Christchurch (NZ) Team
Heads out on to the streets of Christchurch usually 6 days a week to various locations.
Including Fridays in Cathedral Square from 12:30pm and in Cashel Mall after that till 3:30pm. Also Sundays in Cashel Mall 1:30pm till 3:30pm.
Tuesday saw the first outreach to Riccarton since the Covid-19 lock down had eased. It was a late afternoon outreach, sunny when it started, but by the end the sun was setting, and it was quite cold.
But it was great to be back at this spot, and I had four sets of conversations.
My first was with a Hindu guy who came to understand the gospel, and was challenged to count the cost of following Jesus.
I then had a Catholic high school student go past - she looked like she wouldn’t be interested, and so I was surprised that she stopped at my opening question. She was actually very engaged, and I had a long conversation where I had to carefully explain that it was not our good deeds in any way that saved us, but only Jesus' sacrifice on the cross that we accept by faith alone. I think she came to grasp what I was saying, but she didn’t look convinced. As always, I left her in God’s hands. I can only hope that the plowing and sowing I did would lead to growth at some point in the future.
The last conversation of the outreach was with two Polynesian girls. They were heading to the bank when they passed the first time, but they said they would come back - and they did. One said she was Christian, the other Mormon, but neither seemed committed. So I was able to share the law and the gospel with them. It was a lovely conversation.
Even though Riccarton wasn’t as busy as the city had been the previous Friday and Sunday - it was still good to be back on the streets!
Today (Wednesday) I went back into the City in the early afternoon with Andy.
As soon as I was out of my car, I had a wonderful opportunity to talk with two guys walking past - so the outreach got started early!
I then met Andy at the speaker's corner where we both open air preached. I had someone sit down to listen, and to my surprise, as soon as I started talking about the resurrection of Jesus the listener became angry and started heckling me. Similar to what happened on Friday.
We continued the outreach with “walk up”. We went down Cashel Mall, and then moved to the courthouse. Outside the courthouse, first Andy, and then I fell into good gospel conversations.
The guy I was talking to professed to not be interested in spiritual issues, and yet, he stayed to talk with me for a long while. He resisted the logic of how we know God exists, but kept coming back to it. I held my ground refusing to let him off the hook, and kept using the same argument. Eventually, to my surprise, I was able to get through the law, and even share the gospel with this guy. There was still much resistance though. He wouldn’t take an After Life tract from me, but when I said I had a different one titled: How we know God exists and why it matters, he said he would be keen for that!
Our conversations ended at different times, and so Andy and I became separated, but we ended up meeting again outside Ara. Andy had a great chat there with two high school students (pictured).
And I had a wonderful follow up opportunity with a guy I’ve talked to a few times before. I was able to walk back to my car while talking to him (we were going in the same direction). He seemed more open than the last time I talked to him. We were discussing the sermon on the mount. He really seemed to appreciate something I said and accepted a tract as we parted ways. God willing I will be able to talk to him again.
Both Tuesday and today, I was also doing some online evangelism - it is such a wonderful way of reaching people. The stand out conversation was with two guys from California. They came to understand the gospel, and what repentance really means. They seemed deeply impacted. Yet only God knows.
It was a lovely sunny, crisp Sunday afternoon in Christchurch today. I headed to Cashel Mall for a couple of hours of gospel outreach.
Before the outreach started, I was able to catch up with Sonny and Mark - two guys that run stalls in the mall. It was good to see them again.
I wanted to set up at the corner of Cashel and Colombo - it was so good there on Friday - but there were people hanging around my usual spot. As I waited I prayed that God would bless my feeble efforts - without Him I can’t do anything. Eventually, one of the groups moved on, and I was able to start setting up my flip chart, while I was doing that, the other group wanted to know what I was doing! A great opportunity to start a gospel conversation. :) It was a nice conversation, but they weren’t keen and decided to move on. I offered tracts, but one of them said “I’ve already got one” (I think he said he received it after a gospel conversation with someone else in a past outreach). So I said, “well, give it to your brother”, he said, “oh, he has been to a Christian school, he already knows.” and then he was gone.
Soon after, an old flatmate, from years ago, passed. (Matt, it's a flatmate, not a housemate. ;) ) It was good to see him again. When we flatted, we went to the same church, but now he is married to a guy and wants nothing to do with organised religion. But he still wants to go to heaven, and hopes he will get there. And so I had a wonderful opportunity to explain how we know God exists, and why there must be a heaven and a hell - none of which he disagreed with. But he still considered himself to be good, by his standard, and resisted the logic of the law written on his heart. I was gentle and loving in how I expressed the truth - but I refused to compromise that truth, as unpopular as it is - it is the loving thing to do. Sadly, he left before I could explain the gospel - but he just wasn’t interested.
I then had a string of conversations with Christians. Firstly with a young man (and his girlfriend) who I had taught in Sunday school when he was a little kid! It was great to catch up; then I had a youth pastor from Queenstown go past, and we fell into an easy conversation; before a Christian family wanted to check out the good person test flip chart.
That led into a conversation with a guy who had been overhearing the flip chart demo I had just done. He was waiting for his wife to come out of a shop. We fell into an easy conversation. It turns out he had been a telephone technician like my Dad. But he was resistant to my attempts to swing the conversation to the gospel. Once his wife came, he left - refusing a tract - he said it would just go into the fire.
But then I had another guy sit near me - he was also waiting for his wife - we also fell into an easy conversation, but he was more open. His wife also came (before I could share the gospel), but he did take a tract.
To my joy, Mr. Angry then came past. If you’ve read any of my earlier reports, you will know who I’m talking about. If not, well my name for him tells all. To my increased joy, he was actually nice to me (compared to normal), even though he didn’t stop. I will continue to pray for him, and hope to get an opportunity to actually share the gospel with him.
The final two sets of gospel conversations of the outreach were actually connected. A group of high school aged kids passed, one of whom I’ve talked to before. I asked if they wanted to try the good person test, and two of them were keen (the rest were not - including the one I’d talked to before). It was a wonderful conversation where they followed the logic easily, came to hear how their sin is serious, and then the wonderful good news of Jesus. She seemed to be deeply impacted, he really appreciated the logic of it. I left them both in God’s hands as they left with gospel tracts and contact information.
Soon after, two more wanted to talk (initially, I didn’t realise they were connected to the first group). And then I had two more join (and a third briefly) - including the one I had talked to before. It turns out they were homosexual and they were setting me up to trap me in my words. But it didn’t work, and they were confronted with the reality of sin (something that God defines) and the amazing grace of Jesus - even for homosexuals - yet I was clear that their life would change if they accepted the gift. They refused tracts.
So a wonderful couple of hours where, all glory to God, I was able to have many gospel interactions. I love my job. Thanks again to those who are supporting me in what I do.
I forgot to take any photos for this outreach, so the picture is of my desk after outreach. :)
Oh, and on Saturday, I was doing online evangelism with the team. We had many wonderful opportunities to share the love of Christ. Pictured is a young man looking for John in his Bible. He had grown up knowing about God, and thinking he would go to heaven, but he didn’t understand the gospel. I really had to labour with him to get him to unlearn some things that were confusing things for him. He then played amazing grace for me on his keyboard! Before he left, he agreed that Omegle was not a good place for him to be (“it scars me”) and that he would stop going on it.
Looking forward to a day off tomorrow. :)
I’m so excited to be writing this report! Today was the first time back on the streets of Christchurch in many weeks - and it was so good.
We started with the gospel + abortion outreach outside the hospital. I wrote about that on the Project 139 Facebook page.
We then moved to Cathedral Square for open air preaching. There were no stalls, or food trucks - and so there weren't many people around. But to my surprise, once Andy started preaching, plenty of people came out of the woodwork. We had a guy walk past who stopped to listen, and then he came over to engage. He asked really good questions, which Andy addressed. And then the hecklers started arriving - it was like old times again! So good.
After Andy finished preaching, I was able to engage the guy who had been asking good questions one to one. The conversation started with, the subject of suffering. Afterwards he accepted a tract.
I then preached open air. It felt so good. There were plenty of people, sitting at a distance and listening. So I preached my heart out. The hecklers were surprisingly tame, until I talked about the resurrection of Jesus being a historical proof - that set one of them off. Afterwards, I offered tracts to the people hanging around.
I then moved to Cashel Mall with my flip chart, and met Roger there. Compared to the Square, there were heaps of people!
Roger and I prayed, then we set up our flip charts at the corner of Cashel and Colombo. It was pretty much non stop gospel conversations for just over two hours. People were walking up to the chart and wanting to give it a go. I had great chats with:
I was able to say hello to a number of people walking past that I’ve had various levels of interaction with in the past. It’s so good to be back on the streets!!!
In the evening, I did just under two hours of online evangelism. And I haven’t had a chance to write about the wonderful online gospel opportunities from Thursday.
My body is not used to being on the streets. Very tired legs by the end of it, but I will quickly readjust. Come and join me in the harvest fields on the streets of Christchurch. SDG!
Thursday was hot, Friday cold; Well, Saturday was cold, and then Sunday was hot! We are definitely at a season cross road.
Not as many people out and about on Saturday. There were no markets in Cathedral Square, but enough people were walking through that I decided to set up my flip chart in front of the Cathedral.
My first conversation was with a man I’ve talked to before. We had a long follow up - the conversation starting with abortion. But I did my best to gently keep connecting things back to the gospel.
Eventually, the conversation was interrupted with someone curious enough to find out what the good person test was all about: it was my pleasure to explain.
After that, I noticed a solitary lady had turned up to protest the recent liberalisation of abortoin law in NZ - she had a sign. I said hello.
I moved back to my flip chart and soon after moved into a wonderful conversation with two construction workers. The both were challenged by the law and the gospel. I could see them both understanding (and checking questions confirmed), but one was clearly resistant, where the other seemed open.
I then had the pleasure of dealing with two of my hecklers - one after the other.
First, Mr. Angry came past (I still pray for him). He was his usual self, spitting his venom and making a scene. While he abused me, I blessed him.
I then had the guy who once called me Ned Flanders come past. He likes to jokingly mock me, but I refuted all his mockings - and I could tell I was hitting because he became serious at one point. Thankfully, he decided to give up and leave me alone.
I had a quick conversation with a Christian guy before deciding to move to Cashel Mall. By this stage, the wind had become strong, and so I decided to ditch my flip chart.
I had a great conversation with two girls from Cambodia. They thought their good deeds would get them to heaven, and so I was able to explain to them why that couldn’t be the case (God’s holiness viewed through the law) and then the amazing gift of Jesus paying the fine for our sin.
The outreach ended with a long conversation with a young man who walked up to me and was very keen to chat. He loved philosophy, and is studying it at university. It turns out this young man used to be a Christian, and loved apologetics, even presuppositionalism. But he had been challenged on a topic, and his deep intellectual study had led him away from God. Interestingly, it was the opposite for me. So we were able to work through this, and I touched on personal testimony a lot. I also worked to swing the conversation away from intellectual debate, to matters of the conscience - sin, the real reason people try to deny God. I was deeply impacted by this conversation, as it reminded me of one I had with a work mate years ago. The guy was in the process of walking away from God, and it grieved me deeply. I just have to rely on the fact that I can’t save people, and do my best to clearly explain the gospel (my part).
Sunday was another outreach Sunday for Redemption Church, joining the Operation 513 team on Cashel Mall. I felt a bit overwhelmed, as there were more newbies than experienced evangelists. But it worked out ok. I actually had a really busy outreach, with lots of wonderful gospel opportunities. I ended up being out thirty minutes longer than usual for a Sunday - praise God. And I had various newbies, and various times listening in and giving it a go!
A couple of highlights included:
A guy who was keen to give the good person test a go, but then became really uncomfortable as I explained the law to him. I was right up to the point where I was going to explain the good news when he decided to bail! I couldn’t get him to stay, but I said there was good news on the tract that he accepted.
I had a very bright young couple keen to give it a go. He had a Christian background, but was not a Christian. She was very smart, that she was working out the meaning of my analogies before I had even made it halfway through! But they couldn’t fault the logic of what I was explaining - as desperately as she wanted to. She wanted morality to be relative but understood the implications of that and the logic of God being the basis for objective truth and morality. They heard the gospel, but I’m confident they rejected it - wanting to enjoy the sinful pleasures of this life… but I can’t know. May God save them!
I’m writing this Monday evening. NZ is going into lock down due to Coronavirus for at least four weeks. This means the Operation 513 teams in NZ won’t be able to be on the streets… but we are looking into other ways we can continue to share the gospel! Please keep us in prayer. God bless! :)
Thursday was the last day of summer. It was really hot! And Friday was the first day of winter. Wet and cold - I even had to put my thermals on for the evening outreach, first time this year. But hot or cold, rain or shine - the gospel of Jesus needs to be shared.
Andy and I were at the Eastgate and Northlands bus stops, in the heat, on Thursday. We both had many gospel opportunities - esp. at Eastgate. I found it a bit slower than normal at Northlands, but ended up having some wonderful opportunities to share Christ.
I had an opportunity to share with a guy as he was walking past. My questions engaged him enough to keep him staying to hear the next question, but at the same time, I could see he wanted to go, so I had to go fast. I was able to share the whole law and gospel with him, and also throw a vital checking question at him before he left. Not surprisingly, his response to the question: “So, what did I say we need to do to go to heaven?” was “good deeds”. I corrected him (the answer is “trust that Jesus paid your fine”) and pleaded with him to study the tract.
I had an interesting conversation with a lovely person, who was a Goth. Apparently she had become a Christian back in December, and is going to a local church. She didn’t have much clarity around the gospel, so I tried to gently bring some.
At Northlands, I finally got into a conversation with a young man but I could tell he didn’t really want to talk. So when I got to the law, I asked if he would be willing to answer three quick questions - he declined. So I approached the guy next to him (his friend) to see if he would like to answer the three questions - he was keen. But I wound back to explain how we know God exists - and we ended up working on that question till their bus came.
Once they moved on, another guy turned up, and I ended up having a wonderful conversation with a guy who clearly wanted to live his life for himself, but who turned out to have a JW background (the clue was when he said Jesus died on a stake in response to one of my questions). I could tell that he had never heard the gospel before, had never understood the justice of God, and the incredible mercy of God. So I was really blessed to have the privilege to explain it to him. (One of the pictures shows us talking.)
Something unusual happened at Northlands. Both Andy and I noticed a young girl walking back and forth around the bus stops. Eventually Andy took the initiative to ask if she was okay. She broke into tears and said she was supposed to meet her older sister, but couldn’t find her. She didn’t have data on her phone and couldn’t contact. Andy brought the girl to me, and I turned on the hotspot on my phone so she could connect to the Internet. This solved the problem, as it turned out the sister was just around the corner! Andy was able to reunite them. And I think some very brief gospel communication occurred. What a blessing to be able to serve others both practically and spiritually! All glory to God.
I finished up the Northlands outreach with a conversation with a Christian high schooler. He had just finished writing an essay against abortion and we discussed this briefly, as well as the gospel. Very encouraging!
Firday’s outreaches started with the gospel + abortion outreach outside Christchurch hospital. I’m grateful that Marty brought his umbrella and he allowed me to share it - it got quite wet (pictured).
We then moved to Cathedral Square. It was quite empty, due to the weather, and probably due to the lack of tourists due to the closed borders because of Coronavirus. But there were enough people around for all three of us (Marty, Andy and I) to freely proclaim the gospel (no fighting with music or construction noise today). For me it was the first time I had open air preached in a while, and I really enjoyed it. We had one heckler who would ramble in the background - but wasn’t any real disturbance. I had a great, although brief, follow up opportunity after I preached (pictured). And also, one of the food stalls blessed us with some free lunch! What a blessing - thank you!
Andy and I then spent two hours on the streets of central Christchurch having walk up conversations with people, as opportunity allowed.
The highlight was a conversation with two young men. Sadly, during the evening outreach, I encountered one of them again, but he wanted to keep his distance. After thinking through the gospel - he had clearly rejected it.
The Evening outreach was difficult. Cold and wet, and with Coronavirus, I knew it was going to be a difficult two hours. I spent some time in prayer before heading out. I wasn’t wrong. Cathedral Square was completely empty. Even the bars and restaurants were very quiet.
But, all glory to God, I was still able to have four sets of gospel conversations during the outreach!
The highlights would be the gospel conversation with a Jew and a Catholic - I had to really work to get them to understand grace through faith. And the final conversation I had outside the bus exchange with a kid who had rejected religion (background: Mum - Baptist; Dad - Catholic). But he was keen to talk to me.
I thank you for your prayer and support of the Christchurch (NZ) team. Please pray for labourers. And join us out where the fish are!
Tuesday was St. Patrick’s Day! There was a team of two who spent two hours on our usual Riccarton outreach in the late afternoon, and then in the early evening we were outside two Irish pubs doing the St. Patrick’s Day test with people.
During the Riccarton outreach, I had four conversations.
First up was a Catholic man that one of the team has talked to before on a Friday night outreach in the city. Sadly, he wasn’t open to reason in any way, and so I let him move on - he didn’t hear the gospel.
I then had a lady stop, interested in the flip chart. She liked to talk (which is okay). So it was a longer conversation, but she was all over the place in her thinking and, again, I couldn’t reason with her. But she did stay to hear the law and the gospel.
I was taking notes of that conversation, when Roger called out to me. I looked up, and I had two high school students looking at the flip chart. They were brother and sister. And they were very sharp thinkers - so a good conversation was had. I slowly took them through the logic of how we know God exists, the law, and the gospel, then through the series of checking questions. There was resistance at each point, but we worked through the logic, and they didn’t seem to be able to fault the logic. They understood the gospel. But when I challenged them to respond at the end, they rejected the gospel. I asked them why. And they were speechless. I explained why most reject it (it’s not that it’s not true, but the cost is too high). And I pleaded with them to read through the tracts I gave them, and to discuss it with their parents. They appreciated the conversation and went to shake my hand… but we tapped elbows instead! (If you are reading in the distant future, it’s because of Coronavirus.)
I finished up the outreach with a short conversation with an older lady who was very interested in the flip chart. She grew up in the church, so I asked her what we need to do to go to heaven: good works were her answer! So I briefly explained why it can’t be good work, and what the good news is. She seemed struck. She became very interested in what church I went to, and got me to write down all the details. She said she would read the After Life tract I gave her.
For the St. Patricks Day outreach, we were outside two Irish pubs over the two hours. But, because of Coronavirus, there were not many people around (last year it was similar, but due to the mosque shootings).
But this did not stop us having some great conversations.
My first was a long conversation with a guy walking home after work. He followed Viking religion, and was resistant. But we had a nice long conversation where I was able to make some inroads into why the Christian worldview makes sense. He heard the law, and I touched on the gospel.
At the second pub, the highlight conversation was with a group of three. Two of them just wanted to go into the pub, but the third guy really wanted to do the St. Patrick’s Day test. He wanted to know what his prize would be if he got them all right… he said I would have to do a handstand if he did. I agreed. To my amazement, he was getting the questions right. But, to my relief, he stumbled at the final hurdle.
Then I asked him what the message of St. Patrick was (answer: the gospel). He then triggered to what we were doing. He was impressed. He said if he knew we were Christians right from the start he would have said a foul word to us. But now that he was engaged, he was keen to chat about religion. And boy did he like to talk! He would often say “let me finish, let me finish”. Because of this, I didn’t really get to share the gospel with him. But he did take a tract! I hope he reads it, and that some of the things we talked about would resonate.
On Wednesday, I was back in the City. I ditched the flip chart and decided to do “walk up”. I made it all the way down to Ara on this outreach. I had four wonderful gospel conversations.
The first was with a young man who recognised me as he was walking towards me while he was crossing a road. He said hello, and even used my name! I didn’t remember him, but then he triggered my memory saying that we had talked during a climate change protest last year. He held to reincarnation, but also believed in God, heaven, and hell. He heard the law and the gospel again. But he was resistant because he understood the cost. He said he wanted to enjoy life, and then he would consider it. Inwardly I just shook my head, and tried to get him to understand what he was saying.
My next two conversations were with tourists: the first was with three Germans who were heading home early because of Coronavirus. Initially, only one of them was engaging me in gospel conversation, but by the end of the conversation, they were all interested, and all took tracts. The second was with a guy from Holland. At one point, I thought I was going to lose him as we discussed how we know God exists. But I quickly moved on with the law and the gospel, and he re-engaged and seemed genuinely impacted.
The last conversation was outside Ara. It was with three students. Interestingly, homosexuailty and abortion came up in the conversation. But they all heard the law and the gospel.
I praise God for all these opportunities. We may be reaching people one at a time, or in small groups. But as the days, weeks, years pass… many people are being reached with the gospel. All glory to God. In God’s timing, may many come to saving faith in Jesus.
On Saturday I was in the city, and there were two separate Muslim groups out evangelising. One group from Auckland in Cathedral Square, and Two guys from the UK in Cashel Mall. The reason for this is that it has been one year since the tragic mosque shootings in Christchurch a year ago.
I started the outreach in Cathedral Square with a chat with a construction worker.
Then I had a whole lot of teen guys come past my flip chart and show a lot of interest. There would have been at least twelve of them, plus a couple of adults. I was engaging them with the first page of the flip chart, challenging them on how we know right from wrong when the adults said the tour guide was ahead and they had to go. Some of the teens wanted to stay and talk, but they couldn’t leave the group - so they took tracts instead.
Many of them were holding copies of the Quran, and related literature, which is how I first learned about the Muslims being out.
Later in the outreach, I decided to pack up my flip chart and went to talk to the Muslims, to express my genuine sympathy, and to engage them out of love. Two young men were happy to talk, and one of them gave me a Quran - which I accepted.
I asked them the key question: how do I go to heaven. This led to a conversation where they talked about the mercy of God. So I asked how God can be merciful and just at the same time. They basically said that God is not like a human judge, he can forgive if he wants to. So I asked if God could forgo justice for the mosque shooter and just give him mercy.
After listening for quite a while, I tried to show them how God can be both just and merciful: through sacrifice. They had mentioned Moses, so going from there I started talking about the passover lamb - and then one of the guys, knowing where I was going, became super defensive. The shields went fully up, and the conversation ended there. But we parted on good terms.
I moved to Cashel Mall, and that is when I came across the second Muslim group (pictured). These guys were in Christchurch just under a year ago - and one of them remembered me as the “Ray Comfort” guy. I was honoured that he remembered me!
I also asked this guy how God could be just and merciful but, same as last year, his answers were windy and intellectual sounding without any content. I challenged him on this, and asked him for clear answers. Our conversation finished up a few minutes later, and we parted on good terms.
They were on one side of Colombo street, so I decided to set up my flip chart on the other side.
I had a quick follow up conversation, and then I had a crazy guy have a go at me before getting into another good follow up conversation.
Sadly, while I was having that follow up conversation, I had two sets of people keen to try the flip chart - but there were no labourers to share the gospel with them. Please, pray for labourers.
The outreach ended with a conversation with a man who had talked the Muslims, and then was keen to talk to me. He was very smart, and very blunt. Two ladies interrupted us to ask if they could ask a quick question. I smiled and said yes. They guy I was talking to said no!
After directing the ladies to the tram stop (and giving them tracts), I pulled they guy up and said he didn’t need to be rude.
But the gospel conversation continued. He processed the logic, and didn’t like it. He heard the law, but I can’t remember if he heard the gospel - I don’t think he wanted to hear it. It was a tense conversation, but we parted on good terms.
On Sunday I was back in Cashel Mall, and my Muslim friends were in the same spot as yesterday.
I had some good gospel conversations but, again, other opportunities were missed due to a lack of labourers.
I had a quick follow up with a guy I had first talked to a month or so ago at Northlands. I had a great gospel conversation with an Indian couple. And another couple were keen to talk, but had to go - accepting tracts.
A friend had recently given me some NZ million dollar tracts - I love these, but haven’t used them for a long time as Operation 513 doesn’t sell these in NZ. To finish the outreach, I had fun handing many of these out as I walked back to my car.
Looking forward to a day of rest on Monday and then getting back to work, God willing, on Tuesday. Thanks for your prayers!
It’s been a super busy Thursday and Friday for the Christchurch (NZ) team! I’m reflecting back on my notes for Thursday, and I can barely remember some of the conversations I wrote about! But this is good, because it shows that God has been blessing us with many opportunities to talk about Christ.
I had seven conversations in two hours at Eastgate. Some long, some short. A few follow ups.
I saw an elderly gentleman for the third time. The last time I had talked to him (at Northlands I think) he said he didn’t want to talk about spiritual things. So when he walked towards me, I decided to take a different tack: I just spent time getting to know him - and he certainly enjoyed that. From time to time, we would subtly touch on spiritual matters, but it was driven by him. God willing, I will have more opportunities to see him and talk further. God willing, he will become willing to a gospel conversation - but it’s not something I can force.
I offered a tract to a young man which triggered a conversation. He said he was a Christian, so I used the “dagger in my back” scenario to try to find out what he understood about the gospel. It was clear he understood that good people, that did good things would go to heaven - which was very concerning. And so I reversed the conversation and told him what I would say to someone dying: I took him through the law and the gospel. And he looked genuinely stunned. His bus came, but he was torn, because he wanted to stay and talk. I said, “hey man, I don’t want you to miss your bus, you better get going”. But then the bus pulled out and left! He didn’t seem too concerned, so we talked some more about the gospel.
An elderly lady was sitting waiting for a taxi, I said hello, and we fell into an easy conversation. She was lovely! She spoke softly, and there was a fan running just behind her, making it hard for me to hear her. But I persisted. We talked about wisdom (actually I listened to her share some wisdom), but the gospel was at the center of our conversation. Her taxi arrived, and she gladly received a tract, promising that she would read it.
In my report last Thursday I mentioned that I had a follow up, at Northlands, with a young man who had been reading a tract, but still didn’t have a grasp of the gospel. Well I saw him again at Eastgate this week - and so I was able to explain the gospel to him. Praise God.
At Northlands, the conversations were more difficult than at Eastgate. Many conversations I started would be ended by a bus coming! Yet I was able to share the full law and gospel with a few people.
The highlight conversation was with a young lady who was considering being baptised. She said it was required to be saved! So starting with the gospel, and tracking back to the law, I explained that baptism was not required for salvation - we are saved by grace through faith. But if we were saved we would want to be baptised. She listened intently, and took a tract as she left.
On Friday, a team of six stood outside the hospital protesting abortion, and bringing the hope of the gospel to any who would listen. Right from the beginning we were under attack. Literally in the first minute three people showed their disgust with strong words! And this continued throughout the outreach. Yet, we did get support too, and we were able to have a number of conversations. Andy did a wonderful job in engaging many people in conversation and handing out “Life is Precious” tracts at the hospital entrance steps.
As usual, we then moved to Cathedral Square for open air preaching. Andy preached. And he had some initial push back from at least one heckler (note, the sign in the picture is held by a heckler and not endorsed by us). I had a great conversation with a young man who listened to the preaching for a bit.
In Cashel Mall, the first hour went really well.
I had a wonderful follow up conversation with a young guy I last talked to over a year ago! As that was happening, a man who saw the Dalai Lama on my flip chart stopped and wanted to talk. I managed to share the gospel with both of them. But the original guy, although it was great to see him and catch up, is simply not interested (now anyway).
I had a number of other good conversations, people seemed interested in the flip chart and were keen to take tracts.
But in the second hour, I started to flag. My legs became very tired. How I was feeling was probably reflected in my body language, as I wasn’t able to get anyone to stop for a chat.
Eventually I saw a homeless guy I’ve been getting to know sit down to start begging in the sun. So I went over to sit with him and talk. I hope to write more about this guy in a future report. I’m feeling hopeful about him.
A team of two were back in the city for the Friday evening outreach. The highlight was an hour long conversation with a guy from the revival center - they believe baptism and speaking in tongues is required for salvation, and it was clear to me - through the conversation - that works play a role in maintaining their salvation. We had a wonderful chat about how we are justified. I, of course, demonstrating that it is by faith alone.
I turned up to my usual spot in Riccarton and set up my flip charting, wondering and praying about the afternoons encounters.
First up, I received some encouragement! A bus driver had stopped in traffic directly opposite me. The driver opened the door, and pulled a Gideon’s Bible out of his pocket to show me. I smiled and gave him a thumbs up. He nodded, closed the door and drove on. To me, he was saying: “well done, I’m proud of you, keep up the good work”!
Then a guy walked past and took a tract and said that someone had already talked to him on Friday in Cashel Mall. It was Jason! Christchurch is a small world - encouraging.
Next up I had a young high school student surprise me by articulating the gospel quite well right off the bat - I was impressed.
I had a follow up with a lady I first met last week. She had read the tract I’d given her, but I could tell she really didn’t want to talk about it. So we chatted about other things for a while, and then she decided to share about someone she knew who had turned their life to God about eighteen months ago - she talked about the dramatic turn around in their life, and how she talked about God but wasn’t pushy about it… I understood, I can’t push God on to anyone. It was a lovely chat - I hope to see her again.
I then had a chat with a guy who claimed to be Bhudist, but really just had his head in the sand in regards to the difficult questions of life. As opposed to my previous conversatoin, I decided to be a bit forceful to try to wake this guy up. He heard the law, and also the logic of why God and hell must exist. But he didn’t want the good news. He took a tract, and we parted on good terms.
Last Tuesday I posted about an interesting gospel conversation I had on the Riccarton outreach where an Indian guy got all the way through my gospel presentation saying he wanted to trust that Jesus paid his fine - but then after considering the cost of accepting the gift (last page of the flip chart) backed away. It was the last conversation of the outreach, it was a "come back" (he left but came back), and it caused the outreach to "go long".
Well, this Tuesday, on my last conversation of the day, I had a "come back" (received a tract, partly read it, and came back), which caused the outreach to "go long". This time it was with a CBHS boarder (Catholic background), and this time, even after considering the cost, he still wanted to trust that Jesus paid his "fee" (for some reason he preferred the word "fee" over "fine").
Now I'm not getting excited yet. I challenged him, that if he was serious, he was to talk it through with his parents (if they want to contact me, they are welcome). And then he was to contact me about coming along to church. He took a Bible (pictured), and various tracts. Time will tell. He is in God's hands. My gut says he needs time to consider it further, and work the implications through. Please pray for Will.
Photos, courtesy of Roger Spicer - thanks.
On Wednesday, I was in the city, most of my time was spent in Cathedral Square.
Good news! KFC is opening up in Christchurch city! This is the first major fast food chain to open a store since the earthquake 10 years ago. It's a sign that people are returning to the central city - this can only be good for evangelism!
The outreach started with some good follow up conversations with homeless, or ex-homeless people that I knew.
I then got into a fascinating conversation with a young man who wasn’t shy at hiding the fact that he hated God! I thought the conversation would die early - but he kept hanging on. And he started to soften. He was trying to make a distinction between us, and effectively saying his truth was true for him, and my truth was true for me. But I gave clear arguments for why that didn’t make sense.
I was convincing him that we were equals, brothers in the sense that we were one blood before God, when he suddenly got up and approached a stranger to be an arbiter in our argument. The stranger took my side! And I also had an opportunity to bring the new person into the gospel conversation. They didn’t stay long, but they did take a tract.
Even later in the conversation, a fourth person got involved - yet another opportunity to share about Christ! He also took a tract before moving on.
By the end of the conversation, the original guy wanted to know what church I went to, and said he would come along. I made it clear that coming to church wouldn’t make him right with good, and reiterated the gospel. Like I said: fascinating.
The outreach ended with a great walk up opportunity with a young man from England. He heard and understood the gospel.
As I think about it, it amazes me how many people are open enough to hear the gospel if I’m just a little bit bold in asking them a question. Sure, I get rejected a lot, but still… come join me in the harvest fields.
After the gospel + abortion outreach, which I wrote about here, we moved into Cathedral Square to preach in the open air. There was loud music, and construction noise from the nearby convention center, but this did not stop two of the team preaching. On this occasion, the hecklers were tame.
As we were moving to Cashel Mall, I stopped a young couple to ask them if they ever thought about what happens after they die. They looked at me stunned, and then he said that they had only just been talking about it! They were instantly engaged. And I was able to go through the law and the gospel with them both.
In Cashel Mall, the wind became very noticeable, the buildings were forming a wind tunnel! So we weren’t able to use the flip charts for the whole outreach, but before I packed mine away, I had a great conversation with two guys, one from Germany, and the other from England. They were resistant, but they seemed genuinely challenged, and became engaged enough to want to hear the gospel. As they walked away, I asked them another checking question, the English guy, with tongue in cheek, answered with “good works”... he knew that wasn’t the right answer - I was satisfied he understood the gospel!
The outreach ended up going long, with some late opportunities to share the gospel. Jason had a long chat (pictured), and Andy & I got into a conversation with two Indian guys (also pictured).
As always, thank you for your prayer and support!