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.
Today was outreach Sunday for Redemption Church in Cashel Mall, Christchurch (NZ). I was told there were over 20 people out sharing the gospel today! Praise God for that! Some of the younger ones handed out tracts, while others paired up with mini-flip charts to strike up conversations via walk up, and still more others used large flip charts.
At the beginning, I wanted to show some of the team the new, extended flip chart with its multiple layers of checking questions and great art work. There was quite a crowd of Christians gathered round in a semicircle. Early on, a bystander, wondering what was going on, joined the semi-circle and ended up hearing the law and gospel!
We then split up and moved into the harvest field. It was a warm day for winter, and there were lots of people about.
I was paired up with Chris. Our first encounter was with a blind man, who had had cancer. Sadly, he was angry at God because of this. He was barely giving us his time, so I had to go quick to try to keep him engaged. With God’s help, I was able to address his objections, and start delivering information this man needed to consider. Amazingly, I was able to hit on the law, and the gospel at different moments in the exchange. He moved on with a tract to read.
I then turned around and noticed a group of six teens standing right next to the flip chart I was supposed to be manning. I approached them and asked if they would like to try the good person test - they were keen! It was a wonderful conversation where they were engaged enough for me to be able to take them all the way through the presentation (pictured) - including the checking questions. And then answer some of their objections to boot. I challenged them to respond to the gospel, not just leave it as intellectual information to store away.
I spent a lot of time during the outreach trying to encourage the team. It’s so much easier when I’m on my own, or with an experienced team. But oh, to see more labourers raised up. I was overjoyed to see Christians growing in their confidence as God gave them success in delivering the gospel! The extra work for me was so worth it! Glory to God alone.
Later I paired with Anna. We spied two ladies across the road, who looked to be in a position to talk - so we decided to approach. Praise God, they were open to chat. One was a Christian, the other not. The gospel was proclaimed while Anna and I sat on the pavement in front of them.
So wonderful to be able to work with the Church in this way. Well done Redemption Church family! It’s a pleasure to be a part of you, and serve our Lord next to you. :)
Today I’ve spent most of my report time writing about a difficult gospel + abortion outreach we had. So this report is going to be short.
Thursday we were at the bus stops again. Not many people out, I guess due to school holidays. I wasn’t able to get into my usual run of gospel conversations. Yet Andy seemed to be having long conversations: one after the other. Praise God for that!
Yet I had two highlights:
The first was so shocking, I didn’t know how to react. I had two Christians approach me to share the gospel with me! Praise God for that! They were Uni students who can’t be on campus due to Covid-19 restrictions, and so they were venturing out!
The second was an odd pair of follow up conversations. I approached a guy who looked vaguely familiar - he smiled and said he had talked to me before in Riccarton. Him being a satanist, we fell into an interesting conversation when we were interrupted by another guy I’ve talked to before. It became a three way discussion that, frustratingly, I couldn’t bring any gospel focus to. The first guy's bus came, and then the second guy's bus came straight after. Lord willing I will have another opportunity to talk to them again.
On Friday, the sun was shining bright! After the gospel + abortion outreach, we were in Cathedral Square - it was nice to see lots of people out and about. And there were lots of Christians around engaging those people in gospel conversations!
Later, a team of five were at the corner of Cashel and Colombo. Most of my time was dominated by a long conversation with a Muslim girl I had talked to before at Northlands bus stop. I was on the flip chart sharing the gospel with two people when she walked up and waited - obviously wanting to talk with me. Sadly, she was as resistant as the last time I talked to her. And yet, I was encouraged that she wanted to talk again.
Very grateful for all the opportunities God gave us over these two days. May we continue to grow in our ability to represent Christ well. And may He, in His grace, use our feeble attempts in the meantime. Soli Deo Gloria.
Still plenty of rain about on Tuesday and Wednesday, but there were enough breaks in it for outreaches to Riccarton and the city to go ahead.
On Tuesday I started with some online outreach before meeting Roger in Riccarton. I didn’t take any notes, and I talk to so many people online, I just can’t remember any of the specific conversations. But something in my memory suggests I had a run of open hearted people to talk to (in contrast to Saturday).
But I did take notes when I was in Riccarton.
My first interaction of note was with an older lady. Her demographic doesn’t normally stop, so I was surprised that she did. When I asked her what she had to do to go to heaven, she said, “believe the gospel”. I instantly assumed I was talking to a Christian… but she wasn’t. She was an ex-mormon who still had “works for salvation” engrained. Sadly, she didn’t stay for me to explain the true gospel, but she said she would read the “After Life” tract I gave her.
Next I had a lengthy follow up with an elderly lady - a doctor who had been a missionary in Africa (I think I’ve written about her before?). We discussed justification in depth.
Between conversations I was standing next to my flip chart, when a car came round the corner. The girl in the passenger seat instantly recognised me, and she tapped on the window a few times. I smiled, thinking I might know her. But then she gave me the finger as she went past. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut, but then I felt honoured that I’m even recognised… and why I’m recognised. All this happened in a split second. I have no idea who it is, but I genuinely want the best for her. (I prayed for her at the revival prayer meeting that evening.)
I then had an intellectual tussle with some vegan’s. They resisted the clear proof that God exists. I mentioned a few times that they didn’t have to stay and talk with me - but the guy kept wanting to discuss. They heard the law and the gospel. It felt like I didn’t get through, but at the end, the guy shook my hand and thanked me for the discussion. Maybe he will think about it? I leave them in the hands of God.
By the end of the outreach the rain was falling, I stuck around, and I’m glad I did as I guy stopped to talk. It turns out I’ve talked to him twice before - once in the city, and once in Riccarton (about a year ago). I didn’t remember him (he said he used to have long hair). He was from Colombia. He wanted to go through the flip chart again, and was keen to allow me to go in depth - even in the rain!
While this was happening, Roger had a good conversation with a Muslim man from Somalia (pictured). Roger also had lots of good conversations through the outreach.
Wednesday I was feeling tired and timid. I was in the city. To get myself going, I prayed and then I parked myself at the southern entrance to Cathedral Square to hand out tracts. Within moments I was into a good conversation with two skater girls (school holidays have started). From then on, I ended up having follow up conversations.
I got home in time to join the Aussie team for online outreach. I had some great conversations. A highlight was with two girls from Texas who were trusting in their goodness to get them to heaven, came to grasp the gospel (justification through faith alone in Jesus alone).
And this chat with someone I couldn’t see or hear (but they could hear me), it’s interesting reading their side of the conversation:
Stranger: I think we go to god and god will take care of me
Stranger: You have to be responsible and not do bad stuff
Stranger: Maybe a brush from my mom though
Stranger: I would be guilty
Stranger: No one
Stranger: Was it evs husband I forgot his name
Stranger: He was hung or nails to the cross
Stranger: I really don’t know
Stranger: Oh heaven yes
Stranger: You have to be responsible and don’t do anything bad
Stranger: He died
Stranger: Yes it actually does I’ve never thought about it really
Stranger: Jesus ?
Stranger: He died
Stranger: No but thank you for teaching me this
Stranger: Yes u can it’s ok
Stranger: Beacuse Jesus died for him to cross to heaven
Stranger: I would feel grateful for him risking his life to save me
Stranger: No way I would thank him
Stranger: Yes it does
Stranger: Yes me and my mom always go to church but now we can’t beacuse of corona
Stranger: I don’t remember I always read it with my mom but she’s been busy
You: "ESV Bible" in the app store, or at ESV.org
You: it's free
You: start in John - in the second half of the Bible
Stranger: Ok thank you
Stranger: Low country
Stranger: Catholic I think
You: to find a good church in your area: 9marks.org/church-search/
Stranger: Thank you really
Stranger: Bye 👋
You have disconnected.
Very grateful for God’s great patience holding so we would have two more days to reach people with the message of his mercy! Praying for fruit, and that it would glorify Him alone.
On Saturday morning we had more rain and cold wind, and so I opted for online outreach rather than heading into Christchurch city.
It was one of those days where you just get a string of difficult conversations. Most of them were with deeply resistant intellectual types - very tiring mentally. But the last conversation was quite good - although I have to admit to getting frustrated, the young man just wasn’t getting key concepts, and I had to continue to go back to re explain. Yet, he heard the gospel, and was quite appreciative of the chat.
On Sunday the weather was quite mild - even warm. The first day of spring? :) Andy, Thomas and I headed to Cashel Mall.
Andy seemed to be pretty much constantly talking to people about the gospel or related concepts. Not using a flip chart - just politely approaching people. He mentioned that one of the guys he talked to lost his wife in the mosque attack a year ago :( Our city has some deep wounds.
Thomas also had a number of gospel chats via the flip chart.
My conversations were mainly difficult ones right up till the last conversation, which was really good!
An example of a difficult conversation: two young ladies express interest in trying the good person test, and then just as I was starting, two other young ladies want to be involved. But there was much resistance. One of the girls kept insisting she would be innocent if judged by perfection. Eventually I said, “well, if you are perfect, I can’t help you - I’m here to give good news to people that aren't.”. She and her friend left. I asked the last two if they wanted to hear the good news, but they weren’t really interested. And then one of them said, “oh, actually I take all that back, I think I’d be innocent too”. Sadly, they left without the good news too. :(
Yet my last conversation of the outreach was with a young man with an Iranian background. He wasn’t a muslim any more, and he was investigating a local church some of his friends went to. Yet he didn’t know the gospel and was mildly resistant. Yet he slowly warmed to the conversation and, after working through checking questions a number of times, came to grasp what the gospel really meant. I pleaded with this young man to respond to it. He seemed to appreciate the conversation in the end. I leave him in the hands of God.
We finally get some sun in Christchurch (NZ) - and rainbows to boot!
Andy & I were able to do full outreaches at Northlands and Eastgate on Thursday afternoon.
But in the morning, I did my usual stint of online outreach which included conversations with people from the UK, Egypt and Brazil. The highlight was a conversation with two teen girls who came to grasp the gospel (had to run through checking questions quite a few times). One of them said, “I’ve learned more from you in this conversation than I have from my RE teacher!”
At Northlands I had a couple of highlight follow up conversations.
The first was with a guy who was drunk the last time I talked to him. He remembered our previous conversation, and he was a whole lot more reasonable now. It was fascinating getting the other person's honest insight into a previous conversation. I wasn’t able to talk to him for long as, sadly, he was heading to meet someone to buy drugs. But he took a tract. I hope to see him again.
The next was with a guy who had alcohol on his breath. Because of our previous interactions, we fell into an easy conversation. To my surprise, out of the blue he came to tears over his sin of drunkenness. I told him of the hope of the sacrifice of Jesus to pay the fine for our sin, and if we trust in Him, God won’t leave us as we are. He opened up about his past involvement in the church and that there was a point in his younger life where he was like me - telling people about the gospel. I gave him my contact details, and I hope to see him again, also.
At Eastgate I had some fascinating conversations with a guy who believed in Norse mythology (closed, resistant), and a kid who believed in Greek mythology (open, switched on).
Andy and I then had a very interesting conversation with a guy and his daughter. Believe it or not, he worked in the paranormal - getting rid of bad spirits (or something like that). And he said something amazing: “they hate the name of Jesus Christ”. You’d think that would be a clue, but this guy hadn’t looked into who Jesus Christ is. We worked on changing that for them this day.
I spoke to two kids who went to Christian schools and went to a local church - sadly, they thought keeping the 10 commandments would get them to heaven. I did my best to share the gospel in the short time I had with them.
Friday was a difficult day for me.
It started with the gospel + abortion outreach outside the hospital. You can read about it here.
We then moved into the city for open air preaching and one to one gospel conversations.
My time that afternoon was focused on a conversation that started with a guy walking up to me and said, “Hi Glen!”. My face was blank, so he said, “we talked for about half an hour in Riccarton a while back”. I apologised that I didn’t remember him, but then asked, can you remember what I said you have to do to go to heaven? (I assumed I would have shared the gospel with him.) He went with, basically, “be a good person”. (if I had shared the gospel, it certainly hadn’t stuck). We feel into a deep conversation where we pretty much disagreed on everything (just like with the guy I talked to on Tuesday), yet it was a very amicable conversation. At one point I thanked him for being so nice about what we were disagreeing on - a refreshing change from the usual way people talk to me.
With the intensity of the discussion, I became very tired. I told him this, yet he didn’t want to stop. I wonder if he was trying to prove something to himself? He brought up a controversial subject and wanted my opinion. But I refused to answer saying that we needed to resolve what the basis for right and wrong was. He then started to lose his cool, “I don’t want to talk about that!”, and then very subtly he went into attack mode. I stopped him. And I said, “you’re slipping”. He was confused. I reminded him of what I said earlier. “You’ve started doing what other people do, attacking God and me” (rather than the argument). And the conversation finally wrapped up then. We parted amicably. But I was exhausted.
As I reflect back, just like with the guy I talked to on Tuesday, I was able to address his conscience with the law - and he didn’t argue. And I was able to explain the gospel (yet he certainly didn’t appreciate it). I just have to leave him in God’s hands. Oh God, please have mercy!
The day finished with an evening outreach with Mike. And it was a highlight on a tough day. There were lots of people out and about, even though it was a really cold evening.
I only have time to talk about the highlight conversation (but there were many wonderful conversations). A lady walked past, and I offered her a tract and asked her what she thought happened after life. She stopped, took the tract, and looked at me. She said she had been thinking about that a lot, especially in the last few days. Her dad was a Christian, but her sister and she were not. She didn’t understand the gospel, and it was my privilege to share it with her. I ended up sharing with her from Matthew chapter 6, about how we don’t need to worry. I talked about how God feeds the birds - how much more valuable are you? And then I remembered the big new bird mural behind me - she was looking at it! I said that I don’t believe in coincidences - that we were meant to meet so she could hear the gospel. She thanked me, and moved on. She said she would study the tract. God, change her heart, and save her for your glory. This is the part only you can do, Lord.
Rain, and rain.
"Christchurch had just 12 minutes of sunshine on Monday last week, and hadn't seen the sun since, MetService meteorologist Dan Corrigan said.” - Stuff.co.nz
Thank goodness for the fruitful harvest field of online evangelism. I spent most of my outreach time on Tuesday and Wednesday there. But, there was enough of a break in the rain on Tuesday that I was keen to get to Riccarton. For a change, I set up my flip chart on the corner of Rotherham and Riccarton roads. It was cold! And one of my regulars said, “you won’t get many people stopping to talk today!”. But if you are prayerfully patient, the fish will come - and they did.
And the first to come along was a follow with two high school students I saw a week ago in the city. They looked really surprised to see me. I started re-engaging them, but one of them in particular really didn’t want to talk again, and so they moved on. They had a third friend with them this time, and they received a tract before moving on.
A kid on a bike went past, and then five minutes later he was back with some sushi. He stopped at the flip chart and the fish was on the line. He was quite engaged and open, so I was able to pull out my mini (detailed) flip chart and take the time to thoroughly explain the good news to him. Sadly, it turned out his uncle had died a month ago, I was able to express my sympathy.
Later I had a Polynesian guy go past. I offered to take him through the good person test. He said he needed to go to the bank, but that he would come back. And he did. This guy had “good deeds as the way to heaven” deeply ingrained in him and I had to labour with him through the checking questions - the idea of justification by faith alone was very foreign to him, and not surprisingly it turns out he was catholic. As foreign as it was to his thinking, he started to grasp the good news of the gospel. He took a parting tract, and I left him in God’s hands.
My next conversation started with a type of guy that usually doesn't stop to give me the time of day. So I initially went fast to try to capture his attention. I was surprised when it worked. They guy was actually very intelligent, and it turns out he is a medical student. We got into a deep conversation where we disagreed on pretty much everything. I didn’t understand why he was giving me so much time. At one point it started raining (very lightly, I didn’t even notice), and he backed up to go under the shelter of the shop front. He looked at me and said, “I don’t want to get wet” - he was inviting me to join him under shelter - which I promptly did. I normally finish the outreach at 5pm, but that conversation went till 5:30pm! It was dark before he finally moved on. I was deeply frustrated - I felt like I made no progress with him. And yet, I realised he had heard the law (one of the only things he didn’t argue with) and he did get to hear the gospel.
Earlier in the day, while online, I had some frustrating conversations with people who I really had to labour with on the law. One eventually slowed down to actually listen through her Christainess hazy and started to grasp what I was saying - and I was able to share the gospel. But the other just said, “you’re starting to make me feel mad”, and she disconnected.
Oh to see people changed by God! I don’t often feel like this, but I came away feeling a desperation for it. To see God move. This came out in our weekly team prayer meeting at Andy’s. I sobbed crying out to God to have mercy. I’m tired of the stubborn rejection, oh to see people respond to the gospel and make Jesus their Lord. Impossible; but possible for God! (See Mark 10:17-31.) That was a good time of prayer.
Wednesday saw the heaviest rain of all (pictured)! I didn’t attempt venturing out, and spent the afternoon online.
My very first conversation and I was connected with a guy in tears! He was so relieved that I was willing to stay to talk, and he just poured out his hurts! I did my best to listen - I nearly came to tears myself early on! But I also started to point him to the hope of Jesus. He eventually came to grasp the gospel. I’m going to be praying for this young man.
Later, I had two separate conversations with Catholics who were trusting their good deeds and came to grasp the gospel - although one of them I had to really labour with - checking questions to the rescue!
The highlight conversation of the afternoon was a conversation with two girls. One who was bisexual, and the other lesbian. But unlike a recent difficult conversation, these two girls were very open hearted, and seemed to really understand what I was saying. They understood the grace and love of God, but that God would not leave them as they are but would change them, and help them in their war with sin if they trust that Jesus paid their hell fine.
As I’m writing this (Wednesday evening), the rain is lashing down on the roof! But the forecast is saying we might get some sun by Friday. Thank you for your prayer and support. God bless.
Saturday and Sunday… more rain in Christchurch (NZ). And I praise God for it - honest! :)
But it did mean the team stayed indoors and reached the lost online.
Four hours on Saturday. My first conversation of note was with an intelligent young guy from Kazakhstan (he was an ex-Muslim). It was quite a long conversation where sadly we didn’t even get to the law let alone the gospel. But it was still a very good conversation where he was challenged on how he knows God exists. He could see the logic of it, but he didn’t like it. He changed the subject and just wanted to talk about other stuff for a while (which was fine), but there's nothing more important than talking about what happens after life, and so I did switch back to it. But he just didn’t want to talk about it. So I respected that. I left him with a link to needGod.net.
My next conversation was with a guy from Africa (I presume; he was an ex-Christian). He was also resistant, but for some reason it worked out that I persisted with sharing the law and the gospel even though there was resistance.
Sometimes you do, and sometimes you don’t - and it’s hard to say why. We must respect people, yet they need the gospel!
But the stand out conversation of the day was with a Hindu lad from Florida, USA. He was open to the conversation and seemed resigned to the fact that he deserved hell. But I shared the good news with him. I said: “So, if Jesus has paid your hell fine, where does that mean you go when you die?” and he responded with, “heaven”. So I said, “So what’s the reason why you go to heaven?” And he said, “if I’m a good person”. Wow - I knew I was going to have to labour with him on this, and I did, and he finally came to grasp the gospel: the gift of Jesus. Yet he also came to understand the cost of following Jesus, and he admitted that his culture would make it hard for him. I was very encouraged by this conversation; I leave him in God’s hands.
I finished the outreach with a great conversation with two Catholic lads. The conversation started with them accusing me of being a pedo, and so I asked them, “What do you think happens after life?” And then they quickly apologised for calling me a pedo! We had a great tussle of a conversation where I worked through their objections and explained to them the truth of the good news of Jesus.
With the rain Sunday afternoon, I joined the practical online training outreach run by the Operation 513 Aussie team. With this outreach we pair up and take turns sharing the gospel online, but we pause after each conversation to do a retrospective. I was paired up with Trinity - and she gives marvellous feedback! It’s so good to be challenged in this way. It was also wonderful to be able to just listen to how someone else shares the gospel and deals with the different objections that come up. A very worthwhile exercise! And for anyone new to sharing the gospel in this way, it’s a great way to observe and learn. I really encourage you to give it a try - whether you are experienced or not!
Trinity had a conversation with a young man who seemed a bit disconnected, and yet continued to respond to the questions asked. He admitted that there wouldn’t be anything stopping him from trusting that Jesus died on the cross for him!
Before that, I had a conversation with a girl who said you have to keep the 10 commandments to go to heaven. So I tested her on a few of them and she realised the dilemma. Her defence was to ask me what day I go to church! I sidestepped that, and proceeded to show her the way to heaven. She seemed very appreciative of the conversation.
Thursday and Friday saw a lot of rain in Christchurch. This led to more online evangelism than usual - but we still headed out as well!
On Thursday I started with online outreach before heading to the Northlands bus stops and then being forced back online due to the weather.
With the first stint online the highlights were:
It was raining when I made it to Northlands. I was confident I would be able to use the bus shelters to stay dry and have conversations. But the rain was falling in such a way that it came in under the shelter. And there weren’t many people around. In fact, when I turned up, there was only one! So I approached this guy, and to my surprise he was very keen to chat! We discussed apologetics, with an emphasis on why God is the only answer to the universe existing - this led to a discussion about evolution. Unfortunately his bus came, but he had really enjoyed the chat. He received a tract and invited him to get in touch.
I ended up having two more conversations before Andy and I decided to head back online.
Two interesting conversations from my second stint online:
With the rain on Friday morning, we did online evangelism instead of the gospel + abortion outreach. But I still felt like I was outside the hospital because my first conversation was one of the hardest I’ve had in a long while. She was a deeply hurting lesbian with an intense hatred for God. It was more difficult because she didn’t want to hear logic - and yet she fiercely argued with me and wouldn’t give up. I did manage to switch from intellect to conscience by taking her through the law - she didn’t argue with that. And I was able to talk about the gospel a few times. But in the end, I had to finish up the conversation, she was so angry - and the argumentation wasn’t helping. I felt grieved and helpless afterwards - desperately wanting to help her. But God knows - I leave her in His hands.
My mornings online outreach finished with a wonderful conversation with an ex Muslim - now atheist in London. She was fascinated that I was on Omegle to share the gospel. In fact, she had received Christian literature only two weeks prior on the streets - she showed it to me, it included a copy of the gospel of John. She was open to me sharing the law and the gospel with her, and she really appreciated the clear explanation.
The weather forecast was for improvement in the afternoon. Sure enough the rain stopped, and Andy, Binu and I were able to head into the city for a few hours of outreach.
We started with open air preaching - and it went really well. No hecklers (a nice change). Andy went first. There were quite a few people walking past who got to hear snippets. And as I looked around the Square I noticed at least two people standing still and listening from a distance (it’s funny how you can tell).
I preached after Andy, and to my amazement, people actually came over to sit down and listen! When I finished, I approached one guy, and Andy approached two girls to follow up.
The guy was a first year uni student studying engineering. He started peppering me with apologetical questions. I answered his questions, and then challenged him to respond to the gospel.
Andy then got into a wonderful conversation with a guy with a Muslim background, while I had a walk up conversation with three guys who had just received tracts from Binu. It was a short conversation, as they were resistant. One of them made a snide remark about standing outside the hospital with signs - he wanted to let me know he knew who I was. This only encouraged me. They heard the clear logic of how we all know God exists, why there must be hell, the law, the gospel, and why we stand outside the hospital with signs. One of them could clearly see the reasoning, and the smile came off his face. I hope they read the tracts that Binu gave them.
We moved to Cashel Mall and I got into a conversation with a guy who just wasn’t sound in the mind. He started talking about how he had the power to kill people. I told him if he keeps talking like that I’ll call the Police. Gratefully he left me alone after that, but then about ten minutes later he assaulted a homeless guy! Andy witnessed it, and called the Police. Before the Police came, there were some intense follow up exchanges that was causing quite a scene. I was very grateful when the Police arrived! Andy had a great conversation with one of the other witnesses (pictured).
Once the guy had been arrested, things went back to normal, and we were able to continue our outreach. It finished with a great conversation with a Tibetan Bhudist.
The rain returned in the evening, and so I finished the day with some more online evangelism. It was actually a very frustrating string of conversations. I had one conversation with a girl who said: “do you know how the Bible has ruined my life?”. Afterwards I shook my head in frustration - it was the true God of the Bible that gave her life!
I finished with an urgent conversation with a young man who was going to leave, but I desperately wanted to hold him so he could understand the gospel. When he “got it”, a light cast across his face - which was wonderful. I tried to move into checking questions, but he disconnected. But he did have a link to needGod.net. I leave him, and all the people we talked to over these two days in God’s hands.
After a wonderful week's leave, it’s great to be back on the streets of Christchurch! :)
On my first day of leave, I had a very encouraging email. It came from a guy I had talked to on the streets a few times and we had been emailing, but the conversation petted out. I’d last heard from him about a year ago. Yet, I still pray for this guy regularly. And his question couldn’t have been better: “Essentially, what does someone have to do to get into heaven.” So we have been emailing back and forth again dealing with that question and also the question of why God allows evil to exist. He is still resistant as ever, but he is genuinely trying to understand the Christian worldview. With God, all things are possible - even a change of heart in this young man!
While I was away, Andy was still on the streets and he shared with me some very encouraging reports of follow up conversations with people who seem to be responding to the gospel! Praise God for that.
On Tuesday I spent two hours online before doing two in Riccarton with Roger.
Some highlights from the online outreach were conversations with Muslims: one from Algeria, the other from Morocco. The guy from Algeria seemed pretty stunned as he saw the logic of how only Jesus could solve the problem of justice & mercy at the same time - which was encouraging. The guy from Morocco was more resistant. It’s interesting that often these Muslims will point me to YouTube to get “answers” to questions they can’t answer.
I also had a fascinating chat with a 10 year old kid who was playing Fortnite (a computer game) while talking to me. I took him through the law. He admitted to lying and stealing, but when I explained that Jesus said that God sees our anger like murder of the heart. He stopped and stared at me, then he just disconnected. He either thought I was crazy, or he understood what Jesus was meaning.
The highlight from the Riccarton outreach was a follow up with a young man from a local high school. I started with a checking question, which he got right! And then the conversation went down a track I didn’t expect. He started talking about how one day after sports he came home and would normally sleep, but this day he had an urge to read the Bible, which he did for about an hour. He was trying to explain that something had changed in him. And then he sat me down, and the conversation turned very pastoral. I really didn’t know what to say, but I just listened, and prayed. Earlier, he told me how (on a previous outreach) some girls had been telling people not to talk to me. And he confronted them, and stood up for me! I was touched (both that people would take enough notice of me to tell others not to talk to me, and that this guy stood up for me). It was a very encouraging conversation. He is opening up. Something in me wanted to uproot him, and plant him in my local church so I could really start discipling him. But I knew I couldn’t do that. We have to be patient, water the seed, and let God bring the increase to his glory. I hope to see him again. I’ll be praying for him.
I had a touch of the “fear of man” - I get it often. I was walking towards a lady, and thinking, she’ll reject me. But I swallowed my fear and as politely as possible, interrupted her and asked “what do you think happens after life?” I was surprised by her response, she smiled and said, “oh, I think about that all the time”. She wanted to chat! Sadly, her phone rang early in the conversation and then her ride came. But she gladly took a tract.
Today I spent two hours in the city, and then two hours online. It was raining lightly when I headed out, and I nearly decided to do the whole day's outreach online. But I’m glad I didn’t as I had one of those days where you just go from conversation to conversation.
It started with a follow up with one of my regulars. This guy instantly went on the defensive and was talking about his performance as the way to heaven (and the lack of it that would lead him to hell). This coming from a guy who had cried at the understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus in a previous conversation. It amazes me that no matter how many times I talk to people they just don’t grasp the gospel (I shouldn’t be amazed, as the Bible says this, but…) I patiently listened, and tried to explain that performance is not the way to heaven.
I then went on to have another four sets of conversations - all with surprisingly open people, two of them even approached me rather than the other way around - very encouraging.
The online outreach ended with a very interesting conversation. It started with the guy I’d connected to accusing me of being a pervert! Normally when that happens, they instantly disconnect, but he didn’t. I was able to explain why I was online - by sharing the gospel with him. And he was floored, during the first checking question he said, “whoa - I get it now”. With a Catholic background he went from understanding that his good deeds would get him to heaven, to understanding that it was only Jesus' sacrifice for his sin (through faith) that would get him there. He was deeply appreciative - quite a contrast to the start of the conversation!
I thank God for the wonderful rest from last week, and for the opportunities of these two days. Thank you for your prayer and support (and that you actually made it to the end of this report! ;) ) God bless. :)
An exciting weekend of outreach in Christchurch (NZ). Crisp but sunny days.
On Saturday I headed into the central city and decided to set up my flip chart close to the bridge of remembrance. And I stayed in the same spot for four hours. Initially it was a bit quiet, but as the day progressed, it became very busy.
Three other groups came to set up beside me: Falun Gong (very dedicated to street “evangelism” in Christchurch), Hare Krishna (I’ve shared the gospel with one of the leaders a number of times over the recent years, and we are friendly), and a group protesting the CCP involvement in Hong Kong. For people walking past, they had to walk the gauntlet! And I was right in the middle of it.
With patience, I ended up having many wonderful gospel opportunities.
One stand out involved a special conversation with a lovely Muslim lady. I noticed her walk past me earlier in the outreach. When she walked past a second time, she decided to take a tract from me, and I was able to start a conversation - she was mildly curious about the good person test. Sadly, this lovely lady lost her husband just over a year ago in the Mosque shooting! And she shed some tears in remembrance while she was talking with me. She received my heartfelt sympathy. She allowed me to discuss the gospel with her, but she was mildly resistant.
The other conversation that comes to mind was a long (but amicable) debate with a young man who was very intelligent - it turns out he studied physics at university. Eventually I was able to move past his intellect and start addressing his conscience - the law is a powerful ally indeed! But he admitted to loving his sin and was suppressing the truth. It was fascinating watching him do it. He denied a basis for truth, then made moral judgements, and then claimed he was the standard. He could see the absurdity, but he didn’t want the alternative. I eventually shut the conversation down, I was getting a headache concentrating on my discussion with him while filtering out the Hare Krishna’s and the music from the CCP protesters! We parted on good terms, and he took a tract.
On Sunday I had two opportunities to open air preach! In the morning I was teaching at my local church (Redemption Church) on 1 Peter 1:3-5, and just as I was coming to the end, a fire alarm went off! I had to finish off outside without amplification!
It was also our church's monthly outreach Sunday where we wrapped up fellowship a little early so we could get into the city for gospel outreach. There was a team of nine. We paired up and spread out and had a wonderful time in flip chart and walk up conversations with people. Super encouraging!
Andy had two follow up opportunities with people he had talked to on Friday. Toby and Mark had some great opportunities - including with a group of teen boys (pictured). Beth and Haley had a great conversation. And Thomas had a wonderful conversation near the end on the flip chart.
To finish the outreach, we went to Cathedral Square for some open air preaching - my second opportunity! ;)
The team ended up having some wonderful one to one opportunities as well. I finished the outreach with a couple from Canada who were very eager to talk with me, but resisted the truth I was trying to share. They ended up disengaging - I left them to it.
Praise God for another week of gospel outreach in Christchurch! Next week I’m taking a break from the front lines for some R&R - praise God for that. Looking forward to recharging my batteries with my precious family and then getting back to the harvest fields! Thank you for your prayer and support!