of other great conversations which followed for quite some time praise God. I then spent a good period handing out gospel tracts on a nearby corner and giving short messages and reading portions of scripture.
What a great day! Praise God.
Last week my pastor Campbell Markham and I received news that the Anti-Discrimination case against us had been dropped. Praise God for His kindness in removing this difficulty from our lives and taking away the threat over our church and families!
This has been a difficult time in many ways and the process has underlined to us the wrongness of these offense based laws. Before the case was dropped, hundreds of man hours had been spent on forming a legal defense against the accusations. In addition, Campbell, one of our legal team and I were required to attend a conciliation meeting at the EOT (Equal Opportunity Tasmania) in Hobart under threat of punishment if we did not attend. This meeting was a tedious affair, scheduled to last for 2 hours but lasted 4.5 hours.
The meeting began with courtesy and at all times the two female staff treated us with courtesy. But the kindness of the staff could not paper over the glaring injustice of the situation. There we were, forced to explain why we were not guilty of unsubstantiated, subjective and often absurd accusations. Then to make the process more arduous still, we had to sit and wait to see if our offer of conciliation would be accepted by Mr S. who was in the next room.
On a more positive note, while we waited we were able to enjoy each other’s company and Campbell even shared his sermon with us. We couldn't help but feel for the EOT staff who had to deal with Mr S. who was I suspect at his cantankerous best by the muffled sound of a loud and often angry sounding male voice from the next room.
When the allotted time for the conciliation had passed we were permitted to leave for a lunch break, but there was no mention of stopping the conciliation. We returned to a list of unreasonable demands from Mr S. and further back and forth as we sat obediently in our allotted room. Ultimately, we were informed that Mr S. was not happy, but as the conciliation had gone on for 4.5 hours the meeting was to be continued by email. This extended the process into the next week as we waited for and responded to emails from the EOT.
On Thursday we received an email stating that the conciliation had failed to resolve the matter and that we would need to appear before the tribunal. This was no surprise, we all thought it very unlikely that the matter would be resolved. What was a blessed and a wonderful surprise, was the email that followed 5 minutes later saying the case had been closed. What a roller coaster of a week!
It is not primarily Mr S. or the EOT that have created this debacle. Rather it is section 17 and 19 of the Anti-Discrimination Act that permits the gagging of others if someone is offended. Section 17 holds every Tasmanian to ransom for their words, under the threat of anyone who sees them as that which “offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules”. Section 19 is so ill-defined that it allows even a lovingly and carefully worded presentation of Christian convictions to be labeled as “hatred, severe contempt or ridicule” and punishable by law. The utter subjectiveness of these laws mean that it does not matter what you say but rather what someone feels about what you say. We are very concerned about the laws that have made this entire fiasco possible. With this in mind we will be continuing our Supreme Court proceedings to challenge these unjust laws.
We hope that God will grant that these unjust laws will be repealed or significantly changed. We will be praying that God will protect the freedom of all the people of Tasmania. Please join us in these prayers.
Thank you to the many people who have faithfully prayed during this time of trial. May God be glorified through your trust in Him and His kind deliverance from times of trouble! God has been good to us in this last 7 months, there has been much rejoicing and even laughter in the midst of the difficulty and stress. We have seen many opportunities come to share the gospel because of this complaint. We have had the blessing of fellow Christians offering their support and encouragement. And over all this there is the wonderful joy of knowing that no-one can do anything to us that is outside our heavenly Father’s good plan to bless us and make us more Christ-like.
Praise His name!