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.
Yesterday, the focus of gospel ministry was in Riccarton. Riccarton is quite close to the mosque where many tragically died last Friday. :( I had the honor of talking to two people who were close enough to hear the gun shots. For one of them, it was the first time they had ventured out. I was able to explain about the justice of God, but also of the bad news of why we deserve justice as well. And then share about the hope of forgiveness only found in trusting Christ who took our justice upon the cross, and defeated death by rising again!
I also had a long conversation with a young man who was Eastern Orthodox. I don't get to talk to many people who are Eastern Orthodox, and he was very engaged in the conversation, so I asked him to explain why he would be going to heaven. This led to him explaining the basic tenants of what he believed. In return, I then shared the law and the gospel with him. And we then spent a long time discussing the differences.
The discussion ended up focusing on the contrast between faith and works. I talked about Ephesians 2, the whole beginning of this chapter is wonderful, but I'll quote from verse 8:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone. We are not saved by our works; instead it is a gift. But once we are saved we will do the good works that God prepared us to do.
When the conversation finally ended, this guy gave me a hug. He obviously enjoyed the conversation. May he come to understand this amazing grace, and trust alone in Christ for his salvation.
Earlier in the day, I was letterbox dropping in the area, and I walked past two police officers. I had an opportunity to thank them for their service, esp. considering the tragedy of Friday. One of them took an Eternity tract from me.
Today I started with some letterbox dropping in a neighborhood close to where I live. But God gave me an opportunity to share the gospel one to one with a man outside his house. He said my meeting was timely, as he had just had his car stolen, had to move out of his house at short notice, and on top of that was struggling with processing the shootings on Friday. He seemed to understand and appreciate the brief gospel presentation I gave him and said he would read the tracts I had given him. I pleaded with him to think seriously about his sin, and then to repent and trust, alone, in Christ.
I then headed into the city for some flip charting. I ended up getting into some long gospel conversations there (the outreach went over by an hour). I spent a long time with one person in particular, who was very intelligent and who had a lot to say. I'm confident they understood the simple message of the gospel, yet they politely fought against it.
The Lord provided some wonderful opportunities for gospel conversation during a short one hour outreach outside the hospital. One man, after receiving an Eternity tract, came back to give it back. And I could see he was ready for a fight. I made it clear at the beginning that I wasn't there to spread hate, but hope. I then took the time to listen and resist the temptation to verbalise my disagreement with what he was saying, as I could see he was ready to go at any moment. To my surprise he stayed and I was able to continue listening to what he had to say. Slowly he warmed up, and allowed me some space to add my thoughts into the conversation. To my surprise, I ended up having the opportunity to briefly cover the main points of the gospel with him. He even ended up accepting back the tract he had returned to me. We parted ways with a hand shake! I thank God for allowing that conversation to turn around.
What a privilege and great responsibility my new job is! Please pray that I'll be able to continue being a faithful ambassador of Christ.
On Saturday morning, the day after the tragic shooting in Christchurch (NZ), I headed back into the central city.
There were not many people about, and there was a helicopter circling above. There was also an armed police presence so the mood was somber. I set up my flip chart in Cathedral Square, and got my Eternity tracts ready. Of the few people that walked past, I seemed to be received well - which was a relief. Tracts were accepted, and I had brief opportunities to talk to people about justice and the hope of forgiveness and eternal life found only in Jesus.
More people were out on Sunday afternoon, in spite of the overcast weather. A team of 4 were involved in the regular outreach. All in the team were involved in gospel conversations. Andy had almost constant conversations for 2 hours - he was very encouraged after the low of the events on Friday.
Sunday was also Saint Patrick's Day - so our yearly pub outreach ran in the evening. We visit 4 Irish pubs in 2 hours to share the gospel via tracts and conversations. But due to the tragedy of Friday, not many people were out. Yet we still had plenty of opportunity to talk to people about the gospel, and give people hope in the light of the tragedy.
Please continue to pray for those that have lost loved ones in Christchurch. And please pray that people would be open to the gospel!
How desperately does the world need the gospel. The message of hope for eternal life found in Jesus Christ.
Today, 49 lives (count at time of writing) were tragically lost to eternity at the hands of a hateful killer in Christchurch (NZ). For many, this tragedy will bring the stark reality of death to focus. They need the gospel. They need true hope!
The day started with heavy rain, but the outreach team headed into the central city anyway. Even in the rain, the Lord provided opportunities for gospel conversations.
Eventually, the rain eased and we headed to Cathedral Square. To our surprise, another protest was setting up. This was going to draw many people and provide wonderful opportunities to share the hope of Jesus. And so it did. We stayed clear of the main protest gathering, but set up a flip chart and had many conversations, often with large groups of people.
But soon, word spread about a shooting, and then the protest disbanded. We didn't think too much about it initially, and so one of the team decided to open air preach with the few that had remained behind. Some robust discussion was had. But all of a sudden, it turned nasty.
A young man became very agitated, seemingly about religion in general. He approached the preacher, and got too close for comfort, before a friend pulled him away. But a few minutes later, he turned back and grabbed the preacher by the throat and pushed him backwards.
The young man let go, but was still very angry. We finished the preaching at this point, the preacher leaving the scene, and the rest of the team worked to calm the situation down. But sadly, the tension seemed to spread, with various people engaging in verbal and physical confrontation. It was a very sad scene. Eventually, the tension dissipated.
This brought the outreach to a close, but I then noticed my phone - I had many messages from people asking if we were okay. Checking media sources, it became apparent how bad the shooting situation really was.
We made it home safely, and the initial reaction is to stay where it's safe.
But the world needs Jesus. The team intend to head out to the central city again tomorrow to, God willing, talk to people who need hope in this time of suffering: the hope of Jesus.
Please keep Christchurch in your prayers at this time of tragedy!
There were also 2 outreaches on Thursday: City & Eastgate.
The Eastgate outreach was again a wonderful and fruitful time of gospel ministry.
A highlight conversation for me was with an elderly lady. Most elderly people I attempt to start conversations with are not interested. But to my surprise, this lady was keen to talk. It turns out she had grown up a Catholic, and then been a Mormon for 35 years. In light of her history, the focus of the conversation was to try to get her to understand grace, through faith in Jesus. But she kept coming back to "but what do I have to do"! She left accepting a new Bible, and plenty of gospel literature. My prayer is that she will see the serious nature of her sin, but also the amazing grace of Jesus dying to pay for her sins and raising again to give hope. I leave her in God's hands.
Tuesday saw a focus on the Riccarton area of Christchurch (NZ) with letterbox dropping and flip charting. The foot traffic was light for flip charting, and just as I began to wonder if I was going to look like a fool, a conversation started. And the whole outreach ended up being very eventful.
I had some challenging gospel conversations with some high school students. After one of those conversations had completed, a few minutes later one of the students walked past again - this time with his father. And then a few minutes after that, the father walked past alone. I invited him to try the flip chart - and he was keen. So father and son both heard the gospel that day!
I also had a wonderful gospel conversation with an LGBT couple who wanted to know what the flip chart was all about. They could see the logic of the world view I was presenting, and I could see that they were challenged by it. They both gladly took copies of "God and Sexuality" by Ray Comfort as well as other gospel literature.
Wednesday was intensive with 8 hours of outreach including letterbox dropping, outreach in the city, and outreach outside the hospital.
I was encouraged to see some other Christians outside the hospital with pro-life signs protesting abortion. I talked to them briefly before setting up my flip chart outside an entrance.
It was a hot afternoon, and the best spot for outreach here doesn't have any shade. I stayed there for an hour handing out tracts before retreating to a shady spot.
I ended up having some wonderful gospel conversations at this new shady spot. A highlight was a discussion with four high school students.
At the end of the day, while I was letterbox dropping, I encountered three guys door knocking doing an insurance survey. I gave them tracts and a wonderful conversation ensued. It was challenging with, at times, all three of them talking at the same time asking me questions. But I was able to get through the law with all three of them, and briefly discuss the gospel with two of them (one went back to work). The conversation came to an end when one of the home owners came out asking us to be quiet so they could watch the news on TV in peace! We parted ways on good terms, and they all took literature from me and instructions on how to contact me if they wanted to continue the conversation.
May God use the feeble efforts of His children to bring people to faith in Christ. All glory to Him.
Saturday saw an eventful outreach in Cathedral Square for the Christchurch (NZ) team.
A group, whom I have encountered before, that sadly believe water baptism and speaking in tongues is required for salvation, were also out sharing. Discussions were had with a few of them refuting this, and explaining justification by faith alone. Considering all my interaction with people from this group, their passion for what they believe is overbearing and forceful and a reminder to me of how not to talk to people when I'm sharing about Jesus.
But tracts were distributed and some good conversations were had. A highlight conversation was with a young Christian man who was keen to go through the flip chart, and was very impressed with the way the law was used before presenting the good news of Christ. He left with a Paul Washer booklet: The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and encouragement to watch The Shocking Youth Message on You Tube.
After this, a huge crowd protesting water bottling companies came and presented a wonderful opportunity for tract distribution - I ended up giving away all my tracts. :)
Later on Saturday, I did some more letterbox dropping. Doing a few hours a day, I've nearly covered a whole suburb in a week.
Sunday brought rain again - but not enough to stop the afternoon outreach! With the markets not running due to the weather, the only entertainment in Cathedral Square was the wonderful busking of Kelvin, and some Christians (us) out sharing about Christ.
People from South Africa, Israel and German were open to gospel conversations.
The 2 German tourists (with excellent English) stopped at the flip chart keen for a conversation. They easily followed the logic of the gospel presentation I gave them, and then hung around to discuss it further. It turns out that another Christian had been sharing the same message with them when they were down in Wanaka. I pleaded with them that today was the day of salvation: to repent and trust in Christ - they may not get a third opportunity to hear the message of the hope of eternal life found in Jesus.
As 2 of the team were leaving for a coffee after the outreach, we were distributing tracts as we walked. One young man asked what it was, and I responded with "a gospel tract". This caused an English lady, who was walking past, to stop which led to a full gospel conversation with her.
I praise God for the many wonderful opportunities to fulfill the great commission: to go and spread the good news to everyone in the whole world.
Thursday was hot in Christchurch (NZ).
The day started with some letterbox dropping, before heading to the city. It is wonderful to have Andy enabled to join the Thursday outreaches due to the support of the Redemption Church Christchurch family - thank you!
I needed to get a document signed in front of an official witness, so I went to the court for this (1 street over from Cashel Mall). As I went in, I noticed a young construction worker sitting down and enjoying his lunch. As I was leaving, I noticed he was still there and decided to approach him to offer him a tract. This opened the door to a wonderful gospel conversation where we wrestled together discussing the important questions of life.
In the late afternoon we headed to the Eastgate bus stops. As usual, it was a fruitful ground for gospel ministry - with pretty much constant gospel interactions occurring.
A stand out conversation was with a young high school student. He was waiting for his bus, but was open to a conversation. I only had 5 minutes before his bus arrived, so I had to go quick, but he seemed to understand the law and gospel message I presented to him.
I moved to the other side of the road, and had another gospel conversation. And as that wrapped up, and I moved on, I approached another high school student. But it turned out it was the same guy! He said he missed his bus - so I took the opportunity to follow up.
I was explaining the paradox of salvation being a gift, and yet it having a great cost. To my amazement, this young man understood this, and confessed that, effectively, he wanted to trust in Christ, but only after he had done something that he knew Christ wouldn't want him to. He was wrestling with the cost of following Jesus! I pleaded with him not to follow through with whatever he was planning, repent, and trust in Christ today. He gladly took a Bible, and other literature from me.
I could see Andy further down talking with another young man who had just hopped off a bus (pictured). The outreach was about to finish, so I wandered down to wait for Andy. To my surprise, the guy I had just finished talking to, wandered down as well. It turns out these 2 guys were friends! They both heard the gospel this day and were challenged by it. May they count the cost, and then trust in Christ.
On Friday, in contrast to Thursday, the rain came. Not ideal for street evangelism. But the gospel still went forth. I donned my wet weather gear and plodded the streets putting tracts in letterboxes. Andy decided to go into the city anyway, and the Lord blessed him with 4 solid gospel conversations.
In the late afternoon, the rain stopped and the temperature increased. So the evening outreach in the city went ahead. And even though the foot traffic was light, many gospel conversations occurred.
One inquisitive young man (in the background of photo), with a Hindu or Buddhist background, seemed to understand the gospel and asked many questions trying to reconcile the information I was sharing with him. I offered him a Bible and he gladly took it, along with other literature. He seemed so blessed to receive it as a gift. May God show him his sin, and the great grace of Jesus our Lord - may he repent and trust in Christ. May I see him again.
Today saw the team try a letterbox drop! Many tracts were distributed to a local Christchurch neighborhood. May it bear much gospel fruit.
Later in the day, the regular Riccarton outreach occurred with two stand out conversations.
The first was with a Pilipino man who couldn't understand why a Christian would be standing on the foot path trying to talk to people about Jesus. He was asking questions trying to understand my motivation. And he seemed to be impressed when he realised my motivations were sincere.
He wanted to know what church I went to (which I told him), but he couldn't stay long enough for me to get into a gospel conversation. He took tracts, and wanted my contact details (which I gave him), and then we parted ways. I hope he does get in touch.
It's not unreasonable to believe he might. Just the other day, I was talking to someone who had to leave, and I said "If you have any further questions, my name is Glen, and you can contact me via the web site (operation513.com) on the back of the tract." Well, that someone did just that. We are now in email communication to continue the conversation!
The second conversation was with a young man who had been thinking deeply about the important questions of life just the night before. He said that our meeting was no coincidence (it never is). He was keen to stick around and have a deep gospel conversation.
After at least one checking question, I was confident that the gospel message was sinking in. I challenged this young man that today was the day of salvation, he might not have another. I pleaded with him to repent and trust in Christ alone.
An encouraging days outreach. Thank you for your support and prayer. Get in touch if you'd like to get involved. :)
The first weekend of March saw 3 outreaches: Philippine day in the city, Sumner beach on the Saturday, and our regular Sunday afternoon outreach in the city.
The focus of the Philippine day outreach was handing tracts to all the people coming and going from Cathedral Square.
One very encouraging conversation occurred. A young couple walked passed as I was handing out Eternity tracts, but the girl came back. She took the tract, and said: "My friend gave me one of these last week". I was curious. I asked if her friend was a Christian. "No", she said, "she is an atheist, but someone gave it to her last week, and after reading it gave it she gave it to me". She went on to say that her atheist friend had appreciated it - something about not needing to be perfect.
Well, this gave me an opportunity to build on the knowledge presented in the tract. I made it to talking about how hell is reasonable in light of a holy and just God. She agreed, acknowledging the logic of it! But at this point, she had to go, as her boyfriend - who didn't want to talk - was anxious to go. I gave her another tract as she parted. But I was so encouraged to hear of how a simple gospel tract had led to pondering the important questions of life for multiple people. Oh that they would trust in Christ!
At the Sumner beach outreach, in the afternoon, some good gospel conversations were had. One of them started as people were watching a World War 2 British fighter plane flying overhead (see picture). As it flew past, I asked 2 guys on bikes if it was a Spitfire. This led, eventually, to a gospel conversation! They both received follow up tracts as well.
Sunday morning my wife told me, as I was about to head off to church early to help with sound set up, that my eldest child was keen to join me on the streets sharing the gospel. I was thinking of taking the afternoon off, but that put some wind in my sails! Outreach on! ;) After church, my wife tells me all 3 of our children are joining me. :)
And what an awesome afternoon it was. There was a team of 9, and there were many good gospel conversations happening.
There were some with less experience, and a fair amount of nerves... but they all handed out some tracts.
God is good. Some real encouragement was received.
May those that heard the gospel come to faith in Christ - for His glory.
Come join this motley crew of fishers of men, out where the fish are! ;)
One of my favorite outreaches is at the Eastgate bus stops.
On Thursday, In just 3 hours, I:
And those are just the highlights, I can think of at least 7 other interactions, not including the tracts handed out.
And Daniel was with me, who was talking with people as well.
Why am I saying this? Not to toot my horn - that's for sure. But to show that there is a massive opportunity to minister the gospel in Christchurch.
The laborers are few. And good conversation days like this are exhausting. Please continue to pray for the laborers that are out where the fish are.
On Friday, the team were in the central city. Air NZ were having a give away in Cathedral Square and this attracted many people to also have gospel conversations.
Later, there was some open air preaching happening and our "favorite" heckler was there (pictured).
The outreach finished in Cashel Mall with flip chart gospel conversations.
Please consider joining the team! :) Even once a fortnight can mean many more are reached with the precious message of Jesus.
Tuesday and Wednesday saw 4 outreaches happening at 3 locations: in the City, on Riccarton Road, and outside the Hospital.
While on Riccarton Road on Tuesday afternoon, soon after I had set up the flip chart, I offered a tract to a lady walking past. She ignored it and grumbled something under her breath. I asked if she was OK, and she turned around and said something like: "It's because of you my niece couldn't get to sleep for 2 nights!". I was shocked and confused. She added, that I had shared with her about "that hell stuff". And something about her boyfriend being annoyed, and I was lucky he wasn't around. I then understood. I responded, "I'm out to share the good news of hope for eternal life through Jesus" - before she walked off in disgust.
My first thought was that I've become unbalanced in my law / grace presentation. But then, maybe the Holy Spirit is bringing conviction of sin into this lady's life? I hope it is the later, and if so, that this young lady won't shake it off and return to normal thinking, but that it would lead to repentance and faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin - to the joy of knowledge of the grace of God.
Later, a man accepted a tract and stopped for a chat. It turned out that this man was a Christian keen on evangelism, and has even open air preached Cathedral Square! Our conversation was interrupted, when a lady stopped at the flip chart and I had an opportunity to share the gospel with her. The man watched for a while before heading off. But later, he came back to say that he would be in touch. I hope to see him again.
The Wednesday morning outreach in the city was busy, with many gospel conversations in Cathedral Square. It was nice to have some cloud cover so it wasn't too hot.
A highlight conversation was with one of my 3 hecklers from the previous Thursday's preaching (one of the genuine hecklers). I was able to have another opportunity to share the law and the gospel with this young man. Part way through his phone rang, and he hung it up. It rang again, and I told him he could answer it, but he just ignored it and asked me to continue! I'm confident he understood the message. I leave him in the hands of God and I hope to see him again.
By the afternoon, the cloud had passed and the sun was beating down as I stood outside the hospital. This forced me to go exploring to find a shady spot to witness from. A number of good gospel conversations were had through out the afternoon, and tracts were distributed.
May Jesus receive the reward of His suffering.