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).
An interesting week! My first trip away of the season. I headed to Wellington to attend an OAC conference. It was really good, well worth the time - I think. Although I was dreading going. I hate routine change. And, being the first trip of the season, it was a reminder of how quickly time is passing. I really enjoy the routine of winter outreach!
Believe it or not, they let me run a workshop at the conference (the theme was ‘worldview’). My brief was to talk about the innocence / guilt worldview. Now, I’m not sure how well I did in running a workshop, because what I ended up doing was just preaching! (Sorry about that!) I’m so passionate about this, that I couldn’t stop myself. But I learned how to run workshops by watching Jeremy do his thing (great stuff). One of my goals was to communicate the importance of checking questions in gospel chats. And I think I succeeded in that goal, as attendees talked about how they applied that in their chats during the street outreach that occurred later in the week.
It was awesome being able to spend time with like minded people, get to know them better, and compare notes.
The street outreach (on Thursday) was amazing. We gathered at various spots on Cuba Street in Wellington. One group had a Noah’s Ark display up. There were two tables running doing surveys (for chocolate bars) and using that as a launching board for gospel conversations. There were sketch board open airs happening - one which was accompanied by musicians.
I had a couple of guys who were keen to pair up with me for walk up conversations to glean new techniques - esp. in regards to checking questions. I was happy to oblige. My, the people on Cuba Street were certainly diverse. From all walks of life! I had a fantastic time in the 2 hours we were there. Made me think about moving to Wellington! ;)
I got a rejection initially, but I just moved on, and managed to get into a great chat with a young man who worked in one of the stores (he was on a break). Most of the discussion was centred on discussing, “who is God?” - but I was able to go through the law and touch on the gospel. He had to go back to work before I could get into check questions.
So, I tried again, and got into a wonderful chat with a young man. He seemed impacted by the simplicity of the gospel, and this time I was able to work through all the check questions. He ended up taking a gospel of John - he loved the graphics on the cover.
We moved up to the intersection and I had a number of great chats there. A young couple came to understand the gospel (again, check questions were deployed). And then I approached an Asian couple. They were moving from Christchurch to Auckland, and happened to bump into me in Wellington. The main speaker was from China, but had moved to NZ because it was more accepting of LGBT (they were gay). I ignored that, and just took her through my standard questions. It was interesting, because it was like she had never considered the logic I was giving her before. She was genuinely stunned (jaw dropping) as she had to admit what I was saying made sense. I had just moved to the law, asking if she had ever lied, when a passer by who heard the question came and interrupted. He was a philosopher and wanted to engage. Sadly, it killed the conversation I was having. I left the interrupter with the Christian I was paired with, and went to quickly finish the chat with the Chinese couple (go through the law, explain about Jesus, and offer tracts, which were accepted).
I then went back to the Interrupter. He tried to use his philosophical magic, but I wouldn’t let him, I would answer what he was saying, and then go back to what is important: the gospel! It ended up being a great chat, even if he was rejecting the gospel.
I had a number of other chats. So many people, so much opportunity. My brain was buzzing by the end of the outreach. God is so good to involve us in his mission in this world, to bring glory to himself through his justice and his mercy! His patience is amazing.
The conference finished on Friday and I hopped on a train back to Wellington. I made it to the city by lunch time, and was able to join Craig for 30 minutes of outreach on the waterfront. So many fish! We handed out tracts, and we both got into conversations (pictured). I actually had time to have two chats. The first is pictured, and then another one. They both went well in the fact that the people were happy to talk and came to hear the gospel.
At the airport, I was able to spend some time in online outreach before catching a plane back home to Christchurch.
On Saturday I also worked online. I had a great chat with a young lady from the UK, who grew up in Moldova. When I was taking her through the law, she defended her goodness quite strongly, and I expected her to quit the conversation. But she didn’t, and we ended up talking for over 45 minutes. By the end of the chat, she was understanding the gospel, and she had made a profession of faith. I pointed her to her Bible and a good local church in her area (and not an Orthodox one that she had grown up with).
On Sunday afternoon I went to the streets after church gathering. It was really cold! But I had my puffer jacket and Beanie on. In 1 hour and 15 minutes I had 3 wonderful gospel conversations, in spite of the cold. The first was with a young couple, who came to grasp the gospel, but not willing to commit at this stage. The 2nd was a fantastic chat with a young man who has recently moved down from Nelson. He had a Christian background, but was sadly articulating works for salvation. He is looking for a church, and so I encouraged him to consider the church I’m a part of. He left with a tract and a contact card, I really hope to see him again. Finally, I had a follow up chat. The kid had not remembered the gospel from our first chat, but I could see why: he is not interested, because he loves his sin. I was able to show him this, and then plead with him again on the gospel. He accepted tracts. I hope to see him again, God willing.
Looking forward to a standard week of outreach next week! Just over 3 weeks and I’ll be heading to the Philippines again. I can’t believe it. Time is going so fast! Next thing you’ll know, we will be in eternity. Giving account for our talents, and enjoying God forever. Are you ready?
In the picture, the guy Andy was talking to was in church this morning. He has just moved to Christchurch from the North Island. Friday was his first day in Christchurch, and he bumps into Andy. Turns out he is staying in the same suburb as Andy. And, he first heard the gospel through a street evangelist where he used to live up north. No coincidences. How encouraging is that!
Roger was with me in Riccarton on Tuesday. Roger, John and Andy and I were at the Bridge of Remembrance on Friday. Susan joined me on a nice spring Sunday afternoon in Cashel Mall.
Let me go back to Tuesday. Ya know, the previous Tuesday’s outreach was so good, that’s all I can remember at the moment. Hold on, it’s slowly coming back to me. I remember the last chat was with a young couple, the guy was giving really good answers to my questions - he knew the gospel already. That’s right! The guy before him heard the gospel but wasn’t interested. But the guy before that, heard the gospel and seemed to be deeply impacted. Those three chats rolled one into the other. I remember that I was starting to lose my voice a bit after the second one. I had to pull my drink bottle out and cool my throat. I was tired as I saw the young couple coming past, so I half heartedly said, “would you like to try the good person test?” and pointed to my flip chart. To my surprise, they said, “yeah, why not”. There is just no lack of gospel opportunity. Who knows what will be the result. Maybe the one who wasn’t interested will come to Christ, after all the gospel is the power of God for salvation. Our job is to plough, sow, and water. God will bring the increase. All glory to him!
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I had a series of 4 stellar gospel conversations online. The last of those 3 the people I was talking to even made professions of faith. The first was from Northern Ireland (he was persuaded but said he needed time to process), second from Brazil, third from Cyprus (a couple of girls, one Catholic, and one Jewish), and finally with a young man from the Netherlands.
The street work on Friday was great, nice weather. I’ve already mentioned Andy’s encouragement at the start. I had a number of conversations: 1) A hyper charismatic (religiously) who got offended when I challenged them on the basis of their salvation. They talked about miracles and the Holy Spirit, defended their righteousness, and no mention of Jesus - till the end. 2) A young man down from Wellington, happy to chat and hear the gospel, no visible interest. 3) I got to talk with my trans friend again. He had blue lipstick this time. He wasn’t offended when I reiterated that homosexuality is a sin, and I was able to continue labouring the good news. He also asked me how I dealt with hatred and opposition. 4) A barber on a break. He didn’t like Christianity because he falsely connected it to colonial oppression (he had a Samoan background). I worked to make him realise the universal truth of oppression (sin), but didn’t have time to get to the gospel (one of those chats where you really have to labour). Although, he rejected a tract at the start of the chat, and yet he was willing to take one as he left to go back to work.
I also had encouragement. I got to talk to someone I knew from a church I was a part of years ago, down in Timaru. (He was out talking with the homeless.) He was showing me the Bibles he gives away when I noticed he had a single gospel tract (pictured). It was one that our team had shared years ago! I could tell, because the website address had been manually stamped by my family! It encouraged me, because people do keep them. They are silent missionaries. Our labour is not in vain.
I had a great online chat on Saturday afternoon. The young lady started out as an atheist. But it was emotional rather than intellectual, because as we started dealing with the truth her Christian background started to reveal itself. She ended up reading me scriptures and talking about her church. And yet, she didn’t understand the gospel. By the end of the 30 minute chat, I think the truth of the gospel was starting to become clear. It was a bit of a messy chat (non standard), but it was a good one. God save her!
Sunday’s weather was amazing! I’m going to have to start using sunscreen again. The outreach was good, but difficult and discouraging. It started out with a chat with a man who knew a lot about the Bible, but refuses to be part of a church. I gave him the benefit of the doubt to start with, but as the conversation progressed, it became clearer and clearer that he was subtly trusting in works for his justification (it was difficult because I had to decipher all the words he used – the same words I use, but he had different meanings). I ended up having to confront him in his error out of love. To my surprise he called me a calvinist, a ‘neo calvinist’ whatever that is. I was so surprised, because I wasn’t preaching Calvinism but the gospel. He even quoted John Piper positively, does he realise John Piper is a calvinist? For some reason I found this really discouraging - not sure why. I left him at that point. He talked with Susan for a bit while I went to distribute tracts to others.
Susan and I then paired for walk up chats. I got into a chat with 5 young people. A hard one, they were all in different places, and one of them kept taking control of the conversation and leading it on weird tangents. I was amazed they stayed for as long as they did. But I was able to share the gospel twice.
Had some other chats. Another week of God’s patience is complete. Thank you for keeping us in prayer.
What an amazing week! I hope this report will accurately capture how I’m feeling. I took the week before off, I simply rested, so I feel like a million bucks as a result. Physically, mentally, and emotionally refreshed.
Roger was with me on Tuesday in Riccarton. Andy, Dominic, Roger and myself on Friday in the city. I was in Riccarton on Saturday. Susan and Mike joined me in the city on Sunday.
On Tuesday, I set up my flip chart on the corner of Riccarton and Rotherham and prayed. I handed out a few tracts, when a young man with green hair approached. It turns out he had seen my flip chart while on a bus going past. He decided to get off the bus to come down and see what it was about! We fell into a good conversation when another young man went past, and stopped, curious as to what was going on.
Now, these situations can be difficult, you don’t want to lose a chat that is going well, but at the same time, you don’t want to lose the other person either! Amazingly, I was able to integrate the new person into the conversation and share the gospel with both. God is good!
There was an openness about the first guy. It turns out he had already been impacted by Nic Blackie’s gospel ministry at Cashmere High School. So encouraging! (Keep up the good work Nic!) He ended up having to leave, and I was left with the 2nd guy.
The 2nd guy had a Christian background but had rejected it. Yet, he was very willing to engage in the conversation and seemed impacted by the information he was learning. (He articulated works for salvation as his understanding of Christianity.) After a long time, he felt comfortable about opening up about his depression, and his struggle with sexual sin. We spared for a bit over the issue of homosexuality (I was making it clear it’s sinful). He ended up saying that he supports the LGBTQ community against hatred. I told him I 100% agree! I love those in the LGBTQ community. And I love them enough to tell them the truth. I get to talk to many people in that community. By the end of the chat, we parted on very good terms. Even though we disagreed, I could tell he respected me. And he was now understanding the gospel. I pleaded with him to repent.
I don’t know if my words have expressed it, but that was a very significant chat for me. I was so encouraged.
On Friday, I also had a very long conversation, over an hour. We started out at the bridge of remembrance. Andy was into a chat, and Roger had his flip chart up. So I decided to wander. I was feeling nervous, because approaching people to talk about religion is hard!
I ended up bumping into some kids, 2 of them stopped to talk. It turns out I had talked to one of them before, but he couldn’t remember the gospel. And so, I was able to go through it again with them. This time I gave church contact cards, as well as tracts.
I continued down Cashel Mall (I had crossed Colombo and I was nearly at High Street) when I approached a young man with headphones in. And this was the long chat I mentioned. He was very engaged right from the start. His response to my initial question of “what do you think happens after you die?” was, “I think about that all the time, and I’m so depressed because I know I’m going to die”. From there, I was able to show him how we can be sure of going to heaven. (How we know God is real, the bad news, the good news, and then into check questions). He asked lots of questions as he processed what I was saying and got it all straight in his thinking.
I kid you not, he was thinking through the implications so well that he came to the dilemma of ‘choice’ in salvation. He was upset because, “what if you didn’t approach me to talk to me!”, and “what if I share this with my friend, and she decides not to believe it?” I was able to clarify the tension between the reality that we must choose to accept God’s salvation, and yet, God chooses us for salvation. Ultimately, God chooses us first, and so our salvation does not depend on us! It truly is grace, and we can rest in it. And yet, right now, BELIEVE, accept this amazing grace of Jesus. Trust that he died for you. There is simply no room in the Bible for, ‘what if I’m not chosen’. Again, I did not prompt this out of him, he went to this naturally. In God’s wisdom he addresses this issue for us in the Bible.
The guy ended up making a profession of faith. But as the conversation continued, I could see he was wrestling with the cost. He opened up about sexual abuse in his life, he had forgiven the person, but his way of stopping it was to “allow sex workers”. This is not God’s way, God’s way is a lifelong commitment in marriage, between a man and a woman. He realised that in choosing Christ, he would also be submitting to Christ. The gift is eternal life, the cost is this life.
He accepted a copy of the gospel of John, and then we walked down the mall together talking about other things. He is from Spain, he had arrived 4 days earlier, and was visiting a friend. God brought him all the way across the world, to NZ, to hear the gospel. We have free will, and yet God’s sovereign will is never compromised. We parted ways at the bridge of remembrance (he got to meet Roger first). It was then that I checked the time. 3:29pm. The outreach was over! Andy and Dominic were still in a chat, which soon finished up.
Saturday’s outreach was great too. Shorter chats, but still no less powerful, because the gospel was shared. One guy followed along with the logic in quick order, it almost felt too quick, but as he was leaving I could tell that he was impacted by what he said, “you’ve given me insight I didn’t have” (or something like that).
Sunday was amazing. In church in the morning, Romans 10:1-3 was taught, and applied to prayer and evangelism. I came to tears in the final song as I considered the glory of the gospel. That Jesus would die on the cross for me! This knowledge gives me the zeal to get out and preach!
And sadly the cults were rampant in the city in the afternoon. The JWs were out as usual. But I had conversations with 3 sets of World Mission Society Church of God (a horrible cult) people. In fact, I was in a conversation with a drunk guy when a pair of them broke into my chat (I was annoyed). I know they use the Bible heavily, but I was surprised at how easily I could use scripture to counter their false teaching.
Mike was busy on his flip chart. As per the picture, Mike sent me a message “Hey bro, that convo with those 4 guys went great, 1 took a bible”. Susan and I paired up and did ‘walk up’. Susan had had a bad experience 2 weeks ago, and so this time I did the leading, and showed her tips on how to avoid unnecessary conflict. Yet, conflict is unavoidable. If you are going to be faithful in preaching the gospel, people WILL get upset. Keep up the good work Susan!
I could write more, the chats today were so good! But I’m out of time. Thank you so much for keeping the feeble ministry in your prayers. May the strength of God be shown through our weakness. All glory to God alone!
(PS I had no time to talk about the online outreach. So many good chats, people professing faith. So good!)
A full week of street outreach this week. Roger and Dominic were with me on Tuesday late afternoon in Riccarton. Andy, John, Roger and myself on Friday afternoon in the city. I was in Riccarton Saturday lunch time. And Susan joined me on Sunday afternoon in the city.
As Roger and I were arriving at our fishing hole on Tuesday, I noticed a guy on a bike talking with someone. Dominic was already there and into a conversation! Great to see. As I was helping Roger set up his flipchart (not that he needs help, I just like to serve him), Dominic joined us, and we prayed together. As we finished, I noticed three young men coming round the corner, and so I instinctively said, “would you like to try the good person test?” They gave me an inch, so I made the most of the opportunity: 1 started talking with me, and so Roger started engaging another, while the 3rd continued walking. The guy I was talking to started engaging, which was encouraging (he came to understand that he is suppressing what he knows about God). Sadly, the 3rd guy came back and gave him the look - he really didn’t want to stay and talk with us. But the guy I was talking to left with a tract - hopefully he decides to read it based on the short chat we had.
Dominic and I paired up, and we moved over to our side of the street (leaving Roger to his patch!) We were able to have 2 solid gospel conversations.
The first was with a young Indian guy. He is fairly new to the country and is studying health sciences at Ara. It was a great chat in the sense that I was able to go through the whole flip chart with him, and so Dominic was able to get the whole overview. This young man came to understand the gospel, and even made a profession of faith. But when I got him to count the cost (I invited him to church), he hedged. But he accepted a copy of the gospel of John (he said he would read it), a tract and a card for my church. He said he may consider it once he has had a chance to settle into his new life in New Zealand. May the law bring conviction, and the gospel conversion by the power of the Spirit.
Now, I fully intended to get Dominic involved in the next conversation, but to my shame, I ended up hogging the next chat! Two guys stopped and became very engaged. One was very postmodern in his thinking (we can’t know anything). It was a long chat, and we ended up going right till it was dark and we could see our breath as it was getting cold. The other guy started asking very good questions. Those guys left with cards for my church too.
I didn’t have time to take pics for that outreach, so I snapped a quick one of Roger just after we had packed up.
On Friday, I was paired up with John, we continued an important theological conversation that came from a gospel conversation we had last week. It’s great that, even though we strongly disagree, we are still able to understand each other, love one another, and continue to labour alongside one another.
Our first opportunity was with a young Maori guy. Initially he was taking offence. He was making assumptions about us, based on New Zealand’s colonial past, and the fact that we were obviously representing Christianity. It was like a volcano was going to erupt in him. Somehow I managed to defuse him. I showed him how logic is universal, and transcends religion and culture; I showed him that I wanted to talk about truth that applied to all peoples. He calmed down and I was able to briefly share the law and the gospel. He even opened up about the influence of Christianity in his relatives, even if he was rejecting it. It was a short chat, but a good one in the end. He left with a tract.
Next up we ended up getting into a chat with a Philosophy student and his friend. The Philosophy student was very resistant. At one point he was even shaking. And yet, even though I gave him many opportunities to end the conversation, it went a lot longer than I expected.
Back at the bridge of remembrance, John and I ended up splitting up. I ended up getting into a very long conversation with a young guitarist / vocalist / songwriter using Roger’s flip chart. I was able to share the law and the gospel, but they guy kept pulling the conversation to philosophical points. To my amazement, among other things, he expressed a struggle with the reality of the sovereignty of God in salvation! I was gobsmacked, because this is an important issue that Christians struggle with too! Yet, this guy was working hard in his suppression of God. Twice in the conversation, I had to point out: “you know what you are saying right? What you are saying is: ‘I am god’”. Our hearts are idol making factories. We hate the true God, because we want to be god. I wanted to end the chat, because it wasn’t going anywhere. But, by this stage, a fellow band member had arrived, and Andy was engaging him. So I kept my conversation going so Andy could share the gospel. Andy had a great chat! In the end, the guy Andy was talking to left, when the guy I was talking to didn’t want to leave, in spite of his resistance. Roger helped me with that chat, and by the time it was finally over, the outreach was over.
Roger and I ended up having coffee with a young guy keen on evangelism, but is subtly articulating works for salvation. It was a tiring conversation!
Please keep us in prayer as we minister to all quarters.
Saturday was great. It started out with a chat with a young Muslim, but that was interrupted by two high school kids who had talked to me at last year's Canterbury A&P Show. One of them wanted a selfie with me, for some reason. Maybe to mock? Maybe not? I was able to engage them both in gospel conversation and they took tracts.
Later I had a chat with an elderly gentleman, with a strong Christian background, but wasn’t understanding the gospel. He was too proud and confronted with some of the simple gospel realities I was presenting. He avoided them by talking about himself, sadly. He left with a tract in his pocket.
And this reminds me, that Dominic and I were able to share with an elderly gentleman on Tuesday too. The gospel is not just for young people. It’s for everyone.
I’m running out of time, but I just want to touch on the wonderful outreach I had today in the city. For the first part, I didn’t really have any down time. I caught up with a few regulars (3 of them), before getting into a long conversation with a young student doctor whom I’ve talked to a couple of times before. He is a transvestite (the first time I talked to him he was wearing lipstick and a dress). I shared the law and the gospel with him the first time I met him. And so today, he just asked me questions. He is resistant to the gospel, but at least he feels comfortable talking to me! I don’t hate him, and he knows it. And yet, he knows I think homosexuality is a sin. He knows I want him to accept that gospel, knowing it will change his life. He didn’t want another tract as we parted ways.
I went straight into a chat with a lovely Christian couple, and then from that I went straight into a chat with a young couple. He was open about the fact that he didn’t have an argument against the existence of God, but he didn’t care. I was able to labour with them both to an understanding of the gospel. It was a great chat.
By this stage, Susan was with me, and we spent the last hour of outreach in ‘walk up’. We were able to speak with a young French couple, Susan spoke with a couple of young ladies - one of whom took offence at God’s law, killing the chat. While I had a brief engagement with a young Christian man who went to ‘works for salvation’, before correcting with ‘Jesus’. Concerning, he left with a tract.
I’m taking a week’s break before getting into a busy summer of outreach, so it’ll be 2 weeks before my next report (God willing). God bless you as you are salt and light to those around you. Glory to God alone.
It’s report time again. Good weather during the week, but a very rainy weekend. So, only 2 street outreaches this week. Roger was with me in Riccarton on Tuesday; Andy, John and Roger joined me on Friday in the city.
There is no problem with going out in the rain. I’ve done it many times, and the harvest field is so ripe that opportunities always present themselves, even if standing under a shop front!
But at the same time, God is blessing us with an almost overwhelming amount of gospel opportunities online. We have face to face conversations with people, sharing the gospel with them and pointing them to the Bible and a local church. From that, TikTok and YouTube videos are generated. And that in turn generates people to come to us, via Instagram Messenger, with questions, and that always turns into a gospel conversation, leading to people being pointed to the Bible and a local church.
This morning, before church, I spent a couple of hours sharing the gospel via Instagram Messenger. As per the picture, there were 1040 unread messages, not including new message requests. Each unread message represents a person waiting for a response from us in a gospel conversation. This brought the reality of the ripeness of the harvest field to mind. And it’s not only online; on the street, there is limitless opportunity to share the gospel!
Yes, of course we should be sharing the gospel with those within our natural spheres of influence: friends, family, work mates, etc. But, in the sense of the # of people you can reach, the opportunity is always going to be limited (it’s a long term game). But when we intentionally go out to find gospel opportunities (a numbers game), the opportunity is limitless. We need both, no doubt. Of course we want to reach our friends, family, and work mates, etc with the gospel. But if we don’t also be intentional in reaching out beyond that, the church will miss opportunity to glorify God.
The foundation is Christ and his word: the Bible. By the power of the Holy Spirit, through prayer, we can overcome our fears in spiritual warfare to bring the gospel to the lost. All to the glory of God alone. This applies to the church, families and individually. Teach the Bible, pray, and share the gospel. All in reliance of the triune God of the universe, who shows his strength through our weakness!
Anyway, enough rambling. I’m struggling to remember the details of Tuesday’s street outreach (I’m writing this on Sunday). I think it may have been a bit of a slower outreach. But I had a familiar face turn up. A young man who I think has been to a few Tell Me Conferences turned up to investigate the street outreach. He ended up joining me for about half an hour. In that time, I had a young soldier and his girlfriend (wife?) stop to find out what we were doing. They were willing to give the good person test a try, although there was much hesitance on their part. Many people try not to think about the difficult realities we were discussing. He tried to buck away from it. But I was able to get him to stick around to at least hear the gospel, if not understand it. They didn’t stay long.
I’m racking my brain, I’m sure I must have had other conversations, but I just can’t remember. I remember glancing over the street and seeing Roger busy. What a blessing!
On Friday, I paired up with John and we did some ‘walk up’ down Cashel Mall. We both had conversation opportunities, but they were awkward in their own way. We decided to cross Colombo St and head towards High St. I don’t often go that way. I ended up getting a conversation going with a young man from the USA, in NZ to play rugby. He had a Christian background, but he pointed to ‘being good’ as the reason he was going to heaven, and so a law / gospel conversation ensued. He became mildly emotional as he wrestled with the realities of the difficult truths we were discussing. He started asking hard questions in defence. One of them was: “what about those that have never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus, where do they go?” Now, I’ve got a stock answer for this, but I sometimes forget that the question is less intellectual, and more emotional (and a deflection). I tried to address the emotion as best as I could, but the intellectual answer is still valid and helpful, even though difficult. Here is the stock answer by the way:
Everyone, even those in the amazon jungle with no contact with outside society, know God is real in the same way: the universe proves the universe maker (Romans 1:18-20; Psalm 19:1-4). And, everyone knows they have done wrong: by conscience (Romans 2:14-16). Therefore everyone justly deserves hell. God is not doing wrong (in fact he is doing what is right) when he sends people to hell. But, by his grace he saves some.
So, someone who doesn't know about Jesus will go to hell. But, God is so merciful, he has asked us to go and tell everyone the good news!
The tensions in the Bible can sometimes be difficult to hold rightly. Christians struggle with this stuff. I struggle with this stuff. But the truths of the tensions in the Bible are there for a reason. They are right, good! But John and I had to sit down and spend some time discussing, and digesting these truths. The gospel, in one way, is so simple that a child can understand it, but in another, so deep, that a scholar will never exhaust it. Even today, as I was listening to the truth’s of the gospel being explained in church, I was in tears. Why does God choose me? Oh, the wonders of his grace!!
Later, John and I had an opportunity to share this grace with two young Indian guys.
I’ve been doing more training work online.
On Friday I was able to spend an hour with a young man from Malta. He has come to understand God’s grace and is now passionately sharing it with his friends. But he wants to get sharper! To my amazement, this young man has a stutter. I was so encouraged that he would be willing to train with me to share the gospel, in spite of his impediment. May this encourage you to face your constraints and fears and be prepared to share the gospel!
I was also able to spend about 45 minutes with a Pastor in Mississippi, who is writing a paper on sharing the gospel across cultural boundaries, online. I was able to explain what we have learned about the benefits and shortfalls of online evangelism, and the tools and rules we have put in place to manage this.
On Saturday, I had a 2nd session with a lady in the USA. I’m so encouraged to hear all she is doing, encouraging her church in evangelism, and leading training and outreach (flea markets, door to door, etc). In this session I was able to communicate the power of questions, both to 1) keep someone engaged (don’t monologue), and 2) check that they are understanding the gospel. I think she has much to process (I know it took me time!) God willing, she will be ready for a 3rd session soon!
I’ve been having some wonderful face to face gospel conversations online too. But I’m out of time to discuss them.
Come, join us in the harvest field. It’s so exciting! Come share in the joy of telling people about Jesus. All glory to God alone.
It was a public holiday on Friday, the weather was good, and the fish were swarming the central city. Maybe a lot of fish that wouldn’t normally swim in this hole too. I started out with prayer and then handing out a few tracts before going for a wander.
I made it to the square, it was good to see the OAC team busy there. I noticed a couple of skaters and decided to approach them, to my surprise I recognised one of them! I had talked to him before in a group setting. He calls himself Sarah. I said gidday, and we fell into a good long chat - about 1 hour. We never talked about sexuality - except that I once mentioned sexual immorality. He is sharp mentally, and so at the beginning of the chat we mainly discussed worldview with a focus on how we know God is real. I was then able to explain the law and then the gospel, and then we moved into a phase of conversation where he was asking a lot of good questions. He was clearly rejecting the gospel at this stage, and yet there was an openness of sorts. He accepted a gospel of John and a gospel tract. I suspect he will still read the book of John through his own worldview, and yet, God can change his mind. I pray that he does, and that I will get to see him again.
I made it back to Cashel Mall, looking at all the fish swimming past. All I had to do was reach out - it was so easy to get a conversation started. I talked to two young men. They were being a bit cheeky when one responded that we would enter a feast after life. The other said ‘Valhalla’. I knew they were both joking around with me, but I just rolled with it. I was able to share the law and the gospel. At one point, one of them flared up ever so slightly, so I knew the message was getting through in spite of the joking. But he contained himself well. We parted on good terms.
I then turned and reached out to one of the many other people going past. It happened to be a tourist from Scotland. He was intrigued by my question of ‘what happens after life’, and he settled in for a long chat. He seemed to respond to what I was saying in a way, and yet there was a hesitancy. It turns out that when he gets back to Scotland he is going to university to study astrophysics, and he grew up Bahá'í. We ended up talking for about 45 minutes, and the law and gospel was shared. I thought he might accept a gospel of John too, but as he was travelling light he wouldn't have accepted one (it turns out I had run out anyway). But he did accept a tract.
So, that was about 2 hours of conversation, within about 2 and a quarter hours. I was going to pay for that with a pretty bad headache the next day. But it was worth it. I was so sad other believers were not able to join me. I may make this public holiday an official outreach for next year.
Before heading to the street, I had a great chat online with a couple of young ladies (live streamed here). It went for 45 minutes. They were in different places, and so I ended up focusing on the one who believed in God. I had to really labour through all the check questions. Not because she was stupid, but because the idea of heaven being a gift is not natural to our thinking. But it was encouraging that by the end of the chat, she really seemed to be correctly articulating the gospel. And the gospel is the power of God for salvation. I was encouraged to learn that one of my fellow church members had listened to this chat and been encouraged by it (he told me at church today).
I had a number of other great chats online through the week, including with a swearing Muslim from Saudi Arabia, two young men who followed the ‘script’ of the gospel and made a profession of faith. A great 30 minute chat with a young man from the UK who seemed genuinely stoked when he came to understand the gospel and exclaimed “I have to tell my parents about this”. Among other chats.
On Saturday, I had a one hour training session online with a lady from the USA. But it didn’t end up being a training session. She really likes to talk, and so she spent about 50 minutes telling me all about how she is encouraging her church in evangelism, and the outreaches she leads. I was so encouraged, I just let her talk! It certainly wasn’t wasted time, and we got to know each other, and I was encouraged to learn how she has been processing the way Ryan shares the gospel. We discussed the differences to the way she usually does it, and why. We are all teed up for another training session next week, even though she is older, and aware what she is getting into, she is very keen to try online evangelism!
I then headed to the streets, Riccarton. I had a fantastic chat with a guy called Danny. It was fairly text booked, and he seemed impressed by the gospel. He happily received a gospel of John (I had restocked my supply).
As pictured, the homeless lady is back. Her bed was there, but she was away for the time I was there. I left another tract, and hope to get into a conversation with her in the near future.
Sunday I had Susan with me in the city. She was very keen to do walk up chats, and so that’s what we did! We had many opportunities. Including with an Italian guy on Cashel Mall, a group of teens at the intersection of Hereford and Colombo, Susan talked to Simon (a regular) in the Square, and then we had a chat with a young couple of tourists from Germany. They were very friendly, and sadly very resistant to the idea of God being real - esp. her. Susan did share the law and the gospel.
Well, that’s a wrap for another week! Thank you to all those that support what we are doing on the street and online. It is very much appreciated. All glory to God alone.
Winter continues! But we had a break in the wet weather for outreach on Tuesday (Riccarton with Roger) and Friday (City with Roger, Martin, and Andy). The weekend was very wet again, so I just worked online.
But, the two outreaches were phenomenal. Busy, no lack of opportunity! I came away from Tuesday’s outreach in joy! Part of me is happy there are so few Christians out joining me, that just leaves more opportunity for me! But, of course that’s not right. There is more than enough opportunity to share the gospel with the lost - come join us! You are missing out in this joy.
So, the highlight conversation from Tuesday was the last one. Two young lads went past. I didn’t think they would be interested, but they surprised me by stopping. There was an openness (respectful engagement), but at the same time a resistance (not willing to submit to the God they know is real).
I used the flip chart, but only sparingly, the conversation was basically me explaining the law and the gospel, and them hitting me with all the questions they had. I can’t be sure how long the chat went for, but I’d say 45 minutes? As they left, I noticed it was dusk, and it was cold. Outreach time was over!
I learnt something interesting from the conversation. At the start, I could tell these guys weren’t dumb, and so I said, “I’m not going to argue from what I don’t know, instead, I’m only going to rely on what I do know - no god of the gaps.” They were happy with that. But by the end of the conversation, as one of them was fighting to keep the wraps on their suppression of God tied down, drifted into what we don’t know: “But, in the future, we could learn something that proves there is no god”. I instantly went back and said, “hold on, I told you at the start that I won’t argue from what I don’t know, but only from what I do know. You are now appealing to what you don’t know”. It was an accidental set up, but it was powerful, it hit home, and he struggled to keep his composure (but to his credit, he did).
I pleaded with them both to repent. And they both took tracts, “everything I’ve said can be summarised into this little 8 page cartoon”. That’s how simple the message of the gospel is.
Earlier I had some interaction with 3 youth’s. The young lady was very sharp intellectually, but I don’t think she realised it. Her rebellion against God was sophisticated, and yet simple minded. I instinctively knew that it wasn’t wise to engage her further, as it would just lead to intense heat and no fruit. I let them go, after a simple gospel explanation, and with tracts each.
Earlier in the day, while online, I connected with a lady from the USA. I had a 19 minute conversation with her, in which she came to tears. She professed faith in God early in the chat, but it was clear that she didn’t really understand the gospel. You have to be gentle in these situations, because if you are too direct “you aren’t really a Christian”, then they just get offended and walk away. So, I laboured with her to try to get her to see what I saw for herself. Eventually she did flare up in protest, but I didn’t back down, and I made it clear I wasn’t backing down out of care for her. As we continued to talk, I was surprised to see tears start coming down her face. She opened up, and revealed her struggle: she is in a church that teaches baptism in the Spirit and tongues for salvation. She doesn’t ‘feel’ the Spirit, and so she concludes she is not saved as a result. I was able to bring the balm of the true gospel. She continued to weep. It was a special chat. She thanked me for what I was doing. When I suggested she look for a church that teaches the gospel and the Bible, she was eager to take down the details of how to find one. I was very encouraged.
Later in the week, I had a 1 hour online chat, with a young man and his friend. It was funny, because his response to my question, “what do you think happens after life”, was to say, “You’re on, I want to talk about this… hold on, let me move my mouse so I don’t accidentally skip you”. He was all questions and resistance initially, but I found an opportunity to swing to the law and suddenly I had control of the conversation. I shared the gospel, and then moved straight to my first check question. He instantly got it wrong, and when I pointed that out he understood, “Oh, man, this takes time to correct your thinking”. Actually, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. I continued working through the checks. He kept getting them wrong, but this just caused him to process and correct his thinking. By the end of the chat he was not only articulating the gospel perfectly, but he professed that he was “110% sure that he was going to heaven when he died, because Jesus died on the cross for my sin”. Both he and his friend were grateful for the chat, and were willing to start reading the Bible for themselves and find a local church.
Friday’s outreach in the city was amazing.
I had Martin (from Hamilton way) with me. We arrived at the outreach location, and I instantly spied someone who I thought would be good to chat too. She was! And we ended up talking for exactly 1 hour! She claimed to be open, but very much hated the idea that God was allowed to make rules and tell her how to live.
I went for a wander, and encountered 3 young people at the corner of Colombo and Hereford. I’d apparently talked to 1 of them before (but I don’t remember it), he said, “Faith that Jesus died on the cross for your sin”! Well, he had an understanding, but it was clear he wasn’t doing that - he didn’t want to chat. But 1 of his friends did. I was able to give a short gospel presentation, at the end of which, he asked, “can I give you a hug?” No problem! What a blessing. He really seemed to appreciate the chat, and he left with a gospel of John. And all 3 of them left with tracts.
I got another hug later on, from a streetie, also whom I don’t remember - but he knew my name! He even remembered the gospel too. We talked for a while, I’ll work on remembering his name, and hope to see him again.
Well, I’m out of time to write further. Thank you for praying for this ministry, and please, come join me out in the harvest! It’s such a joy to labour in it.
A full week of street outreach this week. Roger was with me on Tuesday in Riccarton. Roger, Andy and myself on Friday in the City. I was in Riccarton on Saturday. And then Mike joined me in the City on Sunday afternoon.
The forecast for Tuesday was for rain in the evening. Roger was keen to get out, and so we did! But sadly, the rain came early. I didn’t bother with my flipchart, hoping to steal chats with people in sheltered spots.
But the outreach was worth it! I managed to get into a short chat with three young high school students. One of them took the lead in the talking, but another one of them seemed to be soaking in the gospel. But, thinking of the talker, he started out very agnostic, and so I was surprised to learn he was actually a church goer. It’s a reminder that we need to keep the gospel, front and centre in our churches and our family devotion times.
We had a couple of Police officers come on the scene. But thankfully it wasn’t because of Roger or I. A homeless lady has been camping in Riccarton (I think I’ve mentioned her in previous reports), and she has taken up residence where we do outreach. It turns out people have been laying complaints, and so the Police want her to move on. But she won’t. Even in the rain, she is sleeping on the sidewalk (pictured). It’s so sad. There are no simple solutions to issues like this. You can’t help people that don’t want it. I’ll pick this thread up again later in the report.
The rain became heavy, and so Roger and I decided to finish up the outreach early.
Friday’s outreach was amazing. All 3 of us had stellar gospel conversations. Roger had a young couple go to tears on him (in a good way). And Andy had a lady go to tears as well - although she was a Christian, tearing up about how good God is! He is indeed!
I went for a wander, and ended up encountering a young man outside the KFC on Colombo Street. He seemed primed for the chat. He was down from Auckland visiting family, and he had time on his hands. He’d gone to a Catholic school, and believed in heaven and hell. But not surprisingly he was trusting in his works for salvation. He heard the law, and then the gospel, and then we worked through the suite of check questions I normally use. He kept getting them wrong, but each time it was just a learning opportunity for him. He really seemed to come to grasp the gospel through it, and he seemed genuinely stoked by it. He lived in Southern Auckland, and so I pointed him to South City Reformed Baptist Church and gave him a gospel of John. What a joy to be able to deliver the good news of Jesus!
There were other great chats, including one Andy & I teamed up with a couple of kids walking past. And at the end of the outreach I had a wonderful five minute chat with a young man who also seemed primed and ready. The chat finished just as his friend came from a shop and was ready to move on.
It really felt like people were praying for us on Friday, so if you were, thank you! And please keep us in your prayers! This ministry will be ineffective without the power of Spirit, through the prayers of the Saints!
Saturday was bright and sunny. The homeless lady was still there (yes, I know her name). And so I set up my flip chart on the other side of the street. I had some good chats, including with a soldier and his friend, and tracts were distributed. But I kept thinking of the homeless lady, she was sitting in the sun, and seemed to be having a conversation with herself, but then she lay down on her bedding and went to sleep, eventually flicking the top blanket over her head (pictured). But before she did that, I went over to her side of the street to hand out tracts, and I was able to say hello. She was friendly in response. That’s good, ice broken. Next time I see her, I’ll try engaging more, and see if she is open to conversation. Since she was asleep when I left, I left a gospel tract for her, beside her soft toy.
Sunday was sunny, but bitterly cold. It was like the wind was running over ice! I focused on tracts and conversations at the corner of Colombo and Cashel. The JW’s took the sunny side, so I took the other!
When Mike turned up, he had something new with him! He has been designing a new flipchart stand - well, God has been designing. His design didn’t work, but amazingly, the very thing that was breaking his design, ended up being the very thing that made a stable stand (when used in a different way)! God is sovereign!
Mike set up the stand, and had the honour of getting into the first chat with it (pictured). While that was happening, other people started stopping to look at what was happening (pictured), and so I was able to get into a good conversation with them. I’ve been using the flip chart for years, and it’s such a powerful tool.
Well, that’s a wrap for another week. This morning, I processed a few Instagram direct messages. At the time, we had over 450 unread messages, and nearly 70 new message requests. Each one is a gospel conversation. We now have 8 people working to share the gospel with all these people. The online gospel opportunity (needGod.net) that God has blessed us with is amazing, and we get to point every one of them to a local church. And it’s very apparent where in the world more local churches are needed. We need more pastors / missionaries to be raised up to plant churches in these locations. The job is not complete! Till the nets are full, go serve your King!
Another week of God’s patience, that could run out at any moment.
And I just witnessed this online evangelism stat pop up, we have just hit 10,000 hours in gospel chats as a team:
Team Milestone: Had 10,000 hours in chats as a team across 43,997 chats in 2 years 3 months!
191 Countries reached (76%). 58 Countries to go!
All glory to God alone.
Well, in regards to the street work. This week I was at all the normal outreaches, except Riccarton on Saturday - due to rain.
On Tuesday afternoon, I was in Riccarton with Roger. I had significant chats with people from overseas. They came to hear the gospel! One of the guys was from Chile (if I heard him right) and another from France. They were both open to a conversation, but they were both resisting the gospel due to idolatry (they want to make God rather than acknowledge that God made them). Yet, they both clearly heard the law and the gospel.
Roger was busy on the other side of the street. As the outreach came to a close at 5:30 pm, I noticed that whoever was talking to Roger was being pretty intense. In his face. I packed up my flip chart a little early and headed over to see what was going on. Sure enough, an Atheist was in attack mode - Roger was holding his own. Ya know, most of the people I talk to are not Atheists - it’s logically silly to hold that position. I want to push this guy back a bit, and couldn’t help joining the fray (verbally). I could tell the guy and his friend were not open to reason, and I could give a fair guess why: again Idolatry - ‘I want to be god and make the rules’. So I shut the conversation down, with an offer to continue the chat online. They both received tracts with how to get in touch.
One of my daughters has started a job at McDonald’s in Riccarton mall just round the corner from where we outreach. I had to wait for her to finish her shift, and so I shouted Roger some McDonald’s so we could catch up while I waited.
As we were talking, suddenly a fight broke out behind Roger. Right in the food court, in Riccarton Mall, about 15 teen guys started having a very serious fist fight. It was horrible. Chairs were thrown, children were crying, people were standing round stunned, or trying to calm things down. I was one of the stunned ones, Roger was in there trying to stop it. I felt very unsafe. The fight went for at least 10 minutes. And it moved up and down the mall. Security didn’t seem to be able to do anything to stop it. I took some video footage as evidence, and then I called the police (yet again).
I felt angry. I wanted to do something about it. I could see some of the problems, and political policy started formulating in my mind. Yet, as essential as sound political policy is, it’s nothing without getting to the root of the issue. The root of the issue is sin. And the only solution is the gospel. This motivates me, even more, to focus on reaching people with the good news of Jesus. It’s God’s will that his mercy be demonstrated, and we need to be praying that his will be done, and get out to proclaim the gospel! God, have mercy on my city, nation, and the nations of the world!
Finally the fight stopped (or moved out of the mall, I don’t know), and things started to return to normal. To my horror, a couple of the kids came back. They were looking for a phone that was lost. They should be in prison after what I saw them do. One of them was a chair thrower. One of them approached me to ask if I’d seen the phone. I gave him a tract and asked if he believed God was real. “Yeah, I believe in God.” I was angry, and so I said, “So, do you believe in hell?” There will be consequences for our actions. My daughter finished work and I didn’t want her near these guys after what I had witnessed. I queried the security guard as to why they were let back in. He seemed to think they weren’t at fault!? Out on the street. As I was walking towards my car, with my daughter, I spotted another group of them. I didn’t feel safe. It took me a few days to process this. The gospel is the ultimate solution! I want these kids to know God's mercy. Yet, God will also be glorified in demonstrating his justice.
Friday (Roger, John, Andy and myself) and Sunday (Susan and myself) the team was in the city.
On Friday I was saddened to talk to a lady with a Christian background. I try to be really gentle in checking gospel understanding, but she gave me the anti-gospel (works) as the reason she gets to heaven. When I gently tried to point this out, she doubled down. Resistant and not open to talk about it. I ended up having to shut down the conversation. I also received ‘tracts’ from 2 different people. One was against a cashless society. The other was against vaccine mandates. I was able to get into a conversation with the anti-vaxxer, but she didn’t want to talk about the deeper issue of what happens after life. The thing I learnt most through the Covid period is how to love those I strongly disagree with - and I told her this.
Sunday was cold, but Susan and I had some good opportunities to engage people with the gospel, through conversation and tracts. We weren’t far from the JW’s with their stands. And I caught them glancing at me multiple times. I think they were able to hear the gospel conversations I was having. I hope to see them again, and God willing, have meaningful gospel conversation directly with them too. May God open their eyes. Have mercy on our land!
Only one street outreach this week: Friday afternoon in the city. I decided to let Riccarton lay fallow for another week. Roger should be back next week and looking forward to joining him on Tuesday, God willing. The weather wasn’t the best today, and so I decided it would be more fruitful to work online - we are really busy on Instagram. I spent a whole hour this morning just processing new message requests! Every single request (generated by the online content we produce mainly on YouTube and TikTok) is a gospel opportunity, which is amazing, but please pray that we would have wisdom, as always, in ministering to these people. That they would be saved and knitted into a local church!
Anyway, this should be a short report, as I only have one street outreach to write about! I was with Andy on Friday. We go back a long way now, and have been working together in evangelism to God’s glory alone. We are so different, but we compliment each other. I am so blessed by his friendship!
We prayed together before getting into it. As we were praying, I noticed two people who I thought would be open to a chat, but I know how important prayer is, so I let them pass. God is sovereign. Once we had finished praying, I looked up, and I noticed an interesting young man walking past, he looked like a busker - a juggler. I instantly took the opportunity to engage him, he responded and came over and the 3 of us fell into an easy chat about his interest: juggling. Andy can juggle too as it turns out! So they took turns to demonstrate their tricks. I asked about his day job, and then he asked what we were up to. That was my opportunity to swing it. I took the direct approach (it’s always best to be upfront and not beat around the bush), “we are Christians out to share about Jesus”. He had suspected as much, he figured we were either Christians or JWs. He said he was a Christian himself, and even mentioned the local church he was at. I kept it light, because I didn’t want to come across as the ‘Christian Inspector’, so I was just honest in saying, “Hey, I talk to a lot of people who say they are Christian but who are subtly missing the main point, please allow me to check, why do you think you’ll go to heaven when you die?”. He thought about it for a second and his natural response was to go to his good works - not the right response. But just because they don’t give the right response initially isn’t an instant red cross! I gently tried to probe, after about 30 seconds, he went to the right answer: Jesus. We were then able to discuss it, between the 3 of us for the next 15 minutes or so. After teasing out the details, he agreed that he was subtly trusting his works for salvation. He seemed to have a couple of penny drop moments as Andy and I worked through some check questions with him. He seemed to really appreciate the chat. We parted ways with handshakes and pointed him to Romans 3, 4, and 5 (to go to the source of what we were talking about, not as a reason he is saved! ;) ). He walked off, in the sovereign hands of God. Our job is to share the gospel - it’s the power of God for salvation. But it’s God’s job to actually save - he is the power!
What’s interesting is, if I had broken out of our prayer time, and engaged the first 2 people, then I wouldn’t have engaged this guy. Who knows… God does. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Just do what is in your control: step out and share the gospel! Leave the rest to him!
But, the other thing that is interesting is this: we are so prone to forget the gospel! We need to preach it, not only to others, but to ourselves: all day, and everyday. Why do we forget it? It’s so natural to think about performance: most things in life are oriented around it. It’s so easy to slip back to “I” rather than “He” when it comes to salvation. But, we don’t only slip into this individually, but also as families and churches. We can become so focused on ministry that we lose focus on the main point. So this is not a rebuke, but an encouragement. Preach the gospel to yourself everyday. Don’t lose sight of the wonder and grace of the forgiveness of our sin found in Jesus. Don’t forget to preach this from your pulpit regularly. Jesus is the foundation and the anchor! Amazing grace!
To emphasise this point, I ended up having a similar conversation with a second person later in the outreach. Going to a good local church, but just missing the basics.
Andy and I had other good conversations through the outreach. I got to minister Christ to a young couple, and an older lady from Japan. Andy is pictured in what was a long conversation.
Earlier in the day, while I was online, I was able to share the gospel with someone who claimed to be streaming our conversation to about 4,000 people (if I heard him right). If that was true, who knows, maybe some of them will come to Christ as a result. It’s the simple message of the gospel that God can use to save someone. Be faithful in small things, and who knows what opportunity will come.
Thank you for your support, in prayer, for this street and online ministry. We really appreciate it! Glory to God alone.