Hobart Team (TAS)
Meets every Tuesday and Friday afternoon 12-5pm at the Elizabeth Street Mall.
Contact David Gee for more information.
Over the next two weeks there will be a team heading out into Hobart’s Dark Mofo festival with the Gospel. We will be preaching, handing out literature and engaging with the spiritual seekers that frequent the festival.
Please be in prayer for us during this time, it is a celebration of all that is dark and there is much of the demonic that is explicitly invited into its festivities.
Any Gospel minded Christians who are Hobart locals (or not so local) and keen to join the outreach please contact me via the website.
The cold weather has continued this last couple of weeks and while it means that some people stay away (mercifully it seems that we have warm weather opponents down here), there have been some great discussions and debates.
Time and again I am struck by the reality that appearances can be deceiving. I am often surprised by the people that respond to the outreach in Hobart CBD. Some that are very young will ably argue their case with grace and wisdom, whilst others who are twice their age and their so-called elders and betters cannot even manage rational discussion for 5 minutes. But likewise, there is zeal and passion to spare in some folks much older than I, when it is hard to get much more than a “meh” out of some 25-year-olds. People that look rough around the edges and very belligerent walk close by to murmur “keep preaching brother”, yet someone in a high-priced suit will spew foul language and threaten violence if the Gospel is preached any longer.
God is good and patient with me as always and continues to teach me to take people as they are and behave not based on how they appear. And likewise, He is teaching me to pray for people consistently, I have watched numerous blessed examples of people changed by the Gospel from violently opposed to loving and following the savior.
Some of the discussions we have had this last week:
Mr C. is a Buddhist and looking to go to Nepal to meditate, study and seek enlightenment for the next couple of months. He and I have discussed issues of faith and particularly the Bible many times before. It was good to see him again and have a chance to speak with him again. We both talked about the perspective of our respective faiths and there was a little debating back and forth. At the end I wished him a safe journey and hope that he is found by Christ on his journey of discovery.
Miss M. grew up in a theologically liberal Church and we talked for more than an hour about what the Bible has to say, what my Church teaches, what her family’s Church taught and what each represents. It was wonderful to be able to talk at length with someone who was obviously thinking deeply about these things. I encouraged her into the three most important Christian disciplines: Prayer, Bible study, and attending a faithful Church.
Mr Blue Coat came up whilst I was preaching and began to debate the Bible and science. There were many points back and forth; during the debate I attempted to show that atheists just like Christians believe the following: the universe was created from nothing (big bang), life’s beginnings are an inexplicable miracle (abiogenesis), that there is structure and purpose in the world, and that there is morality and dignity inherent in all people. Having shown this (only in part I’m sure) I then pointed out that having no cause for any of these makes atheism a much less rational and more credulous option than Christianity that has a transcendent supernatural moral personal cause for all this. I urged him to consider these things and the almost shocking lack of support for atheism. I urged Mr Blue Coat and the others who had gathered to listen to put their trust in Jesus Christ who orders all of life and transforms our search for meaning, origin, and destiny.
Mr C. came after I had finished preaching and asked a perennial question, why do you do this? It is a question that I have answered before. It leads me to think of the thousands running headlong into hell, of the debauched dancing in the darkness as the demons gather, of the thoughtless sleeping as their spiritual house burns around them, of the rebels raging against the only one who truly loves, of sinners with soul cancer and no knowledge of the cure.
I think of these and the fact that many of them would never darken the door of a church. Then I ask, how can you not speak the gospel every chance you get?
Praise to Jesus Christ our Saviour who calls us out of darkness!
The weather in Hobart is turning cold and the leaves are falling and the days are getting shorter. Also, the foul festival, Dark Mofo is looming large in the minds of Tasmanians. Yet in the midst of the gathering darkness there are many opportunities God gives us to speak for Him in Hobart.
This week there where many chances to preach the Gospel and read His word at Speaker’s corner. Hopefully this was a God honoring contrast to the angry atheist who preached on Monday. He was urging people to be good to the poor (which we should), be kind to each other (which we should), and to join the revolution (which we…. wait, sorry what?). He was very angry and swearing about how the poor and outcast are treated. Every Christian gives hearty agreement to caring for the poor and outcast, God loves and gives dignity to all as His creatures, so we should too. Unfortunately, this atheist was also urging people to walk away from God and be part of an atheistic revolution of some kind.
No-one who has ever tried consistently to do good to people would say it is easy. And I would say from scripture that without the Spirit of God in us it is impossible to truly love and be kind. Unfortunately, this is far too common today, atheists assuming that the morality they have arrived in a vacuum or from themselves. Something there is no evidence for and plenty of evidence against. They want to urge the behavior which is good and at the self-same time argue to do away with the foundation for morality, a transcendent loving law giver.
I hope and pray that people would see the difference between the bad behavior and foul language of this and other atheists who frequent Speaker’s Corner; and the many different Christians who have come in love and spoken of God’s love.
I also had two good conversations this afternoon one with Mr D. and the other with a semi-regular visitor Mr F.
Mr D. came up and spoke to me after I finished preaching and asked me to speak about his mother. From the start it was clear that Mr D. was very drunk so I only hope and pray that some of what I said to him stayed with him. As we talked Mr D.’s very sad story came out. He’d lost his mother to a stroke or heart attack and then had the heart wrenching experience of losing his nephew to suicide and his brother also. He was very sad and very lonely and deeply missed his family. We prayed together and I asked that God would heal his wounds and give him peace. I then spoke with him about his drinking, urging him to give up the alcohol that was slowly but surely killing him. He was very concerned to honour his mother and so I encouraged him to give up the drink because his drunkenness dishonors his family, his mother and God. As he left, he thanked me and I pray that God will fill his soul with Christ’s love and save him.
Later in the day Mr F. walked by as I was handing out tracts. He and I have discussed many things over the years and I have always appreciated his keen mind, and the rapid-fire discussions we have had. Today we were speaking about freedom of speech and a comment about communism turned out discussion to the teachings of Marx. Mr F. and I discussed the different aspects of communism and the teachings of Marx for quite some time and challenged each other’s point of view. I certainly learnt something about communism and I hope that Mr F. went away with something to think on regarding Christ. As always it was good to talk with him and we shook hands and parted smiling.
These two conversations left me with the important lesson, compassionate listening is vital to sharing the gospel. Both these men are precious people made in the image of God and hearing what they have to say as well as sharing the message of the Gospel is important. Please pray for me and all those who share the gospel in Hobart, that we would be listening as well as we speak, and that we would speak only to the glory of God!
Praise His Name!
It has been a hard couple of weeks in Hobart. As many of you may know Tasmania is very keen on LGBTI issues and there is a lot of zeal for all things LGBTI. Since it is election time and since the advent of the Israel Folau witch hunt people have become quite sensitive. Israel is an object lesson for anyone who considers anti-discrimination law benign and modern “inclusion” policies as a protection for all. In the same way, my experiences here in Hobart are a parable of what is coming on our nation.
In this last two weeks I have been assaulted, spat at, physically intimidated, threatened, screamed at, and given a death threat. If you missed that read it again and reflect on this, the people who did this claim to represent “love is love”, “inclusion”, “diversity”, “tolerance” and “equality”. Yes, these things were all done by people identifying as LGBTI or an LGBTI supporter.
My aim, as all my brothers and sisters in Operation 513, is to share the gospel. That is why we go out to the streets week after week. I do not hate or particularly target any one group, rather I speak to the issues of the day and seek to use them to turn people to Jesus in faith. The gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive to unsaved sinners and when it is preached there is a (sometimes violent) rejection that naturally comes to the fallen human heart. We all accept that there are people who will oppose the gospel being preached, Satan hates this work so no surprise. But our Lord told us to follow Him and go preach the gospel, after we have counted the cost.
So, in the midst of all the good things that are happening in Hobart I would ask you please dear reader to pray for safety and grace from God to face these hard things with calm and joy in our hearts.
And there are many good things happening in Hobart! God is good and there have been many wonderful opportunities and blessings. Not least of these I am not injured and the police intervened to limit one of the incidents. Praise God for that!
On Friday this week I was getting set up and noticed a group of young women loitering around the area looking at me frequently. Looking at their climate signs I could see that they were part of the strike for climate change movement, so I began to read from Genesis and speak of the need to care for the world that God had given us and each other. I pointed out that we fail in obeying God’s commands now just like our first parents Adam and Eve. We do not love God as God, nor our neighbours as ourselves, nor care for and keep the world as we should.
These discussions were welcomed by the young women but a couple of them were busting to ask a question: “What does God think of lesbians?”. To answer I took them to three parts of God’s word. Firstly, Genesis teaches that all women area made to reflect the image of God, therefore lesbians too are precious feminine image bearers. Secondly, the Law of God teaches that all sex outside of faithful heterosexual marriage is sinful and deserving of death and hell, lesbians therefore by their sinful actions are under God’s judgement. Lastly, the whole of the new testament teaches that all types of sinful people can be saved from judgement through repentance and faith in Jesus, lesbians then can be saved through faith in Jesus.
So, to summarise; lesbians are precious people made in God’s image, they are marred by sin and under God’s judgement, yet they are able to be saved through repentant faith in Jesus Christ.
This discussion then led to a long discussion with these and a whole series of other teens around many different questions. The questions were many and varied including: How can we know the Bible is trustworthy? What about Dinosaurs? Are you saying atheists can’t be moral? What about dating of fossils – they’re older than the timeline of Bible? Historical sources can’t be trusted, can they? What about climate change?
Through all these things I tried to give both gospel and answers. Answers to questions are good and they may help people accept the gospel. Ultimately though, it is the gospel that is the power of God for salvation for all who believe.
Later in the day I was preaching on the offensiveness of the gospel of salvation and our need to be disturbed, shaken awake, and shown our spiritual danger. During this a young lady came up who wanted to speak to me. She believed that she was a homosexual transgender man, and due to the things I have said in the past she apparently felt “rage” whenever she saw me. She believed that I should not be allowed to speak as I do and say the things I do because they are so hurtful and discriminatory. She was happy in her identity and did not want me to disturb her comfort in this regard.
I responded that I dearly wanted her and all people to be disturbed and change their identification and who they naturally are. We are all people who naturally do what is morally wrong and have frequent cause for regret due to the things we do (me also!). Our consciences and God’s law tell us that we desperately need change, that there is eternal consequences if we don’t, yet we lack the desire and/or power to do so. God offers to come and change us through Jesus Christ, first to declare us not guilty before Him by grace through faith, then to make us holy through His Holy Spirit, then to take us to heaven to be permanently free of the disease of sin which is our natural birthright.
To round out these good things, I had a great discussion with Mr L and his friend. He has been coming to listen for a period and has even stood up for me a couple of times when others are being quite unfair in debate. He is an agnostic and very open to hearing other perspectives. Because of this he is very keen to see more public discussions occur in the mall and thanked me for the Christian manner that I have behaved in the past. Please God impact these young men for Christ through what they hear. I encouraged Mr L to consider some of the evidence for God that is easily available for those that are willing to look. We shook hands and parted ways smiling.
So, in the midst of difficulties there is always good things that the Lord is doing.
Oh Lord God almighty, please keep our eyes on you in trying times, be our comfort and our joy. Amen!
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!