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.
Thursday and Friday are my two busiest outreach days of the week. Glory to God, by his strength, we have made it through. :)
Thursday started with some Online evangelism. I had two fascinating conversations.
The first was with a guy who was happy to discuss the gospel (and related concepts) but who just struggled to understand what I was saying. I had to step back and take different avenues to try to bring clarity. And I just had to labour with this guy - which is understandable and fine. We need to be patient with people. Eventually, he was able to articulate some facts of the gospel to me, but I’m not sure if it was really taking hold.
The next guy I talked to was playing a computer game at the same time! So he was distracted by that. Yet he still engaged with me, and to my amazement, he seemed to grasp what I was saying pretty much instantly - answering my checking questions pretty much flawlessly!
It was an important reminder that the people we share with are complex and very different. We need to be attuned to them as a person when we are talking to them, and be willing to patiently labour with them on the most important subject anyone will wrestle with: what happens after life.
In the afternoon Andy & I were at the bus stops: Eastgate and Northlands.
I had a hard moment, where I was talking with a young female high school student. The traffic driving past was busy and backed up. Suddenly, a lady in a car called out: “Excuse me, are you ok?” She was talking to the girl, and the implication was obvious. The girl was as surprised as me and said: “yes, I’m fine?” I looked at the lady in the car, she glared at me, then drove off. I was deeply hurt by this, but sadly it comes with the territory. Thankfully I was able to finish my gospel conversation with the girl. She smiled and thanked me as she walked off.
Also, I had a follow up conversation with a young male high school student. He said he had seen a video of me on the Internet (trying to bring the gospel to the issue of abortion outside the hospital). He seemed supportive (“you have every right to do what you are doing”). But I also felt sad. It’s not easy standing up for what is right.
On Friday we were outside the hospital for our usual gospel + abortion outreach. A team of six which was encouraging. We had the usual attacks, but nothing serious. Someone called the Police and they came to have a chat with us. They confirmed that we weren’t doing anything wrong - which is encouraging. We will continue to be salt and light in our society in this regard - no matter the opposition.
Marty, Andy and I all open air preached in the Square.
Later some wonderful gospel conversations occurred in Cashel Mall.
I was having a wonderful conversation on the flip chart with two ladies, but then I had three high school kids stand right next to them - obviously wanting to talk to me. The two ladies ignored them and continued to engage in the gospel conversation we were having.
Once the two ladies had moved on, I was able to talk to the high schoolers. I’ve talked to at least one of them before. Sadly, they were there to “take me on”. They knew about my work standing against abortion (they went to the same high school as the girls who had attacked us outside the hospital two weeks ago), and wanted to argue. But they weren’t being logical. I gently tried to bring this up, but one of them just said, “what is logic?” I refused to really engage them for this reason. I’m not there to have shouting matches. I was frustrated, but I just tried to show that I cared for them, and tried to explain why. Oh God, please use our feeble efforts for your glory. Change people’s hearts by your gospel, Lord.
Later, Mike and I headed out for the evening outreach. There were a lot of people out and about - very encouraging. We had many wonderful gospel opportunities. We even encountered a Christian who had watched American Gospel on Netflix and was challenged and pondering - praise God.
The highlight from the evening outreach was an engagement with a guy and girl who were out distributing flyers for a strip club. We had two encounters during the night. The first was when they interrupted a potential gospel conversation. Then at the end of the night we got into a direct conversation with them. My initial reaction was to be snarky - but, praise God, I stopped myself. Because we got into a wonderful conversation with both of them. I could tell they were surprised by the way we were talking to them (gently, respectfully, yet faithfully). We ended up talking for about fifteen minutes on various topics, including the gospel. One of them said they would get in touch, and the other asked to take some of my tracts to distribute!
So, a wonderful two days of ministry - not without sadness, and many mistakes (Lord, forgive us!). I can’t wait to be in heaven with our Lord, but till then be encouraged to reach out with the gospel, no matter the cost!
Tuesday and Wednesday saw me in Riccarton, the central city, and online.
Riccarton is new to me now. With the road works complete, I have easy access to bus stops similar to Eastgate and Northlands. There is much opportunity for the gospel.
I was walking down Riccarton Road and I saw two high schoolers. As usual, I directly but confidently asked them what they thought happened after life and was quickly into a gospel conversation. They were engaged and open. They were from a Catholic high school, so I was very surprised when one of them got the question, “what do you have to do to get to heaven?” right! It turns out this young man actually has a protestant background. But they were both still keen to go through the law and the gospel with me. And they were very appreciative of the conversation.
Later I approached a group of young people and offered them tracts and got into a conversation. Sadly, it turns out they were all stoned. I could tell I was wasting my time trying to engage them. I hope to have an opportunity to talk to them in the future.
I asked a teen couple that were passing what they thought would happen after life. They smiled and said they had already had a long conversation with me a year ago. So I asked, “So what do you have to do to get to heaven?” The guy looked at me blankly for a second, then said, “you have to be a good person.” Wrong answer sadly. They didn’t want to stop and stepped into a shop and were gone.
I was able to share with three guys on skateboards. None of them had had a religious upbringing, and they were happy to engage in gospel conversation. They seemed to understand the logic, but sadly didn’t seem too interested.
I was able to chat with a Muslim guy who had tragically lost six friends in the mosque shootings last year! :( He seemed challenged by our brief conversation, but didn’t have the time to stay. He said he would read the tract I gave him.
I ended the outreach with a thoughtful young man who believed in reincarnation and denied a personal creator. I challenged him by explaining how he knew there was a personal creator. He seemed to enjoy the brief conversation, and said he would read the tract.
Wednesday afternoons outreaches started in Cathedral Square. The Christians I had met the previous week were there again: open air preaching, handing out tracts, and engaging people in conversations. I listened to some of the preaching and I was very impressed.
I managed to get into a lovely conversation with a rough looking guy. He had been deeply impacted by the JWs, and he liked to talk, so I had to patiently listen to him. It was fascinating getting a fresh insight into the implications of this deeply works based religion.
Whenever I got a chance to talk, I tried to move the conversation to the reality of hell, and the good news of Jesus and justification by faith. At one point, I was explaining how wicked I was - and he stopped me. “You aren’t wicked.”, he said. And so I had another opportunity to explain from Matthew 5 the serious nature of sin. Compared to a murderer - we look good, but compared to God, who sees anger like we look on murder - we look, well: wicked.
I then explained how a wicked person, like me, can go to heaven. I think it was having an impact. He took four different copies of gospel tracts from me.
Later, I joined the Aussie team for some online outreach.
Today I had a great run. My very first conversation (no skips first), was with a young Catholic guy who was hoping he would go to heaven. He heard the gospel, and proclaimed he would trust that Jesus had paid his hell fine from today - even after considering the cost. I pointed him to a local church.
I then got into a wonderful conversation with a physicist! Whoever it was (their camera was off) didn’t want to talk, just type, but they were a very fast typist. We had a very amicable conversation. They were a dream Omegle pairing. I had to be very patient, but I was able to swing the conversation to the law. But sadly, I became distracted, and that killed the conversation - I wasn’t able to share the gospel. But I did tell them about needGod.net.
I had a number of other great conversations. I give God all the glory for a fantastic outreach.
The weekend in Christchurch was contrasting. Cold and wet on Saturday, cold and sunny on Sunday.
So I decided to do online outreach on Saturday :) Some highlights include:
Having a wonderful conversation with at least three Catholic girls who became very engaged in the conversation. At one point a landline rang. It was loud and gave me a bit of a fright! The girls ignored it, they were so interested in what we were talking about. So I asked if they were going to answer it. One of the girls said, oh, I’ll go disconnect it. Sure enough, she jumped out of her chair. A few moments later and the phone stopped ringing. She came back, sat down and indicated I could continue! There were moments in the conversation where their jaws literally dropped, as they came to grasp the gospel. At the end of the conversation, one of the girls said, “thank you so much!”. It was a very heartwarming conversation.
I also got into a conversation with a Muslim law student from Morocco. Due to his English, the conversation was slow, but we both enjoyed trying to communicate as best as we could. I used Google Translate, and also some Arabic tracts that I had. I showed him the pages, and he read them!
I spoke with two Muslim girls from Kuwait - they were not interested at all. Sadly, they were mocking.
I spoke to a retired US air force mechanic.
With online evangelism you can reach such a diverse mix of people, who can all understand the same gospel message. It is such a wonderful harvest opportunity, and I praise God for it.
On Sunday afternoon there were a LOT of people out enjoying the sunshine and shopping. Thomas and I had a very busy outreach.
I spoke with large groups of high school aged kids initially. First a group of girls, then a group of guys. Those conversations were difficult, because each individual was at a different place in their thinking, and I didn’t have the energy to capture their attention so I could share the gospel well. Some would get distracted and disrupt the flow, and I was getting multiple competing questions. But I persisted.
A guy turned up late to the conversation I was having with the guys, but when his friends left, he stayed so I could take him through the flip chart. It was a great one on one conversation. He seemed to grasp the gospel, and professed that he was now trusting that Jesus had paid his hell fine. But as he walked off, he gave me a slight smile, which made me wonder if he was just playing along for fun. I noticed he walked up to three girls in the distance, he spoke to them for a bit, and then gave one of them the tract I had given him. Was he passing on the gospel? Or were they making fun of me? Either way, he heard the gospel. With greater knowledge comes greater responsibility, so I hope he was sincere!
Later, Thomas and I ended up getting into separate conversations. Mine was with a couple of guys from India. One of them understood the implications of the gospel, and became resistant because he knew his life would dramatically change if he accepted it. But he was open to reason and I was able to labour with him.
I finished with a walk up conversation with three young guys, who came to understand the gospel, but very quickly slipped back into the concept of works for salvation. This still amazes me. Repeating the gospel, and multiple checking questions are so important - which I did.
Thomas finished up with an odd conversation with three girls. One seemed interested and sincere. The second was laughing uncontrollably, while the third was just uncomfortable and walked part way down the mall to wait for her friends. I tried to engage the other two, but it didn’t work out. But Thomas was still able to complete the conversation with the first girl. Odd - but God knows, and the gospel was shared.
Thursday was cold and wet, and so I decided to stay home and focus on outreach online.
I had one outstanding gospel conversation.
It was preceded by a good & long gospel conversation, where the young man I was talking to seemed to grasp the gospel, and said there was nothing stopping him from trusting that Jesus had paid his hell fine. Praise God for that opportunity!
It had been a long day of outreach, and I was going to take a breather before moving into my next conversation. But Omegle was on automatic “reroll” and before I had a chance to stop it I was connected to a new stranger. I usually get a few skips before getting into another conversation, but this guy wanted to talk about “what happens after life”. So I was straight into another conversation.
The guy said he was Catholic, so he believed in heaven, hell, and purgatory. So I asked him what we have to do to go to heaven. He said, “you have to be a good person”. And then he explicitly added: “it’s got nothing to do with Jesus” (or words to that effect). My eyebrows raised - I had never heard that response before, I could tell I was going to enjoy this conversation, because the correct answer is the exact opposite!
So I gave him the good person test. He was floored - he instantly understood the logic of what I was saying. And so I then proceeded to explain the gospel. I ended by saying, “so, if Jesus has paid our hell fine, where does that mean you go when you die?”. He was stunned. He said, “heaven”. So I asked, “so, what is the reason why we go to heaven?” He just stared at me and said, “are you some kind of super philosopher?” I denied that I was, but I was overjoyed at seeing him understanding and it causing such a visibly positive response. We don’t need miracles, healings, or super apologetics… the gospel is the power of God for salvation! (Romans 1:16) He now understood that it was not our good deeds that get us to heaven, but Jesus’ death on the cross that pays our hell fine, getting us to heaven - the exact opposite of what he initially thought.
I continued by explaining:
I challenged him to respond to the gospel.
I then asked him if he knew anyone who wasn’t currently trusting that Jesus had paid their hell fine. He said yes, and mentioned a girl he knew who was an atheist. He said, “but she is a really good person…” But then he caught himself - I could see him mentally reprocessing the law and gospel conversation we had just had. I asked, “where will that person go when they die?” He looked at me and said, “to hell”. So I said, “so what can you do about that?” He said, “I need to tell her about Jesus”.
I left him some follow up details, including a link to needGod.net before we parted ways.
I sat back and rejoiced in praise of God and his amazing gospel and the privilege I have to share it with others. I’ve got no idea if this guy will respond to the gospel - all I can do is leave him in God’s hands - it’s God’s job to change hearts.
In contrast to the previous Friday, today’s outreach was calm.
The gospel + abortion outreach (with a team of four) went along with no major incidents.
It was great to see the food carts back in Cathedral Square! I really enjoyed open air preaching. I had two hecklers engage me (at separate times) and I instantly involved them in what I was saying. To my encouragement, they both backed down and left me alone! I continued to proclaim the glorious gospel in peace!
Roger and I then spent the afternoon at the corner of Cashel and Colombo sharing the gospel - no incidents! ;) Roger had conversation after conversation, and at one point asked if I had a Bible he could give away. Praise God. I had some great chats too. After the outreach, we enjoyed a KFC snack box (rather than a hot chocolate / coffee). It’s great to see KFC back in the central city, may the earthquake recovery continue bringing more people to hear the gospel!
I finished Friday’s outreach by joining the Aussie team online.
Our efforts are feeble, but God shows himself strong through them. All glory to God alone for any fruit.
Tuesday started with some online evangelism, before heading to Riccarton for the weekly street outreach there. Roger wasn’t with me this time, so I decided to dispense with the flip chart and roam.
The heavy road works are now mostly complete and I had great access to all the bus stops. I had a field day reaching many people with tracts and via conversation. I completely underestimated the amount of tracts I would need and started to run low.
I talked to a lot of people who had either claimed to have been Christian or were currently Christian, but didn’t know the gospel. Time and again people would look to their good works as the reason why they would be justified before God. And time and again I would have to coach these people to remember the real reason for our justification: a faith in Jesus' sacrifice for their sin. It is very deeply concerning.
The hardest conversation of the afternoon was with a guy who instantly said he didn’t want to talk to me, but then proceeded to engage me in conversation. He claimed to have been heavily involved with a major church in Christchurch: youth and music ministry. But then he said he went to university and did philosophy papers where the clear fallacies of Christianity were apparently exposed. So I proceed to explain how everyone knows God exists. It was a wrong move. This man didn’t need evidence, he needed the law. He became angry, and his pride rose. He said he didn’t want to talk to me, so I went to move on, but then he goaded me for walking away - so I returned. And then he proceeded to accuse me of a list of things I wasn’t doing that he was doing himself! I should have walked off right at the start when he said he didn’t want to talk. I felt like I had failed at my attempts to be extra cautious in light of the heightened tensions I’ve become acutely aware of last Friday. A poignant reminder of how easily we fail, and how desperately we should be praying for God’s help in everything we do.
Wednesday I turned up in Cathedral Square to see a group of Christians open air preaching! I had a chance to listen, and to get to know them. I hope to see them again, and get to know them better.
I then headed off to Cashel Mall for one to one gospel conversations. The highlight was a conversation with a young man from Indonesia with a Buddhist background, who was very open to me patiently explaining the gospel to him - it was very encouraging.
I finished the day by joining the Aussie team for online evangelism. A conversation that stands out was one with a young man who came to understand justification by faith, but who slipped back into thinking his good works would save him. This amazes me, and is a strong reminder at how foreign the concept of justification by faith alone is to the mind, and how important checking questions are.
All glory to God alone for the work He is doing!
Saturday was a lovely sunny day, and there were LOTS of people in Cashel Mall. It was great to have Andy Bell join me for the first outreach in the morning (before lunch), and I also ran an outreach after lunch. If you live in Christchurch, I’d love to have you join me and get involved on a Saturday outreach - get in touch! :)
We set up our flip chart down by the bridge of remembrance, where we were in the sun rather than the shade, and after praying together, we were instantly rewarded with someone curious enough to start a conversation with us. The guy was very smart, and it felt like God’s providence, cos Andy Bell is very smart too - and it led to a wonderful, long gospel conversation. The guy was smart, but he liked to take his time to explain what he was thinking, it was very tempting to cut him off knowing what he was going to say, but I did my best to be patient and respectful. Presuppositional apologetics was a powerful tool in this conversation. The guy ended up offering to buy as a coffee! But instead, Andy went with him and bought him one!
I stayed with the flip chart and marveled at all the people about. By this stage, two other religious groups had set up on either side.
I had a group of polynesian guys go past who were keen to try the good person test. I quickly learned that they were catholic. I had a wonderful opportunity to challenge them on how they are justified before God. If Jesus has 100% paid their hell fine, what role does works have in it? (Answer: none; works come after.) They understood after I used the fireman analogy. I then challenged them, if they were trusting in their good works in any way to be justified before God - it hit the spot, and they really seemed to appreciate the chat.
It was nice to be out on Sunday afternoon in Cashel Mall after finally being able to gather as a church in the morning for the first time since covid-19 lock down!
I had to be patient to get into conversations, in spite of there being lots of people walking past. In the first half hour, I had only had one conversation.
But my patience paid off, and I was able to have many good conversations for the rest of the outreach. At one point, 3 young people, one of whom was a satanist stopped to talk. Suddenly I had another 4 ladies stop with curiosity. I invited them to join the conversation and suddenly I was sharing with 7! And I noticed this big group was causing others to stop wondering what was going on. I was able to share the law and the gospel with all 7, before the 4 ladies had to go. I was left with the 3 original young people and I was able to continue with checking questions.
To my surprise the satanist said, “you’ve convinced me, I’m going to become a Christian”. So I challenged her to count the cost of doing so. After explaining, I challenged her, if she was willing to trust that Jesus had paid her hell fine, knowing the change this would bring in her life. She agreed that she wasn’t - yet - but I could tell she understood and was challenged.
I give God all the glory for the wonderful gospel opportunities this weekend! :)
As I write this, I’m feeling really raw. I think I had two of the hardest gospel outreaches in my life - ever. Positions #1 and #2. And they both occurred on the same day!
And you have to expect it, so I’m not complaining. God is with us, even through the hard days.
But it still hurts. After the first outreach, the gospel + abortion outreach outside the hospital, I said I felt like I was lying on the ground with multiple bullet wounds, and I was bleeding out. That was the 2nd hardest outreach ever. You can read about it here
It was about now that I noticed my throat was very dry. After facing that. I felt like I could face anything. I was very keen to get to Cathedral Square for some open air preaching. I didn’t know what was coming.
Our usual gaggle of hecklers had gathered, and I gladly stood up to start proclaiming the good news of the hope for eternal life found in Jesus. I’ve decided I want to get better at addressing the hecklers, so while preaching, I kept one ear on what they were saying, and did my best to try to address them, without losing the flow of the law and gospel presentation I was giving. Marty preached after me. Andy decided not to preach today, and so we moved to Cashel Mall early to start reaching people in gospel conversations.
Roger joined Andy and I, and it was a bit slower than the first few weeks after lock down - back to a normal amount of people on the streets. But we still had many opportunities to talk to people about hope.
It was coming nearer to the end of the outreach than the start when we had a disturbance. I was talking to three guys from the USA when I noticed Andy was in a bit of an intense conversation. Next thing I notice is that Andy is walking away - always a good option when appropriate.
My conversation with the three guys ended and then I noticed that the guy that had been hassling Andy was now abusing Roger who was in a conversation with two high school students.
I pulled out my phone and started recording, and told the man to please leave us alone, and that I was recording him. It had the desired effect, he stopped disturbing Rogers' conversation, and started abusing me instead. He was drunk. It was worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. Even worse than the abuse hurled at us at the gospel + abortion outreach earlier in the day.
The guy made a real scene. I told Roger to calll the cops. Little did I know, Andy had already done that, and I’m sure others were too. People were stopping to watch this guy verbally abusing me and others. I’m sure many of them were hanging around to stop him if he started getting physical.
And that threat was very real. I remember a moment when he started pacing towards me. I was stepping back, so he stepped forward. I realised what was happening, and I knew I had to stop, so I did. I looked him in the eye and said not a word. He came right into my face. I tried not to flinch, but I knew there was a very real possibility that he was about to punch me in the face. He didn’t - thank God for that. But the verbal abuse continued to stream out of this man. He was angry that we tell people that they are going to hell - something we never actually do, we are always careful to present the truth of hell in such a way that they draw their own conclusions in relation to the logic and context we give. And we then share the amazing good news of how to go to heaven - which is a gift of God. We don’t want anyone to go to hell, and that is why we are there, desperately pleading with all to get on the ark of Jesus.
Members of the public started getting involved. I remember two ladies coming to my defence. One said she didn’t agree with my religious convictions, but that no one should be talked to like this. I did my best to keep them back (I failed). The best response is no words, or calm words.
Finally the Police arrived, and I could start to breathe again. I was in shock, and I wasn’t thinking straight, but then I calmed myself and started responding to the Police. I realised I was still recording on my phone. So I stopped it and managed to play it back for the Police. They arrested the guy.
The Police were wonderful. I’m so grateful for them. Thank you so much! And thank you to all the citizens that stopped and supported us. I appreciated your presence - thank you.
We still had about fifteen minutes of outreach left, and I refused to shut down early. This was not going to stop the gospel. So we kept going till the scheduled end. I noticed Roger had another conversation with an elderly couple.
After the outreach, we gathered around hot chocolate and coffee to discuss and pray. What a day!
But it wasn’t over yet. Mike and I had scheduled our first evening outreach post lock down. They say these things happen in threes. What was going to happen during the evening?
But thankfully the evening outreach was uneventful, apart from many opportunities to sow gospel seed. It was a successful outreach, with plenty of people out and about.
The highlight conversation for me was a follow up right at the start with two high school aged kids out skateboarding.
I also approached a guy who said, “I know you, you are my neighbour!” I was shocked. It turns out he was my brother's neighbour - I obviously look a lot like my brother! I got to share the gospel with him and a lady with him.
And I haven’t even had a chance to talk about the wonderful gospel opportunities from Thursday at the Eastgate and Northlands bus stops. The highlight was a conversation with a kid whose grandfather is a pastor. It was a wake up call he needed to hear. I also got to share with his girlfriend. So many other fascinating conversations occurred, where God’s providence was on display. But I don’t have time to write about them. I need to get back to the streets, where the harvest is ripe.
God is with us. With Him, we can face anything. Oh, may there be fruit to bring glory to God alone.
Tuesday and Wednesday saw the Christchurch team in outreach to Riccartion, in the city, and online.
I had some wonderful opportunities online.
My very first gospel conversation was with a classroom of high school kids! I could only see a few of them, but I could hear many more. Their teacher must not have been there. With so many of them commenting on the conversation, it got quite chaotic. I wasn’t sure if anyone was really following. So I mentioned needGod.net early. I managed to get through the law and the gospel.
I got into a conversation with a guy with a strong accent. I thought he was putting it on and that he was making fun of me! But I persisted. He considered himself a Christian, but was trusting his good deeds to get to heaven. The conversation was a real wake up call for him, he seemed genuinely impacted.
I also had a couple of conversations with Muslims.
Heading to the streets of Riccarton, I had Roger join me.
I had four high school girls stop to chat. One of them was a Christian, and had a fairly good grasp of the gospel, and yet she didn’t. She thought some people would be good enough for heaven - even without Jesus. What it boiled down to was that she didn’t want her friends to go to hell, and rather than tell them the good news of Jesus, she’d come up with her wrong conclusion. I was able to use the flip chart to demonstrate the serious nature of sin, the severity of God’s justice, but also the amazingness of his mercy and grace. She was challenged, and she didn’t like it. Most of them took tracts - including the Christian girl (eventually).
I had a great gospel chat with some Phillipine kids - they seemed deeply impacted by the law of God, which is encouraging - and they heard the gospel.
I then had a guy stop who was very keen to chat. Long story short, it seems he was converted about six months ago, and has been avidly reading his Bible but is in some desperate need of some sound discipling. The conversation turned quite pastoral, but I had to be careful, as I don’t know him. He took my contact details - I hope to hear from him.
The outreach ended with a frustrating conversation with a philosophy student from the university. He wouldn’t take the conversation seriously, to his detriment. I can only hope the law and gospel was hitting home behind a facade.
Wednesday’s first outreach was in the city. Andy preached in the Square, which led to me being able to have three wonderful follow up conversations.
The first was with a construction worker I talked to last Friday.
The second was with a young man I’ve spoken to at least twice before. He has been thinking about what he has learned about the gospel. And he has been reading the Bible. But he is not converted. I gave him my contact details, he said he would contact me.
The last one was with a young couple who weren’t going to stay to listen to the preaching, but one on one they stayed to hear the law and the gospel.
The final outreach was online & I was able to join the team from Aussie.
The conversation that really sticks with me is one I had with a young Catholic guy who I was able to challenge on how we are justified. He considered himself good, and it was a real shock for him to hear me explain why he was heading to hell. I hope his conscience is activated and that he is truly converted, to the glory of God alone. Afterwards he played some piano for me! Pictured. I will never see him again in this life, I hope to see him in heaven.
I’m still transitioning from as much online outreach to a normal street outreach schedule. So I spent Saturday morning on Omegle sharing the gospel there. (Next week, I intend to be back in the city on Saturday.)
It was great to have Rob from Canada with me in the Jitsi room. Some stand out conversations include:
One with a muslim from Setif, Algeria. Afterwards, I looked up that city on Google Maps and marvelled at how easy it is to reach people in such a foriegn place. Praise God! His spoken English wasn’t great, and I was about to give up, when we started communicating via typing - his written English was much better. So I was able to challenge him with the wonderful news of the gospel.
I’ve been talking to a lot of Catholics lately, and I was again paired with one on Omegle. This was a stand out because he seemed to come to grasp the gospel and seemed very appreciative of the conversation. May God change his heart.
Another great conversation was with a group of at least two guys. One of them was mocking me, but the other was tracking with me. They heard the gospel. I don’t care if people mock - the stakes are too high - may God have mercy.
On Sunday, there were three of us in Cashel Mall for a couple of hours in the afternoon. For me it was a pretty much non stop time of ministry. I was able to share the gospel with multiple groups of teens. Group conversations can be hard work, because the individuals can be in different spaces. You’ll have the attention of some, but others aren't interested.
I had one situation with a group of five girls where one of them was responding to the law, and feeling the gravity of their conscience, but another was bored and distracted. I did my best to hold the attention of all of them, but I ended up losing all of them before I could really share the gospel clearly. :(
I had a group of five guys where 3 ended up leaving, but to my surprise, 2 stayed. It ended up being a good thing that the 3 left, as I was able to focus on clearly explaining the gospel to the 2 who stayed and were interested.
The last conversation of the outreach was with yet another group of five girls. This time they were all interested and engaged and stayed to hear me out. They all took tracts. And then one of the girls started asking really good questions about how people have different beliefs. I sensed that she had a postmodern world view (what’s true for me is true for me) and so I gently challenged her on that. I ended up seeing her later in a coffee shop, and so I gave her the tract “Which one is right?”.
I thank God for all the gospel opportunities on the weekend. I’m looking forward to a new week of outreach, to the glory of God alone.
Oh, I nearly forgot, I also had an opportunity to share the gospel with a friend (and his son) who I’ve known since I was a baby (family friends). I’ve tried in the past, but he’s just not interested. But I gently pushed the boundary - the stakes are so high. He survived, and we are still friends! ;) (literally just before I posted this, Andy sent me a picture of that conversation - which I've included in this report!)
Two very busy days of ministry. A very long report - sorry in advance for that! ;)
Thursday’s outreaches to the bus stops were amazing. I was mildly hesitant to go, thinking bus stops might not be the ideal place for social distancing. But I knew there would be spots where I could engage with those passing by and still maintain appropriate distance. So Andy and I decided to give it a go. Northlands early afternoon, and Eastgate in the late afternoon.
When I turned up at Northlands, there weren’t many people around, and I wondered if I had made a wrong decision and should have stayed home doing online evangelism.
I managed to get a conversation started, but their bus came.
So I prayed about this and then lo and behold someone came past and I was able to get a conversation started - they couldn’t stay, but they took a tract. And then straight after, another opportunity arose (with a Christian lady), and then another (with a Catholic lady).
By this stage, Andy had arrived, and he fell into a follow up conversation with someone I had talked to on a previous outreach (pictured). And then I fell into a follow up conversation with someone Andy had talked to on a previous outreach. Andy ended up finishing up his conversation and took over my one.
I turned and noticed a lady waiting for a bus and so, respecting social distance, I started a conversation with her, that went long (pictured). She deliberately missed busses so the conversation could continue. She had Catholic, Maori, and Mormon religious background. And when I tried to add Christianity to the mix, she confessed that she felt quite confused. So I just spent time listening, and trying to bring clarity. A lot of her questions were, understandably, around how we know what is true. She gladly took a “Which one is right?” tract, as well as others. Such a wonderful conversation.
The outreach was going better than I could have expected! I had two more brief follow up opportunities before I noticed things starting to calm down again. I mentioned to Andy that maybe we should split to Eastgate early when he suddenly got into a conversation, as did I.
And then the high school kids came! And suddenly we were working harder than ever, with gospel conversation after gospel conversation.
One kid said he thought about the after life a lot. I asked if he believed in God, and he said he wasn’t sure. And so I used the Building / Builder - Universe / Universe Maker analogy and he was stunned, he turned to his friend and said, “did you hear that, it makes so much sense”. I didn’t have much time (as I could tell they needed to go), but I was able to share the law and gospel with him and his friend - they both left with tracts, but part way through, another friend turned up, and so I was able to share the law and gospel with him as well. So much plowing and sowing - it was so good. Glory to God.
My final conversation at Northlands was with a young man (20 years old), who used to be a youth pastor but now didn’t believe in God. I guessed two things: 1) he had been deeply hurt by witnessing an extreme form of hypocrisy 2) that he had never understood the gospel. I carefully asked questions that confirmed that I was right in both instances. So I backed up and started by explaining how we know God exists and how we know who God is. He was open and following the logic, but his bus came. I gave him a tract and pleaded with him to contact me, the conversation was so important. I leave him in God’s hands.
Maybe you know some of these people I talked to. Are you ready to follow up with them and reinforce the gospel information they are learning? I can’t do this alone. :)
Andy and I then made the move to Eastgate - a little later than we expected, but praise God that we had so much opportunity at Northlands.
It was just as busy at Eastgate. I had six significant gospel conversations. The highlight was the second to last one, it was with a young Catholic high schooler. I don’t remember it, but I had talked to him twice before. He still couldn’t articulate the gospel, so I went through it with him again. I warned him that this was the third opportunity he had to hear the gospel, he may not get another, and while I was challenging him to count the cost, I asked him what was stopping him from trusting that Jesus died for his sin. He said, “I am trusting that Jesus paid the fine for my sin”. I was surprised, and I said, “when did you start doing that?” He said, “Today”. I pleaded with him to get in touch with me (we want to see people knitted into a good local church). I leave him in God’s hands.
Friday was a big day of outreach. The weather was wonderful. We spent two hours outside the hospital bringing the gospel to the issue of abortion. You can read about that here.
We then moved to Cathedral Square for open air preaching. Marty preached first, and that was the only opportunity we had. We attracted a lot of hecklers, and one of them got up to “preach” after Marty leaving no time for anyone else to preach. We didn’t waste the time, we ended up getting into wonderful one to one gospel conversations with those walking past instead.
Moving on to Cashel Mall, again it was busy! I had a wonderful follow up opportunity with a guy I’ve been talking to on and off for well over a year now. It turns out he has cancer in a finger! And he may lose it. :( He still isn’t grasping the gospel, so I had an opportunity to continue challenging him on that. As we were talking, Radio NZ approached me for comment on a political issue. I took the opportunity to give a gospel sound bite! I doubt they will use it, of course, but the interviewer took a tract.
We then had a non stop couple of hours of gospel ministry down by the Bridge of Remembrance. Even before I got there, I had a wonderful walk up gospel conversation with a young couple.
But the highlight (for me) was a long conversation with two young girls. I laboured with them for a long time, and although I think the effort was worth it, there was a resistance and a blindness to what I was saying. I pray they will have more opportunity to engage with the gospel - maybe with you? Are you ready to share?