It appears that there is a seasonal cycle in Hobart. During the warm and dry months of the year there is little issue with outreach in the CBD. Unfortunately during the wet and cold months there is increasing opposition that arrises.
Much of this opposition surrounds the use of Elizabeth Lane, a small side street off the mall near speakers corner. According to the by-laws this lane is not a part of the mall but there is almost continual conflict regarding it's use. The conflict comes from two different stores within the Lane who are radically opposed to the practice of street preaching and tracting. Interestingly the other store in the lane have told me that they have no issue with our work as long as I don't picket their front doors! (something I have no desire to do to anyone)
This conflict has involved verbal abuse, security guards using stand over tactics, council officers called to remove me, and police called to arrest me. The stated reason does not stack up with the behaviour of the stores. Their claim is that outreach interferes with their stores and it distracts and drives away their customers. Yet they have friendly relations with a distracting local artist who regularly sells paintings in the same area of the lane. Also one of these stores has repeatedly complained about the Christian busker in the mall and to the best of my knowledge have made no issue with other buskers. I find it difficult to see this as anything other than anti-Christian intolerance or at very least intolerance of publicly expressed Christianity.
I am seeking legal advice and mediation on this issue with the store owners. I want to see an end to these hostilities while maintaining religious freedom in the city and my hope is that the issue will be resolvable quickly.
Monday is not my normal day in the mall as it is not possible to get a permit to speak in the mall on this day. It was also a very cold and windy day. I dress for the cold on these days and I suspect the locals think I am a visitor from Queensland. Truth be told after a couple of hours in the wind I am normally chilled to the bone. There was opposition from store owners and police today but I wont focus on that as there were some great encouragements also.
I tried a couple of different spots around the CBD today and preached a couple of times in Elizabeth lane. The first time I preached on Luke 7:11-17 on the raising of the dead man at Nain by our Lord. I urged people to see that they are like the dead man on the bier, in desperate need of the life that is found in Jesus alone. I urged people to give up on their own strength (they have none) and to stop looking at the wrongs of others (they are sinners too). Instead I called people to love and follow Jesus who asks us only to love and follow Him, humbly repenting of the sin we all have.
There was a group of people that gathered to hear and as always is the case when people are listening to the word, satan raised up distractions and opponents. One foul mouthed lady cursed both Jesus and God and then began to abuse and curse (literally) me in the name of satan. Another local atheist who has "been studying me for years" tried to herd people away from this obvious threat to the secular world view he wants to maintain. Despite this and in part because of this opposition a group of young people stayed until the end of the sermon and encouraged me for standing and preaching. We had a good chat afterwards.
Over the course of the day I handed out almost 150 tracts and almost universally there was smiles and politeness from even those who would not take a tract. I pray that the witness of a Christian smiling and wishing people a good day when they decline will have an impact even if they don't take a tract on that occasion.
Praise God for using a cold and opposition filled day to bring the gospel to needy sinners!
After a two week family holiday I've come back refreshed and eager to speak to people in Hobart again. The weather has been very unkind but the Lord is always kind. There has been opposition but the Lord has gone with us in all things.
On Tuesday it was very windy, wet and cold and so I was able to preach once and did not set up the bible table. Despite the cold miserable weather there was a small crowd that gathered to hear the word of God proclaimed. I spoke on the Orlando massacre and the difference between how Islam and Christianity respond to homosexuals. I spoke of the disgust and horror that this massacre engenders in Christians.
God like allah of the Q'uran condemns homosexual acts as a sin which leads people to death and hell. But unlike allah of the Q'uran, God has entered history to save all those who deserve death and hell because of sin. He lived a perfect life, died on a cross and rose from the grave for all those who will love Him. He calls us as Christians to live as He did and love as He loves. And so Christians should be praying for and seeking the good of all people, muslim and homosexual alike. During this message several people stopped and then left again looking thoughtful, please pray for all those who hear only a partial message. Pray that God will complete the message in full to them in time and that they will come to repentance and faith.
The latter part of the day was spent handing out tracts in Elizabeth lane and speaking to people there. During this time a shop keeper again sought to get me to stop by threats and verbal abuse. Please pray for this situation, not only that I would be wise and respond well but also that I would be protected from this opposition and able to continue boldly proclaiming the word of God.
I was able at this time to also share with two Mormon elders and discuss both their faith and the gospel. It was a very congenial discussion and they left hoping to talk further with me later in the week. Please pray that they will come back and talk again, and that they will be drawn to Jesus not as an elder brother but rather as their Lord, Saviour and God.
Friday was a clear day and I was able to set up the bible table in the mall. A couple of people stopped and spoke to me at the table and some bibles went out. I spent a large part of the day talking with Tim, a regular visitor to speakers corner with a very rough background. There is much in his life that is broken and much that continues to dog him from his life previous to now. Please pray that Tim will draw near to Jesus and lean on Him in the difficult things of life and learn from Him how to live a life of Godly wisdom.
I preached on the great story of our world and the mission of God to save sinners. During the preaching Karl began a conversation with a couple that were sitting nearby whilst I preached. The guy is searching after leaving the roman catholic church because of the abuses he saw there. The lady is curious and interested to hear what we were saying/preaching. A conversation of almost an hour followed and Karl was able to urge them to seek the Lord. Please pray for these two precious folk and the many others like them in the city. Pray that they will seek Jesus in humble faith and be saved.
Many tracts went out in the evening as I reached out to the commuters in the bus mall.
Praise God for another week of sharing the gospel in Hobart.
May His name be praised!
It was a typical winter's day in Hobart this Friday, cold, blowing and threatening to rain for most of the day. Despite this we were warmed to the heart by many wonderful interactions and opportunities given by the Lord. Karl joined me along with the wonderful prayer support of Kath and Cynthia. Regular visitors Penny and Tim were also there to encourage us in the mall.
Tim and I have been chatting for quite some time and this young man is moving steadily towards the Lord. If he is the Lords or not I leave between them but I rejoice to hear that he is reading the Bible and seeking to become a better husband and father. Please pray for him as he is struggling at the moment with a very rebellious daughter. He needs both patience and wisdom as he seeks to lead his family.
Over the course of the afternoon we had a few bibles go out, one of the people was quite striking. The young lady from My State came to ask for a Bible particularly to share with her work mates. Her hope was to get others to talk about the Bible with her. She said that she was not a Christian but had lots of questions, as did her work mates. We encouraged her to read and come and speak to us again if they wanted to ask questions. Praise God that he is drawing people to seek Him and giving them a heart to read His word!
During the preaching Karl sat down with Mr B. a polish helicopter pilot and avowed atheist. The two of them spoke for quite some time and discussed many things. One point that was particularly striking was when Mr B. picked up a leaf and said, "I believe in what I can see and touch like this leaf."
Karl replied "What about the molecular structure of the leaf?"
Mr B. said "I can see that with an electron microscope"
"Well what about before the electron microscope, do you think they existed when they could not be seen?"
Mr B. was silent.
When I heard this I was struck that there is always a point where faith and trust come into every life. Even if the person swears that they only believe based on evidence, there is always a point where that ceases to be true and they must just trust.
After I preached I noticed a lady sitting near by and went to talk to her. Mrs W. was a Christian and she thanked and encouraged me for what we were doing. I likewise encouraged her to be doing outreach in whatever way gave her to do. I told her that she could reach people that I would never meet or be able to reach. This is one of the wonders of being part of God's body, we are all given work to do and gifts to use. Praise God that he gives us each other.
All in all it was a beautiful day to be out in God's wonderful world and a privilege to be to be doing His work!
It was a lovely warm day today in Hobart and there were many good conversations we had in the centre of town. As we move into the darker and colder months it has been nice to sit with folks and speak of eternity in relative comfort.
I began the day with a conversation with Mr P. who is a representative for the Jehovah's Witnesses. One Elizabeth street the JW's set up a literature stand and speak with people who stop. I have meant for some time to engage them in conversation and today took the opportunity.
The Watch Tower and Tract Society or Jehovah's Witnesses claim to be a Christian organisation. Indeed they claim they are the only true Christians in the world today and all other Churches are perverting the truth presented in scripture. The organisation teaches a number of heretical things and many books have been written on this topic one of the best of them being Walter Martin's "Kingdom of the Cults". Some of the central issues revolve around the denial of the Triune God, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the existence of hell, and authority of scripture.
My conversation with Mr P. revolved around these issues and was very pleasant. This is one thing that I believe is very important when dealing with members of destructive cults : be polite and respect them as people. These people often deal with a lot of abuse from the general public and as Christians we should always be a positive contrast to the world.
We discussed the divinity of Jesus and different passages that speak of Him. After a short period Mr P. suggested that we organise another time to discuss things further and so we said fair well. I will try to use this opportunity to reach out to the different people in the team on Elizabeth Street.
There were a number of other people we spoke to over the course of the day and a number of people asked for bibles at the bible table. There are a number of Christians who now make it a weekly ritual to come when we are in the mall and encourage us. May God bless these wonderful people and urge them on in their prayers! If you know of people witnessing on the streets of your town please go and let them know you pray for them (and if you don't already, start praying!). Your encouragement will be a wonderful boost and much needed I know for sure.
Karl read from the word and I preached once on ANZAC day and John 3:16-17 and the great sacrifice of Jesus to save us from our sins. I used the bravery of our diggers over the centuries to draw people's attention to the great bravery of our risen saviour. I also spoke about Victoria Cross recipient Cameron Baird and pointed to the great love he showed for his mates and for us as a nation as he fought.
A few people gathered to listen and we spoke to them afterwards. I had a good conversation with a Christian man and we encouraged each other in the Lord.
Towards the end of the day Karl started a conversation with a gentleman who stopped at the table. It was a wonderful discussion and ended with the man asking for directions to our church for the coming Sunday.
Over the week of Easter we have had a combined churches outreach in Hobart. Many different outreaches have been part of this week and it has been a wonderful week with many successes. Josh Williamson has joined us for the week and in addition to the week's outreaches preached three times over the week-end at Cornerstone and Soul Presbyterian Churches.
There has been so much going on this week that it has felt more like a month than a week!
One of the major focuses of the mission was outreaches to local schools using Josh's OAC scetchboard for Easter messages. This was a wonderful opportunity and three of the local schools extended an invitation for Josh to speak. Over the course of the week Josh shared the gospel with over 1,500 students. The message was well received and obviously engaged the students but it was not without opposition being expressed by some. At one of the major schools in Hobart we were also able to give the students gospel tracts after the talk.
These events have been a wonderful opportunity and have opened doors to further work in at least one school and possibly more. We pray that God would use the contacts that we've made this week to open gospel opportunities regularly in the schools of Hobart.
One of the other major events of the week was an Easter open air service on parliament lawns. This event saw 130 Christians gather to worship God together and listen to Same Green another local evangelist share the gospel. As we gathered many people stopped to ask what the event was about and a handful then came to Cornerstone's Easter Sunday service as well. There were at least 60 other people sitting on the lawns who heard the message Sam Green delivered.
Afterwards many Christians said that they were excited to have an open air service in the centre of Hobart and would love to see it happen again. One person said every week would be good! Cornerstone and Soul have thrown their support behind another service like this at Christmas time.
I am glad to see these events happening in Hobart. There is so many secular or anti-God events going on in Hobart all year round. It is an important thing to have people to hear the gospel preached and see the Christian community praising God in a public setting. Praise God that there are other Christian public events happening in the coming months!
After the open air service a small team of bible story tellers gathered with me to tell the story of the bible in a panorama. We began with the creation and fall of our race and worked our way through highlights of redemptive history. The stories climaxed with the cross and resurrection and finished with the vision of the new heavens and new earth and the new Jerusalem. Many people stopped to listen as the team told the story and afterwards we handed out literature to those gathered.
This is yet another witness I would love to see happening in the city regularly. Storytelling is an engaging way to tell people the gospel and show them Jesus and God. The Wycliffe method is also easy to learn and will be memorable for those who hear. A team of bible story tellers would be wonderful working up and down the market at Salamanca or in the mall!
Over the course of the week over 1,000 tracts went out on the streets of Hobart. After the Easter services over 50 people took "The Essential Jesus Books" to find out more about Jesus and the Easter message.
I could also give you many examples of the personal interactions that I have had and seen over the week where people were open to hear the gospel. Wonderful conversations were had by all of us in the team.
Praise God that He has given us such a wonderful opportunities to share the life giving gospel with our city! Praise God for His kindness in giving us such openness from so many people! Over the coming weeks I will be praying that we will have many more opportunities in the future and the seed that we have sown will take root in good soil and grow. Will you join me in praying for the ongoing work of the gospel in the hearts of our city?
May God bless you and make you a blessing.
Today I had some wonderful discussions as I handed out tracts. Due to strong winds and a head cold I was not preaching or manning the bible table. God used this time to wonderful effect with opportunities a plenty ditched in my lap. Two conversations stand out from the rest
Stopped when I offered her an eternity tract and asked what it was about. "Its about life after death" I responded. This sparked a long very constructive conversation about the bible, and Christianity. Sue is an atheist and had been heavily involved in the church of England before moving on.
She initially said that she believed there is no life after death so I challenged her to show evidences to support this thought. As most atheists do, Sue claimed that there is no need to support a negative statement and the burden of proof was on me. I urged her to see that there is still a truth claim being made (no afterlife) and so there is a burden of proof to be born to be philosophically consistent. This then spun a huge number of different topics that were quickly touched on and then we'd move on. This rapid fire questioning is something that most atheists do and I often wonder if it is something that is shared on the internet as a good way to bamboozle religious people.
Slowly the real issues came out clearly and they focused on suffering and old testament law. I gave a very brief explanation of why we need God to even understand suffering and how unsatisfying the atheistic perspective is morally. We briefly discussed how the old testament law is to be used by Christians today and why we don't stone people for sin.
The last issue to come up was the fact that Sue is a lesbian and there is significant hurt and rejection that she is dealing with in how the Church responded to her. I spent a while just listening to her story and hearing what she had experienced. I let her know I was sorry for how she had been treated. I affirmed that homosexual people all deserve love, respect and kindness from Christian people.
I also pointed her to the fact that God views all sin as equally a rejection of Him and that she was not any different from me in that she had sin. I urged her to consider that the difference between us was that I was loyal to Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and she was loyal to... herself as she said.
We talked some more and she headed off thanking me for a good conversation.
Mr M. had spoken to me at Mr S.'s skeptics table previously and listened as Mr S. and I discussed evolution and creation. Though he is an atheist Mr M. is interested in what I and other religious people think and was both pleasant to speak to and open to consider new thoughts.
In reference to the existence of eternity Mr M. was curious how it is possible for the non-material soul to interact with the material body. This in turn made him wonder if there was a soul and therefore eternal life. We discussed that the how of the interaction of the soul with the body is not revealed to us, but that we don't understand how something works does not make it imaginary. It is a commonly accepted fact that we are more than our bodies and mankind's search for meaning is an indication of this. Also the evolutionary/materialist story is entirely unsatisfactory, ie that we have "just happened" to develop a morbid fascination with death and what it means. I am skeptical that such a trait could some how be a survival advantage and therefore would persist in the population to today.
I also pointed to eyewitness testimony as a support for life after death. Many people returned from the dead: Lazarus, the son of widow at Nain, the daughter of Jarius, all the people raised when Jesus died, and Jesus Himself. All of these are witnessed to in the best ancient history in the world - the bible.
We also discussed the different responses to my work and the work of the team. It is a varied affair and will always be. Mr M. left thanking me for the conversation and saying he'd be back to talk more in the future.
May God be praised for such fantastic conversations.
Standing in the Elizabeth Street Mall on a Friday lunch time is a different crowd to Tuesday. People are more laid back and there is less of the mid-week rush to get lunch and back to work. This week was my second Friday outreach for the year and it is a productive time mostly. The team is smaller, usually with me and only one or two others able to come, but God as always brings people for us to minister to.
This week I preached twice and we engaged people on issues raised with the preaching but I didn't have the bible table. This approach allowed me to preach even if there is no-one to mind the bible table but did reduce our presence in the mall when there was no preaching happening.
The first conversation of the day was with Mr S. my regular heckler. Mr S. and I have been discussing the rightness or wrongness of God's judgement of Jericho for some time now. Mr S. is horrified at the slaughter of the people of Jericho and in particular the women and children of that city. The fact that this was commanded by God if anything increases his horror. In many ways this event is something akin to the acts of ISIS or other Islamic massacres that have occurred in recent days.
I have been telling him for some time that God has the right to give and take life and to judge sinful mankind. The deaths of people at Jericho are only a small picture of what God does on any given day throughout the world. People die every day due to sin in the world. Ultimately the issue that Samuel has with Jericho is the same of most atheists and skeptics, that these deaths overtly show God's right to judge mankind. The right to judge moral matters skeptics want to keep for themselves, along with the right to judge God's actions as good or evil. This shows up in Mr S.'s and most skeptics commitment to abortion rights. These folk accuse God of evil on many points for death and suffering in the world and then assume they have the right to determine when a baby is a human and when it is only a "foetus" or "embryo". Before the time determined by them in their limited wisdom it is perfectly acceptable to end any life as long as a good justification can be found and it is a benefit to the woman involved. This hypocrisy shows clearly the moral bankruptcy of morality without God as centre, inevitably people take for themselves authority over the lives of others that is not their's to take.
The rest of the day was also quite interesting, the first time I preached the gospel a small number of people gathered and listened as I preached and afterwards I was able to discuss things further with a couple of people. Praise God the gospel is going out in Hobart and He is preparing hearts here!
The second time I preached I had a number of hecklers. One of these was a young man who I have spoken to before about Christ. He was rejecting Jesus then and apparently little has changed. He began by coming to try and taunt me with some sexual comments and attacks. This increased when I began to speak on the issue of sex and the horribleness of perversion and promiscuity. I pointed to the fact that God calls us to chastity or marriage as the only two good options for sex. All other sexual expression is a perversion of the good and holy thing that God has given us in sex. I urged people not only to purity but also to repent of their sexual sin and put their trust in Jesus. After a short period this became too much for this young man and he decided to try and intimidate me into silence. Trying to find an excuse to use he asked me what I thought of Arabs (meaning Muslims), I responded that there are many wonderful Arabs and they make wonderful Christians. He then accused me of hating Arabs and being a racist, and after a little bit of this and intimidating me with one of his mates he wondered off again mouthing off about Christians.
Praise God this brought in a crowd of people to who I could share the wonderful love of God for all people regardless of their skin colour. I called people to follow Jesus who loves so dearly that he died to save sinners. I urged people to give up their other loyalties and trust in Jesus only.
After this there were also a number of other hecklers and a bit of a question and answer time. Many of them left at the end thanking me for the chance to talk and ask questions.
Praise God that His word goes forth!
What an wonderful day it has been today in Hobart! There has been great conversations had and God's eternal gospel has been proclaimed in the streets.
I was joined today by the ever faithful Karl, Jarred, RJ, Peter and Peter and his daughter. We initially set up in the mall with the bible table expecting to see Samuel there but it appears he is taking a break at the moment. After a short set up period I got up to preach from the passage in James which calls our lives a mist or vapour. I compared this Godly wisdom to the worldly view that we are all alright and just fine. I went on to show that we are not ok and are rather naturally selfish idolators who worship anything but the true God. Lastly I glorified God's mercy and kindness to us by giving Jesus Christ to die in the place of sinners and redeem all those who trust in Him.
Afterwards I was able to have a long conversation with a young lady who is well aware of Christian things but is struggling with the judgement of God in the old testament. We talked through the immense patience that God showed in the old testament, forgiving sin again and again throughout the history of Israel before finally bringing down punishment hundreds of years later. Also we looked at how Jesus was utterly condemning of sin in the new testament despite being both merciful and kind. The truth is that God has never changed in His dealings with us, He loathes sin and rebellion this is true; but He also is merciful and kind and forgiving. This is show clearest in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We spoke about many other things and I urged her to read the bible and think on these things further.
After this we spent some time handing out tracts and spoke to a few people briefly as we did so. It always warms my heart to see tracts going out and people walking away with the gospel in their hand.
I preached again on the persecution of God's people and those who would bring the gospel in particular. I again urged the people of Hobart to trust in and embrace the only saviour Jesus Christ and not to trust in those things that would let them down eternally. Quite a few people stopped to listen and some of them took bibles away with them. Afterwards Karl got into a long conversation with a Muslim lady and her sister. He was able to share the gospel with them and also urge them to read the gospels as the Qu'ran tells them to do. It was quite a long conversation and they walked away thanking Karl for sharing with them.
To finish the period in the mall I read out the story of Christ's crucifixion in the gospel of John and we sang "Man of Sorrows" with Jarred leading us. It certainly turned a few heads in the mall to hear us belting out praise to God!
After the team left for the day I spent an hour handing out tracts on my own and ended having a huge discussion with a young man who has a strong interest in the new age and reincarnation. We spoke about truth and falsehood, sin and hell, the historicity of Jesus' life and work, and also reincarnation itself. I urged him to consider the truth claims of the bible and likewise to test the truth claims of the new age movement. I also urged him to consider reading the bible and to carefully watch the reaction of those who heard and consider why they may reject it. As we parted ways he asked directions to our church and said he would try to come on Sunday.
Praise God for when He moves in grace! Praise Him in the highest!
It has been a wonderful day in Hobart this week. The weather has become hot and dry (for Hobart that means 25 degrees) with lots of people in the mall shopping for Christmas or just sitting enjoying the warmth. We were able to share the gospel with many people and the word of God preached. As no-one else was using speaker's corner this week we had the bible table set up for the entire afternoon and many bibles and tracts went out. There were a number of good conversations that were shared around the table.
Taylor and I spoke to a gentleman Mr S. for sometime who was coming from a drinking session and appeared to have many hurts and troubles in his life. We encouraged him to put aside the alcohol and instead look to Jesus for healing and comfort and salvation.
We were encouraged by a lady that stopped to listen to the preaching and chat around the bible table. She said that gospel preaching was something that Hobart needed regardless of anyone rejecting the message. Each time a preacher got up she repeated this as loudly as she could!
Taylor and I took turns to read out the first chapters of Luke and I spoke on the Christ of Christmas and the great and glorious work he has done for sinners. After this Taylor preached on Jn 3:16 and following verses doing a great job bringing out the meaning of the text clearly.
Last in the day I spoke on the beatitudes, focusing on "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God". I brought out the terrible reality that sin has tainted all of us and we are not pure, as our consciences show all too clearly. Then I spoke of God's Holy hatred for sin and awesome power, which come together to mean we are all in danger from God. What we need is someone to change our hearts and praise God that is exactly what Jesus did on the cross! I urged the people of Hobart the turn and trust in Jesus Christ as He is their only hope.
After the preaching a number of people gathered to talk. Taylor, Meg and Gail spoke to Mr S. the regular heckler at some length. I spoke with Mr M. and Mr E., Mr E. had what appeared to be regular atheistic objections the the Christian faith but was not a regular atheist himself as he believed in all sorts of supernatural things. Mr M. rejects Jesus, yet very insistently tries to teach Christians what to believe about the bible and each time I have spoken to him it is the same. This week he was wanting to speak about Christmas and how Christians should not celebrate it at all as it has pagan roots. Much of what he brought out is from the Jehovah's Witnesses or Judaism. I engaged with him on the issue trying to show that the timing of the celebration has nothing to do with the date of Jesus's birth. Rather the date shows that ancient pagans turned from their gods to worship Christ. I urged him to do likewise in this and in the many other things we talked about.
After about an hour talking and sharing our faith with this group we packed and headed home. Praise God that His word goes out!