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.
Contact Glen Richards for more information.
Day 9 of 10: Christchurch (NZ) Summer Mission
Today we took the chilly bin of cold drinks and focused on walk up conversations with people: both in the City (including an excursion down to the Botanical Gardens), and at Sumner Beach.
Using soft drinks to start conversations is a wonderful tool (something unique to our Summer Mission). Proverbs 18:16 (ESV) "A man's gift makes room for him and brings him before the great." It is only a tool - a non essential, unlike the gospel message - which is essential. But many times today it caused people to stop when it was clear they wouldn't have otherwise - and often a wonderful gospel conversation was able to occur.
An example of this was first thing this morning, as we were walking down High Street towards Cathedral Square, a young man ended up walking parallel to us. An Eternity tract was offered and accepted, but it didn't look like he would stop for a conversation. When offered a free drink, he seemed genuinely surprised and gratefully accepted. By this stage we were waiting at the lights to cross into Cathedral Square and I was able to start discussing the law and gospel with him. He became engrossed, and we slowed down to a stand still in the Square as I finished explaining the gospel and offered a booklet with more details. I was surprised when he said yes, and that he would sit down right then and read it! I've never had that happen before. This young man sat down, read through the Eternity tract, and then picked up the booklet and started reading through it (see first picture, where another of the team is also sharing the gospel with someone else). I took the time to write out my contact details for this young man and gave them to him. I then moved elsewhere and had a separate gospel conversation; when I came back, he was still reading. Praise God! Our job is to share the gospel, God does the saving - for His glory alone.
Many other gospel conversations were had today. We thank God for the opportunities He provided to share of His mercy and grace - and we trust Him with the results. Your prayers and support are a vital part of this mission - please continue to pray as we move into the final day tomorrow.
Day 8 of 10 of the summer mission to Christchurch (NZ)
Today was a day of gospel conversations in the most unlikely of places and ways.
We loaded up the chilly bin with cold drinks to give away, with the intention of eventually making it to the beach for evangelism there. But we never ended up making it.
We decided to start in the central city, as we had to follow up with authorities in regard to the flip chart drama from the previous day.
Using cold drinks or tracts as conversation starters, or the flip chart - we had limited success in sharing the gospel message with people. Although some good conversations were had.
After lunch, we decided to head for the beach. But on the way to our cars, as we were walking down Cashel Street (the part outside the central city, and so with low foot traffic) we noticed a skateboarder who looked hot and in need of a cold drink! It was gratefully accepted, and turned into a wonderful gospel conversation (see picture).
While this conversation was going, another team member had other opportunities to hand out tracts & give away drinks as conversation starters. One of those conversations was with 2 construction workers on a break. This conversation was special for 2 reasons: 1) Every morning of this mission, as we have headed to the streets, we have passed a big group of construction workers on their morning break, some of whom received tracts. 2) 1 of the 2 construction workers approached today had received tracts on a previous day! This was a wonderful opportunity to follow up, and he started by saying "Religion doesn't make any sense". In as much time that was allowed, and starting with this statement, objections were answered, and the law and gospel was shared - with a call to repentance and faith. I'm hoping this will lead to some thinking on their part, and lead to more follow up questions in future mornings, God willing.
Once the conversation with the skateboarder had finished, we continued heading towards our parked cars, when a guy we had talked to the previous day saw us again, and was keen for a follow up conversation. This man had had some kind of powerful spiritual encounter a year or so ago, but was now believing in something that included Christianity, but wasn't Christianity. Specifically, he thought the Bible was interesting, and Jesus was important. But that God spoke to him directly. He was convinced that people are generally good, but yet he loved the hymn amazing grace (that saved a wretch like me). We continued to challenge this man about the sinfulness of man, and the gift of Jesus.
So, after all these conversations in the least expected of places, we had run out of time to head to the beach. But the day wasn't over.
One of the team decided to head back to Cashel Mall to do some more gospel sharing before the end of the day, and at the Colombo Street intersection an "Eternity" gospel tract was handed to a young man while waiting for the lights to go green to cross the road. A conversation got going, and neither of us ended up making the crossing. The young man was new to Christchurch and was lost. He needed to get to Riccarton Mall, and asked if he could walk there. It was too far, and since that mall was on the way home, a ride was offered and accepted. All the way to the car (back down Cashel Street), and on the drive over to Riccarton Mall, a wonderful gospel conversation occurred. This young man had gotten involved with Christianity through a youth group in his home town. But he had no understanding of the gospel, and was calling himself agnostic now, in spite of once being a passionate "Christian". He seemed to really appreciate the new gospel information I was giving him, and he gladly accepted a Bible, gospel booklet, DVD, and tract with contact details. The last photo on this report is of him just after being dropped off. Oh, may he understand, repent, and believe the gospel - to the glory of God alone!
Day 7 of 10 of the Christchurch (NZ) summer mission.
No rain today, but it was overcast, so we decided to go to Cathedral Square (instead of heading to the beach). Before heading out, we prayed together as a team and read some Proverbs. 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. And 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. Little did we know that those verses would need to be applied today - but God did.
On our way to the Square, we ended up having some great walk up conversations with workers on breaks. But once we made it to the Square, it was a bit slow - esp. at our usual spot at the southern Colombo St entrance.
Some of the team decided to move into Speaker's Corner, in front of the Cathedral. And this became a very fruitful spot for gospel conversations.
But sadly, to our shock and surprise, we had one of the local coffee stall owners abruptly pull down one of our flip charts (see photo) and try to put a stop to what we were doing! We refused to be intimidated, and so continued to use our flip charts to have gospel conversations with those that were interested - even with the stall owner continually coming back and trying to stop us. Those verses from the book of Proverbs were put to good use.
It's nothing like the book of Acts, but praise God we were counted worthy to face opposition, may it cause the gospel to prosper!
And today the gospel certainly prospered! The team headed home, clicking our heels, due to all the wonderful conversations that were had. A lot more gospel booklets (something we only give out to people that respond positively to the message shared) were given out today than usual.
Because of what happened today, it also provided opportunity to get to know some of the other stall owners that witnessed what happened and gave us the opportunity to start building good relationships with them. God uses all things for the good of those that love Him.
Tonight we will be having our weekly team prayer meeting - we have much to pray about after today. Please be praying for the team as we head into the last few days of our summer mission. May the lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!
Day 6 of 10 of the summer mission to Christchurch (NZ). We awoke to rain. Heavy rain. But we decided to not let that stop us. From previous experience I knew, at the very least, that we would be able to hand out tracts and have conversations outside the bus exchange. And that is exactly what we did, after first gathering for a time of prayer.
2 solid conversations were had there, in spite of the heavy rain. 1 with an atheist from the UK, and 1 with a young Jewish man. We praise God for that! The rain finally eased enough for us to move out to other parts of the city.
But, unfortunately, even the Buskers Festival wasn't running due to the weather, and there weren't many people about.
We had an early lunch as a team, before heading back again in the afternoon. The weather steadily improved drawing people out, and more conversations were able to be had, including a long conversation with a group of homeless men. And then, finally, the sun broke through!
We headed to Cathedral Square and ended up having a wonderful conversation with 2 kids out on their scooters. As you will see from the pictures, 1 of them was particularly impacted, and you could tell he was seriously processing the gospel message being shared (sadly, his friend got bored, and scootered off).
One buskers act did occur, and a crowd gathered for it, allowing tracts to be distributed. And late in the day, a man who was fighting stage 4 cancer, heard the gospel via flip chart -- his wife didn't want to be involved, waiting down the foot path, but the man wanted to stay to find out why I was there, it was my privilege to present the simple gospel message to him!
I told him my prayer is that he would be healed, and fully recover - but the reality is that we will all die and face God on judgment day. He was challenged to repent and put his faith in Jesus today.
The regular Sunday afternoon outreach for the Christchurch (NZ) team went well. Today we had a small team of members from 2 local churches. Due to the Buskers Festival, many people are in the central city. One of the performance areas is in Cathedral Square, and so we set up at the entrance.
At the end of each performance, there is a rush of people leaving, and it's a great opportunity to hand out tracts and start conversations - of which many were had (as per pictures). May God use the gospel message shared today to bring about salvation of souls -- for His glory alone!
Gearing up for the final week of the Summer Mission - please keep the Christchurch team in your prayers this week! :)
Day 5 of the summer mission to Christchurch (NZ) is complete. We are now officially half way through. We appreciate your encouragement, prayer, and support that is allowing this mission to happen!
Today is the first day of the Buskers Festival, bringing many people into central Christchurch -- to hear the gospel! But the day started slowly. I was feeling tired, and I wasn't getting any takers for a conversation. A little bit of doubt started to creep in. Are we being effective? Is it worth the effort we are putting in? But as I thought this, my thoughts came back to something I often say: even if no one stops to chat, or I don't give away a single gospel tract - I'm still being effective, and it's still worth the effort - simply because I am obeying my Lord who has asked me to go. At the very least, I will be worshipping Him, as I stand on the street looking like a fool for Him. He is worthy.
And it's not foolish, soon after: a man stopped, a conversation had started, and he heard the precious gospel! It was only up from there, person after person stopped to hear the gospel - they were wonderful conversations, all glory to God.
Then something special happened. The previous day I had preached the gospel, to seemingly little effect. Afterwards I had handed out tracts to the few that had listened - but none wanted to talk. But today, a group of 3 came past the flip chart - 1 of whom had heard me preach the day before and had taken a tract from me. Today he, and his friends wanted to talk - praise God. The conversation was difficult initially, as questions were being fired, left, right and center. I had to rely heavily on the wisdom of God's word, and the experience he has given me in dealing with these situations. But through it all, I managed to steer the conversation through the law and the clear evidence of creation and conscience. The bluster of the initial exchange eventually died down, and the questions became genuine and serious. A somberness came upon the conversation, and in light of that, I was able to share of the amazing grace of Jesus. Sadly, there was still resistance from all 3 in the group - but they all took tracts as they left (except for the 1 who had received one the prior day - he still had his). I pray that the discussion about the law and the seriousness of sin, would weigh upon their minds and hearts, having a plowing effect, that they would eventually hear the gospel again and it would find fertile soil in their lives - all to the glory of God alone.
Today being Friday, we also ran our new evening outreach, and in spite of the rain, there were many opportunities to share the gospel. With: a group of 4 men from Belgium across from the bars and restaurants on Oxford Terrace, a young Israeli man in Cathedral Square, and a lovely vegan lady who was with a group of animal rights activists who were bringing about awareness of their cause (see photo - it seemed quite effective, could be an idea for doing something similar in the battle against abortion? But maybe without the masks!)
It was a little bit intimidating sharing the gospel with this lady surrounded by her activist friends. But all need to hear the gospel, and God is with us! I deliberately worked hard to make sure the conversation didn't turn into an argument. I also did my best to understand what she believed and why, and what the differences were between her and her friends beliefs (e.g., she believed in a god, but others were atheist). I did my best to share the gospel, but the conversation didn't follow the usual template. I talked about how there was no death in creation before the fall, and that, one day, God would restore creation where the lion would lie with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6 "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb..."). But I talked about how God killed an animal and used the skin as a covering for Adam and Eve after the fall - which prophetically pointed to Jesus, the lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world. Sin has drastic consequences - including the death of animals. We parted with a hug, and she gladly accepted a gospel tract. May she, and her friends, come to know the only hope there is for the problem of death: Jesus.
Saturday we will be taking a much needed rest, Sunday we will run our usual afternoon outreach, and then from Monday to Friday next week will be the 2nd, and final, week of the summer mission. Please keep us in your prayers.
Day 4 of the Summer Mission to Christchurch. A hot day today, so we decided to hit Sumner Beach with a chilly bin of cold soft drinks to give away with the gospel message! But first we headed to the central city to: hand out tracts, for some "walk up" & flip chart conversations, and to preach in the Square.
Once at the beach, we simply walked up to groups of people offering them a cold drink and starting a conversation. Some people appreciated the drink, but it was clear they didn't want to hang around for too long - those conversations went quickly, but the law and gospel was still able to be presented. Others were keen for a chat, and would ask great questions. 1 engaged young lady even said "I'd always wondered what Christianity was about" - now she knows, but she was warned that it wasn't simply something to understand intellectually, a call to repent and trust Jesus was given.
We appreciate your prayers as we head into Day 5 tomorrow, before taking a much needed rest on Saturday.
Day 3 of the Summer Mission to Christchurch (NZ). Today I decided to do something different. I didn't take the chilly bin, and instead stuffed as many 180 DVDs - a powerful pro-life documentary, that also shares the vital gospel message - as I could into my bag and headed to the hospital. The road works between the main hospital complex, and the new building has been completed, and I wanted to find out if it would be a good spot for witnessing and a place to bring the gospel to the issue of abortion in Christchurch - something that happens right inside the hospital here.
There wasn't anywhere near as much foot traffic here as in the city, but I did manage to have some gospel conversations via the flip chart. And I was able to hand out all but 2 of the DVDs (I was also handing out tracts with a link to the movie for those that don't have a DVD player).
Many hospital staff went past looking at me with curiosity. I also had hospital security staff walk past, and they took copies of 180 (I've got nothing to hide). One of them even came back and asked for another, as he said he'd given his to his boss - and he wanted one for himself. I was able to take the opportunity to confirm if the spot I was standing on was public property, and if I was fine doing what I was doing. I got a green light.
We desperately want to see abortion - the murder of innocent babies - ended in our city, nation, and beyond! And some of us have been praying about what we can do. I know my effort seems feeble - but it's something. It's a start. If it's something that God wants to happen, may He bless it, by opening up opportunities for ministry. Please join us in prayer. And it all starts with the gospel of Jesus.
Without lives being transformed by this message: of justice and grace there won't be lasting change. We can't just moralise our society; it needs Jesus - to see change now and for the hope of eternal life to come. May those considering abortion hear the gospel and turn away. May those who have had an abortion hear the gospel and know forgiveness in Jesus, through repentance and trust in him. Amen.
As I was standing on my spot outside the hospital, I noticed a couple had been sitting at one of the benches just down from me for a long time. So when I packed up, I decided to head down and offer them a DVD. They gladly took one, and a conversation started.
Sadly, one of them, who was dressed in a hospital gown, had just been informed that their cancer was inoperable! It was terminal. I expressed my deepest sympathy at this news. With the subject matter already on death, I shared the gospel - of the hope for eternal life. And gospel literature, with contact details, was given. With plenty of time to read and think, while in a hospital bed, may God lead this person (and their friend) to repentance and faith in Him. What a privilege to be able to share the gospel with them!
Day 2 of the Summer Mission to Christchurch (NZ). Today ended up being a day of a few long conversations rather than many short ones. And only once did a conversation start via flip chart. Today the chilly bin of cold drinks was used to start conversations with people enjoying the hot sun while on holiday, or during a break from work.
The first conversation was with 2 work men on a break under the trees. Both were grateful for the free drink, and both thought they would go to heaven when they die. But after looking at 4 of the 10 commandments, they quickly realised that, if that was the standard God would use on judgment day, then they wouldn't be going to heaven. The good news of Jesus dying on the cross in payment for sin, and rising again giving us hope of eternal life was shared, with a call to repent and believe the gospel. This conversation had to go quickly as they were on a break, and we didn't want them stealing any of their employers time. ;)
We then moved on and had 2 (separate) conversations with young tourists from Austria, and Germany respectively. The Austrian, in particular, was keen to understand what we were saying, so the time was taken to explain the gospel and answer his questions. Initially he turned down the offer of a cold drink, but after the long chat, and since the sun was beating down hard now - he gratefully accepted.
The preaching in Cathedral Square attracted a new heckler today, which lead to a lengthy 1 to 1 discussion with her.
We then moved to Cashel Mall, where the team split up, and we ended up having separate conversations (walk up). Mine was with another German tourist, a very thoughtful young man who was challenged by the gospel presentation, and asked some wonderful questions afterwards. He had a real appreciation for the blessings of life, and seemed to be genuinely counting the cost of following Jesus. He gladly took a gospel booklet with his cold beverage and said he would read it.
A couple of other significant conversations were had today, but the 4 and half hours went quickly. It's not just about numbers, but about the quality of the conversations and making sure people understand what is being communicated. May gospel seed take root, for the glory of God alone.
Every year, the Christchurch team organise a short term mission trip to... Christchurch! It means money can be saved on travel, we can sleep in our own bed, and we don't have to adjust to a new climate, culture, and time zone, but we still get the benefit of giving glory to God by bringing the good news of Jesus to the lost. Today was day 1 of the mission. Tracts were distributed, conversations were had, people heard the gospel by way of open air preaching, and soft drinks were given away.
Today was about continuing conversations that were started on the New Year's Eve outreach. Of 2 young men the team had a long conversation with prior, 1 of them walked past with his girlfriend. He was identified by name, and so stopped. This led to a great follow up conversation starting with his thoughts about what was discussed the first time. Eventually evolution was put forward as the excuse this young couple were using to suppress the truth of God. This was addressed, after re-covering the subjects of the serious nature of sin, and the good news of Jesus. They were asked to consider the cost, repent and trust in Jesus before it's too late.
Another young man, first encountered on New Year's Eve, has been encountered at least 2 more times since then. And every time, I'd say hello, using his name, as he walked past. Today he was sitting with 2 friends in Cashel Mall. I approached, and he was happy to see me. They were grateful to receive a free cold drink to enjoy, and were very open to a gospel conversation - via flip chart. It was a wonderful conversation, as they seemed very open to the message of the gospel. I hope to see these young men again.
Earlier, I preached in Cathedral Square. To draw a crowd, I used trivia questions giving away free drinks as prizes. It was wonderful seeing people gather and get involved. I then offered $5 (to buy a coffee from the local vendor) to the person who could pass the good person test, based off the ten commandments. Sadly, once people realised I was a Christian, they started to disperse and I couldn't convince anyone to try for the fiver. But I still took the opportunity to proclaim the serious nature of sin, and what Jesus has done to defeat death and bring us hope. Some stayed to listen. But please pray that we would become more effective in sharing the gospel.
Finally, we met a lady who watched one of the flip chart presentations. Initially, I thought she was going to get angry at us telling people about sin, but to my surprise she encouraged us! A Christian from a local Baptist church, she said she would be keen to join us, and took my email address. May she get in touch, and get involved, for the glory of God. How about you?
Please continue to pray for the Christchurch Summer Mission! And join us if you can :)