Christchurch (NZ) Team
Tue 3:30pm - 5:30pm - Riccarton (corner of Riccarton Rd and Rotherham St)
Fri 1:30pm - 3:30pm - City (Bridge of Remembrance)
Sat 11am - 1pm - Riccarton (corner of Riccarton Rd and Rotherham St)
Sun 1:30pm - 3:30pm - City (corner of Colombo St and Cashel St).
I’ve had a couple of weeks of holiday, which were great. But so good to be back to my regular beat. A normal week of street outreach. It was great to have John from down south join me in Riccarton on Tuesday afternoon. Joel, Roger and John (another John!) were with me in the city on Friday afternoon. I had a good solo outreach on Saturday lunch time in Riccarton, and then Andy, Mark and Susan were with me in the city on Sunday afternoon, after church gathering.
In Riccarton on Tuesday, John and I decided to split up early - on either side of Rotherham Street. I was quickly into chats, and when I glanced over my shoulder between chats, I could see John was busy too! The details of those chats are getting fuzzy in my mind now. I’ve only really got glimpses. I remember seeing a ‘regular’ I hadn’t seen for a long time. She remembered my name! She is an atheist, and didn’t feel like continuing the conversation at this stage. I pray that the law and the gospel continues to be active in her life bringing conviction and conversion - that she will come to a point where she is willing to chat again, either with me or another Christian.
Friday was hot! And the buskers were out in full force, so I moved down the mall a bit - setting up my flip chart. Roger set up on the other side. Joel joined me and John did ‘walk up’. I had an interesting engagement with a couple of exclusive brethren guys, but the highlight chat was one with a couple of couples from the UK. They walked up to the flipchart curious as to what it was about, and we fell into a really good gospel discussion. It was also a good opportunity for Joel to see how the flip chart worked. To end the outreach, Joel and I ditched the flip chart and switched to ‘walk up’. I managed to get a chat started, but the guy, although friendly enough, was very resistant, and didn’t really allow any opportunity for meaningful engagement.
Saturday I had a number of interesting conversations. One guy showed up wanting to do the flip chart, but it was a bit of a set up - he was just there to argue and became absurdly resistant to the existence of God. “You can’t know for sure that that chair didn’t appear from nowhere”. I politely shut him down quickly - I didn’t want to waste time with absurdity. Very interestingly, about 30 minutes later, one of my ‘regulars’ came past. He said, “hey you just talked to my flatmate”! We had a nice catch up chat, but he is also currently holding to his absurdity - for now, God, have mercy!
I was able to catch up with Sanjay (another of my ‘regulars’), I often see him on Saturday. He’s a lovely guy. Hindu. Each time I see him, I gently labour the law and the gospel. Sadly, I popped him a quick check question and he instantly went to his goodness for salvation, but I kept labouring. Praying for him; praying that I see him again next Saturday, or at least a Saturday soon and that he will start grasping the serious nature of sin and that the only logical solution is Jesus.
Talking of sin being serious. I had a guy stop and take a tract, and I was able to engage him in conversation. I could tell he had a bit of a Christian background, but he wasn’t being clear on how we are saved. So, as I probed, I took him through the law, and this dredged up some questions for him, like: why is hell so terrible, and why is it forever? Anyway, he eventually said, “I know what you are going to say, Jesus died on the cross, yada, yada, yada” as though it was something trivial and unimportant. I felt shocked and offended, and maybe I lacked some patience. I responded with, “how can you say it like that? Jesus dying on the cross to pay our sin is amazing!”. This was revealing a very low view of the serious nature of sin, and the incredible cost of the gift to save us. We continued talking, with me trying to alleviate this. Maybe I was being too forceful, or maybe I wasn’t, but eventually he said: “I’m feeling uncomfortable”. That pretty much killed the conversation, we parted with a handshake, and he mumbled something. I asked what he was going to say, and he responded with, “it wasn’t anything you said that made me uncomfortable”. We parted ways then. I really hope that his discomfort came out of conviction and not me being too abrupt! God help!
Sunday was a wonderful outreach. It started and finished with a lovely conversation with a couple of retired American missionaries! They are visiting New Zealand on holiday. In between these chats, the team was busy handing out tracts, getting into chats via ‘walk up’ and the flip chart. I had a pair of encouraging chats. One was with a young lady who had drifted from the faith. She even agreed that if she had died today she would have gone to hell out of unbelief, but she gave me a very warm smile as she left me with some questions answered, the gospel and a challenge to accept it today. The other was with a young man who had some nominal Christian input in his life, and was shocked that good deeds were not the way of salvation. I laboured with him till he grasped it, and challenged him to respond. He left with a gospel of John, a summary tract, and a card for my church. I had a number of other good opportunities for gospel engagement, but it’s time for this report to end!
Thank you so much for continuing to support his ministry. Please continue to regularly uphold it in prayer. God bless!
I found myself dwelling on the simplicity of the gospel as I was handing out gospel tracts and talking to people today. Because, in some regards, what I do is so foolish. It’s impossible for me to change someone’s mind on something so important. I could argue and reason with people forever and they wouldn’t be convinced. It’s for this reason that I’m so glad that God speaks so clearly to us in scripture. I can’t convert, only God can. What a relief! Yet, the means he uses for that is a simple gospel message delivered by simple people like us + prayer. What is foolish to man is the wisdom of God! Apart from the power of God, everyone will ignore what’s written in those little 8 page cartoon tracts. But with the power of God - and the logic of the gospel understood, even from a simple 8 page cartoon tract - everyone who reads it or hears it can be saved. So, all the glory is God’s.
I get it, evangelism is terrifying, it’s foolish. But I want to encourage you to do it anyway. You may not be able to join me on the streets. But, in your everyday life, be bold to talk about Jesus!
Normal schedule on the streets this week, although Saturday’s outreach was rained out. And it was so good to have Mike be able to join me for a couple of outreaches before heading back to work tomorrow! God bless ya Mike. Like you said, when you understand what Jesus did for you, you are willing to be a ‘fool’ for him. Amen.
So, Mike and I were in Riccarton Tuesday afternoon. It started out as a really slow outreach. Eventually I decided to leave Mike with the flip chart, and head across the road to try my luck on the other side. Pretty much instantly, I was into a chat! And then I noticed Mike had become busy too (pictured). To my amazement, the outreach went for a whole hour extra, because we were so busy (and the last chat was really good).
The details of my chats are fuzzy now. But I remember the last one (pictured with Mike talking to the couple). I noticed they were sitting in the seats nearby while Mike was in another chat. And when Mike became free, they came over. As the chat went so long, I ended up getting involved. The couple were in different places. She was very argumentative, yet there was an openness from him. I decided to engage the guy, and let Mike handle the lady. It worked, I was able to focus on the law and the gospel with the guy where he would have otherwise been distracted.
Believe it or not, we ended up having to cut that conversation short, as I really needed to get home for dinner. But it was a great chat. God is good.
Friday was hot! I was in the city. It was interesting to see some open air preachers out. From the little bit I heard from them I was encouraged: using amplification well, gentle voice, dealing with the crowd well (polite, answering questions). I got to say g’day to one of them - they were down from Wellington.
It was too hot to hand out tracts in the sun, so I focused on ‘walk up’ chats. I had three solid opportunities.
The first was with a streetie who was the same age as me. He was keen to chat, but resistant to the good news. He listed his many sins, but he insisted on his righteousness - so sad.
The next was a great chat. It was with a young couple. He cut to the chase: why is God allowing parasites to eat the eyeballs of little children? I was able to give him the biblical answer, and then take them both through the law and the gospel. The guy was a fidgetter, and so he ended up pretty much screwing up the tract I had given him at the start. He was happy to accept a fresh one.
The last chat was with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was an interesting chat, because he was adamant that we become part of the Kingdom not by our work. Sadly, his wife kept ringing him. He wanted to stay and chat, and yet he had to go. I need to scratch up on my understanding of what JW’s believe and why.
On Sunday it was good to have Mike and Susan join me. I spent the first half of the outreach in one conversation. It was with one of my recent regulars. And this was our first really in depth chat. It was great to be able to understand his worldview, and challenge it with the gospel. In the end, he couldn’t accept the idea that a criminal could be forgiven. He really wanted to think it was good work that got you to heaven (via reincarnation). I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to talk to him (and his brother) again, and continue the conversation. I’m going to add him to my prayer list.
I had one other main chat, with a group of American soldiers (in civilian clothes), they will be going down to Antarctica at some point. I was able to share the gospel with them, and give them a tract to read down on the ice.
Susan had a long chat with a lady (pictured), and Mike had a number of opportunities on the flip chart.
God is good! SDG
I’m pretty tired, because I stayed up for the New Year last night. So, I hope this report is going to make sense!
The routine breaking holiday schedule is now complete (and I’m looking forward to getting back to my routine, starting with a day off tomorrow)!
Four street outreaches since my last report. Martin joined me on Friday in the City. I was in Riccarton on Saturday lunchtime, and then ministering at the New Years Eve event in the City. And then finally today’s outreach in the City.
Starting with Friday. It was overcast, but there were plenty of people around and about. It turns out people from a cruise ship were in town. But sadly, for some reason, it felt like a bit of a slow outreach. Although Marin and I both had good gospel opportunities. I guess I’m comparing it to the high of boxing day?
Anyway, I found out about the cruise ship through an older gentleman who approached my flip chart wondering what I was doing. His wife was in the shop across from me, and so he had been observing me for a few minutes. I was upfront, as always, but we ended up chit chatting about light hearted things for a bit. He eventually swung the conversation to the deeper things of life! It turns out he is an Atheist. He grew up in a Methodist church, and his reasoning for being Atheist was that he was cold in church as a boy, and he prayed that God would warm him up. When he didn’t warm up, he concluded God wasn’t real, and informed his parents as much. I have to assume that there was something more to it, because that doesn’t make sense. I tried to reason with him (starting with the building / builder analogy), but then his wife arrived and he had to go. We parted on very good terms, and he walked off with a “Who Made It?” tract.
I left Martin with the flip chart, and went for a wander. But had no luck in striking up a conversation. As I was coming back to Martin, I noticed he was in a conversation with 3 guys, which was great. So I went the other direction, when someone said my name.
It was one of the girls I had talked to on Boxing day, and I’ve talked to her before that in Riccarton. She is resistant, but I can tell there is an openness, because she keeps coming to talk to me, and although she disagrees, I can tell she is processing what I say. She introduced me to her sister, and we fell into gospel conversation. As we were going through the law, they brought up a situation. They were planning to lie to their parents and have a new years eve party at their place where they intended to get drunk while their parents were away. Anyway, I was able to share the gospel before they had to go.
Well, later in the outreach, they came back, and this time they had another friend with them, so, yet another gospel conversation started. Interestingly, the two sisters had informed me of their new plan. They were going to ask their parents if they could have the party (this would solve the lying and disobedience)! Interesting, so I posed 2 questions: 1) if their parents said no, would they still have the party? Answer: yes. 2) are you still intending on getting drunk? Answer: yes. They were fooling themselves! Yet, I’m at least encouraged that they seem to be feeling a partly conviction about their sin. Again, I went back to the real solution: Jesus. They moved on. But, if God’s patience holds, I’ve got a feeling I will see them again. Please pray that this would be so.
The Riccarton outreach on Saturday (New Years Eve) was also quiet. Not many people around. But there were enough people around to keep me busy. I remember a good chat with a young man who said he used to be an Atheist, but he admitted to softening. He was now articulating a very eastern religious way of thinking. I was able to labour on how we know God is real, and why hell is logical. I can’t remember if I share the law and the gospel - I know he had to get going to catch a bus, but he did leave with a “Who Made It?” tract. I’m racking my brain, and I just can’t remember the other chats of the outreach - oh, that’s right, I talked to 2 girls from Latin America. I can’t remember the others, if there were any!
In the afternoon, I had a couple of very encouraging conversations online, before having dinner and heading to the New Years Eve concert in the central city (Hagley Park) with my daughters. There were other families from my church there, so it was good to spend some time with them.
But, my purpose for being there was to share the gospel. I had already done 6 hours of outreach for the day, and so I guess I was feeling tired. Plus, the environment was unfamiliar to me, plus I was on my own. So, I was feeling very nervous. I didn’t have any boldness. It was a good reminder of how Christians often feel when facing evangelism! I know what it’s like! I ended up going for a walk, praying for help, smiling and greeting people, but feeling too nervous to really engage. I ended up in the city, before heading back to the park, still praying. I wondered if I would just wimp out and give up, when I noticed a guy. The situation seemed right, and so I greeted him and asked him what he thought happened after life. There was resistance, but he stuck around for a quarter of an hour for me to reason with him about the gospel. The chat went okay, and we parted ways with him receiving 2 kinds of tract: “Who Made It?” and “Says Who?”. All glory to God for helping me.
That was the extent of that outreach. Just 15 minutes, with 1 person. I leave him in God’s hands. But what encouraged me was, near the end of the evening, in among a very large gathering of people, I saw the same guy again! He was hanging out with some friends. He saw me too, and I guess I’ll describe his look as one of embarrassment - was it because I talked to him about religion? Was it conviction? Was it something else? Who knows. I just smiled at him and moved on.
Sunday’s outreach was busy. I was at my usual spot at the corner of Cashel and Colombo. Ballantynes was closed, but other shops were open, so there were people around.
I gave a tract to a guy, but just as I was doing that, I noticed four people investigating my flip chat, so I went over to engage them. They were very resistant to the idea of God being real, in spite of my reasoning, and they moved on. But, soon after, the guy I gave the tract to came over. He was encouraged to see me doing what I’m doing. His Dad used to preach in central Christchurch, and had taken him out with him. I was so encouraged to hear that! God always provides a witness. I wonder who will come after us?
But, the rest of the outreach was a conversation with a couple who have recently become Christian and are involved with a local church. It was encouraging to see the fresh enthusiasm, but at the same time there was a lack of gospel clarity. Multiple times in the conversation I was able to check and work on that clarity. By the end of the chat, I think he was starting to see how subtly we can slip back into works for salvation. I encouraged him to preach the gospel to himself, all day and everyday. I was also able to encourage him in other ways too. It seemed like a very mutually encouraging chat.
All glory to God!
This report is covering the 3 days of street outreach surrounding Christmas day. Thankfully Christmas day is NOT a good day for street outreach - instead people are thinking about the birth of Jesus and spending time with their families instead.
On Friday the 23rd, there was a team of 6 out in the city. Only Roger and I were regulars, so it was great to have 4 others: Josh, Caleb, Tanushree, and Daniel. We paired up. Roger had his flipchat up in the usual spot, and Daniel joined him. Tanushree and Caleb were using my flipchart, and Josh and I did ‘walk up’.
From my perspective, the outreach was stellar. I had 2 amazing chats, plus change (and who knows, it may be one of the extra chats that God uses to save someone).
The first chat was with a young man that I thought I had talked to during a previous outreach. It was a case of mistaken identity, but it led to an opportunity for a great conversation. Unfortunately the young man thought ‘keeping the ten commandments’ would get him to heaven. He revealed that he is a PK, which made me inwardly cringe. Anyway we took a look at a few of the commandments to see how he would get on. I then had the privilege of sharing the gospel with him and working through most of the checks. I think the most powerful check was the ‘before / after conversation’ one. He was able to articulate for himself, that before the chat, since he was trusting in his works, he would have been heading to hell. But now that we had had the conversation, he now knew the right way to heaven.
He is new to Christchurch, and although he goes to a church, he was keen to know which churches Josh and I went to. I gave him a card for my church, and we even connected on Instagram (I was able to follow up with him afterwards).
Josh and I spent some time discussing evangelism practice, before we started handing out Christmas tracts.
I noticed a young lady sitting on one of the seats near us, and so I offered her a tract too. It was almost like she had been sitting there hoping I would offer. She was very keen to chat. And so I sat next to her to do just that.
For me, this was the stellar chat of the day. We covered the gamut: evil and suffering, homosexuality, dinosaurs, evolution, how we know God is real, and of course, the law and the gospel, plus many checks.
There was a God moment, where I touched on something in a general sense, and I could tell it was a very personal issue for her and was able to directly address it.
She left, not only with a Christmas tract, but a gospel of John. I was clicking my heels after that chat!
Josh had to leave at this point, but the outreach was nearly over anyway. I ended up pairing up with Tanushree for a final walk up chat. I noticed that Roger and Daniel were talking to Simon the Atheist.
As a team, we went to the cafe in Ballantynes, low and behold, Simon the Atheist was there too! He had his laptop out and was working. Simon and Roger were having an extended chat while the rest of the team debriefed in various ways over hot chocolate.
Once we were all ready to go, I went to pay for the drinks, and I was told that Simon the Atheist had already paid for all of us! What a blessing. When I first met Simon, over a year ago now, he had a very “new” Atheist edge about him (all religions are bad). He’s changed. I continue to pray for Simon!
Saturday was Christmas Eve, and I was in my usual spot in Riccarton. It was great to have Martin from Hamilton (down on holiday) join me. I was expecting there to be a lot of foot traffic with people going to the mall to buy Christmas gifts. But there wasn’t as much as I expected. But it was still a busy outreach. I gave out a lot of tracts, as well as having a number of good chats - including 2 (separate conversations) with people who work in the area. I hope to see them again, God willing.
Today, being Boxing Day, I figured there would be lots of people out to shop for bargains, so I scheduled 2 outreaches. The first in Riccarton, and then the second in the city. Martin joined me in Riccarton again. I wasn’t wrong. There were HEAPS of people out. I focused on tracts, and we gave away so many in Riccarton, I had to head home to get more before going into the city!
People in Riccarton seemed way more open than those in the city, but I ended up giving away lots of tracts there too. I think I’ll make Boxing Day a special tract outreach for future years (God willing).
I had many good chats too. The last one of the day was with a young Catholic guy called Liam. He came back at the end of the outreach, after semi-engaging with me earlier. His mum was in Ballantynes, and so he had the time now. He wanted to discuss my earlier questions: “what do you have to do to get to heaven?”. He said that Protestants believe in “Sola Fide” (faith alone), but Catholics in Faith plus Works (and he was right). And so, this being a critical distinction, I worked to convince him why it must be Sola Fide. Great chat. He already had a tract (not received on this outreach) and he said he had it with his confessional (not sure what he meant by that, I could have heard it slightly wrong). Anyway, I pleaded with him to Trust alone in Christ alone and to get in touch to discuss further.
Soli Deo Gloria!
The street outreaches for the week were in hot summer weather. Tuesday and Saturday in Riccarton, and Friday in the City. I took Sunday off.
It was so good to have Caleb with me on Tuesday and Friday. Caleb (pictured) has applied to come on the Philippines trip in March next year and is joining me so we can get to know each other better, and to get skilled up in preparation. Roger was also with us on Tuesday.
Much of my time on the Tuesday outreach was spent in getting Caleb up to speed on the way we share the gospel on the street, via the flip chart. But, near the end of the outreach I had an opportunity to share the gospel with 3 people going past. I wanted to use the flip chart, so that Caleb would get a chance to get involved and to see how it works in action. But I could sense that these 3 people could bolt at the slightest distraction, and so I had to minister while I had their attention. At the start of the chat, one of the key reasons they didn’t believe God is real is that they couldn’t reconcile the existence of God with evil in the universe. So, I gave the biblical answer, found in Romans 9:22-23 (and elsewhere in the bible): God not only allows evil, but decrees that it will occur without ever doing evil himself so that he can demonstrate 3 things about himself for his glory. Without evil people, he can’t demonstrate his: justice, mercy and patience (in holding off justice so mercy can be received). Now, this answer has to be delivered with a large dose of compassion. But, in this situation, I could see the light of understanding come into the eyes of all 3 of them, it opened them up and I was able to clearly minister the law and the gospel into their lives, and plead with them to accept the mercy of God found only in the sacrifice of Jesus. I was really encouraged by the conversation.
Friday’s outreach was in muggy weather. It had been raining, but during the outreach the sun came out. Caleb and I set up the flip chart down Cashel Mall. It was a very busy outreach! I think lots of people were out with Christmas shopping.
People I wouldn’t normally expect were stopping to chat. Many were attracted by the flip chart.
I had a couple of guys come to argue with me on the existence of God, they didn’t seem to get what they expected, which was someone with no answers. They were challenged, but sadly doubled down on their resistance and moved on without hearing the good news.
I had a lady stop to engage. I sensed she would bolt at any moment, and yet, at the same time, she was very engaged. I started out with a summary of the law / gospel, and the longer she stayed, the deeper the explanations went. She is from Auckland, and there had been a hellfire preacher up there that had put her off. And yet, she came to talk to me knowing I’m a Christian. Maybe the hellfire preacher had pricked her conscience? I explained hell, in the context of God’s mercy.
I was keen for Caleb to get into his own chat, and so I got one started, passed it to him, and then stepped away. It was so good watching him engage, and hold the attention of the two guys. Well done Caleb!
Saturday was busy. I talked to a universalist who slid slightly by the end of the chat.
But the stand out chat in my memory was with a couple. She approached me on her own. Her husband had recently become a Christian, and she was still trying to process the world view change. Her husband came and joined the chat, and it was so encouraging to hear his explanation of the gospel! He has been studying the Bible intensely, is involved with a good local church, and is listening to good teachers. His understanding of the gospel is flawless. I was so encouraged to actually see the fruit of the Holy Spirit working in the life of a new believer! My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would illuminate the gospel in the heart of his wife. My God bless this young couple!
A normal week this week. All the usual street and online outreaches happening. Although they all had a Christmas theme. Yes, it is that season again, where I say, “Merry Christmas” over and over while handing out tracts, and when someone stops, my usual opening question is, “what do you think Christmas is all about?” The street outreaches have all been busy, but in different ways.
On Tuesday, I had Roger with me in Riccarton, and we decided to pair up on one flip chart together. But before Roger arrived, I had a special opportunity. A young asian girl stopped and accepted a tract and we fell into a short, yet warm conversation. Her gospel articulation wasn’t the best, but she said she was a new Christian. It felt like a divine appointment in the sense that she had just been praying about her lack of desire to do the things she knew she should: reading the bible, etc. Where I think I helped was bringing the gospel clarity that doing good wasn’t required to be saved – and understanding that would lead to a disciple, if not a desire to study the bible, etc. At least, she really appreciated the short chat! She encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing.
Roger and I were busy. Often one of us would be using the flipchart, while the other was talking to someone else to the side. Great teamwork! I love serving alongside Roger! 2 chats stand out in my mind.
The first was a flipchart chat with a young man. Classic ‘good deeds’ for heaven, but as I took him through the flipchart, his understanding of the gospel brought a shine to his eyes! It wasn’t a long chat, because he wasn’t resistant; but he was extremely thankful by the end.
The second was a chat without the flipchart. A large group of high school students went past, and then they came back. One of them sat on the bench nearby. Roger was using the flipchart, so I went and engaged him - he was resistant. He walked off, and joined his friends around the corner. They were sitting on another bench, so I decided to approach them all. I told them what their friend had said to me, and I wanted to know their thoughts. Game on! They were all in different places. Some wanted to talk, some just listened. Mostly they were resistant. I just went with the flow, and in the process, I was able to share the law and the gospel with them. One of their key questions was about homosexuality. Initially, I countered that with: “I’ll answer that, if you first tell me how we know what is right and wrong.” - that led to a good discussion. I was faithful in explaining why homosexuality is sinful, yet in the context of the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus. Eventually, the kids started peeling off and moving on. And finally the chat came to an end. Later they came back, and went into the SoYo (frozen yoghurt shop). The original kid came out after and approached me again and wanted to know what the flip chart was about. I said I’d be happy to take him through it, but only if he was nice (he had been pretty rude earlier). He had seemed to change slightly - for the better, he was a little bit more sober and respectful. But his mates came out and he ended up moving on with them.
On Friday, rain was threatening, and I was considering cancelling the outreach - I nearly did. But one of the newbies convinced me not to! Hey, if they are keen, so am I!
In the end, the rain held off, which was great! Plenty of people were around, so there were lots of gospel opportunities. This week, Andy paired Izzy, and I paired with Joel (a switch from the week prior). After prayer, Andy and Izzy got straight into a chat. And soon after, Joel and I approached a young high school student from Germany and got into a great chat with him. He was an atheist, and sadly continued to stay in suppression of his knowledge of God. Yet, I was able to share the law and gospel, before we cycled back to discuss the knowledge of God we all have.
After the chat, Joel, John and I had a bit of a debrief. Andy and Izzy were still going with their chat! In fact, for the whole 2 hour outreach, they only had 2 conversations - so great to get engagement and be able to labour!
Joel and I headed down Cashel Mall, and were able to get a few chats started, but no real engagement. Our last chat was okay - law and gospel shared. Glory to God for any fruit; the simple gospel message is the power of God for salvation.
Afterwards, we had a bit of a debrief, as a team, over hot chocs - pictured
Saturday’s outreach in Riccarton was hot, and busy. I was grateful for the shade of the tree. It was busy in the sense of all the conversations I was able to have. No real down time, which is a good thing! I had my flip chart up, but I never used it.
My first chat was with a guy who I thought was going to blast past me, but he ended up accepting a tract. I was quick with my first question, and to my amazement, he answered. Slowly he engaged in the conversation and he ended up hearing the law and the gospel. It was a short chat, but I was able to slow down a bit as he became more engaged. I was really encouraged. I spoke to a girl who is pagan (my Christmas question really got engagement from her: “it’s a pagan festival”). She was resistant, but friendly. In the end, her issue was evil and suffering. She didn’t like God for allowing it. Actually, now that I think about it, most of the chats that day were with people who were resistant. But that’s okay. God can change hearts and minds, through the power of the Gospel!
Sunday’s outreach was busy, but in a different way. In the city, corner of Colombo and Cashel, next to all the people filling through the department store Christmas display windows. I gave out heaps of Christmas gospel tracts! I’d say nearly 100 in 2 hours. I did also have some chats, so not all that time was spent in tract giving. One stand out chat was with a young man from Korea. He had a Christian background (it turned out to be Catholic), he thought his good deeds would get him to heaven, but by the end of the chat, he was articulating the right way to heaven well.
Well, I’ve managed to waffle my way through another report. If you are still reading well done! I know my reports are pretty repetitive. But, that’s a good thing, right? The gospel is going out! Please keep this little ministry in prayer. Without the power of the Spirit, our effort is in vain! Merry Christmas!
It’s so good to be back on my own patch! My own beat. My regular routine! I’ve loved the 2 months of special outreaches, including: a training day, 3 A&P Show outreaches, and the Schoolies trip to the Gold Coast (check out the details of that here). But, it’s good to get back to normal ????
I got back from the Gold Coast a week ago, and I took some time off to rest and recover from the intensity of that, and the 3 day Canterbury A&P show before it. I was back to work on Thursday, and there have been 3 street outreaches to report on: Friday in the City, Saturday in Riccarton, and Sunday (today) in the City.
It was overcast and cold on Friday, but no rain. There were heaps of people out and about, so much opportunity. There was a team of 5, it was great to have 2 newbies with us. One paired up with Andy, and the other paired up with me.
But, I arrived early, and with all the people around, I thought I would get started. On the Gold Coast, we didn’t use tracts or flip charts to start chats, and so I decided to do the same thing today. After prayer, I approached two guys. Flat out rejection! They didn’t even want to accept tracts as I left! Oh well. So, I approached two ladies. Again, rejection. The NZ crowd can be tough! One of the girls said she had ‘tried’ Christianity when she was 15, but now that she was 24, she didn’t want anything to do with it. Sadly, she didn’t want to talk about it. So I respected her wishes and moved on. Yet, they both accepted tracts as I left - that was good.
By this stage, the team was starting to arrive. After prayer together, we got to it.
So, I was paired with one of the newbies - it was so great to see how keen she was to get involved. She had done something similar with other people.
The highlight chat of the outreach was a long one. I approached a young man who recognised me. It turns out I had shared the gospel with him in Riccarton. But he didn’t remember the gospel. Yet, he was keen to talk again, so we fell into a long chat on the tram line, and when a tram came, we ended up sitting down. I can see why he didn’t remember the gospel, he was a philosophical type, who loved to discuss religion, but not make any commitments.
I did my best to stay on task, but I wanted to give the newbie room to get involved, and also have time to listen to the young man who liked to talk, and actually had good questions. Other than the law and the gospel, we covered why God decrees evil and suffering, and we even discussed presuppositions - he brought it up!
The conversation was interrupted when a couple of streeties came along. I knew one of them, so I said, “hi Jesse”. He didn’t recognise me, but he seemed touched that I knew his name and so it turned into a five way conversation!
It eventually wrapped up, and it was the end of the outreach already! The original guy we were talking to was keen to continue the conversation, so we exchanged mobile #’s. I have it on my list to follow up with him next week - which I will do.
As a team, after closing prayer, we went for hot chocolates for some fellowship.
On Saturday I was on my own in Riccarton. And I had some wonderful gospel opportunities.
I talked to a young man who used to be part of a church I know down south: we had a mutual friend: the pastor of the church!
The kid had a reasonable grasp of the gospel, which was great. But, now that he had moved to Christchurch, he wasn’t involved with church. And then at the end of the conversation, it turns out he is dating his flatmate, who isn’t a believer. I challenged the kid that this wasn’t right. He is at a crossroads. I invited him to my church, which is not far from where he lives. But sadly he didn’t come along today. I was grateful to be placed there by God as a witness to him. I contacted the Pastor about him. Please join us in praying for the situation, that he would make a decision to follow Christ, no matter the cost.
At the end of the outreach, I had an elderly man come past, he was intrigued by my flip chart. And wanted to sit down to chat. I knew the ‘script’ wasn’t going to work with this guy. He was lonely, and just wanted to talk - and I was more than happy to listen. When a response was reasonable, I would gently minister the gospel. He touched on things in his life. It was obvious he had Christian influences in his life. At the end he went back to the flip chart, and wanted to discuss some of the people on the front page. We ended up on the Jesus ‘fireball’ page. He ended up asking if I knew Ray Comfort! :) He left with a tract and a contact card for my church - even though he lives on the other side of the city.
Interestingly, on this outreach, I discovered a weathered contact card from my church (pictured). I don’t hand them out too often, so it had obviously been discarded by someone who had decided to reject the gospel :( Oh well, either way (justice of mercy), may God be glorified!
I ended up being late to Sunday’s outreach due to a good chat I was having with a local pastor who was visiting our church gathering.
Susan was also late, and she arrived not long after me. It’s Christmas at Ballantynes. And they have the partitions up for people looking at their window displays. I like that, because it pushes people closer to me as they walk past.
It was a busy hour of ministry. I had two flip chart chats, plus a follow up with a regular, plus handed out heaps of Christmas tracts “Merry Christmas”!
One of the flip chart chats was with a tourist from Melbourne in Aussie, he was offended at the idea that everyone deserves hell, and how serious sin is to God. Yet, he stayed to at least hear the gospel and go through some of the checks before he moved on. He accepted a tract.
The last chat was with a couple of guys who were Sikh.
So that covers it. Oh, there was some kind of protest that went past. People who were saying that there was not enough justice. It’s so true! It amazes me that people want to deny that justice when it comes to God. Instead, I wish they humbled themselves and accepted the mercy of God, in Jesus taking their justice for them! Glory to God alone!
Just a short report for this week, because it was a short week of regular outreach in between the Canterbury A&P Show last week, and Schoolies on the Gold Coast, Australia starting tonight (Andy & I are flying over this afternoon).
Just 2 street outreaches this week: Riccarton on Tuesday, and in the City on Friday, and both of them were shorter than usual. I was on my own for both outreaches.
I’m struggling to think of any of the chats I had on Tuesday - I’m sure I did, I just simply can’t remember any of the details! But, one thing from that outreach really stands out in my mind. At the Canterbury A&P Show last week, I had 2 teenage girls come up to me and start mocking me. I recognised them from gospel conversations I’ve had with them in the past, in Riccarton. Well, what was interesting is that during this outreach those very same 2 girls came past. Sure enough, they threw some light barbs at me as they walked past and then went into the SoYo frozen yoghurt place. I continued the outreach, but later on I heard some tapping from above. I looked up, and the girls were looking down at me from the window, again mocking. I find it interesting that an insignificant man like me, telling people about Jesus is worthy of mocking. I guess there is power in the gospel – and the gospel is a great offence to people. I think I understand that better now. It’s offensive to people to understand that they are not good, and it’s offensive to think that those that are bad could be forgiven. Our pride and idolatry is a great stumbling block. I’m glad God has the power to break through that; I pray that he will with these 2 girls.
It was raining on Friday, but the forecast was that it would break for the afternoon outreach. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at our usual spot, the rain was still falling. I prayed, and started handing out tracts. There were plenty of people going past, and so plenty of tracts were distributed, but no one was keen to stop for a chat. I decided to move further down the mall. I saw Duncan Webb, who was collecting for a charity, like every good politician should, so I called out hello as I went past – I’m still keen to have a good chat with him, please pray that I would get that opportunity. I handed out more tracts, and then did a trek through Cathedral Square - it was empty (lots of construction work going on). Back in Cashel Mall, I ended up getting into a chat with an older Christan couple. It was mutually encouraging - then nailed the few checks that I asked, and the guy nearly came to tears in anticipation of being with Jesus one day. Amen! After handing out a few more tracts, I decided to leave early and head home to continue outreach online. Who knows, someone may read one of those tracts. The time spent was worth it, because the power is in the gospel!
Please keep the team on the Gold Coast for next week, reaching out to drunk high school leavers (Schoolies), in prayer. I’ll be sure to post a report in due course! SDG
The Canterbury A&P Show (a farming event where people buy / sell all sorts of things from tractors to food, as well as having displays and a carnival) would be the biggest and longest (3 days) show we attend (by hiring a site / stall) to share the gospel mainly via flip chart and conversation.
And it happened this week: Wednesday (with a team of 6), Thursday (team of 6) and Friday (team of 18!) - Friday being the big day as it’s a public holiday with LOTS of people.
Volunteers to run the site represented a total of 5 churches (Redemption Church, Beckenham Baptist Church, Grace Baptist Church, Riccarton Community Church & LIfe Church) from around the Christchurch area.
The support from Christians was super encouraging. So thank you to all that gave up their time to serve God by telling people about Jesus! Also, many thanks to all those that were praying for us on the front lines during these 3 days! Without the power of the Holy Spirit, our effort is truly in vain. All the glory is Gods!
So, let me give a summary of the 3 days.
Day 1 (Wed) was hot! God, through the organisers of the show, decided to give us a little tree outside our site which cast some nice sun shade through the day - that was a real blessing! The team of 6 was busy all day sharing the gospel with all sorts of people, including many school groups. I can’t remember all the conversations I had, but 2 memories from that day stand out.
First was an opportunity to engage in conversation with 3 Roman Catholic Friars. 1 of them was a priest, the other 2 were ‘just brothers’. It was the priest that I conversed with, 1 of the ‘brothers’ listened, and the other didn’t want to engage. It was interesting that the priest tried to claim that the Catholics teach justification by faith alone, where their official doctrine does not teach such. And this was betrayed in his initial description of how one gets to heaven. So I challenged them on this and had opportunity to share the law and the gospel in the process.
Secondly, 2 of my daughters: Julia and Dani were helping run the site today. My fathers heart was overjoyed in seeing their willingness – no, eagerness – to be involved and share the gospel! They worked together, and I think I heard Julia say they had 10 gospel conversations throughout the day. 3 of those conversations were quite challenging – and so with 2 of them, they were able to pull Greg in to help, and the other one they got me involved, where they listened to how I dealt with the man's objections and learned.
Day 2 (Thu) was cloudy, which actually made it easier than the day before in the heat – the sun in NZ is harsh. Four conversations stand out.
Firstly, an older gentleman came right on to our site and seeing one of the camping chairs we had set up, came right in and sat down! It turns out he was trying to get back to his car and was in pain in his hip. :( So, I focused on helping him with that first. I knew the St. Johns ambulance service had a presence at the show and they had a little cart to help get sick people from a to b. So I asked one of the security guards to call up the ambulance cart for me - which he did.
As I was in discussion with the gentlemen, I tried to turn the conversation to spiritual things - but he instantly shut me down: “I don’t want to talk about that, I might be facing death soon”. I find that interesting, because it’s exactly for that reason that I DO want to talk about it! But I respected his wishes and talked of other things till the ‘cart’ came. As he was leaving, he thanked me for the assistance I had given, and so in response, I offered him a tract. He took it and shook my hand. I hope he reads it! He is a farmer from down south (Waimate), please pray that he does!
At the end of a day, when the site is quieter, certain people seem more willing to approach and engage, including another older gentleman – not our most common demographic. It was a fairly standard gospel conversation, but he asked about why there is suffering and evil, which we were able to discuss and I was able to give him the biblical answer. He left with a tract, but he sticks in my mind, I’m praying for him too - please join me!
The 2 other chats were with kids.
In the first one, I asked her to go and check with her parents if it was okay to chat about Jesus. She did, and was soon back saying it was okay! So, I gently took her through the law and the gospel. She quickly grasped what I was explaining about Jesus, and she admitted, without any prompting from me, that before the chat she would have been going to hell because she was trusting her good deeds, but now she is trusting only in Jesus' sacrifice so will go to heaven. She joyfully received a Bible. Later, she went past again with her Mum, and she turned to give me a beaming smile and a wave. What a privilege to serve God and others in this way!
In the other one, about 5 kids came up to the chart and wanted to give it a go. Their parents were not far away, so I sent them to check if it was okay. They came back smiling! All good to go. So, I shared the law and the gospel. I didn’t need to go heavy on the law, as I could see that one of the little girls had a sensitive conscience and seemed deeply convicted by me simply asking if they had ever disobeyed their parents! So I swung the conversation to the good news of Jesus! At the end, I gave them 2 tracts (2 families were represented), and told them to give them to their parents and to discuss it further with them. They ran off to do just that! One of the Mum’s looked up at me, and so I went over. She thanked me for the way I had gone about it, getting their permission, etc. I was so encouraged!
Lord, save those kids, and their families, for your glory!
Finally, day 3, Friday. It was WINDY! I’ve never done evangelism in so much wind before! We had to be holding the flip charts at all times, otherwise they went crashing down!
So, a team of 18 active evangelists (not including vital family support!) running the site throughout the day. And it was so busy! We had 6 flipcharts, and at least once all 6 flip charts were in use + 1 mini flip chart! It was good having such a large team, as it gave people good opportunities for breaks and rest.
The day is a bit of a blurr, I can remember many great chats, some of them quite hard, including one with a Maori guy who viewed Christianity as white man imperialism. I really had to work to disconnect the message of Jesus (which is universal) from his world filter. I think I succeeded, because he hugged me at the end, out of respect, considering how hard he was coming at me (which was not nasty, just forceful). We had kids who were mocking, including 3 girls whom I’ve talked to before during a Riccarton outreach. But also many many chats with open hearted people as well.
In summary, that would have to be one of the hardest outreaches I do, just purely based on the amount of hours of evangelism. But it was so worth it in seeing so many Christians encouraged in evangelism, and so many unbelievers hearing the gospel! Again, all the glory is to God alone.
To rest, I didn’t do any street work on Saturday, or today (Sunday). But on Tuesday, I did do the regular Riccarton outreach with Jermaine. It was a bit of a slow start, but it ended up becoming quite a busy outreach with 1 stellar conversation in particular. But I’m out of time to talk about that.
Thanks so much for your support and prayer!
It was great to have a week off last week, but it was also great to be back to work this week. :)
On my holiday, I found time to buy a new cap! As per the picture, the old one was due to retire! Unfortunately, it doesn’t fit as well - but, oh well, I’ll get used to it.
So, all the usual outreaches this week. Roger and I were in Riccarton on Tuesday afternoon. Andy, Roger, Daniel, John and I in the City on Friday afternoon. I was on my own on Saturday lunchtime, and Susan and I on Sunday afternoon. Plus all the online work.
Tuesday’s outreach in Riccarton was rather slow for me, unfortunately. Yet, on the other side of the road, Roger seemed to be in non stop chats!
Yet, I was still able to have 2 solid chats. The first felt like a bit of a set up: in hindsight, the girl was a little too enthusiastic at the start, and it soon became very apparent that her mind was set and nothing would change it (except the power of God). She was in fact there to teach me something. I spend a lot of time listening. I interjected appropriately, and I’m sure I explained the law and the gospel (I can’t really remember now). But I do remember deciding that the wisest course of action was to end the conversation.
But, the next conversation had a stark contrast. It was with two high school girls. It was ‘text book’ in the sense that they didn’t resist the logic of the gospel, instead they seemed to really embrace it. They were classic church goers who thought good deeds would get them to heaven. When they came to understand the gospel, one of them used the term, “mind blown” multiple times. They agreed they would be going to hell before the chat, but they were now professing faith. It was encouraging. They both took bibles, with tracts marked at John.
Friday’s outreach was hot, but busy, and the 2 hours went fast. Due to the heat, I ventured over to the trees next to the bridge of remembrance and approached all the people sitting in the shade.
I had an interesting chat with an older guy with a very new age outlook - believed in reincarnation and karma. I reasoned with him, and I could see he was challenged, but he had to get going so I wasn’t able to ‘complete’ the chat. Initially he rejected a tract, but as he was going, he accepted one.
But before that, at the start of the outreach, a lady took great interest in Rogers flipchart, and I was next to it, so we fell into a long chat. She wanted to talk about political issues initially, but I was soon able to go deeper into issues of religion. We had a great chat! She had a very Christian background, even went to a church, and could very well be a Christian, but there were some critical concepts she hadn’t been fully able to process yet. I didn’t push it, because I know some of these things take time to process. She left with a tract, and directions to my church. She was actually a tourist on holiday from Germany, I’ve said it before in recent reports, but it’s so good to have the tourists coming back!
I had a follow up chat with a young busker. The first time I shared the gospel was without the flip chart, but this time he saw the flip chart and wanted to know what it was all about. When I asked him if he had ever lusted for someone, he said, “no”. It turns out he is ‘asexual’. I’ve never encountered that before. He claimed to have zero sexual desire. Anyway, he also had zero desire for the gospel. He seemed to understand it, but just seemed completely unimpressed and uninterested. Oh well, he is a nice guy, God willing I will see him again and be able to continue the chat. Please pray that he starts to feel conviction for his sin.
After the outreach, the team went for some cold drinks in a cafe where we had some great discussions about soteriology and the practice of evangelism.
Saturday in Riccarton was a reasonably busy outreach. I had good chats with a Christian, and a Hare Krishna, among others. But the highlight chat was the last one, and it was a rather grievous one.
Two young asian ladies went past earlier, and they accepted tracts. But later they came back and were keen to do the good person test. One of the girls did all the talking (well, most of it; I tried to include her as much as possible). The main girl expressed disgust at Hitler (good), but as the conversation progressed, she was becoming subtly resistant.
Eventually she changed the subject and asked me about abortion: “is it okay for a girl who has been raped to have an abortion?” That’s probably the most common question I get in regards to this issue. Today I tried to address it differently, so I said, “Good question, I’ll answer it only if you answer my question first: if a girl has sex for pleasure, but then gets pregnant which is simply an inconvenience for her, is it okay for her to have an abortion?” With a completely straight face, she said, “yes”. Interesting, so I switched the baby for a toddler. There was no convincing her. She is blind, her worldview is based around self, and nothing but the power of God will change it. So, I went back to the gospel. I ended up ending the chat, as she just wasn’t open at this stage. But the chat grieved me, as many of them do, when I see how idolatrous people are. God, have mercy! We don’t deserve it, please have mercy.
Sunday’s outreach was slowish. I handed out a lot of tracts initially. I had an interesting encounter with a young couple - the guy said he already had one of the tracts - so I asked if he had read it. He had, he even knew the title: “how we know God exists”. They didn’t want to stick around, so I asked why he would go to heaven, he said, “because I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins”. I was surprised he gave that answer, he must have really been paying attention to that tract. So, I ended up discussing the change that will occur as a result, and asked if he had a bible. They didn’t and were keen for one each. They also took contact cards for my church.
At the end of the outreach, I had a good chat with a young man who was keen to chat, and didn’t really fight anything I said, but who was dearly counting the cost of the gift of Jesus. We discussed homosexuality for a while. He wasn’t willing to accept the gift at this stage, but he seemed to appreciate the chat. He left me with a firm handshake.
Thank you so much for praying for this gospel ministry. Next week is going to involve 3 long days of special outreach at the Canterbury A&P show: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Praise God, we have 3 solid teams; 1 for each day. And about 15 people for Friday, which is a public holiday and very busy. Apart from the power of God, our effort will be in vain, so please be praying for us on these 3 days, that many would hear and understand the gospel, and that God would be glorified in that, and the way we conduct ourselves (faithful, yet with gentleness and respect).