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.
Tuesday saw outreach resume in the Riccarton area & Wednesday saw outreach in the township just north of Christchurch called Kaiapoi for the first time.
The Riccarton outreach was dominated by one conversation that went for about an hour. It was with an Italian man who I would describe as... passionate! Although it was a good and friendly conversation, multiple times I had to clarify that I wasn’t there for an argument, and to ask him to calm down.
He was very linguistically focused (knowing 4 languages) and would want to discuss the meaning of certain words in the Old Testament of the Bible to try to prove certain points that I wasn’t too clear of. I would listen for good periods, and then try to steer the conversation back to the simplicity of the law and the Gospel. But he would listen for a while, and then pull the conversation back down a rabbit trail.
In the end, I never really got a chance to talk about the Gospel (sadly, he wasn’t interested).
As is often the case, his concern was with why God (whom he didn’t deny) allows suffering. It seemed that a lot of his logic came from “new atheists” like Dawkins.
As we were not making any progress in the conversation, multiple times I tried to disengage and wish him a good day. But he didn’t want to let it go for some reason. At one point he said: “I answered all your questions, and now I want you to answer my question!” Even after explaining that he was under no obligation to answer my questions, he insisted on staying and talking. There were times when I just didn’t have good answers on hand. And so I would be honest and just say so.
Eventually he did disengage, and oddly he apologised. We parted on good terms.
Wednesday’s focus was on four hours of door to door knocking in Kaiapoi. It was a wonderful time of ministry with some excellent Gospel conversations.
The stand out conversation was with a lady with a young family. Initially, when we first knocked in the morning, she wasn’t able to talk, but she said we could come back - saying the afternoon would be fine. And so after lunch we went back, and she welcomed us in for a chat.
We were able to share the law and the Gospel in some depth, asking checking questions multiple times. There was no visible sign of contrition, but seemed interested in what we were talking about. She gladly took a Bible and other literature.
A teenage son, who was home sick, also heard the Gospel and I had an opportunity to ask if he understood what was discussed, by giving him a checking question. He answered well by saying: “I need to trust in Jesus to go to heaven” - I was encouraged.
We asked the mother what her partner though about spiritual things. And she said he was very open, and that they would often talk about them. We asked her to discuss these things with her partner and gave her contact details if they wanted to discuss further.
She thanked us for our time, and we thanked her for hers.
Another wonderful conversation was with two contractors on a break, sitting in their van, waiting for concrete to dry. They were originally from the Philippines and were happy to chat with us. After hearing the Gospel, they also gladly took Bibles and other Gospel literature.
Many other good Gospel conversations were had. Something that interested me was that none of the people we talked to while door knocking denied the existence of God. There is much opportunity to discuss the Gospel. Please join me in praying that the Holy Spirit would use the plowing of hearts (by the law), and the seed (the Gospel) sown today, to bring fruit for His glory.
Thanks for your prayers. I awoke Saturday morning refreshed and with a clear head.
I started the days outreach with some letterbox dropping. It was a hot day, with a strong wind (with autumn leaves that crunch satisfyingly). So for the second time (since starting this job) I had to discreetly change out of my thermals in the car! :o
I was then in Cathedral Square for 3 hours of outreach and God blessed me with 3 very encouraging Gospel conversations - all different.
My first conversation was with a teen, who claimed to be a Christian, and love Jesus and yet believed that self righteousness was the way to heaven. What started as a conversation where I thought they would leave at any moment, turned into a one hour, engaged, Bible study. They just couldn't see themselves as a bad person deserving of hell or in need of salvation.
So the focus of the conversation was on the law, and the study took us from Matthew 5:21 (the sermon on the mount - anger & lust), to Mark 10:17 (the rich young man), and then to Luke 18:9 (the pharisee and the tax collector).
I eventually got a response of "I kind of get it". But in spite of deep sincerity, there seemed to be a blindness to what the Bible says.
Yet I didn't give up. They said they loved to read, and gladly took a Gospel booklet, and all the varieties of tracts I had. I wrote a list of Bible passages for them to meditate on (the ones I gave above, plus Romans 1-3, and the whole of Mark). And I gave them a contact card for my local church, with my contact details, and encouraged them to discuss with their parents and to get back to a good local church (of which I listed some suggestions).
After an encouraging conversation with a Christian, I then had an elderly person stop and want to talk.
They seemed to know about Christian things, and so I asked why they would go to heaven when they died. I was encouraged when they responded with 'faith', and with some probing, a clear understanding of grace and faith in Christ alone for salvation.
It turns out I had given a tract to them months ago in Hagley park (the reason why they stopped to talk). Tears came to their eyes as they shared a moment that had happened years earlier that had put them on a path of searching for truth. They were now on the 3rd reading of the Bible, and had a desire to be baptised. Again there seemed to be a sincere desire to follow Christ (they even described themselves as a follower of Jesus), but there was something holding them back.
I gave them a contact card also. It was a wonderful conversation, I would dearly love to just sit with this person and spend time with them. There was a warmness about them. I hope they get in touch.
My final conversation of the day came about by a man sitting down near to where I was handing out tracts. He became curious, so he held out his hand for one - which I gladly gave.
He sat and read for a while before beckoning me over. It turns out he needed help with reading some of the words. It was my absolute pleasure to slowly work through the whole tract with him, helping him with the words he struggled with, and talking through what it was saying (see picture). It was wonderful seeing him slowly agreeing with the logic.
When we got up to the heaven or hell part, it was clear that he understood that he deserved hell, but that he wanted to go to heaven. So we read on to where the gift of eternal life was explained. He seemed to understand it all.
But, at this time, he rejected the message. He clearly articulated that his desire for a specific sin was greater than the gift of eternal life found only by faith in Jesus paying his fine. Sadly, he wasn’t willing to change his mind.
Yet there is still hope while he is alive. The Gospel is the power of God to salvation, and he seems to understand the Gospel now. I leave him in Gods hands.
Sunday saw a team of six out for two hours in the afternoon. It was great to have three people joining us for the first time (all from one family).
I had a good conversation with a tourist from Europe who had recently been in Australia (Melbourne), and had spent some time with a Christian who had been explaining Christian concepts to him. I was able to go over the whole Gospel with him. He asked about which books of the Bible would be good to start with. I suggested Mark & Romans. But I clarified that he already had enough information, today was the day to trust in Christ for the forgiveness of his sins.
At the end of the outreach, we headed to Cathedral Square and I was able to preach in the open air, something that I missed doing on Thursday.
But before getting there, I noticed something on the foot path. It was a torn contact card for my local church! I picked it up, and it had my contact details on the back. It must of been one of the two that I had given out yesterday, they obviously have no desire to get in touch. :( Yet, I'm not discouraged. I can't change people, I can't convince them of anything. It's my job to share the Gospel. It's God's job to change hearts. But I do wonder who's it was.
As always, all glory to God for helping us through this weekend of outreach.
Thursday was ANZAC day - a public holiday. We headed into the city for our usual outreach with the plan of moving on to Eastgate. But because of the holiday, there were a lot more people in town than usual, and so we ended up staying in the city for the whole afternoon.
And it was an odd afternoon.
Speaker’s Corner had a speaker playing loud music making any preaching difficult.
I was attempting to hand out tracts at the entrance to Cathedral Square without much luck, when a lady, seemingly out of pity, decided to come and take one.
I then had one of my hecklers come over for a chat. We had been getting along well of late, but sadly the conversation “went south”. But I was rescued by Sophie, who had come to join the outreach, and we decided to head to the corner of Cashel and Colombo.
But for me, I just had difficult conversations with people, who just wanted to mock. And then a security guard asked me to move slightly, as technically I was on private property. I gladly moved and the guy even took a tract.
Two guys then engaged the flip chart with Sophie, and a good conversation occurred with one of them, but his friend was not interested at all, and backed away a few meters. I decided to approach him and try to start a conversation, but as he was talking to me, he just kept backing away, until there was a good meter and a half between us. He really didn’t want to talk! I tried one more time, but he just backed off down the street, and stayed there until his friend had finished hearing the Gospel from Sophie (see picture).
So it ended up being a niggly sort of day, from an outreach perspective. But still, tracts did go out, and Gospel conversations did occur. God uses our weakness for His glory.
But in contrast, the first outreach of Friday was incredibly encouraging! It was our first abortion + Gospel outreach outside the Hospital.
As I turned up, there were a whole lot of Police, the reason being that Prince William was visiting some of the Mosque shooting victims. We had no idea, but our timing was perfect. The Police wanted us around the corner - which was fine with us.
Then a lady came out of the hospital and I talked to her about what Prince William was doing and how that tied into why we were there. We are against all murder! And we want people to know there is forgiveness by the grace of Christ!
She blew me away when she said she had an abortion! My first conversation and I was able to minister exactly on the subject we were there for!
The signs arrived and we got started and there was an initial burst of opposition. Security tried to move us across the road, which we politely refused, and then we had some brief opposition from pro choice people.
It calmed down after that, and the 2 hour outreach went amazing. We had support and opposition. And Andy & Jason had some wonderful conversations. Yes conversations, we are not there to yell.
Super encouraged that we are doing the right thing - as useless as it seems.
We want to see abortion end, that will only come through the Gospel of Christ changing hearts.
(We are working under the banner of Project 139 for this outreach.)
After this, we moved back to the city where Andy preached in the open air, and then Roger joined us for flip charting in Cashel Mall where some good Gospel conversations were had.
The seagulls wanted hot cross buns... but they didn't get any! :) The Easter Monday outreach seemed to go well. Another 500 hot cross bun halves went out... plus the bread of life: Jesus - shared in Easter tracts.
I focused on flip chart conversations while other Christians watched to get a feel for sharing the Gospel on the streets.
I had two conversations, the first one was short, and allowed the Christians watching to get a good overview of a Gospel conversation. The second one was an epic! It tested my conversational and apologetic skills, while having to wrestle with illogical responses of a person resisting the obvious. It was a wonderful conversation that ended well, but that had drained all my energy.
A brief report from Andy revealed the other team had some good Gospel conversations as well.
Like on Saturday, I was very encouraged to see so many Christians getting involved. We even had a family we haven't met before come join us - so blessed!
Thanks to all involved - you did an awesome job! Keep it up :)
After some rest on Tuesday, Wednesday was the usual marathon of 7 hours of outreach, including letterbox dropping, an outreach to the city, and an outreach outside the hospital.
I was again blessed with follow up conversations.
One was with the young man I mentioned a month or so ago, whose baby daughter had major complications after birth. The good news, is his daughter is well! He showed me some pictures. He said he had read some of the Bible I had given him, starting at the spot I had suggested. And he took one of the tracts I was handing out today (Jesus Shows Us God).
But the highlight conversation was a follow up with a guy who revealed some more information about himself, which allowed me to minister more specifically to him. It turns out he had been involved with churches in the past, but had pulled away - seemingly due to something to do with suffering and why God allows it. He used an analogy where his daughter had a thorn in her finger causing her pain, and how cruel would he be as a father not to pull it out. He was clearly pointing at God being cruel for not dealing with the thorns in our sides. So I responded with scripture:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me
2 Corinthians 12:7–9 ESV
But even though Paul understood why his thorn was not taken away. I explained that we don’t always get to know why God allows suffering to come our way. But that we need to trust Him no matter what, like: Job, Joseph, and Jesus. Like Job, our attitude should be:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Job 1:21 ESV
In fact, believers are promised suffering:
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted
2 Timothy 3:12 ESV
He made reference to the murders in the Mosque a month ago. But I made it clear that God did not do the killing, but the man who did it was responsible. And God will ultimately give perfect justice (for all), but he is patiently holding off his justice so that people can receive mercy and grace.
We discussed other things as well. I was really blessed to be able to call him to repentance and faith once again. God willing, I’ll have more opportunities to talk to him.
Saturday saw the first of two Easter Hot Cross Bun and Gospel Tract outreaches of the long weekend. These outreaches are designed to be very easy for Christians to be introduced to sharing the Gospel on the street. People love getting free hot cross buns and are more than happy to take a tract along with it.
From that regard, the outreach was a wonderful success. Many Christians took the opportunity to get involved and share the law and the wonderful Gospel of God’s grace.
500 hot cross bun halves were given away, with nearly the same amount of tracts.
Flip charts were also set up, and many Gospel conversations were had.
Sunday was wet (again), but it wasn’t raining when we went out in the afternoon. The shops were closed for Easter, but lots of people were in Cathedral Square and the outreach was filled with Gospel conversations.
Greg had a wonderful conversation with a young couple who gladly took a Gospel booklet.
And as I was in the middle of a conversation with four teens, another group of teens walked past, and one of them called out: “Hey, there’s that guy who had talked to us outside my house”. I recognised two of them as guys I had approached while I was letterbox dropping just two days prior (in a suburb on the outskirts of Christchurch) and had briefly shared with them!
Praying that more labourers for the harvest would get involved and that the canvassing of this city with the Gospel would continue. All to the glory of God.
The last 2 days of outreach (Thursday and Friday) have been very encouraging - filled with follow up conversations.
For 3 out of 4 of the last Thursdays, as I head into the city for our regular outreach starting at 1 PM, I have encountered the same construction worker sitting enjoying his lunch. The first time I shared the law and the Gospel and he was very receptive, accepting a Bible and Gospel booklet.
The 2nd time I saw him, I challenged him if he had read any of the Bible - which he hadn’t, and I again communicated the urgency to respond to the Gospel.
Well this Thursday, he said he had started reading the Bible, but he didn’t take my advice and had started with Genesis.
I again took the time to explain the need to respond to the Gospel, again taking special note to highlight the law (which brings the knowledge of sin - without which there can be no conviction, and without that there will be no urgency for the grace of salvation). I pointed him back to the New Testament, and the Gospel booklet. He seems so close to the kingdom, and yet so far - and it’s completely out of my hands. Salvation is of the Lord. I will start regularly praying for my new friend. He has my contact details and the contact details for my local church.
Later, in Cathedral Square, two guys that have heard me preach, and I have seen - and talked to - multiple times before crossed my path again. I asked if they had put any thought into the Gospel - which they hadn’t. Knowing that this may be the last time I see them, and having talked to them many times before I felt a need to be direct with them about sin and the justice of God: Hell. They both lowered their heads, looking intently at the ground as I urgently pleaded with them to "wake up". Of course, I reiterated the hope there was of forgiveness of sins, only found in Christ.
I also preached in the Square, and Andy and I had other conversations. A very encouraging outreach.
We then moved to Eastgate for two hours, which is always a busy and good outreach.
Good Friday! What a wonderful day to be in the city to talk about Christ. A team of 4 were involved.
The highlight conversation for me was yet another follow up. But this time it was with a guy I had been talking to a year ago. He remembered me, but initially I didn’t remember him. He too seems close to the kingdom, but knows he has not entered it. I had a good long chat with him, while Philip talked to his friend. It turns out he lives around the corner from me, and is not far from my local church. He accepted a Bible, and I challenged him to read Romans (esp. The first 3 chapters). He also took my contact details. I pray that Christ would show him his sin and “wake him up”!
Looking forward to the first of our two Hot Cross Bun and Gospel Tract outreaches tomorrow. Your prayer is appreciated!
Tuesday and Wednesday saw the Christchurch (NZ) team try something different: door to door evangelism.
It’s the school holidays, and apparently this is a good time to do it. I had the experience of Kim from OAC guiding me (always a good way to learn evangelism skills).
Kim fielded the first few conversations, and I noticed he’d sometimes say: “We are not Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons”.
So one of the first conversations that I fielded, I had a man come to the door, and I said who we were and what we were doing, and I clarified by saying, “We are not Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons”. Well, the guy at the door said, “Oh, I’m a Jehovah’s Witnesses”!
Internally, I was laughing at myself hard. :D
But externally I ignored it and quickly asked if he would be keen to discuss. He said, “I’ve got my own beliefs thanks”. It struck me that that is exactly what Christians often say to religious groups coming to the door. The roles were reversed!
Safe to say, I haven’t used that line again! ;)
But some wonderful conversations were had over the two days of outreach.
Afresh, I realised how many people the team are reaching in this city.
We were talking to a mother and her younger children, when an older son came out. He instantly recognised me and said that I had talked to him in the city (I don’t remember it)!
Later, we knocked on a door and a lady I had talked to at the Eastgate bus stops (maybe a month earlier) answered the door (we were door knocking very close to the Eastgate bus stops). She pulled out the Bible I had given her, and we had another opportunity to share the gospel.
We had two wonderful situations where we were invited in and were allowed to discuss the Gospel in depth.
It was a wonderful experience, and I’m very keen to try it again (which I’ll do next week).
Your prayer is so appreciated. And if you live in Christchurch, let me encourage you to get in touch and get involved. :)
Saturday is an interesting day to come to the city to witness because so many other religions / cults are out on this day of the week too leading to some interesting conversations for the team!
Sunday saw a team of four set up at the corner of Cashel and Colombo for what was a fruitful time of ministry.
I spend a lot of time each week having Gospel conversations. And sadly I’ve become quite used to people being completely unmoved by the seriousness of sin, and the amazingness of grace.
But today, I had a very encouraging conversation. I offered a tract to a guy who I completely expected to ignore it. But to my surprise, he was interested and took it - wanting to know more. He was happy to try the flip chart (see picture), and indicated that he was the best person on the chart!
But then as I started to take him through the law, to my encouragement, a look of concern crossed his face - and didn’t leave. I then proceeded to explain why we call Good Friday good.
He listened intently.
When I asked him if he had any questions, he wanted to know what church I went to, and said he wanted to come along. From what I can tell, he has friends who are Christian who have been talking to him about church. He gladly accepted a contact card for my local church, and I wrote my contact details on it. He said he would be in touch if he had any questions.
It would be so wonderful if he did get in touch, but - as always - I leave him in God’s hands.
To finish the outreach we moved to Cathedral Square to open air preach. We couldn’t decide who should go first, so we ended up trying something different: we both preached! I introduced us, Andy went through the bad news, and I finished with the good news and a call to repentance and faith in Christ. We both had opportunity to interact with people while we were speaking.
I’m looking forward to a rest on Monday. Please keep the Christchurch (NZ) team in your prayers! Thank you for your support. SDG!
In contrast to Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday & Friday was filled with many wonderful Gospel opportunities for the Christchurch (NZ) team, in spite of the weather (rain).
The city outreach on Thursday afternoon started with Andy talking to a man via flip chart who I had already spoken to at the Eastgate bus stops in a previous week. He seemed really blessed by the follow up conversation, and took a Gospel booklet this time. And we are so encouraged that the Lord is providing multiple opportunities to talk to the same people - even at different locations.
I open air preached. It was very encouraging having people come over to interrupt me with good questions. One of those questions were about how God felt about homosexuality, which I addressed biblically: God is the basis for knowing right and wrong; I don’t hate homosexuals (or anyone), but homosexuality is a sin of which there is forgiveness of through repentance and faith in Christ.
After the preaching, Andy & I had wonderful opportunities for ‘walk up’ Gospel conversations.
I spoke with a couple, one of whom I had spoken to before in front of the bus exchange (although I had no memory of it).
I also sat down next to a man who was very open to the things of God and talked about his need to ‘accept Jesus into his heart’, something he was giving serious consideration to. But through discussion, it was clear he didn’t understand some of the important concepts of the Gospel: esp. the serious nature of sin or that we are saved not by our own effort, but what Christ did for us on our behalf. He allowed me time to unpack some of this for him - as best as I could - and also explain why ‘accepting Jesus into his heart’ is not a biblical concept.
After our time in the city, we again headed to the Eastgate bus stops. And, again, had a busy outreach with many Gospel conversations (see picture of Andy pleading with some young people).
I think I could write a book sharing the wonderful testimonies of the conversations had at this place! I’ll give one. I had a feisty conversation with a young man who thought the concept of God made no sense, and that the only logical conclusion is that nothing made everything! As I was wrestling with him on this, suddenly another lady joined the conversation and started having a go at me. I now was in a battle on two fronts at the same time. I persisted, doing my best to answer the questions and objections coming at me. Through it all, I managed to get an opportunity to start talking about the law of God - and the attacks calmed for a moment, as they listened (esp. The lady). I then, very briefly, got to explain the solution to the dilemma of our sin in light of a holy and just God: Jesus Christ. It was a testing and difficult conversation, but I praise God for it and the opportunity to share the main thing: the Gospel. We all parted on good terms, I leave them in God’s hands and hope I will see them again.
Friday was a day of four seasons: autumn leaves, spring rain, winter wind and cold (in the shade), and summer heat! Many times I had to switch between my beanie, and my sunglasses and cap. But none of this stopped the Gospel being proclaimed.
Andy preached before having an early lunch and then setting up flip charts on the corner of Cashel & Colombo.
The rain did not stop Gospel conversations. In one situation it started raining just after a conversation commenced, but it was important enough for everyone to ignore it. I even had an extra person join in! Please see the funny photo I took afterwards: the dry spots are where the people were standing.
The team had many wonderful conversations through the afternoon, and we then enjoyed some fellowship at a local cafe.
But the day didn’t end there, in the evening, we headed back out.
Initially, the evening outreach was a bit slow. But then the Lord provided 3 wonderful opportunities to share the Gospel. The last one is pictured. The first one was a walk up opportunity in Cathedral Square, where the young man had been to a youth group, but was still pondering what life was all about.
But the middle one, came about from a conversation between evangelists about how to start a conversation. The technique being discussed was by starting with: “Excuse me, may I ask you a question? It’s a deep question.” And then the perfect opportunity presented itself with two men walking towards us. So I tried it. And, for me, it lead to the highlight conversation of the night. The men were very engaged, and the important concepts of the Gospel were covered in depth. And they left with a challenge, not to just intellectually think about the Gospel. But to respond!
On Tuesday the outreach to Riccarton started with some letterbox dropping.
As I was walking around a corner, I encountered two teenagers and offered them a tract. To my surprise, one of them said he had already talked to me before - at Eastgate!
It turns out we were only a few paces away from a small bus shelter, and there were more teens there. I had a wonderful opportunity to briefly discuss the things of God with them before a bus turned up and they hopped aboard. But before that, I was encouraged that when I shared the building = builder / creation = creator analogy, one of them said: “that makes complete sense” (or words to that effect). They all received an Easter tract.
After the letterbox dropping, I went to a slightly different spot on Riccarton Road to have Gospel conversations. And I also didn’t use my flip chart (I forgot it as I rushed out the door). Well, for two hours, I wasn’t able get anyone to stop for a full Gospel conversation. I don’t think it was the new spot - I was able to give away plenty of Easter tracts. Or the lack of a flip chart. Although I did see plenty of people I have talked to on previous outreaches. Maybe I need to find a completely new spot for a while?
Yet I was not discouraged. The outreach, at the very least, was a success, as I had obeyed Jesus in going.
On Wednesday conversations were, again, difficult to come by - but they did occur this time! :) May God be glorified in our efforts, even when they don’t go as well as we hope.
As we march on towards winter, an added blessing is that the sun is now low enough that the hospital building is shading my prime spot in front of the entrance. I thank God for this small blessing.