Christchurch (NZ) Team
Heads out on to the streets of Christchurch usually 6 days a week to various locations.
Including Fridays in Cathedral Square from 12:30pm and in Cashel Mall after that till 3:30pm. Also Sundays in Cashel Mall 1:30pm till 3:30pm.
Saturday was a devastating day for me. I found out that Terrance had died. Cancer. With all the evangelism I do in the central city, I get to know the regulars. Terrance was one of them. Over the last year and a half, I’ve tried to share the gospel with him a lot. He wasn’t interested. And now he’s going to hell (unless he repented since the last time I saw him). I’m devastated.
I can now think of three people that I’ve shared the gospel with in the central city, and they are now in eternity having rejected the good news of Jesus. This job is impossible. And yet, the impossible is possible for God. I might not see any change in anyone, but God has told us to GO. We have to trust him with the results. And I do. I’m just motivated more to tell as many people as I can about Jesus.
I had a number of good gospel conversations in front of the Bridge of Remembrance on Saturday morning, including with three army soldiers. A guy in a wheelchair, and a guy (with a praying mother) struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
I joined the online team in the afternoon, and I was still feeling the deviation of the news earlier in the day. I think it bubbled out of me in my conversations online. Life is not a joke, it’s serious. God is real, justice is real, and mercy is available while we have breath and know the gospel.
I spoke with a guy smoking marijuana in his car. He was shocked to be paired with me for a chat - but he became very sober as I pleaded with him about his eternity. He was able to articulate the gospel before we parted ways.
Two kids from Aussie (if I remember right) from a Christian school taking the questions I was asking lightly. They thought they would be good enough to get to heaven. The picture shows them looking a bit more thoughtful by the end of the conversation.
I then was paired with some teen guys from the States (I’m pretty sure). By the end of the conversation, all three of them were staring at me as I pleaded with them to stop fooling around with their souls.
On Sunday there was a team of six out in the afternoon. I had a busy outreach. The conversation that stands out was another follow up with a guy I wrote about a few Friday’s ago (on that Friday he came up to me and said: “you made me believe in God”). Well he’s not yet trusting that Jesus died for his sins. So I went over the gospel with him again and another girl friend. The girl seemed to grasp the gospel well and was challenged to count the cost of trusting Christ.
Please, don’t stop sharing the gospel - it’s the power of God for salvation!
I have a lot to write about the outreaches over Thursday and Friday.
I started with online outreach Thursday morning. My first conversation was with a young lady who didn’t know who Adolf Hitler was! :( She heard about the serious nature of sin as I explained the law of God to her. But she wasn’t taking the conversation seriously. I didn’t share the gospel with her.
For the afternoon, Andy and I were at Northlands and then Eastgate bus stops.
At Northlands I had a guy walk past who responded to my opening question by staring at me for a while. I couldn’t read him. He finally said something very intellectual. He was very resistant, but he wanted to talk - so we had a long conversation. Early on, one of his friends joined the conversation. I persisted with the conversation because the friend was not as resistant - he even helped his friend understand the logic he was so resistant to. When the conversation finally wound down, after I’d been able to take them through the law and the gospel - they accepted tracts as we parted ways.
Friday started with the gospel + abortion outreach which you can read about here.
After that, as we were walking past the Bridge of Remembrance on the way to Cathedral Square, a guy biked past who suddenly slammed on his brakes! It turns out it was a guy I had talked to at the Northlands bus stops a month or so earlier. He had been thinking deeply about the gospel conversation we had had - which was very encouraging. The conversation became quite pastoral, as we talked about why we can have an assurance of salvation, and why we should take drastic measures to flee from sin! He said our meeting again had been an answer to prayer, and he said he would see me again in heaven! I certainly hope I see him again before then! I encouraged him to join an outreach team. He knows how to get in touch.
There was the unusual gathering of preachers and hecklers in Cathedral Square. The lone ranger preacher was preaching when we turned up. At one point, he had two hecklers getting stuck into him. To the shock of everyone, a third guy walked past and pulled the preacher off the statue he was standing on! He crashed to the ground on his back! He was very startled, but he quickly jumped back up and continued preaching. He wasn’t himself initially - he became very defensive. After a few minutes, our eyes met - I mouthed: “are you ok?” He smiled back - thank God he was okay! Sadly, one of the hecklers continued heckling him in a nasty way. The guy who committed the assault left the scene so fast, everyone was trying to work out what had happened. We will be extra careful in the future.
Marty and Andy preached. I spent my time in one to one conversations. Last week I wrote about a man who completely lost it when I told him: “the root of change is in Jesus”. Well, he turned up again today, and he came over to me to apologise. It was very good to see him in a more sound state.
Later in the afternoon a team of five were at the Bridge of Remembrance for one to one gospel conversations. Roger seemed to have a busy time on his flip chart (pictured). I went roaming and managed to have a number of wonderful conversations.
Firstly, I approached a group of kids on the grass and managed to get a good conversation going (pictured). Many of them were “Christian”, sadly, none of them knew the gospel which I attempted to remedy before they had to go.
But the stand out conversation was with an elderly couple (pictured). I approached them in my usual manner completely expecting them to reject me. But to my surprise, the gentleman was open enough to allow me to continue, and continued to open up as the conversation progressed. Just before I was going to share the gospel, he switched the conversation from spiritual matters to natural matters (where are you from, what do you do, etc). I followed his lead, but gently kept trying to get the conversation back to the gospel. Eventually I was direct, and asked if he wanted to hear the good news. He did! He accepted a follow up gospel tract too. I was overjoyed.
Mike and I headed out for the Friday night outreach in the central city. One of Mike’s conversations is pictured.
But before Mike arrived, I had a number of opportunities to talk to people (3 in fact) - all of whom heard the bad news, but didn’t want the good news! One of the guys, just suddenly turned and ran off! He ran straight into a pole, which he dodged at the last minute, and then ran down the street! Welcome to my life! I gave a tract to his mate (who had a bemused smile on his face), and asked him to give it to him.
The evening finished with conversations with some of the “punks” (for want of a better word) who were getting drunk. I was able to finish a gospel conversation with one of them that I had started two weeks earlier! Glory to God.
On Tuesday, to get myself going, I started with an online text chat, and it didn’t start well:
You: In the same way, we know there is a universe maker, that had no maker that made this universe
Stranger: <bleep> and stop spreading that <bleep>
You: It is hope
You: Because God is so rich in mercy
Stranger: no it is <bleep>
You: Why the anger and hate?
Stranger: because you are trying to force me to believe in something i don't
You: I can't force anything on you.
I ignored the toys being thrown out of the cot and persisted, and surprisingly the person calmed down a bit:
Stranger: wait time out can i ask a question
Amazingly, I was able to share the gospel! Yet they were still very resistant. Eventually they opened up about suicide - and I was able to speak words of hope before they disconnected on me.
I then switched to video chat and had a number of conversations. The final one went long. I was talking to a guy from India early in the conversation he asked me about “batting”. I instantly knew he liked cricket - something I enjoy myself! Instantly the conversation became very warm. We talked about cricket players from New Zealand and India for a while. But I brought the conversation back to spiritual matters. He heard the gospel. But the concept of justification by faith alone was so foreign to this guy, that I would explain it to him, and then ask him to explain it back, and he would instantly revert to his goodness as why he would be justified! He was open, and so I took the time to labour with him.
Later, there was a team of four in Riccarton - Roger had two friends with him. We had a good time sharing the gospel with a number of people.
The highlight conversation for me was with an older guy who had been with the Jehovah’s Witnesses for three years - but he “couldn’t hack the pace”. He was very aware of the fact that he wasn’t a good person, so I was able to focus on the good news of the gospel, and labour with him on it. He came to understand (checking questions confirming) and really appreciated the chat. I gave him follow up contact details - oh Lord, change his heart!
Wednesday was sunny, but there was a strong wind. I’m glad I didn’t have my flip chart!
I started in Cathedral Square. I approached all the construction workers. A lot of them said they had already received tracts and weren’t interested in talking. But I persisted and one of the Phillipino guys opened up to a chat. I didn’t have long with him, as he had to go to work, but I was able to share the gospel.
I started to move towards Cashel Mall when I encountered a fellow evangelist, and we ended up sitting down for a brief chat of encouragement. In the middle of the conversation three people walked past, and I suddenly decided to engage them. One was not interested, another so so, but the third decided to take me on. It was quite a fiery conversation - he was very resistant to the logic I was presenting. I soon discovered why. He had been a Christian for ten years, and it hadn’t worked out for him. I instantly asked him what Christianity was about - specifically, what you have to do to go to heaven. Unsurprisingly he explained how you need to go to church, and be a good person, and maybe you would go to heaven. I told him he had never understood what Christianity was. His comeback was, “I was taught by good Southern Baptists”. Inwardly I sighed. He’d had enough and decided to disengage. We parted on good terms and with hand shakes. To my surprise, he accepted a gospel tract!
From there I started walking towards Ara. At the basketball court on Manchester street, I saw a guy with a camera and decided to approach. We fell into an easy conversation. It turns out he was American and worked with the Antarctic program. He heard the gospel, but he wasn’t interested.
To finish the day, I was back online with the Aussie team. I had two highlight conversations:
The first was with a guy from South America. Using Google Translate, he came to understand the gospel. But then he asked: And what if I am bisexual? A very good question, I was honest yet loving in how I answered. Sadly he disconnected.
The other one was with someone who didn’t show their video and only typed in reply to what I was saying. He heard the gospel, and then I started working through the checking questions, explaining repentance, and the cost of trusting Jesus died for our sin.
I started talking as though Jesus had died for his sin. I asked him when he had done that, his response: 5 mins ago. So I pointed him to a Bible and to a local church: 9marks.org/church-search/ He is from Toronto in Canada.
He then started asking questions, e.g.:
Stranger: i don't wanna be rude but are u from new zealand or australia?
Stranger: does it cost money to go to church?
Stranger: are u at a church right now?
So a wonderful couple of days filled with gospel conversations. The gospel is so wonderful, and I’m blessed to listen to it time and again as I try to explain it to people. Thank you for your support of this work in Christchurch (NZ).
I really enjoyed my two hour outreach on Saturday morning in front of the Bridge of Remembrance. It was a cool morning, but nice and sunny. There seems to be a different demographic of people on Saturday morning at this spot - I think that’s part of the reason why I enjoy it so much - it’s different.
I had three long gospel chats, and three smaller interactions in the two hour outreach.
The Hare Krishnas were out. There were two evangelists at the same spot as me. I approached one to talk. The guy recognised my flip chart from up north where he lives. He was nice, but didn’t want to waste time with me.
I then had an older man stop to talk. My opening question of “what do you think happens after life” seemed to intrigue him. He said he wouldn’t normally stop to talk about that, but he was waiting for someone. We ended up having a good long chat where I calmly listened, and gently gave reasons for the hope within me. He heard the law, and the amazing good news of Jesus. He was resistant, but something kept him from leaving. Eventually his phone rang - it was the person he was to meet, that ended our conversation. He left with a tract I had handed him during our chat.
A guy was curious about the flip chart, and I was able to start a conversation with him. He kept trying to steer the conversation into conspiracy theories. Each time I would cut him off with the reality of a deeper problem: that we will all die one day. And then move back to explaining why. He disengaged, but left with a tract.
The next chat was special. It was with an Asian lady. This was probably the longest conversation of the morning. She had Christian friends that had impacted her, but she wasn’t willing to commit herself. She ended up asking very deep questions, without even realising it. Like, why is God only merciful to some people. I calmly, logically, and biblically addressed her questions, and kept coming back to the gospel. She was trying to work out why I would spend so much time doing what I do, in the face of so much rejection. The answer is Jesus. I love Jesus. And he has asked me to go and tell people about him - what other motivation do I need? I warned her that she may not have another opportunity to accept the gift of eternal life provided by Jesus. I pleaded with her to respond to the gospel today. She also left with a gospel tract that I had given her during the conversation. I vividly remember watching her put it into her bag. A silent missionary, ready to remind her of the conversation and what was said when the time is right. Salvation is of the Lord!
By this stage, a larger group of Hare Kirishnas had gathered and were singing. I approached a young lady who was listening - she smiled at me. So I offered her a tract. At her query, I said I was a Christian. The smile on her face was replaced by a look of revulsion! I ignored it, and responded pleasantly. She handed back the tract before moving on.
Another older gentleman approached me for the last conversation of the outreach. He was very pleasant, and wanted to know what I was up to - he wanted to know what I was smiling about (I didn’t know I was smiling). He didn’t look it, but it turns out he was a Hare Krishna! He was open to talk, and so I just asked him about Krishna, and going from there I was able to take him through the law and the gospel. He was mildly resistant, but much more open than I was expecting. He left with a gospel tract.
So a wonderful couple of hours sharing the gospel. What a privilege and an honour being able to do what I do. Thank you so much for your prayer and support.
On Friday, we had rain in the morning. So Andy (pictured) & I did some online evangelism.
The weather improved, so at lunch time we headed into Cathedral Square to preach the gospel in the open air. It was a fascinating time.
I had just sat down when a guy, I’ll call him “Bob” came and sat next to me. I recognised him as someone Andy & I had interacted with a long time ago - he was very resistant to the gospel. But I smiled and said hello. Instantly he started talking about his depression and thoughts of suicide! I had immediate empathy, and wanted to share hope. I said that the root of change is in Jesus.
He exploded in rage.
I listened for a while, but he just got worse, I had to move away.
He started loudly proclaiming his hatred of “evangelists”, and how we are not loving (a very false assertion). The irony was lost on him.
Ari (the younger “wizard”) turned up and managed to get the guy to calm down. Ari was sitting next to me, and Bob came and sat next to Ari. Bob was talking to Ari (relatively camly) - but he was really firing barbs at me, which I just ignored.
Andy took the lull in activity as an opportunity to start preaching the gospel and It was going well.
Then one of our newer hecklers turned up and sat down to listen. I decided to go over and say hello.
Bob exploded in rage again - even worse than last time.
I assume Bob had interpreted my movement as me withering from his “logic” and he went into attack mode against me again! Very loud and verbal attacks. Andy had to stop preaching. And I just had to walk away - it was bizarre. Amazingly, Bob started verbally abusing the heckler I went to talk to! Other people had to get the guy to calm down. Thankfully he did, and Ari managed to hold his attention for the rest of the time. I stayed away and, thankfully, there were no more outbursts.
All I said was: the root of change is in Jesus (in the context of empathy)!
Andy was able to finish preaching in relative peace, and Marty was able to preach as well.
It was interesting, as one of the “punks” that I’ve had many gospel conversations with, made a comment about the exchange - he understood the irrational reaction was because we are speaking truth - and people don’t like the truth. Lord, save the punk! He knows it's true!
I had a great gospel chat with a guy on Colombo street, as I was walking back to my car. God is good!
And I had some wonderful gospel chats online later in the day too. God is so good!
Thursday - the weather didn't look good, so I decided to reach out online instead. Although, the weather did improve and Andy ended up spending his time at the Eastgate bus stops reaching out there.
My prominent memory from Thursday was having difficult gospel conversations with people who were resistant. But even the difficult gospel conversations are good conversations. People are hearing truth, in love, and God can use His word powerfully in people’s lives - even when we don’t see it outwardly. The gospel is the power of God for salvation!
On Tuesday I was online sharing the gospel before heading to Riccarton for a couple of hours. I spoke to a lot of high school students.
The first kid barely stayed initially, but as the conversation continued, he became more engaged. He heard the law and gospel. He opened up about being a Buddhist and we were able to talk about that some before he finally moved on with some gospel tracts.
Next up I had three guys stop. They made it all the way through the flip chart - including the counting the cost page. One of them said that nothing was stopping him. They didn’t have any questions, but I asked him to get in touch if he did.
The next guy also made it all the way to the last page of the flip chart. I used some examples to explain the cost of accepting the gift of Jesus - the examples hit home, and he started to really understand what I was meaning. I challenged him to respond to the gospel and left him in God’s hands.
The last conversation of note was not with a high school student. It was with a man originally from Chile. He was engaged right from the beginning. He didn’t like “ism’s” (e.g., atheism, communism, Buddhism, etc.) He felt that it was used by powerful people to control. Starting from here, I was able to share the gospel with him. He rejected it, and started fighting against it.
Interestingly, while I was talking with him, four teens sat across from us and started listening to the conversation. It was like they wanted to talk, but were waiting their turn. They eventually left - I was able to hand one a tract though.
Wednesday was a nice warm spring day. I went into the city before going online afterwards.
I headed for Cathedral Square first. There was a preacher getting severely heckled - it sounded terrible, but quite a few people were hanging around watching. It ended up being a gold mine of gospel conversations. There were two other Christians out (from different ministries) as well, so we were all sharing the gospel. I had about six one to one gospel opportunities.
The first was with a Christian lady who was enjoying the sun and listening to the preaching / heckling. She was lovely, but when asked why she is going to heaven, she pointed to her obedience! I explained that we will want to be obedient, but why can we be forgiven - she drew a blank. I was able to explain the gospel to her, it was like she had never understood it before.
I then shared with a young couple with a young family. They had been listening to the preaching, but hadn’t understood the gospel yet. When I explained it, the guy came back with “that makes sense”. He seemed relieved. Yet I was careful to help them understand the cost of the gift.
Next up, two young men - one wasn’t interested, but the other was keen to talk. I suspect he had a Christian background - he wasn’t interested in the gospel that he heard.
A construction worker rejected a tract but was open to chat about the preaching / heckling. He heard the gospel and seemed very open. He had to head back to work - he took the tract the second time.
As much as I disagree with the preacher being a lone ranger (not connected with a local church), the heckler was getting really nasty - and demanding evidence. I decided to take him on and explain why he didn’t need evidence - that he already knew God exists. He wouldn’t let me speak.
But he did calm down, and started talking directly with the preacher instead of yelling at him and calling him names. I was grateful for that.
One of the other Christians (who is associated with a local church) took the opportunity to preach (pictured).
The highlight conversations from my time online was with a young Jewish lady who had been through some terrible stuff and was suicidal. She gently argued with me, but I was able to slowly work through the gospel with her (she wanted to hear it in the end). Eventually I ended the conversation. And it was then she changed tune. She apologised for arguing (she didn’t need to - she was fine), and said she would check out needGod.net.
My last conversation was with a Muslim from Egypt. I focused on how God can be just and merciful - something that Islam can’t explain and Christianity can. During the Tell Me Conference, James White had talked about a particular Hadith that leads to the gospel. This guy brought up this very Hadith! And I was able to use it in our conversation! But sadly, he was resistant to the gospel.
The end of another weekend of outreach in Christchurch (NZ).
Saturday was a bit slower than normal - I positioned myself in my usual Saturday spot near the Bridge of Remembrance. I managed to have a few good follow up conversations, and hand out a few tracts. Even the busker who was near me said it was slow!
I did have two good opportunities.
A middle aged couple walked past. The wife beelined away from me, but to my surprise the husband walked past and accepted a tract. I asked him what he thought happened after life, and he stopped to engage! His wife abandoned him - but he wasn’t concerned. It was a straight forward gospel conversation where he grasped the concepts quickly. I challenged him to respond before he moved on to catch up with his wife. The gospel is the power of God to salvation.
I approached a father and son. Later it turned out I had talked to the father (a Christian) on a previous Saturday, but at the time he subtly indicated that I should talk to his son - which I did. The son considered himself a Christian, but pointed to his good deeds as the reason he would be going to heaven (sigh). He seemed impacted when I explained the gospel. This is not a judgement, but a plea: Fathers - It’s not the ministers job to share the gospel with your children, it is yours. You need to be constantly going over the gospel with them!
By this stage, the buskers act was in full swing, and it was loud, I decided to move locations to the Colombo and Cashel corner to finish the outreach.
Sunday afternoons outreach was the opposite of Saturday, it was busy and interesting - very interesting.
I started the outreach on my own, but I had Daryl join me. I prayed for gospel opportunities.
First up was a conversation with a liberal American Muslim whose son (with her) and husband (who survived) had been shot in the terrible mosque shooting of the previous year. We ended up talking for about forty minutes. Her defensive walls to objective truth were very high, and she really liked to talk. I knew tackling her defenses directly would be futile. So I just patiently listened, and waited for opportunities to communicate. Amazingly, I found a way to be able to explain the gospel to her a number of times and then watch her process it and reject it. Every opportunity I could, I would gently lead her back to the critical issue of how God (who made the universe and has the right to make the rules) can be just and merciful. And how Jesus is the only answer that makes sense. When we finally parted ways, I re-expressed my deep sympathy for what she, her family, and community had been through.
By this stage, Daryl was with me - it had been a long while since he had joined me for outreach, and so I took him through the new flip chart we use.
Low and behold, two girls walked up and wanted to give the flip chart a try! I quickly read it as a set up - they just wanted to attack. It turns out I was only partly right. One of them was Wicken. Like Friday, the issues of why God allows suffering and homosexuality came up. And also the issue abortion. They were following the logic of my explanation of the gospel, and picked it up quickly, when one of them suddenly got angry at me. I asked why, and she quickly calmed down - but it rattled me. She was deeply resistant. Later, she asked me why I do what I do. She even said it annoys her that I’m out on the streets - it was actually a very encouraging thing for her to say. I work very hard to not be offensive myself, but the gospel will offend!
We got into another conversation with a couple of girls - but it was quickly interrupted by a guy I’ve spoken to before who was in passive intellectual attack mode! We lost the conversation with the two girls. I had to work to turn the guys attack mode off - I refused to engage him otherwise. It worked, things calmed down, we didn’t have the time for a proper conversation so I offered contact details so we could continue the chat. He initially refused, but then he gave me his email address. I’ve emailed him, and he has responded! I will continue that conversation on Tuesday.
Sunday afternoon was exciting, I don’t think my writing has captured it. We are standing against this culture with the gospel, and I’m seeing little signs that it is having an effect (all glory to God alone). Please pray for strength and protection to continue the fight.
Excuse the photo, it’s the only one I took over the weekend of outreach!
Thursday and Friday were busy days of outreach, as usual.
I started with a couple of hours online on Thursday before heading to Northlands and then Eastgate. The highlight was a discussion with a guy from Luxembourg! And he spoke Luxembourgish - you are always learning things with online evangelism. ;) But he spoke English well enough for me to be able to share the gospel with him.
Andy and I had a good time of outreach at the bus stops. And it was great to have Daniel join us at Northlands.
At Northlands, I had people stop to talk who I would never have expected to. I thank God for the gospel opportunities.
But the highlight conversation was with a lady who said she was already a Christian. I used the “dagger in my back” scenario to see what her understanding of the gospel was. Sadly, she didn’t even get close to the central key of Christianity: Jesus. When I told her - she realised what she had been missing and felt sheepish. She even said she needs to re-read her Bible. She seemed to appreciate the brief conversation and gladly accepted a gospel tract with more information. Thank you Lord.
At Eastgate, I had a high school kid approach me - I remembered talking to him before. So I asked him what he had to do to go to heaven. He started talking about the things he needed to do - none of which were the biblical answer. I gently probed, and then suddenly (and unexpectedly) he said the word “trust”. I smiled - something from our previous conversation had stuck! I asked him what he had to trust in, and he said, “Jesus”. So I said, “Trust that Jesus has done what for you?”. He said, “that he died on the cross for my sin”. It was in his head, but did he understand? Sadly, his bus came before I could talk further. God willing, I will have another opportunity to talk with him. Or maybe he will cross your path one day? Are you ready to share the gospel?
Friday started with the gospel + abortion outreach outside Christchurch hospital. You can read about it here.
We then moved on to Cathedral Square for open air gospel proclamation. Our hecklers had already started gathering. I decided to take a different tack today. In the past, one of the hecklers had become so aggressive, that we had to institute a policy of completely ignoring this guy. Sadly, this led to us just having to preach over top of his heckling - to outsiders, it didn’t look good. So today I decided to start re-engaging, and directly addressing the objections. It went reasonably well. A small group gathered. Sadly, due to the constant stream of questions, I never managed to get to the gospel. I still have much to learn! I ran out of energy, and Marty stepped in to take over. People would stop to listen. I had at least one follow up conversation with a guy who had listened to Marty preach - he was impacted.
I then had a wonderful opportunity to approach two girls who had been listening. One of them opened up with “I’m gay”. So I just responded with, “Oh, hi, well - I’m hetrosexual, nice to meet you”. We then fell into a discussion about where the universe came from. But then the other came up with the issue of why God allows suffering. Homosexuality and Theodicy are the two biggest objections I have to deal with. I gently reasoned with them and then, suddenly, a lady who had been listening from a small distance interjected into the conversation. To my surprise, one of the two girls defended me! We exchanged names, and then she initiated a hand shake. I sensed that now was not the time to push the conversation, and we parted ways at that point. They left with tracts, and I told them that anytime they wanted to talk, they were welcome to approach me.
We moved to Cashel Mall - Bridge of Remembrance end. I had a fascinating encounter there. I had approached a lady to open a gospel discussion - she was open and we started to wrestle with the deep questions of life when suddenly a guy approached me and said “You made me believe in God!”. I was a bit surprised, and then he said, “At Riccarton - you talked to me”. He wanted to talk again, but as I was in the middle of a conversation!
I was able to finish the gospel conversation with the lady. I went to find the guy and noticed that his friends and he were hearing the gospel from Roger on the flip chart.
Once that had finished, I was able to catch up with him and one of his friends to find out what was happening in his life. Sadly, his reasons for believing God were experienced based, and he wasn’t believing that Jesus had died for his sin. Yet, he is interested - and even reading a Bible. His friend is Bahá’í and we ended up having a conversation where, sadly, resistance to the gospel started to build. Even so, the gospel is the power of God for salvation - in His timing.
Mike and I finished the day with an evening outreach in the city. Wow, some fascinating gospel opportunities were taken - praise God! In Cathedral Square I got into some non standard gospel conversations with various people dressed very alternatively. People would join the conversations at different times and things would get interrupted and so no conversation flow could really be established. But gospel plowing did occur!
Eventually Mike and I gave up, and we headed off. Our very next conversation was with a guy who was really keen to talk to us. It turned out he had been listening to our conversations in Cathedral Square! (I never noticed him.) He was an ex-Christian and was ready for an apologetical fight. We didn’t give him one - he already knows God exists! We asked him what he understood about Christianity, and it became very clear that he never understood the gospel. Eventually his whole demeanor changed - it was a great conversation where Mike and I tag teamed the discussion.
Near the end of the outreach, we managed to have some interesting conversations outside the pubs on Oxford Terrace. I managed to get into conversation with an extremely drunk couple. I’m not sure if they will remember the conversation at all - I told one to put the tract I gave her into her pocket and read it in the morning.
All glory to God for the opportunities to be a witness for Him. Please keep us in prayer.
Tuesday was the first day of spring! I’ve now survived two winters - although, with online evangelism, it is so much easier navigating the weather. And it just so happened, that the first day of spring was very wet, so online I went.
I had two conversations where I was able to deploy Google Translate to great effect.
The first was with a person who spoke Spanish and ZERO English. I was amazed at the progress I made. But sadly I didn’t get past the law with this person before the connection flaked out.
Stranger: But he would forgive me
Stranger: He forgives me, I'm sure he's my friend
Stranger: I've never sinned and he knows it
You: But you have! You have lied, stolen, and your anger is like murder to God.
You: Do you know someone who is perfect and willing to die for you to receive your punishment from hell?
You: Still there?
Stranger has disconnected.
The last conversation of the outreach was with a girl who spoke portugese but could speak a little english as well. After the chat, I would say she was already a Christian. The conversation became quite pastoral with focus on justification by faith alone and why a Christian can have assurance of salvation. And yet I didn’t want her to have a false sense of assurance and so there was talk about the fruit of repentance that will come in a Christian. Ultimately, I pointed her to her pastors / church / family - as these people know her, where I had only just met her. She seemed incredibly grateful for the conversation. And I was incredibly grateful for Google Translate! If she is not saved, may God change her heart; but if she is, may she continue to grow and be used by God for His glory!
I had an amazing conversation with three girls from Lebanon! I don’t think I’ve talked to anyone from that country before. They were Maronites (a form of Christianity) - something I’ve never heard of before and had to do a little research on later. They looked to their good deeds as the way to salvation, and so I shared the law and the gospel - they came to grasp it very quickly. I challenged them to respond to the gospel, and showed them why they are not really Christians. One of them had a question about homosexuality - which I answered. They seemed to really appreciate the conversation.
On Wednesday I spent two hours in the city before joining the Aussie team for two hours online.
There were four highlight conversations in the city.
Firstly I approached a construction worker who was engrossed in something on his phone - I expected him to not want to talk to me, so I was surprised by his friendliness! He had a Christian background, but was pleasantly surprised when he came to understand the gospel. He gladly received a follow up tract.
Then saw a guy coming who I thought would be keen for a chat. I positioned myself to try to start a conversation when two ladies went past from the other direction. I offered tracts and was surprised when they accepted them! I quickly moved into a gospel conversation and they stopped to engage - they both seemed interested. I could tell they didn’t have much time, so I moved quickly to explain the law and the gospel before they indeed moved on.
I encounter the Unicef workers a lot, who are out getting sign ups. As I went past one of them, they approached me - not to sign me up, but they wanted to talk about the deep questions of life. I ended up having a long conversation - and yet there was a deep resistance to the logic I was trying to share. I was able to share the gospel - but it seemed to bounce off. Eventually I wound up the conversation. Apparently she had already received a tract from me. This time, she accepted a “Which one is right?” and “How we know God exists and why it matters” before I moved on.
I finally made it down to Ara, and managed to get into a good conversation with two guys who were also resistant. Eventually one of them said, “look, as long as I’m a good person, I’ll be okay” - the perfect opportunity to segway into the law! The didn’t give me an opportunity to get to the gospel - but they did take tracts.
Online I had some good conversations. The first was with a guy who didn’t seem to be responsive, and took some time to grasp the gospel. He just didn’t seem interested, and I was surprised that he hadn’t disconnected. And yet, to my surprise, it turns out he was very interested. At the end of the conversation, he opened up about a fear of death - that he now understood the solution to!
I then had a fascinating text conversation with a person who had pretty good answers but was likely a false convert:
You: Hi :)
Stranger: You <can’t repeat>?
You: What do you think happens after life?
You: No, I'm not, and I don't want to be.
You: But, what do you think happens after life?
Stranger: I think that we go to heaven if we accept Christ as our saviour
You: Interesting answer! :) What did Jesus do so he could save us? And what did he save us from?
Stranger: He died in the cross for us and saved us from a lifetime of suffering
You: Right, he saved us from the punishment we deserve for our sins!
You: Have you accepted the gift of Jesus?
Stranger: When I was in 4th grade
You: What do we have to do to accept that gift?
Stranger: It's not that hard you just accept him into your heart
You: The Bible says we are saved by grace, through faith.... we need to TRUST that Jesus died for our sins.
You: And Jesus dieing for our sins is the only reason we go to heaven.
You: Out of 100, how sure are you that you are going to heaven?
Stranger: Honestly I don't know I've accepted him as my saviour but I'm still not sure
Stranger: Why are you here?
You: ok, that is why I'm asking you these questions, because Hell is real and very serious - I don't want you to go there!
You: I'm here because I'm a Christian, and I want to share the good news of Jesus with people :)
Stranger: Well a word of advice don't do it on here
You: We can be 100% certain we are going to heaven, because our forgiveness is not based on how good we are but how good Jesus was - and that he died and rose for our sins.
You: Our life will be changed if we are trusting that Jesus died for us.
You: There are many false converts.
You: A word of advice - NO ONE should be here. It's a nasty place. But nasty people need Jesus.
Stranger: Ok I think I've had enough. Thanks for the lesson that I've heard to many times. Good bye
You: Why did you ask me If I'm <can’t repeat>?
You: Why are you here?
You: Has your life been changed by the gift of Jesus? Are you a false convert?
You: Read 1 John
You: I say that because I care for you.
Stranger: You know God may say that being <can’t repeat> is a sin but it's not it's completely and humanly natural
You: Read Matthew 5
Stranger: And you can't care for me... You don't even know me
You: Jesus said if you just look at someone with lust, it's like committing adultery with them in your heart
You: I care enough about you to spend time here to confront you with truth.
Stranger: Like I said before I've had enough have a nice day good bye
You: Your soul is the most important thing you have. To gain it, you must lose it.
Stranger: Good bye
Stranger: Stop sending that
You: The fact that you haven't left, shows that you care very much about this conversation.
You: God gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud heart. Don't be proud. :)
You: If you have any questions, I'm happy to answer, I'm not your enemy.
Stranger: <expletive> I guess I just wanted the last word which i have good bye
Stranger has disconnected.
Saturday - Tell Me Conference day! This was the seventh yearly iteration. It’s partly because of this conference that I ultimately started working for Operation 513.
Just over six years ago, Andy came up with the idea of running an evangelism conference. I thought he was crazy! Who would want to come to an evangelism conference? It came together and happened (this is where the name “Tell Me” came from)… and it was good! Some great connections occurred. So we decided to do it again the next year. But who to speak? I’d heard of Josh Williamson, and after discussions we decided to get him over. This was our introduction to Operation 513. And it went from there. I look back and am amazed at what God has done with “Tell Me” - the ministry and the conference - now folded into Operation 513. If we are humble, and continue to trust in God, then I can’t wait to see what the future brings. May God get all the glory!
After the teaching part of the conference, most of the attendees came out on the streets to get a taste of real street evangelism!
We started with one of the speakers at the conference, Matthew Johnston (himself coming to Christ through open air ministry, now a Pastor at Riverbend Bible Church in the Hawke’s Bay), open air preaching in Cathedral Square. It was great learning from his style. He spoke loudly and clearly, and yet worked hard to not come across as angry or yelling. And he engaged with people as they walked past, even getting one guy to stop and interact - but ultimately listen. Matthew is pictured with a passerby stopped and listening. Soon after, the other speaker at the conference (Roger Spicer) had started engaging the very same passerby in gospel conversation - also pictured.
After the preaching, we split up into smaller groups and spread out within the central city to engage people with tracts, and in conversation.
It was so wonderful seeing so many Christians out giving it a go, and observing and learning from those that had more experience.
I ended up getting engrossed in my own gospel conversations, but from time to time I would notice that other Christians around me were getting into their own conversations - some for the first time!
The flip chart really helped. People would walk up to it and want to give it a go, making it easy for those that were a bit rusty to get going, or for newbies to get involved.
Personally, I had four stand out conversations. All follow ups!
The first was with a guy who said he needed evidence before he would believe in God. I asked what evidence he required. He said, if God walked up to him and shook his hand he would believe (he wouldn’t). I said he didn’t need that to happen, that he already knew that God existed - and then used the building analogy to explain why. Surprisingly he opened up and I was able to share the gospel with him. He then had another apologetical question - he was surprised I was able to answer it. I challenged him to respond to the gospel - God willing I will see him again soon and be able to continue to follow up with him.
The third one was with a guy I’ve been talking to for about a year now. The last time was the previous day carrying a box of beer. Today he was hung over, but both times he was happy to chat - he still had the tract I’d given him the previous day, I gave him two more today. I just continued to labour with him. He knows, yet his heart hasn’t been changed. Oh, God, have mercy!
It was a tiring, but wonderful day.
Sunday I was in catch up mode (e.g., these Battle Logs). But I was able to spend two hours online with the Aussie team. I was paired up with the Pink Angel - Matthew Andersen - I learnt so much from listening to his gospel conversation. The guy he was talking to came to understand the clear logic of the gospel, but suppressed the truth - even admitting that he was denying the truth because he loved his sin! And yet he was open, and indicated that he would consider the discussion. He needs God to change his heart - that is his only hope. The gospel is the power of God to salvation!