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.
Due to NZ being in lock down due to COVID-19, Thursday and Friday were another two days of online evangelism for me.
At the moment, my main place to have conversations is Omegle. Same as on the streets, you get a lot of rejections from people simply not interested. But also, same as on the streets, you can get into wonderful gospel conversations with a little bit of patience.
On Thursday, I had a gem of a conversation. I’m going to give you some highlights. This is an added bonus of online evangelism: you can keep the text of all your conversations! I hope this will encourage you (I’ve done a lot of snipping).
This person was very open to the conversation: Believed in God, heaven and hell, admitted they would be guilty. But they were slowly becoming aware of the implications of that and wanted to put their head in the sand, but at the same time were interested:
You: So if I've broken His laws, I would deserve hell - right?
Stranger: I'm supposed to be sleeping. it’s literally 2:30am
Stranger: yh u would deserve hell bc u broke his laws
You: Well, there is hope for heaven, can I share that before you go to bed.
I then shared the gospel. The response was encouraging:
You: We must trust that Jesus paid the fine for our sins.
You: Trust is another word for faith...
You: We are saved by grace, through faith.
You: It is not our good deeds.
Stranger: that’s amazing
You: You said it! I agree
You: That is why I want to share this with people.
Stranger: thank you so much. that’s made me appreciate life more
So it’s one thing getting a person to appreciate life more, but that won’t save you. So I continued to work with this person. I explained the cost of following Jesus, and started using checking questions to get them thinking through what I was sharing.
You: so may I ask you: what must you do to go to heaven?
Stranger: ummm i think just be grateful for life and don’t regret any second of it
Stranger: is there supposed to be a right answer
You: But if I had murdered someone, I can still be grateful for life.
Stranger: i’m really confused
You: Jesus, who is God, paid the fine for our sins, when he died on the cross.
You: That's okay, I'm happy to slow down, I want you to understand this, it's so important.
I now realised I had them engaged enough, that I could slow down, and backtrack to go over things in a different way.
And then I got this:
Stranger: wow you have made me feel so much better
You: Why do you feel better?
Stranger: just learning
You: cool :)
Feeling better is great, but it won’t save you from hell. So I persisted. This encouraged me, as it showed the person was starting to understand:
You: And that is have someone pay your fine.
Stranger: like jesus payed for our fines
And then later this:
You: So, what did I say you need to do to be saved?
Stranger: trusting jesus to pay our sins
Stranger: i think
You: You got it!
You: Now, what is stopping you from doing that?
You: What is stopping you from trusting that Jesus died to pay for your sin?
You: Let me explain what I mean.
I then moved on to continue explaining the cost of following Jesus, and I got this:
Stranger: i don’t understand sorry
You: All good, let me explain :)
You: Let me give you an example.
You: Am I making sense?
Stranger: yh it’s all adding up now
You: Good. So the paradox is that Jesus is a gift... that will cost you.
You: For that reason, most people reject the gift.
For some reason, the person I was talking to became concerned for their Mum - the thought of losing a loved one.
You: Well we will all die one day.
Stranger: ok now i’m gonna cry
You: Has your mum died recently?
You: Is she alive?
Stranger: it’s just the thought
Stranger: yh shes alive
You: Yes, we love our parents - I understand.
You: Well, there is hope for eternal life.
You: Trust in Jesus sacrifice to be saved, knowing your life will come into submission of him as your Lord. Then tell your mum about the amazing gift of Jesus! :)
Stranger: i will
You: Do you have a Bible?
Stranger: well i have to go now i have to go sleep
You: Thanks for talking with me.
Stranger: no i don’t have a bible
Stranger: aw it was amazing talking
You: ok, well get one, plenty of free ones as apps on your phone. Start at the book of John.
You: And then find a church (a good one).
Stranger: i used to go church but i don’t go as much
You: Thanks for your time! God bless you!
Stranger: god bless! x
You: bye :)
It all became rushed at the end as I realised the person was going to leave. I wanted to connect them to a Bible and a good church. But ultimately, it is God who saves through the weakness of us sharing the good news (even online!). I have to leave this person in God’s hands. I have no idea who they are and I will never see them again. If God saves them, there will be a desire to read the Bible, and to find a good local church.
I’ve started thinking of other places where I can find groups of people online to talk to. I will experiment, and if any of them work out, I’ll write about them in future Battle Logs.
On Monday, in New Zealand, it was announced that the whole nation would be going into lock down to protect from Covid-19. What this means is that everyone needs to stay at home, except those working in essential services.
As much as we know that sharing the gospel is absolutely essential, we won’t be able to be on the streets of Christchurch to do that at the moment. And there won’t be anyone on the streets anyway.
So starting from Tuesday, I started doing online evangelism!
I then went to a web site that facilitates starting one to one conversations (via text): https://www.omegle.com/.
It took a few tries to get someone willing to stay and talk, but I was very encouraged with my first conversation. It was with someone who was very resistant - an agnostic who was very close to atheist. But they were intrigued with my line of argumentation, and stayed long enough for me to share the gospel! They left the conversation soon after.
My second attempt was with someone who was Hindu. But they bailed before I could share the gospel.
My third conversation was with a Christian from Brazil. He was very encouraged by what I was doing:
You: No, the Bible teachers that God is just and must punish sin.
Stranger: and he did that
You: Yes, either in Hell, or on Jesus taking our punishment on the cross.
You: But there is 1 thing we must do in response to be saved: TRUST.
You: We are saved by grace through faith.
Stranger: i like u
You: So If you came to me, I would get you to realise your sin, and then tell you about Jesus. And then tell you to trust in Him.
You: I like you too.
You: I'm from New Zealand
Stranger: im from Brazil
Stranger: it's a nice thing u doing man
You: I go on the streets to do this, but I can't now because of Corvid19... so I am trying to talk to people about Jesus on the Internet
Stranger: thats such a cool play
Stranger: i will do that too
After that, I decided to investigate other ways of doing evangelism online. Over twenty years ago, before I was a Christian, and in the early days of the Internet, I used to use a thing called Internet Relay Chat (IRC). I decided to look into this again, and I found a channel on the freenode network called “truth” - a place where people can talk about politics and religion. It had been a long time since I used IRC, so I had to spend some time getting up to speed.
This work continued today. After rushing out to buy a new monitor before the lock down (pictured), as I’ll be spending many hours in this new venture, I had downloaded an IRC client (mIRC) and had connected to the truth channel on freenode and started reading an FAQ to relearn how IRC worked. I could see some people talking in the channel, but I didn’t take much notice.
After some reading, I looked up, and I noticed that people were talking about Christianity in the channel! So I jumped in. I started with: “Interesting, I just noticed that there is discussion about Christianity. I am a Christian. I was attracted to this channel by the name "truth" and the topic.” And slowly but surely, I was able to join the conversation and make connections:
Response: “Can it be...another Christian?”
Me: “I am new, popped in yesterday for the first time.”
Response: “PLEASE return. I'm usually the only Christian in here.”
Me: “I'm happy to stick around for the next 4 weeks at least.”
Response: “I can thank the virus for that? 😬😅”
Me: “God uses all things for the good of those that love Him.”
Me: “I can see it's going to be hard to follow conversation in this group - apologies if I miss things.”
Response: “oh, people in here will dogpile you, and yes, you won't be able to reply to all of it”
Me: “dogpile = overwhelmed with responses?”
Response: “Yes, many people wanting to go after the Christian :P”
Me: “I'm up for it.... I think :)”
So I ended up making connections with two Christians and I’m very encouraged. I can see how important it will be to work on staying on target with online discussions - not allowing things to go down rabbit trails, but I'm hoping it will be very fruitful.
Earlier in the afternoon, I had another conversation via Omegle with a young ex-hindu now atheist from the UK. I was able to share the gospel with him.
I’m so encouraged. A whole new world of gospel opportunities is opening up to me. I will keep reporting what I learn - maybe some of you will be able to do something similar while in lock down. God uses all things for the good of those who love Him!
Thursday was hot, Friday cold; Well, Saturday was cold, and then Sunday was hot! We are definitely at a season cross road.
Not as many people out and about on Saturday. There were no markets in Cathedral Square, but enough people were walking through that I decided to set up my flip chart in front of the Cathedral.
My first conversation was with a man I’ve talked to before. We had a long follow up - the conversation starting with abortion. But I did my best to gently keep connecting things back to the gospel.
Eventually, the conversation was interrupted with someone curious enough to find out what the good person test was all about: it was my pleasure to explain.
After that, I noticed a solitary lady had turned up to protest the recent liberalisation of abortoin law in NZ - she had a sign. I said hello.
I moved back to my flip chart and soon after moved into a wonderful conversation with two construction workers. The both were challenged by the law and the gospel. I could see them both understanding (and checking questions confirmed), but one was clearly resistant, where the other seemed open.
I then had the pleasure of dealing with two of my hecklers - one after the other.
First, Mr. Angry came past (I still pray for him). He was his usual self, spitting his venom and making a scene. While he abused me, I blessed him.
I then had the guy who once called me Ned Flanders come past. He likes to jokingly mock me, but I refuted all his mockings - and I could tell I was hitting because he became serious at one point. Thankfully, he decided to give up and leave me alone.
I had a quick conversation with a Christian guy before deciding to move to Cashel Mall. By this stage, the wind had become strong, and so I decided to ditch my flip chart.
I had a great conversation with two girls from Cambodia. They thought their good deeds would get them to heaven, and so I was able to explain to them why that couldn’t be the case (God’s holiness viewed through the law) and then the amazing gift of Jesus paying the fine for our sin.
The outreach ended with a long conversation with a young man who walked up to me and was very keen to chat. He loved philosophy, and is studying it at university. It turns out this young man used to be a Christian, and loved apologetics, even presuppositionalism. But he had been challenged on a topic, and his deep intellectual study had led him away from God. Interestingly, it was the opposite for me. So we were able to work through this, and I touched on personal testimony a lot. I also worked to swing the conversation away from intellectual debate, to matters of the conscience - sin, the real reason people try to deny God. I was deeply impacted by this conversation, as it reminded me of one I had with a work mate years ago. The guy was in the process of walking away from God, and it grieved me deeply. I just have to rely on the fact that I can’t save people, and do my best to clearly explain the gospel (my part).
Sunday was another outreach Sunday for Redemption Church, joining the Operation 513 team on Cashel Mall. I felt a bit overwhelmed, as there were more newbies than experienced evangelists. But it worked out ok. I actually had a really busy outreach, with lots of wonderful gospel opportunities. I ended up being out thirty minutes longer than usual for a Sunday - praise God. And I had various newbies, and various times listening in and giving it a go!
A couple of highlights included:
A guy who was keen to give the good person test a go, but then became really uncomfortable as I explained the law to him. I was right up to the point where I was going to explain the good news when he decided to bail! I couldn’t get him to stay, but I said there was good news on the tract that he accepted.
I had a very bright young couple keen to give it a go. He had a Christian background, but was not a Christian. She was very smart, that she was working out the meaning of my analogies before I had even made it halfway through! But they couldn’t fault the logic of what I was explaining - as desperately as she wanted to. She wanted morality to be relative but understood the implications of that and the logic of God being the basis for objective truth and morality. They heard the gospel, but I’m confident they rejected it - wanting to enjoy the sinful pleasures of this life… but I can’t know. May God save them!
I’m writing this Monday evening. NZ is going into lock down due to Coronavirus for at least four weeks. This means the Operation 513 teams in NZ won’t be able to be on the streets… but we are looking into other ways we can continue to share the gospel! Please keep us in prayer. God bless! :)
Thursday was the last day of summer. It was really hot! And Friday was the first day of winter. Wet and cold - I even had to put my thermals on for the evening outreach, first time this year. But hot or cold, rain or shine - the gospel of Jesus needs to be shared.
Andy and I were at the Eastgate and Northlands bus stops, in the heat, on Thursday. We both had many gospel opportunities - esp. at Eastgate. I found it a bit slower than normal at Northlands, but ended up having some wonderful opportunities to share Christ.
I had an opportunity to share with a guy as he was walking past. My questions engaged him enough to keep him staying to hear the next question, but at the same time, I could see he wanted to go, so I had to go fast. I was able to share the whole law and gospel with him, and also throw a vital checking question at him before he left. Not surprisingly, his response to the question: “So, what did I say we need to do to go to heaven?” was “good deeds”. I corrected him (the answer is “trust that Jesus paid your fine”) and pleaded with him to study the tract.
I had an interesting conversation with a lovely person, who was a Goth. Apparently she had become a Christian back in December, and is going to a local church. She didn’t have much clarity around the gospel, so I tried to gently bring some.
At Northlands, I finally got into a conversation with a young man but I could tell he didn’t really want to talk. So when I got to the law, I asked if he would be willing to answer three quick questions - he declined. So I approached the guy next to him (his friend) to see if he would like to answer the three questions - he was keen. But I wound back to explain how we know God exists - and we ended up working on that question till their bus came.
Once they moved on, another guy turned up, and I ended up having a wonderful conversation with a guy who clearly wanted to live his life for himself, but who turned out to have a JW background (the clue was when he said Jesus died on a stake in response to one of my questions). I could tell that he had never heard the gospel before, had never understood the justice of God, and the incredible mercy of God. So I was really blessed to have the privilege to explain it to him. (One of the pictures shows us talking.)
Something unusual happened at Northlands. Both Andy and I noticed a young girl walking back and forth around the bus stops. Eventually Andy took the initiative to ask if she was okay. She broke into tears and said she was supposed to meet her older sister, but couldn’t find her. She didn’t have data on her phone and couldn’t contact. Andy brought the girl to me, and I turned on the hotspot on my phone so she could connect to the Internet. This solved the problem, as it turned out the sister was just around the corner! Andy was able to reunite them. And I think some very brief gospel communication occurred. What a blessing to be able to serve others both practically and spiritually! All glory to God.
I finished up the Northlands outreach with a conversation with a Christian high schooler. He had just finished writing an essay against abortion and we discussed this briefly, as well as the gospel. Very encouraging!
Firday’s outreaches started with the gospel + abortion outreach outside Christchurch hospital. I’m grateful that Marty brought his umbrella and he allowed me to share it - it got quite wet (pictured).
We then moved to Cathedral Square. It was quite empty, due to the weather, and probably due to the lack of tourists due to the closed borders because of Coronavirus. But there were enough people around for all three of us (Marty, Andy and I) to freely proclaim the gospel (no fighting with music or construction noise today). For me it was the first time I had open air preached in a while, and I really enjoyed it. We had one heckler who would ramble in the background - but wasn’t any real disturbance. I had a great, although brief, follow up opportunity after I preached (pictured). And also, one of the food stalls blessed us with some free lunch! What a blessing - thank you!
Andy and I then spent two hours on the streets of central Christchurch having walk up conversations with people, as opportunity allowed.
The highlight was a conversation with two young men. Sadly, during the evening outreach, I encountered one of them again, but he wanted to keep his distance. After thinking through the gospel - he had clearly rejected it.
The Evening outreach was difficult. Cold and wet, and with Coronavirus, I knew it was going to be a difficult two hours. I spent some time in prayer before heading out. I wasn’t wrong. Cathedral Square was completely empty. Even the bars and restaurants were very quiet.
But, all glory to God, I was still able to have four sets of gospel conversations during the outreach!
The highlights would be the gospel conversation with a Jew and a Catholic - I had to really work to get them to understand grace through faith. And the final conversation I had outside the bus exchange with a kid who had rejected religion (background: Mum - Baptist; Dad - Catholic). But he was keen to talk to me.
I thank you for your prayer and support of the Christchurch (NZ) team. Please pray for labourers. And join us out where the fish are!
Tuesday was St. Patrick’s Day! There was a team of two who spent two hours on our usual Riccarton outreach in the late afternoon, and then in the early evening we were outside two Irish pubs doing the St. Patrick’s Day test with people.
During the Riccarton outreach, I had four conversations.
First up was a Catholic man that one of the team has talked to before on a Friday night outreach in the city. Sadly, he wasn’t open to reason in any way, and so I let him move on - he didn’t hear the gospel.
I then had a lady stop, interested in the flip chart. She liked to talk (which is okay). So it was a longer conversation, but she was all over the place in her thinking and, again, I couldn’t reason with her. But she did stay to hear the law and the gospel.
I was taking notes of that conversation, when Roger called out to me. I looked up, and I had two high school students looking at the flip chart. They were brother and sister. And they were very sharp thinkers - so a good conversation was had. I slowly took them through the logic of how we know God exists, the law, and the gospel, then through the series of checking questions. There was resistance at each point, but we worked through the logic, and they didn’t seem to be able to fault the logic. They understood the gospel. But when I challenged them to respond at the end, they rejected the gospel. I asked them why. And they were speechless. I explained why most reject it (it’s not that it’s not true, but the cost is too high). And I pleaded with them to read through the tracts I gave them, and to discuss it with their parents. They appreciated the conversation and went to shake my hand… but we tapped elbows instead! (If you are reading in the distant future, it’s because of Coronavirus.)
I finished up the outreach with a short conversation with an older lady who was very interested in the flip chart. She grew up in the church, so I asked her what we need to do to go to heaven: good works were her answer! So I briefly explained why it can’t be good work, and what the good news is. She seemed struck. She became very interested in what church I went to, and got me to write down all the details. She said she would read the After Life tract I gave her.
For the St. Patricks Day outreach, we were outside two Irish pubs over the two hours. But, because of Coronavirus, there were not many people around (last year it was similar, but due to the mosque shootings).
But this did not stop us having some great conversations.
My first was a long conversation with a guy walking home after work. He followed Viking religion, and was resistant. But we had a nice long conversation where I was able to make some inroads into why the Christian worldview makes sense. He heard the law, and I touched on the gospel.
At the second pub, the highlight conversation was with a group of three. Two of them just wanted to go into the pub, but the third guy really wanted to do the St. Patrick’s Day test. He wanted to know what his prize would be if he got them all right… he said I would have to do a handstand if he did. I agreed. To my amazement, he was getting the questions right. But, to my relief, he stumbled at the final hurdle.
Then I asked him what the message of St. Patrick was (answer: the gospel). He then triggered to what we were doing. He was impressed. He said if he knew we were Christians right from the start he would have said a foul word to us. But now that he was engaged, he was keen to chat about religion. And boy did he like to talk! He would often say “let me finish, let me finish”. Because of this, I didn’t really get to share the gospel with him. But he did take a tract! I hope he reads it, and that some of the things we talked about would resonate.
On Wednesday, I was back in the City. I ditched the flip chart and decided to do “walk up”. I made it all the way down to Ara on this outreach. I had four wonderful gospel conversations.
The first was with a young man who recognised me as he was walking towards me while he was crossing a road. He said hello, and even used my name! I didn’t remember him, but then he triggered my memory saying that we had talked during a climate change protest last year. He held to reincarnation, but also believed in God, heaven, and hell. He heard the law and the gospel again. But he was resistant because he understood the cost. He said he wanted to enjoy life, and then he would consider it. Inwardly I just shook my head, and tried to get him to understand what he was saying.
My next two conversations were with tourists: the first was with three Germans who were heading home early because of Coronavirus. Initially, only one of them was engaging me in gospel conversation, but by the end of the conversation, they were all interested, and all took tracts. The second was with a guy from Holland. At one point, I thought I was going to lose him as we discussed how we know God exists. But I quickly moved on with the law and the gospel, and he re-engaged and seemed genuinely impacted.
The last conversation was outside Ara. It was with three students. Interestingly, homosexuailty and abortion came up in the conversation. But they all heard the law and the gospel.
I praise God for all these opportunities. We may be reaching people one at a time, or in small groups. But as the days, weeks, years pass… many people are being reached with the gospel. All glory to God. In God’s timing, may many come to saving faith in Jesus.
On Saturday I was in the city, and there were two separate Muslim groups out evangelising. One group from Auckland in Cathedral Square, and Two guys from the UK in Cashel Mall. The reason for this is that it has been one year since the tragic mosque shootings in Christchurch a year ago.
I started the outreach in Cathedral Square with a chat with a construction worker.
Then I had a whole lot of teen guys come past my flip chart and show a lot of interest. There would have been at least twelve of them, plus a couple of adults. I was engaging them with the first page of the flip chart, challenging them on how we know right from wrong when the adults said the tour guide was ahead and they had to go. Some of the teens wanted to stay and talk, but they couldn’t leave the group - so they took tracts instead.
Many of them were holding copies of the Quran, and related literature, which is how I first learned about the Muslims being out.
Later in the outreach, I decided to pack up my flip chart and went to talk to the Muslims, to express my genuine sympathy, and to engage them out of love. Two young men were happy to talk, and one of them gave me a Quran - which I accepted.
I asked them the key question: how do I go to heaven. This led to a conversation where they talked about the mercy of God. So I asked how God can be merciful and just at the same time. They basically said that God is not like a human judge, he can forgive if he wants to. So I asked if God could forgo justice for the mosque shooter and just give him mercy.
After listening for quite a while, I tried to show them how God can be both just and merciful: through sacrifice. They had mentioned Moses, so going from there I started talking about the passover lamb - and then one of the guys, knowing where I was going, became super defensive. The shields went fully up, and the conversation ended there. But we parted on good terms.
I moved to Cashel Mall, and that is when I came across the second Muslim group (pictured). These guys were in Christchurch just under a year ago - and one of them remembered me as the “Ray Comfort” guy. I was honoured that he remembered me!
I also asked this guy how God could be just and merciful but, same as last year, his answers were windy and intellectual sounding without any content. I challenged him on this, and asked him for clear answers. Our conversation finished up a few minutes later, and we parted on good terms.
They were on one side of Colombo street, so I decided to set up my flip chart on the other side.
I had a quick follow up conversation, and then I had a crazy guy have a go at me before getting into another good follow up conversation.
Sadly, while I was having that follow up conversation, I had two sets of people keen to try the flip chart - but there were no labourers to share the gospel with them. Please, pray for labourers.
The outreach ended with a conversation with a man who had talked the Muslims, and then was keen to talk to me. He was very smart, and very blunt. Two ladies interrupted us to ask if they could ask a quick question. I smiled and said yes. They guy I was talking to said no!
After directing the ladies to the tram stop (and giving them tracts), I pulled they guy up and said he didn’t need to be rude.
But the gospel conversation continued. He processed the logic, and didn’t like it. He heard the law, but I can’t remember if he heard the gospel - I don’t think he wanted to hear it. It was a tense conversation, but we parted on good terms.
On Sunday I was back in Cashel Mall, and my Muslim friends were in the same spot as yesterday.
I had some good gospel conversations but, again, other opportunities were missed due to a lack of labourers.
I had a quick follow up with a guy I had first talked to a month or so ago at Northlands. I had a great gospel conversation with an Indian couple. And another couple were keen to talk, but had to go - accepting tracts.
A friend had recently given me some NZ million dollar tracts - I love these, but haven’t used them for a long time as Operation 513 doesn’t sell these in NZ. To finish the outreach, I had fun handing many of these out as I walked back to my car.
Looking forward to a day of rest on Monday and then getting back to work, God willing, on Tuesday. Thanks for your prayers!
It’s been a super busy Thursday and Friday for the Christchurch (NZ) team! I’m reflecting back on my notes for Thursday, and I can barely remember some of the conversations I wrote about! But this is good, because it shows that God has been blessing us with many opportunities to talk about Christ.
I had seven conversations in two hours at Eastgate. Some long, some short. A few follow ups.
I saw an elderly gentleman for the third time. The last time I had talked to him (at Northlands I think) he said he didn’t want to talk about spiritual things. So when he walked towards me, I decided to take a different tack: I just spent time getting to know him - and he certainly enjoyed that. From time to time, we would subtly touch on spiritual matters, but it was driven by him. God willing, I will have more opportunities to see him and talk further. God willing, he will become willing to a gospel conversation - but it’s not something I can force.
I offered a tract to a young man which triggered a conversation. He said he was a Christian, so I used the “dagger in my back” scenario to try to find out what he understood about the gospel. It was clear he understood that good people, that did good things would go to heaven - which was very concerning. And so I reversed the conversation and told him what I would say to someone dying: I took him through the law and the gospel. And he looked genuinely stunned. His bus came, but he was torn, because he wanted to stay and talk. I said, “hey man, I don’t want you to miss your bus, you better get going”. But then the bus pulled out and left! He didn’t seem too concerned, so we talked some more about the gospel.
An elderly lady was sitting waiting for a taxi, I said hello, and we fell into an easy conversation. She was lovely! She spoke softly, and there was a fan running just behind her, making it hard for me to hear her. But I persisted. We talked about wisdom (actually I listened to her share some wisdom), but the gospel was at the center of our conversation. Her taxi arrived, and she gladly received a tract, promising that she would read it.
In my report last Thursday I mentioned that I had a follow up, at Northlands, with a young man who had been reading a tract, but still didn’t have a grasp of the gospel. Well I saw him again at Eastgate this week - and so I was able to explain the gospel to him. Praise God.
At Northlands, the conversations were more difficult than at Eastgate. Many conversations I started would be ended by a bus coming! Yet I was able to share the full law and gospel with a few people.
The highlight conversation was with a young lady who was considering being baptised. She said it was required to be saved! So starting with the gospel, and tracking back to the law, I explained that baptism was not required for salvation - we are saved by grace through faith. But if we were saved we would want to be baptised. She listened intently, and took a tract as she left.
On Friday, a team of six stood outside the hospital protesting abortion, and bringing the hope of the gospel to any who would listen. Right from the beginning we were under attack. Literally in the first minute three people showed their disgust with strong words! And this continued throughout the outreach. Yet, we did get support too, and we were able to have a number of conversations. Andy did a wonderful job in engaging many people in conversation and handing out “Life is Precious” tracts at the hospital entrance steps.
As usual, we then moved to Cathedral Square for open air preaching. Andy preached. And he had some initial push back from at least one heckler (note, the sign in the picture is held by a heckler and not endorsed by us). I had a great conversation with a young man who listened to the preaching for a bit.
In Cashel Mall, the first hour went really well.
I had a wonderful follow up conversation with a young guy I last talked to over a year ago! As that was happening, a man who saw the Dalai Lama on my flip chart stopped and wanted to talk. I managed to share the gospel with both of them. But the original guy, although it was great to see him and catch up, is simply not interested (now anyway).
I had a number of other good conversations, people seemed interested in the flip chart and were keen to take tracts.
But in the second hour, I started to flag. My legs became very tired. How I was feeling was probably reflected in my body language, as I wasn’t able to get anyone to stop for a chat.
Eventually I saw a homeless guy I’ve been getting to know sit down to start begging in the sun. So I went over to sit with him and talk. I hope to write more about this guy in a future report. I’m feeling hopeful about him.
A team of two were back in the city for the Friday evening outreach. The highlight was an hour long conversation with a guy from the revival center - they believe baptism and speaking in tongues is required for salvation, and it was clear to me - through the conversation - that works play a role in maintaining their salvation. We had a wonderful chat about how we are justified. I, of course, demonstrating that it is by faith alone.
I turned up to my usual spot in Riccarton and set up my flip charting, wondering and praying about the afternoons encounters.
First up, I received some encouragement! A bus driver had stopped in traffic directly opposite me. The driver opened the door, and pulled a Gideon’s Bible out of his pocket to show me. I smiled and gave him a thumbs up. He nodded, closed the door and drove on. To me, he was saying: “well done, I’m proud of you, keep up the good work”!
Then a guy walked past and took a tract and said that someone had already talked to him on Friday in Cashel Mall. It was Jason! Christchurch is a small world - encouraging.
Next up I had a young high school student surprise me by articulating the gospel quite well right off the bat - I was impressed.
I had a follow up with a lady I first met last week. She had read the tract I’d given her, but I could tell she really didn’t want to talk about it. So we chatted about other things for a while, and then she decided to share about someone she knew who had turned their life to God about eighteen months ago - she talked about the dramatic turn around in their life, and how she talked about God but wasn’t pushy about it… I understood, I can’t push God on to anyone. It was a lovely chat - I hope to see her again.
I then had a chat with a guy who claimed to be Bhudist, but really just had his head in the sand in regards to the difficult questions of life. As opposed to my previous conversatoin, I decided to be a bit forceful to try to wake this guy up. He heard the law, and also the logic of why God and hell must exist. But he didn’t want the good news. He took a tract, and we parted on good terms.
Last Tuesday I posted about an interesting gospel conversation I had on the Riccarton outreach where an Indian guy got all the way through my gospel presentation saying he wanted to trust that Jesus paid his fine - but then after considering the cost of accepting the gift (last page of the flip chart) backed away. It was the last conversation of the outreach, it was a "come back" (he left but came back), and it caused the outreach to "go long".
Well, this Tuesday, on my last conversation of the day, I had a "come back" (received a tract, partly read it, and came back), which caused the outreach to "go long". This time it was with a CBHS boarder (Catholic background), and this time, even after considering the cost, he still wanted to trust that Jesus paid his "fee" (for some reason he preferred the word "fee" over "fine").
Now I'm not getting excited yet. I challenged him, that if he was serious, he was to talk it through with his parents (if they want to contact me, they are welcome). And then he was to contact me about coming along to church. He took a Bible (pictured), and various tracts. Time will tell. He is in God's hands. My gut says he needs time to consider it further, and work the implications through. Please pray for Will.
Photos, courtesy of Roger Spicer - thanks.
On Wednesday, I was in the city, most of my time was spent in Cathedral Square.
Good news! KFC is opening up in Christchurch city! This is the first major fast food chain to open a store since the earthquake 10 years ago. It's a sign that people are returning to the central city - this can only be good for evangelism!
The outreach started with some good follow up conversations with homeless, or ex-homeless people that I knew.
I then got into a fascinating conversation with a young man who wasn’t shy at hiding the fact that he hated God! I thought the conversation would die early - but he kept hanging on. And he started to soften. He was trying to make a distinction between us, and effectively saying his truth was true for him, and my truth was true for me. But I gave clear arguments for why that didn’t make sense.
I was convincing him that we were equals, brothers in the sense that we were one blood before God, when he suddenly got up and approached a stranger to be an arbiter in our argument. The stranger took my side! And I also had an opportunity to bring the new person into the gospel conversation. They didn’t stay long, but they did take a tract.
Even later in the conversation, a fourth person got involved - yet another opportunity to share about Christ! He also took a tract before moving on.
By the end of the conversation, the original guy wanted to know what church I went to, and said he would come along. I made it clear that coming to church wouldn’t make him right with good, and reiterated the gospel. Like I said: fascinating.
The outreach ended with a great walk up opportunity with a young man from England. He heard and understood the gospel.
As I think about it, it amazes me how many people are open enough to hear the gospel if I’m just a little bit bold in asking them a question. Sure, I get rejected a lot, but still… come join me in the harvest fields.
After the gospel + abortion outreach, which I wrote about here, we moved into Cathedral Square to preach in the open air. There was loud music, and construction noise from the nearby convention center, but this did not stop two of the team preaching. On this occasion, the hecklers were tame.
As we were moving to Cashel Mall, I stopped a young couple to ask them if they ever thought about what happens after they die. They looked at me stunned, and then he said that they had only just been talking about it! They were instantly engaged. And I was able to go through the law and the gospel with them both.
In Cashel Mall, the wind became very noticeable, the buildings were forming a wind tunnel! So we weren’t able to use the flip charts for the whole outreach, but before I packed mine away, I had a great conversation with two guys, one from Germany, and the other from England. They were resistant, but they seemed genuinely challenged, and became engaged enough to want to hear the gospel. As they walked away, I asked them another checking question, the English guy, with tongue in cheek, answered with “good works”... he knew that wasn’t the right answer - I was satisfied he understood the gospel!
The outreach ended up going long, with some late opportunities to share the gospel. Jason had a long chat (pictured), and Andy & I got into a conversation with two Indian guys (also pictured).
As always, thank you for your prayer and support!
Thursday afternoon was a wonderful time of gospel ministry out at the bus stops.
For me, the outreach started with a friendly chat with my two JW friends who I often see with their stand at Northlands bus stop. The last time I talked to them, it was declared that we were only to talk about “the weather”. But today, they couldn’t resist and had a go at me (politely) about the trinity. We discussed this for a few minutes, me having the opportunity to touch on the gospel and why Jesus had to be man and God, before parting ways. I continue to pray for the salvation of this lovely couple.
My next encounter was a follow up with a man I first talked to at Eastgate (I can’t remember how long ago). He said he had been reading the tract I gave him. So I asked him a checking question, and sadly his answer was that we needed to “be good” to go to heaven. I was able to explain why that was the wrong answer, but his friend turned up, and he had to leave, so sadly I didn’t get an opportunity to explain the gospel fully. God willing I will see him again - or maybe you will have an opportunity to share with him?
My next conversation was amazing. It was with a deep thinking young man who declared himself to be an Atheist. But he seemed genuinely interested in the truth. The conversation didn’t follow the usual pattern, instead it was driven by his questions. But throughout the conversation I was able to touch on all the key concepts of the gospel.
Half way through the conversation his bus came. He looked up, thought for a second, and then said, it’s ok, I’ll get the next one. How encouraging! At one point he said, “you won’t be able to convince me in ten or twenty minutes”, but by the end of the conversation I could tell he was challenged. I made sure he knew how to get in contact with me if he had further questions. Oh Lord, save him for Your glory!
My next conversation was also amazing. The young man had been involved with talking to the dead, etc. so this time I followed my usual pattern for sharing the gospel. He was deeply challenged to understand the standard for entry to heaven, and he understood the cost of trusting in Jesus. He didn’t see the joy of the gift of Jesus - yet anyway.
We moved to Northlands, and the outreach only got better!
I approached a young man, who was a bit overwhelmed by my deep initial question. He decided he didn’t want to talk about it - which was fine, but he was happy to take a gospel tract.
There was an older lady who had watched this exchange, and I approached her next. It turns out she was a Christian from a sound local church. She was very encouraged by what I was doing - she said she had already received one of our tracts. I was able to encourage her in return.
I had a number of other good gospel conversations - mainly with high school students. I also had a brief follow up opportunity with a lady who first heard about us through a letterbox drop!
But my last three conversations were outstanding.
A young high school student accepted a tract from me and was keen to chat (pictured). He said he had talked to me two years ago, and has seen me around the streets since then. He said the kids at school talk about us - and it’s not very nice what they say. He was intimidated by this, but at the same time he was very open to the gospel.
I took him through the gospel again, and I left him considering the amazing good news, but also the cost - which he has first hand experience of (considering his friends at school). He took a copy of every type of tract I have, plus a New Testament plus Psalms & Proverbs. He said he would start reading it.
While this conversation was happening, I realised that I was speaking directly into a taxi parked on the curb. The driver had the passenger side window wound down and would have heard every word I said.
After finishing with the high school student, I crossed the road and had a wonderful conversation with a Christian - about high school age. He couldn’t clearly articulate the gospel, so I went over it with him - he seemed impacted and appreciative. I started giving him Bible verses to look up, and he pulled out a pen and started writing them on his hand. He seemed very encouraged. Praise God.
I then crossed back over the road to see if I could get a final conversation before heading home, and as I walked past the taxi, the driver who had listened to me earlier, came out of his car to ask for one of my tracts!
He had an eastern religious background (Sikh) and was actually quite resistant, but he said his wife had two people coming to talk about spiritual things. I think he heard me talking about the many Christian cults that teach that good works are required for salvation - and this intrigued him. I also gave him a “Which One?” tract before we parted with a hand shake (pictured - perfect timing Andy!). A very encouraging end to the outreach!