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.
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.
One day, it's a drought, the next it's a down pour. That's how it felt between yesterdays outreach and todays. Yesterday, no one was interested in stopping for a chat, but today it was non-stop conversations! A shorter outreach today, as most of the team are away on holiday, and I am heading off for 2 days camping, this afternoon, myself. Praise God for re-creation.
The outreach started with a fire incident! Luckily it was a false alarm, but it did provide opportunity to hand out tracts.
After some walk up gospel conversations in Cashel St and Hereford St, I set up my flip chart at the entrance to Cathedral Square. This is a great spot on Friday's as there are lots of stalls and food carts in the Square.
Some highlight conversations:
1) This one was devastating: an older man was keen for a chat but shared that he had terminal cancer and only had 6 months to live! I shared my heart felt condolences, and listened to him share his story. But sadly, every attempt to swing the conversation to eternal life was swiftly shut down. And he wouldn't accept a tract. There is nothing more I could do, but while he is alive, there is still hope - I pray that God would continue to bring him upon the path of Christians who he will be open to listen to the gospel. It could be you. Are you ready?
2) I then had a series of conversations that all rolled into each other. It started with a young man walking right up to the flip chart and wanting to know what it was about. He seemed to understand the message, but, sadly, there was a resistance to it. Then another man on a bike stopped and wanted to know what it was about. He was willing to sit down and wait his turn! But when the first man had left, and the man with the bike had his turn, he also seemed to understand, and yet, sadly, also rejected it. Yet they both seemed to appreciate what I was doing. My prayer is that God would use the gospel seeds sown today - and the law, which ploughs the heart - to bring a conviction of sin and lead them to repentance and faith anyway. I've done my part, it is in God's hands. Finally, while I was talking with the man on the bike, an old work mate walked past and wanted to chat! I couldn't talk to both, and so, sadly, I didn't get to have that chat - but he did take a tract. When it rains it pours! ;)
The outreach ended with preaching in Cathedral Square in speaker's "corner". I started a bit earlier than normal, as a 2 man band has started playing when we normally preach on Fridays. But the local buskers tolerate us, and allowed me to share the gospel with any that could hear my voice. I was then able to have a follow up conversation with a lady who had listened. Our resident heckler turned up, just as I was finishing up (good timing!). I thank God for the freedom I had to share the gospel today. What a privilege it is to have this freedom! A work has been established in Christchurch, I want to encourage you to come out and get involved! No experience is required, God uses people of all gifts, abilities, and ages to share his simple message. Please get in touch today.
Today ended up being a day where few people would stop for a tract or to do the flip chart. But instead many conversations occured after simply approaching people to start a conversation. Yes, I know that sounds completely un Kiwi like! But I was surprised how open people were to it. And often expecting a rejection, I would get people very keen to talk about the important subjects of life! Now you might be thinking - that's easy for you, you are gifted at this, that's why you are an evangelist. No, I'm terrified of it, and I'm just as gifted as you (actually, I'm sure many reading this would be way better than me). But out of my love for God and people, I have learnt to overcome my fears. And so can you. You can do this, I encourage you to get involved with the Great Commission.
2 examples from today:
1) Twin guys were encountered and approached in Cathedral Square, they were open to a conversation and I made it up to the 3rd of 4 commandments of the law that show us our sin before they needed to leave suddenly. They took tracts, but I was sad that they weren't able to hear of the amazing grace of Jesus. But later, when I was in Cashel Mall with my flip chart, the twins and their family walked past! The family and 1 of the twins didn't want to stop, and kept walking, but 1 of the twins stopped, and wanted to know what the 4th question was! He had open ears as I was able to talk about the last of the 4 commandments: adultery (and just looking with lust is adultery of the heart!) and then, with the context of the law showing the seriousness of sin, I was able to share the good news of Jesus. Praise God that He directed the steps of this young man so he could hear the whole presentation. May He save him for His glory.
2) Feeling a bit discouraged from the slow day, and because I was feeling the fear of man, I decided to head for home 15 minutes early. Realising that this was not the attitude of a good leader, I ended up deciding to try handing out tracts to the people sitting in the mall as I was heading to my car. And I was so encouraged that the first guy I approached was very open and keen for a chat. I was able to sit down with him for about 20 minutes as he was waiting for his wife and children to come out of a shop. When he was young, he had been one of Jehovah's Witnesses, and so the conversation centered around the deity of Jesus and the reality of Hell, but the key thing that was discussed was the subtle but very important distinction between salvation through grace alone, and salvation through grace plus works. Through out the discussion, I always tried to come back to the serious nature of sin, and the gospel of Jesus - as it's only the gospel which is the power of God for salvation: Romans 1:16.
Photo: 1 of the few flip chart conversations of the day for the team. Did you know, that the Summer Sale is On Now?! Up to 60%! ;)
The first Boxing Day outreach for the Christchurch team occurred today. It's hard to remember a time when so many people were in Cashel Mall! It's wonderful to see the central city coming back to life as shops and facilities re-establish post the terrible earthquakes 8 years ago.
And with more people comes more opportunity to share the gospel. Labourers for the harvest required, no experience needed, please apply within! :)
So many conversations today were with people who had had a connection to Christianity but didn't understand the simple gospel message of the grace of Jesus. What an honour to have the opportunity to correct that. May God use our feeble efforts in sharing the gospel to bring salvation for His glory.
Rain! This was going to be a test: can effective community outreach occur in constant rain (it didn't stop for the whole 4 hours I was out today)? And the answer is: yes!
I had to do some walking before finding my first good spot, and I had some fruitful conversations there, before I got asked to move on as I was technically on private property! Of course I complied with the request, and took the opportunity to introduce myself. They took tracts!
I found a new dry spot further down the mall, but sadly there wasn't much foot traffic. When my friend Jermaine, of The Salvation Army Sydenham, joined me for the last hour and a half (thanks brother!), we ended up trying some new spots (see pic of Jermaine sharing the gospel with his new flip chart) and we found a really productive spot outside the bus exchange.
Security wouldn't let us use the flip chart, but after introducing ourselves and politely asking for permission, we were allowed to hand out tracts and chat with people about the gospel.
I'm so encouraged that God allowed us to be effective, even in pouring rain. May those that heard the gospel today come to know the grace of Jesus!
Finally, a shout out to St. Paul's Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church for providing me with free city parking - what an incredible blessing, that I'm so thankful for! The parking site also has the white chairs that commemorate the lives lost in the earthquakes. There is urgency to get the gospel out to people - please continue to pray, and please, join me out there!
Back to work today! 4 hours, all based in 1 spot (literally) on Cashel Mall, with pretty much constant gospel conversations for the first 3 hours (thank you Lord for the encouragement!).
At one point I even had a queue of people waiting to chat?! Lots of people out (and it's only a Tuesday), including many high school aged kids, due to the Christmas/summer holidays. Nice weather too. The harvest really feels ripe - if anyone has some free time to join me, now is a good time.
Wow, what an incredible afternoon out proclaiming the good news of Jesus in Cashel Mall and Cathedral Square! Many wonderful conversations occurred: some young men seemed deeply impacted, and agreed that today was the day of salvation and nothing was stopping them from repenting and trusting in Jesus. One of those young men, from the Belfast area, accepted contact details.
Yet there were others who didn't seem to like the message of Jesus.
We need to share with all - yet we need to do so with gentleness and respect -- we can't force our message on anyone.
This was highlighted today when multiple team members were approached by 2 brash young ladies who insisted that baptism and speaking in tongues were required for salvation (no; we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone, so none can boast, and God alone gets the glory). There was nothing gentle about their approach.
It was a wonderful reminder to the team about how not to do evangelism! With Gods help, may we continue to be good ambassadors for Him! Please pray that we will continue to be so. And please consider joining us! The Tell Me team would love to help you in taking your first steps.
I'm not under any illusions about how difficult adjusting to my new job will be. Yesterday was hard, I didn't want to get out of the car! But I did. And half way through I wanted to give up. But I didn't. It was cold and windy initially. And I had a "Christian" man get suddenly very angry with me - which I had to defuse.
But God allowed me to have some wonderful gospel conversations too! And I checked out some new potential locations for outreach.
I will be pacing myself with the view of a marathon, and not a sprint.
Will you please pray for me and the gospel outreaches I'm working on establishing? And, please, join me!
As I was driving into work today, I passed Ara and had the idea to scope it out as an outreach spot. Andy had the idea in the past and we had scoped it then - but it didn't come to anything. Can't hurt to try again! But as I made it to the campus - there was no one around, and then it clicked - the students will be on holiday! I had a walk around any way and prayed.
But heading back out to the street, I ended up having 3 great sets of gospel conversations right on the side walk - for just under an hour. 1 of those chats was with a group of about 7 guys.
The rest of my 4 hours out was fruitful. Some highlights: I had a long chat with a very thoughtful high school graduate, I bumped into some old work mates, and I preached in the Square which led to some follow up chats (Photo credit Damian).
I'll try 4 hours again tomorrow (Thursday). Prayers appreciated, and join me if you can (PM me).