Christchurch (NZ) Team
Tue 3:30pm - 5:30pm - Riccarton (corner of Riccarton Rd and Rotherham St)
Fri 1:30pm - 3:30pm - City (Bridge of Remembrance)
Sat 11am - 1pm - Riccarton (corner of Riccarton Rd and Rotherham St)
Sun 1:30pm - 3:30pm - City (corner of Colombo St and Cashel St).
Contact Glen Richards or Andy Barlow for more information.
On Tuesday the outreach to Riccarton started with some letterbox dropping.
As I was walking around a corner, I encountered two teenagers and offered them a tract. To my surprise, one of them said he had already talked to me before - at Eastgate!
It turns out we were only a few paces away from a small bus shelter, and there were more teens there. I had a wonderful opportunity to briefly discuss the things of God with them before a bus turned up and they hopped aboard. But before that, I was encouraged that when I shared the building = builder / creation = creator analogy, one of them said: “that makes complete sense” (or words to that effect). They all received an Easter tract.
After the letterbox dropping, I went to a slightly different spot on Riccarton Road to have Gospel conversations. And I also didn’t use my flip chart (I forgot it as I rushed out the door). Well, for two hours, I wasn’t able get anyone to stop for a full Gospel conversation. I don’t think it was the new spot - I was able to give away plenty of Easter tracts. Or the lack of a flip chart. Although I did see plenty of people I have talked to on previous outreaches. Maybe I need to find a completely new spot for a while?
Yet I was not discouraged. The outreach, at the very least, was a success, as I had obeyed Jesus in going.
On Wednesday conversations were, again, difficult to come by - but they did occur this time! :) May God be glorified in our efforts, even when they don’t go as well as we hope.
As we march on towards winter, an added blessing is that the sun is now low enough that the hospital building is shading my prime spot in front of the entrance. I thank God for this small blessing.
The weekend saw two outreaches in the central city for the Christchurch (NZ) team.
Like Friday, both outreaches were conducted in cold and wet conditions. But tracts were distributed and conversations occurred any way - to the glory of God.
Two highlight conversations from Saturday: an encouragement and a discouragement.
The encouragement was with a young man outside the bus exchange. It turns out this young man had been in a Christian kids club I had been a leader of years ago. Now from time to time I bump into these kids (now young adults) and feel discouraged as they don’t show the fruits of repentance and faith. So I was expecting this young man to be the same. But to my surprise he demonstrated an understanding of the Gospel and is involved with a local church! Praise God.
The discouragement stemmed from a conversation with a lady. As I was taking her through the law I asked her if she had ever murdered anyone, the conversation quickly moved to euthanasia. She shared a sad, personal story where someone she knew was euthanized. On the surface, the situation seemed justified. And, in a way, she was looking for sympathy or justification from me. I could not give it. We have no right to take human life, even when there is suffering. I briefly touched on biblical examples where God uses suffering for good. The crucifixion of Jesus being the prime example. I was able to explain the Gospel - that Jesus suffered the justice of God the Father so we could be forgiven of our sin and rose again, defeating death and giving us hope of eternal life. But she was repelled by the exclusivity of Jesus being the only way to the Father and quickly disengaged and walked away. It is hard, but vitally important that we are always faithful to the truth - as discouraging as the result can be.
The Sunday afternoon outreach started with prayer (as always). And we asked that the rain would not hinder the Gospel going forth.
Straight after we finished praying, I headed out and started offering Easter tracts. Two teen boys were biking past and they slammed on their brakes and came back to accept what I was offering. They gave an interesting answer to the question of why we call Good Friday good. Their answer was: so that kids would be able to enjoy the holiday - since it’s good!
Using this as my starting point, I was able to explain to them why we are not good, and the real reason why we call Good Friday good. That Jesus exchanged our bad for His good on the cross so justice could be served and we could receive forgiveness. They acknowledged that it was indeed good news!
In spite of the weather, other Gospel conversations occurred, and tracts were distributed.
Looking forward to a rest on Monday, before heading out again on Tuesday. Your prayer is so appreciated. Please pray for more labourers for the harvest field in Christchurch and beyond, and that God would be glorified in our obedience in sharing, and people hearing, His precious Gospel!
Thursday saw the team back in Cathedral Square and at the Eastgate bus stops.
Andy’s first conversation in Cathedral Square was with a young man from China (pictured). This man was extremely engaged with the information he was learning about Jesus Christ, so much so that he accepted an invitation to join the Barlow family for dinner on Saturday night and to continue the conversation! Praise God.
Later, I preached in the open air. I used the coming of Easter as a springboard for my law & Gospel presentation. I had one heckler who bizarrely accused me of hatred towards Muslims while he was walking past. Nothing could be further from the truth! Out of love do Christians confront people with their sin, and share of the amazing forgiveness found only in Christ - and we are to do this with gentleness and respect.
The Eastgate bus stops outreach was, again, a time of non stop Gospel conversations!
I crossed the road and approached a young lady waiting for her bus, when she said, “Oh, you’re Glen right”. I was surprised! I had obviously talked to this person before and didn’t remember it. It turns out she was the friend of a young man I had spoken to at the Sparks in the Park Outreach a few months back. And in hindsight I remembered talking to them both briefly about 3 weeks ago.
This young lady remembered the building / builder; creation / creator analogy and starting from there, we discussed the Gospel in depth. She accepted literature, including a Bible, and received a contact card for a local church before she had to rush off to catch her bus home.
The Eastgate bus stop outreach is providing many opportunities for follow up conversations - and I thank God for that.
Friday saw rain. Heavy rain. But we weren’t going to let it hinder us. (I thanked God for the rain.)
We spent four hours in the central city. And our go to spot in heavy rain is the bus exchange. We prayed, as usual, before starting: asking God to provide opportunities to witness for Him in spite of the rain.
And God certainly answered that prayer! Andy had 2 back to back Gospel conversations with people that were some of the best conversations he has had in months.
And I had a wonderful opportunity to briefly share the Gospel with a lady who was an “Atheist / Buddhist” that had cancer and was keen to know about Christianity.
After lunch the rain had eased, so we ventured down to the corner of Colombo and Cashel (a favourite fishing hole) where Roger joined us. But soon the heavens opened up again, even including a hail shower at one point. In spite of this, many wonderful opportunities to share Christ occurred.
At the end of the outreach, we headed to a coffee shop for some fellowship. And then the sun decided to come out!
Nothing can stop the Gospel going forth, if God so desires. Rain, hail or shine.
There was a hint of winter on Tuesday: wet and cold. I awoke listening to heavy rain and the first thought that came to mind was that I deserved the justice of God in Hell (but am not going there because of the Grace of Jesus). I lingered on the thought for a while, imagining an eternity under the righteous wrath of God and felt afresh the desperate need to get out and share the wonderful news of forgiveness with any willing to listen. God is sovereign in salvation, but we are the means He uses (by sharing the Gospel) to bring people to that salvation.
The days outreach was to Riccarton with Letterbox dropping and flip charting on Riccarton Road.
The conversations were good. People listened to the Gospel presentations politely. But it struck me that there was no outward evidence of alarm of the seriousness of sin in light of a holy (perfect) God. Those that I can remember talking to seemed to be intellectually analysing what I was saying, appreciating it, and moving on. Pondering this at the end of the outreach I felt sad. But then, outward responses are no guarantee of what is going on in the heart. I have to leave people in the hands of the Holy Spirit.
Wednesday saw the usual two outreaches in Cathedral Square and the Hospital.
The foot traffic in Cathedral Square was lighter than usual, and just as I was wondering if the day would be lacking in solid conversations, the Lord led a young tourist to me to share with and the outreach ended up being eventful from then on.
This young tourist, didn’t deny a creator but clearly didn’t like the true God; wanting to live his life his own way. I could tell this because when I talked about anger being murder of the heart and lust being adultery of the heart, he became quite riled! But he wasn’t unreasonable and stayed to hear the good news of Jesus - the only hope for eternal life - and then a call to surrender all and follow Christ. After the previous day, this conversation encouraged me.
The foot traffic at the Hospital was the lightest I’d ever seen it. And I was seriously considering finding a new spot to move to when the Lord brought a Catholic man, who knew his Bible well, to have a conversation with. This conversation went for a very long time (an hour and a half?) with, as usual, the focus on salvation by works verse by grace. It was great to be able to pull my Bible out and work through verses with this man. The conversation went right to the end of the outreach, and then he ended up walking with me back through the city as I was going back to my car. He wanted to know what church I went to, and how to get there. I gave him a contact card with all the details. It would be wonderful to see him again.
I thank the Lord for enabling me to be a fool for Him on the streets of Christchurch. And I’m thankful to all those who donate their hard earned money to support me. Thank you so much. Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday saw our second to last special outreach of the summer: The Oxford A&P Show.
It was wonderful to, again, have many of the newbies who were involved with the Malvern A&P Show the previous Saturday. It is wonderful to see them continuing to get involved with sharing the precious message of Jesus and growing in their confidence, in spite of some difficult conversations!
The site was very busy. We had four flip charts set up, and an “observation test” sketch board (it has the same questions as the “intelligence test” tract). Often multiple Gospel conversations were on the go!
Some of the conversations were with people we had talked to previous years, and so there was some good opportunities for follow up and to go over the Gospel again with them.
And some of the team had exciting conversations with open hearted people!
The highlight conversation for me was with two teenage girls. It was late in the afternoon, and I was tired by this stage, and so my presentation was more mechanical than I like. But one of them seemed especially concerned about her standing before a Holy God after I had shared the law with them. I then moved to the Good News, and to my joy, I saw tears form in her eyes. She seemed to be understanding the grace of Jesus taking the punishment for her sin and rising again defeating death!
I offered her a Gospel booklet, which she took. And after a little more conversation, I asked if she would like a Bible - which she keenly accepted along with a local church contact card. My heart was warmed by this conversation. And I leave her in Gods hands.
There was nothing dynamic or special about my presentation, the Holy Spirit only uses the Gospel message as the power for salvation. Every Christian can share the simple Gospel message. I encourage you to get involved!
Sunday saw our regular afternoon outreach to Cashel Mall.
It was fascinating to see Muslims from the UK out sharing their message with people as well. They had a literature table set up, and plenty of people seemed to be taking interest.
We approached them to talk… And they certainly like to do that!
The guy I talked to liked to say things in Arabic and then interpret them for me. I could be wrong, but it felt like he was showing off. I hope I never come across like this when I’m sharing the Gospel of Jesus with people! It’s only the Gospel message that God uses to save, not my ability to appear intelligent!
I did manage to share the law and Gospel with this guy. As soon I as I started to take him through the law he said “Oh, that’s Ray”. He had obviously heard of Ray Comfort - and didn’t think very highly of him! But I persisted in taking him through the law and Gospel presentation - which he allowed me to do.
The team set up flip charts on the corner of Cashel and Colombo and, unlike last Sunday, we had many Gospel conversations with people.
I thank the Lord for the opportunities He provided to be an ambassador for him, weak as we are. May He be glorified as we worship Him in our obedience.
On Thursday we had two outreaches: City & Eastgate.
Before getting to Cathedral Square, I encountered the same young man I had shared with exactly one week earlier, so I had an opportunity to follow up and reiterate the Gospel message with him.
It had been a while since I had last preached in the open air. And today felt like the right time to get back into it.
Our two main hecklers were down a bit from speakers corner, and I expected them to come down and start sharing their thoughts - but they didn’t. Fine with me.
I proclaimed the law and the Gospel using the recent shootings as a springboard and a focus on anger being murder of the heart meaning we all need justice and the grace only provided by Jesus on the cross.
One of the hecklers did come over as I was nearing the finish of my message. I completely ignored him, and to my surprise he ran out of steam quickly and left in disgust.
The Eastgate bus stop was as good as ever, with a steady stream of Gospel conversations occurring.
Friday saw Andy get back on the box, after he was attacked 2 weeks prior, before the team moved to Cashel Mall for 1 to 1 Gospel conversations and tract distribution.
The day ended with our evening outreach where Andy had a wonderful opportunity to speak with 3 Muslim men for nearly an hour.
And I had a wonderful conversation with a young man on his way to the bus exchange. He didn’t have a Christian background, but he had obviously been wrestling with the important questions of life and was very receptive to the Gospel presentation, gladly accepting literature.
A wonderful two days of Gospel ministry. What a privilege to be a part of the Kingdom of God, and then have the honour to be an ambassador of Jesus! I can't think of a better job to have! Your prayer for the work in Christchurch is much appreciated.
Today saw outreaches into the City and outside the Hospital.
At the hospital, God blessed me with two very special opportunities to share the Gospel.
The first was with a young lady who came from the USA and whose school, there, had had a mass shooting! So she has now lived in two cities where mass shootings have occured. :( I shared the Gospel with her, explaining the hope for eternal life found only in Jesus.
And then a young man came out of the hospital, on to the foot path where I was, so he could smoke a cigarette. I said hello and a conversation started. And it turns out that this man lost two people in the terrible shootings one and a half weeks ago - one of whom was his younger brother. He said he lived in Christchurch for 15 years, but now lived in Australia, but if he had been in Christchurch, he probably would have been in the mosque too.
I had a wonderful opportunity to share my sympathy and compassion to this young man, and to all those that were grieving the loss of loved ones. I then had an opportunity to talk about the justice of God, but how we required justice too but that Jesus was the only hope for forgiveness. He said we were brothers. But I said we weren’t, but that we were neighbours. And because I loved him as a neighbour, I wanted him to know of Christ. He said we were brothers through Adam. And I conceded that. (But Adam brought sin and death into the world, and Jesus, the second Adam, atoned for sin, and defeated death - we weren’t brothers in Christ.) Our time to talk was brief. As soon as he had finished his cigarette, he had to go back into the hospital. We parted ways with a hand shake, and he took a Gospel tract from me. But I thank God for the brief opportunity.
I’m still praying for my Muslim neighbours in Christchurch. That they would continue to receive support, and be able to grieve. But that they would ultimately get to hear the amazing good news of forgiveness of sin, only found in Jesus Christ.
In the city (Cathedral Square), I was pleasantly surprised to see a man with a scale model of Noah’s ark set up! Plenty of people were showing interest, which was very encouraging (see picture). When I got a chance, I introduced myself, and we briefly chatted and exchanged contact details.
I then moved to a spot where I could do some flip charting. Two conversations in particular stood out from my time there.
The last was with a young man who couldn’t stand still! But was very engaged in the conversation. He said he was in a car accident recently, so what I was saying was pertinent. He had time on his hands, and so I offered him a Bible and Gospel booklet to read, which he gladly received, along with a challenge to repent and trust in Christ today - as he didn’t know if he would get another day.
Later, our resident atheistic heckler turned up. I knew he was going to give my Noah’s ark model friend some grief - and so he did (see picture). I continue to pray for our heckling friend.
Tuesday saw our regular Riccarton Road outreach. The foot traffic is always light at this location, but I’m often having good conversations with people anyway. And this was no exception: 3 outstanding Gospel conversations occurred.
The first was with a high school student who was well versed in evolutionary science. I refused to let this become a distraction from a clear presentation of the Gospel. I did this by saying I could prove that God exists in 30 seconds. This got his attention, and I proceeded to use Romans 1:18 - 20 to show how he knew God existed, with the assistance of the "building means builder; creation means creator" analogy. I then moved to conscience (which means: with knowledge) as how we absolutely knew right from wrong. He was interested enough to then do the good person test via flip chart and so heard a thorough Gospel presentation. He was obviously challenged by it, and started asking good questions. Eventually we got back to the issue of evolution, which is important, and I’m happy to discuss. But sadly he refused any literature, insisting that he was right.
The last was with two young men. They were willing to do the good person test, but didn’t seem too interested. I asked a checking question at the end to see if they understood the way to salvation, completely expecting them to get it wrong. But to my surprise, they got it right. It just goes to show that we don't know what's going on in the heart / mind of people. I think one of those guys was actually very interested in what I was saying.
I continue to thank God for enabling me to be out sharing the Gospel as I am, and I thank all you who are supporting me in this.
A busy weekend for the Christchurch (NZ) team over the weekend.
Saturday was the Malvern A&P Show. A large site was hired and a bouncy castle was set up for kids to play on while gospel conversations were had with the parents, as well as the usual flip chart set up. There was a large team of adults and children, including newbies which was very encouraging, to run the flip charts and hand out gospel booklets. And the gospel booklets were specially designed and written for the local area by Good News 4 Malvern. You can read it here.
In spite of low foot traffic at the show, it was a very busy time with many gospel conversations. Over 600 booklets were handed out, including one to the local MP, who also listened to a very brief gospel presentation.
A highlight conversation for me was a long one with 3 young adults who asked difficult questions around the issue of homosexuality, suffering, and forgiveness. It was evident that we were loving as well as faithful in the gospel message we shared, as when the conversation came to an end, and a handshake was offered, hugs were given instead!
On Sunday we ran our regular afternoon outreach in the central city. The weather was good, and plenty of people were out and about. But it was very hard to get people to stop for a conversation! It just goes to show, that it’s not always going to be easy. But Jesus is worthy of our worship in obeying His great commission - no matter the result! Each of the team eventually all had at least one gospel conversation - and who knows, it may be one of those gospel presentations God uses to lead a person to Christ. Salvation is in His hands. All glory to Him.
Thursday was a really exciting day.
I was going to head straight to Eastgate and do some gospel letterbox dropping as well as one to one conversations at the bus stops, but Marty posted that the OAC team would be in the Square - so I changed my plans to spend half my time in the city and half at Eastgate. And I'm so glad I did!
Firstly, I offered a tract to a dude on my way to the Square and it turned into one of the best conversations I've had in a long time. He understood the gospel, and then said: "I should read the Bible". And he was blown away when I gave him one. Oh that he would take the step further from understanding and trust alone in Christ. But that's Gods job.
In the Square Marty was preaching. And our "favorite" heckler was dishing out his usual. But then a guy with a microphone started interviewing the heckler.
After Marty had finished preaching, we were talking when the guy, who turned out to be with Radio NZ, approached for an interview. Marty was wisely shy of talking, suspecting a trap related to the recent tragedy here in Christchurch. But strangely, I had a deep desire to talk. I've got nothing to hide.
And so before I knew it, I was being interviewed by this guy. And my focus was on being upfront with the gospel - as always.
At least 4 times this guy asked me if those that died in the tragic shootings were going to hell. A simple 'yes' wouldn't be right, as it needs context. I kept answering the question WITH context and in multiple ways. I did my best to be faithful, yet balanced and compassionate (the killings were WRONG, I love and am praying for my Muslim neighbors, I want them to know of the justice of God and the forgiveness found only in Christ).
Afterwards, I kept thinking of better answers that I could have given. I pray that, if the interview is used, I will be represented fairly.
After the interview, there was a guy, who had been listening to my interview, who I got into an amazing gospel conversation with. Apparently I had given him an Intelligence Test tract to him on a previous day, and it had impacted him. He had a Catholic background, so the long conversation focused on salvation by faith vs works.
I praise God for those 3 opportunities to share of Him and His love!
And it didn't end there, as I then spent 2 hours in non stop gospel conversations at the Eastgate bus stops. This was just around the block from the 2nd mosque that was attacked, and it was so sad seeing the blocked off streets. But it was so awesome being able to talk with people who had been impacted by the terrible event and share hope with them.
Today, Friday, saw the team in Cathedral Square and Cashel Mall using the flip chart and tracts. At 1:30 pm we, along with everyone else in NZ, paused for 2 minutes of silence in remembrance of those who had lost their lives a week earlier.
Please keep praying for Christchurch: for those that have lost loved ones in the despicable attacks, that my interview - if used - would be faithful of God, for laborers for the harvest, and that the lost will hear the gospel of Jesus - before it's too late!
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.
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