This week in Hobart the gospel went out again and the healing, saving and convicting words of our Lord went to work on the hearts of the people here. It has been a great day and there have been many encouragements.
The first of the day was a wonderful conversation with Andrea, a Christian man from Italy who was very excited to see the gospel being shared on the streets. He shared with me his walk with the Lord out of Catholicism to now worshiping in a methodist church. It was a privilege to hear what God has done in Andrea's life and how he was brought from despair to hope. He also encouraged me to continue in the work of sharing the gospel in Hobart.
The second encouragement for me came when we set up the bible table. Karl got up to speak from a collection of bible passages and did a fantastic job drawing people to seek Jesus and trust in Him. It is wonderful to look around at people nodding and smiling as my brother spoke. Afterwards I read the story of Jesus' birth in Luke, something I hope to do regularly as we approach Christmas.
After this we spent some time engaging with some skeptics who had gathered to chat with Mr S.. Karl, Jim and myself all had some good conversations. I particularly enjoyed discussing philosophy and faith with Mr E., one of Mr S.'s friends. The others all were having great discussions also from what I heard.
We set up the table again after an hour (council regulations...) and Taylor got up to speak. He spoke from the parable of the sower in Matthew's gospel and shared the gospel beginning with this telling story. And again I saw many people appreciative of my brother's words of hope.
I next got up to speak from Mat 5:4; about the Godly grief that we all should have for sin and the hardness of our hearts. Also I pointed to the wholeness, peace and healing that God offers in Jesus Christ for those who will repent of sin and trust in Him. Afterwards many gospel conversations were had and we left the mall praising the God of heaven for His grace.
This last couple of weeks in Hobart has been a mixed bag of responses and events. We now have five people in the team who will stand and speak! Both Karl and Mitch have stood to read the word of God and did a fantastic job. Taylor has continued to increase the amount he preaches and is now doing a great job of preaching the gospel from various texts. Nathan has been likewise improving but has had immense pressure from his work hours and so has been away for a couple of weeks. Please pray for those who preach, that they will be kept from both pride and fear.
The response of Hobart people has been the same as it always has been, a vocal minority of folk dislike our work and a large majority appreciate it and tell us so. The shopkeepers of the mall are not happy with our activities and both Jay Jays and Lowes continue to make complaints. This showed itself through a visit from the chamber of commerce and a couple more discussions with police officers, both of whom accuse us of being a public nuisance. It is not surprising when opposition arises but we need to respond in the right way, please pray that we will bless and pray for those who despise us and that we will not give into depression or antagonism.
As the afternoon has now been divided between Mr S. and ourselves the team and I have taken advantage of the times we are not able to work in the mall to reach out on the surrounding streets. We have been handing out tracts and sharing the gospel where possible with people around the CBD.
This week I preached from Mat 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". A moderate number of people gathered to hear the gospel preached and I was able to discuss the message and various biblical matters with a young busker afterwards.
Karl read from God's word and Taylor preached from lamentations. Both of them were loud and clear with their speaking and were kind with those who heckled them. It is wonderful to see God's grace in action in their responses.
Praise God for His grace.
Hobart is a city that has powerful people committed to the exclusion of the gospel. For the last couple of months there has been a string of incidents with shop owners, council officers and police officers. The team and I have been repeatedly threatened with arrest or ordered to leave areas that anyone should be able to use to speak or hand out literature.
The repeated claim of shop owners is that we are harassing people by politely handing literature out and offending people by preaching the gospel. Police and council officers have likewise reiterated our gospel activity as their motive for seeking to remove us from public streets. This ongoing harassment and discrimination has had a toll on both myself and the rest of the team.
We have been instructed by council that we are not to preach or hand out literature anywhere in the city other than the specific area assigned for speakers corner (where you are unable to hand out literature by the way). The Tasmanian Police have repeatedly voiced their unconditional support for the council regardless of our protests that council actions are illegal. Council bylaws do not support these instructions nor does any other legislation within Tasmania or Australia. If team members do not obey this illegal instruction we face loss of our permits to use the mall to evangelise and the police will be called to move us on or arrest us.
We are currently assessing what approach to take in this situation. Please be in prayer on our behalf; ask that we will continue to preach the gospel and that we would have wisdom, Godliness and boldness in how we behave.
God will be glorified in Hobart and the proud hearts and enemies of His way will fail. We pray they will fail as God draws them to repent of their sin and come to love and trust in Jesus.
Glory to God in the Highest!
The gospel continues to be proclaimed in Hobart and praise God that He is at work in our city. There are many listeners that gather each week when we preach the word. We are reading sections of scripture and preaching from some of those scriptures each week. Many have come and encouraged us to continue after sitting to listen as the bible is read out chapter by chapter. Nathan and Taylor have begun preaching and so there is now three preachers in the team. It has been a great privilege to see them reading scripture and proclaiming the word of the Lord.
Over the last couple of weeks we have seen a large number of people coming to speak to us in the mall seeking a church to attend or wanting to speak to someone about spiritual matters. Most of these conversations were directly related to scripture being read or preached. A few of the people we have encountered and would ask for your prayers for are:
Mr F. – a young atheist bloke who has spoken with me and others in the team before. He was quite abrupt in his approach to conversation at first but he was willing to interact and discuss. He believes there is no evidence to support the bible and that Christians consistently cherry pick from the bible, avoiding the bad parts deliberately. We spoke for some time and it became clear that Flynn was searching seriously for answers and had been doing research to find answers. I gave him some of the facts that support the truth of the bible and encouraged him to read the bible and come speak with us again. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would draw Flynn back to speak again and that the gospel message would dwell in his mind constantly.
Miss L. – a young lady who identifies as a homosexual and has a past that was very traumatic. We talked for quite some time and were able to discuss calmly and kindly what the bible says about the homosexual lifestyle and why. I was also able to clearly explain the gospel a couple of times over. She left still disagreeing but at the same time happy that we had spoken. Please pray that Lauren would heed the call of God to repent of all sin and trust in Jesus.
Mr E. – a friend of Mr S. (the regular heckler) who came to chat and spoke at length with the team and had a great chat with Mitch. I unfortunately was quite angst filled after an encounter with the Hobart City Council and was quite short with him. He was very gracious after I apologised to him and was keen to come back and chat with us again another day.
Miss M. – a young lady that spoke to me whilst I was preaching in Elizabeth lane some time ago. She came wanting to know where we went to church and if she could attend. Miss M. expressed a desire to know God and be doing something meaningful on Sunday. Please pray that she will attend church and draw near to God and that nothing would keep her away.
There have been many others who have come but space does not allow to mention them all. Please pray that God would work through the team and bless the many people that come and speak to us.
Hobart Report 11/8/15
The work in Hobart continues and the last fortnight has been particularly encouraging and there have been many opportunities to share the gospel with the people of Hobart.
As has been the case for many months now people are continuing to ask for Bibles and most weeks we are almost running out. There have been many conversations around the Bible table and we have had one lady attending church at Cornerstone Presbyterian as a direct result.
Last week I was able to have a conversation with a local neuroscientist who asked for a Bible despite his reservations about Christian beliefs. He and I were able to discuss faith and science for almost an hour and I was able to share the scientific basis for believing in God and His account of creation. While not agreeing on all points we were able to talk through thing well and I could present the gospel to him in light of the creation and fall accounts in the Bible.
Over the last two weeks two new team members Nathan and Taylor have been reading the Bible aloud in the mall. This has been fantastic and it is wonderful to hear God's word going out because it is the power of salvation and we have His promise it will achieve His purposes. It is also a great encouragement to see others prepared to step up and boldly stand and speak God's word publicly. This week Taylor read aloud the 7th chapter of Matthew's gospel well and clearly.
During my preaching there were quite a few hecklers and praise God, their noise attracted a crowd of listeners that lead to many gospel opportunities.
Mr S. was at his usual vocal best, trying to preach his twisted distortion of the gospel.
A couple of young men tried to tell us that God was not real because of abusive pedophile priests and tried to burn a copy of the new testament. After this failed to stop the preaching they tried to throw some food at me.
A tall young man told us he was an incarnation of the arch-angel Michael and Jesus was not God. Because of this we were told to stop preaching the gospel or he would be violent.
A Chinese ethnicity man tried to say that the God of the bible is false and God was responsible for both the origin of sin and incest in the first generation of people.
A very comic older man mocked the Bible and God and tried to detract from the preaching with jokes and humour.
A college student asked how we can trust the Bible since it has been translated from language to language so many times.
While these questions represent a challenge to the Christian worldview they are answered clearly by scripture and history. Not only that but these things also represent a challenge for those who would reject God. For example if we reject God as the source of good and evil people are left unable to say anything in the face of evils like pedophilia and violence. God be praised that we were able to declare the glories of God and the salvation in Jesus Christ alone.
After the preaching the whole team was caught up in conversation for the following hour. Many times people heard the gospel from the others in the team and most people went away glad that they could discuss these things and thanking the team for speaking.
We have had three extra people join our team, it is a wonderful thing to have the extra encouragement and help. As I have written previously, it is a wonderful thing to be part of the body of Christ! The skills and personalities of others in reaching our lost world is vital. No Christian is an island and this is especially true when we evangelise.
This week we had 9 bibles, and many tracts go out, this has been a consistent pattern for many weeks. For our small town this points to a significant hunger for the word of God and willingness to listen to the gospel.
Likewise there have been many great conversations around the bible table and during and after the preaching. Some of these conversations are bearing fruit and leading to people not only coming back each week but also seeking churches and discipleship.
This is what we long for and pray for, that God would call people from the darkness into his glorious light. Praise his name for his kindness to the people of Hobart. May many more come to know him as Lord and Saviour.
This last fortnight in Hobart has been a wonderful testimony to the fact there is a large number of people who support the gospel as opposed to a very vocal and sometimes powerful minority that wage war against it. I have many times spent space discussing the latter group and I could mention the opposition of folks like Mr S., hostile professing Christians, homosexual activists, angry local builders or shop owners. To be frank though I think they get enough airplay as it is.
In this report I would like to give a grateful thank you to all the many people who have stopped to encourage the team and I over the last weeks and months. Some of you have stopped to speak with us each week. Thank you Graham, Angel, Bobbie, Ewan, John, Michael and the many others. Others have stopped time to time and helped and encouraged us. Thank you Yodit, Sam, Freddie, Joel, Paige, Michael, Peter and the many others.
Also to the many of you who's names I've never found out, you pass in and out of our work like regular gusts of fresh air. Thank you to the lovely lady last week who prayed and spoke so graciously from her mobility scooter. Thank you to the very tall young man who stood up for me when things looked a bit out of hand during the preaching. Thank you to the charity worker who encouraged people to be respectful even if they differ from Christians. Thank you to the Christian school kids who gathered to show their support.
I cannot forget the faithful folk who minister with me as a team. Thank you Karl, Mitch, Gail, Jim, Taylor, Michael, Lauren, Adam. You give so much of your time and energy so selflessly and I praise God for you all. Keep doing what you do so well and trusting in the Lord.
In any given month I see hundreds of these folks who encourage the team and I immensely. The gospel goes out steadily week by week and in the end it doesn't matter what the proud ones say because God sits in the highest place, ruling over all that happens. This last fortnight the gospel has been preached, almost thirty bibles have been taken and hundreds of tracts given out. There have continued to be vocal opponents but God is faithful and brings with them the many voices that speak more quietly but more encouragingly.
Praise God in the Highest
This week in Hobart we have had a incident of Christophobic discrimination by both the police and the local retailers. God be praised this only temporarily limited the preaching of the gospel and distributing tracts and bibles.
I was joined this week by a brother from the north of the state and his lovely wife. Caleb and I decided to start a little early and so made use of Elizabeth arcade. No permits are needed for this area and it provides an excellent area to preach and hand out tracts to people coming through the mall.
I began the preaching with a message regarding the Lord's supper and the need everyone has to be saved and made right with God through Jesus' death and resurrection. Caleb next preached on the holiness of God and our sinfulness. In all of this only small comments were made and few hecklers spoke but many people were obviously listening as they stood or sat in the mall.
Shortly following this we were approached by two police officers who informed us that what we were doing was a public nuisance and we had to stop because complaints had been made. It was clear that Jay Jay's manager was one of the sources of the complaint as she was interviewed by the police before they came to speak to us.
Caleb and I declined to stop preaching as we were not breaking any laws. The police constables then warned us that we would be given a move on order and then arrested if we persisted. After they left I began to preach again focusing on a clear proclamation of the gospel and the need we all have of that gospel. The officers again spoke with the council and then the staff in Jay Jay's before coming to speak to me. I was given a move on order because of the content of my preaching. The issue was not the manner of my preaching or any threatening or obscene comments. It was the offensive Christian gospel that was unacceptable and illegal according to these officers. And so under threat of arrest I left the CBD.
Later in the afternoon I walked to the police station to file a complaint regarding this incident. After a short discussion with one of the sergeants the move on order was rescinded and I was free to be in the CBD again. With this done I went with the team to preach again in the mall and proclaim the glories and hope of the gospel.
Please pray that the gospel will be freely proclaimed in Hobart and the police will be lawful in their behaviour from now on. Pray also for the team and I, that we will be wise, gentle, respectful yet bold and not give into fear or anger.
I have been away for the last fortnight and today it was wonderful to be back into sharing the gospel with the people of Hobart. Apparently our absence has been noticed, lots of people have come up and commented that they haven't seen us for a while. I pray that God would use our presence as a visible reminder to people of who we preach and stand for. May God bring to mind all the gospel people know when ever they see us in the street!
We started the day with the bible table and chatting to people who came to the table. One of these was Mr R. who had questions about the bible and believed some things that were obviously contradicting the bible. We talked for a period but he left insisting that we/I were scare-mongering. Later in the afternoon during the preaching he returned and had a long conversation with Karl which was excellent.
I praise God that He has raised up all sorts of different people to be part of our team here in Hobart. There are so many people that other members of the team can reach who I cannot. Never think dear friends that you are unable to evangelise because "I am not like person x who is gifted in evangelism...", there are people in your town that only you will be able to reach. God has gifted you with the life and experience that you have so that you can share His glory and gospel with particular people. Trust God and go share your faith with those around you, they need you to bring it to them and your Lord commands that you do.
Mr S. our regular heckler has also taken a different approach recently as I have written previously. This week Mr S. set up a table also in the mall seeking to engage with people about cults, psychics and clairvoyants. He is also seeking to encourage atheism and draw people away from religions of all types. While there is obviously major differences/disagreements between us I praise God for the opportunity that this creates. His work brings many atheists to our area of the mall and we are then able to share the gospel with them. Please pray that we will be able to boldly and wisely share the gospel with these people and encounter their world view in a way that changes them for Christ.
May God's Name be praised!
Thank you all for your ongoing prayers for the work in Hobart's CBD. God is blessing the work and many tracts and bibles have been going out. People have been coming back for repeat conversations. I have even had non-Christians stop me when giving out tracts to thank us for what we are doing and encourage us to continue.
One repeat visitor at the bible table is an older man who is interested in the Christadelphianism. Primarily he came to discuss the issue of hell which he struggles with (as do many people). He is attracted to the idea of annihilationism, that God would destroy completely sinners at the final judgment and that there would be no hell in an eternal sense. Praise God he has been willing to discuss what God says in His word about these views. It has been encouraging to see the openness that he has to consider and struggle with these issues. Please pray that he will continue to come and speak with us and that we would be able to share wisely and respectfully from God's word.
The team are now regularly handing out tracts at the nearby traffic intersection, that is when they are not caught up in gospel conversations! I regularly look around to check on tracting team members only to find they are deep in gospel conversation. Praise God for these wonderful opportunities and the privilege of gossiping the gospel in Hobart!
Our regular heckler Mr S.has been staying away but over the last two weeks he and I have chatted for short periods. It was a positive discussion and he is wanting (as I am) to make sure that things remain calm in the mall on Tuesday afternoons. I am grateful for this and hope that we will be able to have more positive discussions in the future. Please continue to pray for Mr S., that God will bless him and give him peace.
We have begun preaching again in the mall and for the last two weeks the people who have gathered have been very quiet and listening to what was said. In some ways this has been a challenge as it is easier to bounce off people's questions and gather a crowd from the heckling. At the same time I am grateful for the opportunity to preach on an issue uninterrupted and develop thoughts fully. There were small groups that gathered and the usual people sitting/standing at the edges of hearing range pretending not to listen but obviously straining to hear.
This week I decided to be ambitious and have begun a series of sermons on the world's greatest preacher's one recorded sermon. I began with the telling and world inverting verse:
Mt 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
From this verse I sought to show how the sinful nature of our hearts and the pride that comes naturally to us all prevents us from coming into the kingdom of God. Also on the other hand the humble attitude Jesus points to is an expression of true repentance. If we will not put down our self-centredness we cannot come to Jesus in faith to seek His Goodness, His righteousness, His atonement and His life. This is in many ways the first step in becoming a child of the kingdom.
There is great riches in this one verse alone and there is much that could be said. Please pray that I will do Jesus' words some kind of justice in my preaching and that it will draw people to him in Hobart.
Praise God for His grace and kindness!