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.
Day 4 of the Summer Mission to Christchurch. A hot day today, so we decided to hit Sumner Beach with a chilly bin of cold soft drinks to give away with the gospel message! But first we headed to the central city to: hand out tracts, for some "walk up" & flip chart conversations, and to preach in the Square.
Once at the beach, we simply walked up to groups of people offering them a cold drink and starting a conversation. Some people appreciated the drink, but it was clear they didn't want to hang around for too long - those conversations went quickly, but the law and gospel was still able to be presented. Others were keen for a chat, and would ask great questions. 1 engaged young lady even said "I'd always wondered what Christianity was about" - now she knows, but she was warned that it wasn't simply something to understand intellectually, a call to repent and trust Jesus was given.
We appreciate your prayers as we head into Day 5 tomorrow, before taking a much needed rest on Saturday.
Day 3 of the Summer Mission to Christchurch (NZ). Today I decided to do something different. I didn't take the chilly bin, and instead stuffed as many 180 DVDs - a powerful pro-life documentary, that also shares the vital gospel message - as I could into my bag and headed to the hospital. The road works between the main hospital complex, and the new building has been completed, and I wanted to find out if it would be a good spot for witnessing and a place to bring the gospel to the issue of abortion in Christchurch - something that happens right inside the hospital here.
There wasn't anywhere near as much foot traffic here as in the city, but I did manage to have some gospel conversations via the flip chart. And I was able to hand out all but 2 of the DVDs (I was also handing out tracts with a link to the movie for those that don't have a DVD player).
Many hospital staff went past looking at me with curiosity. I also had hospital security staff walk past, and they took copies of 180 (I've got nothing to hide). One of them even came back and asked for another, as he said he'd given his to his boss - and he wanted one for himself. I was able to take the opportunity to confirm if the spot I was standing on was public property, and if I was fine doing what I was doing. I got a green light.
We desperately want to see abortion - the murder of innocent babies - ended in our city, nation, and beyond! And some of us have been praying about what we can do. I know my effort seems feeble - but it's something. It's a start. If it's something that God wants to happen, may He bless it, by opening up opportunities for ministry. Please join us in prayer. And it all starts with the gospel of Jesus.
Without lives being transformed by this message: of justice and grace there won't be lasting change. We can't just moralise our society; it needs Jesus - to see change now and for the hope of eternal life to come. May those considering abortion hear the gospel and turn away. May those who have had an abortion hear the gospel and know forgiveness in Jesus, through repentance and trust in him. Amen.
As I was standing on my spot outside the hospital, I noticed a couple had been sitting at one of the benches just down from me for a long time. So when I packed up, I decided to head down and offer them a DVD. They gladly took one, and a conversation started.
Sadly, one of them, who was dressed in a hospital gown, had just been informed that their cancer was inoperable! It was terminal. I expressed my deepest sympathy at this news. With the subject matter already on death, I shared the gospel - of the hope for eternal life. And gospel literature, with contact details, was given. With plenty of time to read and think, while in a hospital bed, may God lead this person (and their friend) to repentance and faith in Him. What a privilege to be able to share the gospel with them!
Day 2 of the Summer Mission to Christchurch (NZ). Today ended up being a day of a few long conversations rather than many short ones. And only once did a conversation start via flip chart. Today the chilly bin of cold drinks was used to start conversations with people enjoying the hot sun while on holiday, or during a break from work.
The first conversation was with 2 work men on a break under the trees. Both were grateful for the free drink, and both thought they would go to heaven when they die. But after looking at 4 of the 10 commandments, they quickly realised that, if that was the standard God would use on judgment day, then they wouldn't be going to heaven. The good news of Jesus dying on the cross in payment for sin, and rising again giving us hope of eternal life was shared, with a call to repent and believe the gospel. This conversation had to go quickly as they were on a break, and we didn't want them stealing any of their employers time. ;)
We then moved on and had 2 (separate) conversations with young tourists from Austria, and Germany respectively. The Austrian, in particular, was keen to understand what we were saying, so the time was taken to explain the gospel and answer his questions. Initially he turned down the offer of a cold drink, but after the long chat, and since the sun was beating down hard now - he gratefully accepted.
The preaching in Cathedral Square attracted a new heckler today, which lead to a lengthy 1 to 1 discussion with her.
We then moved to Cashel Mall, where the team split up, and we ended up having separate conversations (walk up). Mine was with another German tourist, a very thoughtful young man who was challenged by the gospel presentation, and asked some wonderful questions afterwards. He had a real appreciation for the blessings of life, and seemed to be genuinely counting the cost of following Jesus. He gladly took a gospel booklet with his cold beverage and said he would read it.
A couple of other significant conversations were had today, but the 4 and half hours went quickly. It's not just about numbers, but about the quality of the conversations and making sure people understand what is being communicated. May gospel seed take root, for the glory of God alone.
Every year, the Christchurch team organise a short term mission trip to... Christchurch! It means money can be saved on travel, we can sleep in our own bed, and we don't have to adjust to a new climate, culture, and time zone, but we still get the benefit of giving glory to God by bringing the good news of Jesus to the lost. Today was day 1 of the mission. Tracts were distributed, conversations were had, people heard the gospel by way of open air preaching, and soft drinks were given away.
Today was about continuing conversations that were started on the New Year's Eve outreach. Of 2 young men the team had a long conversation with prior, 1 of them walked past with his girlfriend. He was identified by name, and so stopped. This led to a great follow up conversation starting with his thoughts about what was discussed the first time. Eventually evolution was put forward as the excuse this young couple were using to suppress the truth of God. This was addressed, after re-covering the subjects of the serious nature of sin, and the good news of Jesus. They were asked to consider the cost, repent and trust in Jesus before it's too late.
Another young man, first encountered on New Year's Eve, has been encountered at least 2 more times since then. And every time, I'd say hello, using his name, as he walked past. Today he was sitting with 2 friends in Cashel Mall. I approached, and he was happy to see me. They were grateful to receive a free cold drink to enjoy, and were very open to a gospel conversation - via flip chart. It was a wonderful conversation, as they seemed very open to the message of the gospel. I hope to see these young men again.
Earlier, I preached in Cathedral Square. To draw a crowd, I used trivia questions giving away free drinks as prizes. It was wonderful seeing people gather and get involved. I then offered $5 (to buy a coffee from the local vendor) to the person who could pass the good person test, based off the ten commandments. Sadly, once people realised I was a Christian, they started to disperse and I couldn't convince anyone to try for the fiver. But I still took the opportunity to proclaim the serious nature of sin, and what Jesus has done to defeat death and bring us hope. Some stayed to listen. But please pray that we would become more effective in sharing the gospel.
Finally, we met a lady who watched one of the flip chart presentations. Initially, I thought she was going to get angry at us telling people about sin, but to my surprise she encouraged us! A Christian from a local Baptist church, she said she would be keen to join us, and took my email address. May she get in touch, and get involved, for the glory of God. How about you?
Please continue to pray for the Christchurch Summer Mission! And join us if you can :)
Today I set up my flip chart in Cashel Mall, and then walked down a bit to meet team members coming to join me. We turned around to head back to the chart, and a small group of people had already gathered around it! 1 of the team took the initiative and jumped in and a gospel conversation was away - as easy as that.
We had a new team member today, so a 2nd chart was set up on the other side of the mall and a quick demonstration on how to use it started. But then we noticed a guy watching us, so we invited him over and a real flip chart gospel conversation occurred! Nothing better than a live demonstration :)
Gospel conversations were started - with and without the flip chart. There was even an opportunity to pull out a Bible and have a discussion around the correct meaning of a verse.
Tomorrow, the yearly summer mission will start - a 2 week short term mission to... Christchurch! We have a chilly bin, ice, and cans of drink ready to give away and as a conversation starter. Please keep the Christchurch team in your prayers over the coming 2 weeks of outreach. Regular reports will be posted.
There were many people out in central Christchurch sharing their beliefs today. Some out of their passion: those protesting the department store selling fur. Some, maybe, out of fear (earning salvation?) and obligation: various religious groups. And it struck me: 1) they wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't worthwhile, and 2) there is nothing more worthwhile than sharing the gospel - not out of fear or obligation - but out of genuine love for the one who has saved us from sin and hell: Jesus; and who has asked us to go because of His great love for the lost.
Regular gospel outreaches are being established in Christchurch - 6 days a week, if you know the love and grace of Jesus, why don't you come and get involved? Get in touch!
Every outreach this week, God has provided more than 1 labourer, but I thought I was going to be on my own today, until I came across Garry (pictured). Garry is a guy who attends a local church and we have gotten to know over the years as he is often out on the streets of central Christchurch. Yet he has never actually joined us in outreach. Well today was the day, and he plucked up his courage and asked for a few tracts to hand out.
It was wonderful watching him step past his fears, and politely ask people if they would like a tract. Of the 12 people who went past him, 3 took one. Praise God. May those 3 people read those tracts and hear of the glorious good news of Christ and come to repentance and faith in Him. Maybe it's time for you to step past your fears and get involved? Have a few hours spare? There will be no obligation or pressure to do anything you are not ready for: get involved - Jesus is so worthy! :)
Praise be to God, central Christchurch is being saturated with the gospel of Jesus - by just a few, humble, weak followers of Christ - heading out daily. More and more, we are encountering people who have already been through the flip chart presentation of the gospel - including today, with a young man. Interestingly, he was open to going through it again - with his friend who had not been through it before. May this young man, and his friend, keep encountering Christians sharing the gospel till they finally surrender in understanding, repentance, and faith. Are you ready to continue the conversation?
Yet, the most encouraging gospel interaction of the day was with a young man waiting for his girlfriend outside a shop. A tract was offered with the question, "Will you go to heaven when you die?". There was not an opportunity to explain the whole gospel - but he took the tract (which does), and as we were parting ways he said, "Thank you so much, I appreciate it". The next time you fear starting that gospel conversation, remember - there are many who will appreciate it! Yes, many will not be interested - but what's the worst that can happen? Just say, "have a nice day", and move on. :)
To finish the day, the team went through Cathedral Square having walk up gospel conversations. And as we were not able to preach at our usual time due to other Christians out reading the scriptures in the open air, we finished with preaching instead. Our most vocal heckler was there; but we decided to preach anyway. The law and the gospel was proclaimed, and on que the heckling started. Yet, a small gathering of people were listening, with people accepting tracts afterwards. May those that heard the gospel be saved, for God's glory alone, through the "foolishness" of the preaching today.
After the earlier day outreach, we ran our 2nd Friday night outreach in central Christchurch.
In the first spot we set up (corner of Cashel Mall / Oxford Terrace), there was less foot traffic than expected, so we had to approach people to start conversations. This led to an amazing conversation with a man on holiday from Nelson, who had spiritual encounters in the past and wanted to talk about them to make sense of them. He also heard a clear presentation of the law and the gospel, with a call to repent - flee - from sin to God. At the end of the conversation, the man said, "thank you, I appreciate it" - so very encouraging knowing people are interested in the gospel and are happy to be approached for a conversation!
We ended up moving to Cathedral Square, where the market and food stalls were still happening - and a band was setting up to provide entertainment. There were plenty of people around which lead to many more gospel conversations.
At the end of the night, a very sad conversation occurred with a young lady who when asked: "have you ever murdered anyone?" said "yes, I had an abortion". She seemed completely at ease about this, in spite of the fact that she had acknowledged (maybe without realising it) that she was a murderer. It revealed how easy people can justify sin and sear their conscience. The focus of the conversation remained on the reality of God and his justice, the standard of his law (we can pretend to live in our own bubble of "reality" - but we will all have to face the truth on judgment day), and also on the fact that forgiveness is available through repentance and faith in Jesus. She was resistant, but happy to chat. I had a fresh realisation of the incredible love of Jesus, that even when we were His enemies, He died for us! May this young lady come to know this great love and forgiveness!
There was much opposition to the gospel on a hot summers day. And yet, much time was spent in fruitful conversations - all glory to God. Cathedral Square ended up being the place to be, after a slow start in Cashel Mall.
Kelvin, the Square's resident busker, was in full swing, so I decided to do some walk up conversations while waiting for him to take a break before preaching.
My first conversation was with a young man on holiday from South Africa who turned out to be a PK (pastor's kid), but wasn't sure if he would go to heaven. After discussion, it turned out he thought salvation hinged on works. And so after explaining the law, a careful explanation of salvation by grace alone was given, with a clarification that works is an evidence of our faith, not required to be saved. This man had 2 friends with him, and 1 in particular thanked me for taking the time to speak to them (after initially not being interested in the conversation).
But it was when I started preaching that the opposition came, I noticed hecklers gathering, and then as I was finishing up, our main - and most vocal - heckler turned up and stared getting stuck in. This was wonderful, because it drew a small crowd of people keen to have a laugh at the foolish Christian. But the gospel was preached to them, with a call to repentance and faith in Christ. And the fruit was the 3 follow up conversations that occurred after, and because of, the preaching! Although our heckler tried to interrupt 2 of those private conversations - it only added weight to the importance of what was being talked about.
By this stage, another outreach team member had arrived, and we decided to go back to Cashel to get a break from the heckling. 1 great conversation was had there, but then a man with some mental health issues took exception to us and was mumbling threatening and bad language at us. There was no reasoning with this man, so we backed away and moved back to Cathedral Square, by this time our heckler had departed and we again had some fruitful conversations, including with a very open hearted young lady who was ready for a new start in life and took a Bible and gospel booklet.
Praise God that He allows opposition, and yet seems to use that for His own purposes and the benefit of the gospel! Always be humble and gracious, but don't let opposition stop you from sharing the vital message of the gospel!
The first New Year's Eve outreach for the Christchurch team, so we didn't know what to expect. A free event, with entertainment, was being held at North Hagley Park, so we figured that would be the place to be to share the gospel with any willing to listen. We set up flip charts outside to catch the flow of people coming and going. And the evening of outreach was a success with many quality conversations occurring.
Before even arriving at the event, 3 sets of gospel conversations were had by 1 of the team in Cashel Mall - there weren't many people there, but those that were were open to a chat. The "Can You Name Ten Beers?" tract was used to get conversations rolling - with much success. An example of that was when 4 young men walked passed and were asked that question. They enthusiastically worked together to get 10 (and wouldn't stop till they had!). They were very engaged. The question was then posed: "Can You Name the Ten Commandments?". The first one they came up with was lying - so it was asked: "have you lied?". The next one they said was stealing... The script was writing itself! And these 4 young men, became sober as an understanding of the serious nature of sin dawned on them. They went to a Catholic school and they started saying: "but God forgives, right?". It was then a privilege to explain how God can forgive, through Jesus taking the justice we deserve on the cross, and rising again to give us hope! And then carefully explaining that we are saved by God's grace, alone, through faith, alone, in Jesus, alone. May they heed the call to repent and believe the gospel! Many other conversations were had, including 1 long discussion with 2 young men (pictured).
Thanks to the Timaru team for the help with this outreach! Looking forward to doing it again next year, God willing.