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.
2 outreaches today: 1 x Central City and 1 x New Brighton. Both outreaches were supposed to be 3 hours but, praise God, the city outreach went half an hour longer due to a wonderful gospel conversation with three men.
During this discussion, after they asked good questions to clarify they understood the message I was sharing, and after I had asked a checking question to confirm they had understood the message I was sharing - one of the men said he was gay.
I don't think he did this to challenge / attack me, but because he felt safe enough to disclose this and inquire as to where this fit with God.
And I was honest: homosexuality is a sin, and if we are trusting in Christ for salvation we will want to repent (change our mind) about this - as well as other sin. I also had the opportunity to explain why homosexuality was sin.
After this, I could see him trying to deny the true God as he wanted to hold on to his sin. I understood this reaction, but I just kept coming back to Romans 1:18-20 - we know the true God exists, but we suppress this knowledge because we love our sin. I gave all 3 guys the tract "How we know that God exists and why it matters".
I was also able to talk about 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - that our sin is serious, including homosexuality, but that all sin, including homosexuality, can be forgiven through faith in Jesus. The guy accepted the booklet "God and Sexuality" that explained more.
As the discussion ended - I said, with a smile, "I don't hate you, man". And he smiled back and said "I know".
I had many other wonderful conversations in the city, I was able to preach in the Square, and my friend, Gary, joined me by handing out tracts. It was so wonderful watching the polite way he did this.
The 2nd outreach was going to be in Sumner, but I ended up diverting to New Brighton because 1) Gary was going to New Brighton and so I offered him a lift, and 2) the Coast to Coast event was ending there attracting lots of people.
I found it hard witnessing in a new location, but I was able to have some good conversations, including with 2 homeless guys (separate conversations) and a guy relaxing on the beach, but very open to a conversation and who kept exclaiming afterwards - "I understand, it makes sense". Yet, understanding and actually trusting are different things. I challenged him to trust in Christ today.
I had to call an ambulance tonight. Mike and I were both sharing the gospel with people, when a lady collapsed on the road behind us! I think she'll be fine, so once the ambulance arrived, we went back to work and Mike ended up having a great gospel conversation with 2 sets of people at the same time (see pic with ambulance in the background).
We had some encouragement from a Christian tourist who said she had seen Christians on the Gold Coast, Australia sharing the gospel. She showed me a photo - and I recognized an Operation 513 team member! (see pic). So cool that people are encountering Christians sharing the gospel multiple times in different places on one trip.
We also had some discouragement with our main atheist heckler turning up and wasting our time. :( Although, ultimately, nothing is wasted. I have compassion for this angry man - and I know God has used him to grow me in many ways. God uses all things for the good of those who love Him.
Earlier in the day a team of 6 - including 2 newbies - were out sharing Jesus via preaching, flip chart conversations, and tracts. 3 of the OAC team were also out, and a new evangelist is in town, with his own way of presenting the gospel. So that's at least 10 Christians sharing the gospel in the afternoon, and 2 in the evening. Very encouraging. May more laborers be raised up, and more churches get involved with the great commission on the streets - all to the glory of God.
(It's great to see some progress being made on the broken Cathedral too.)
Back on the streets of Christchurch today, doing my best to share the gospel. The time went fast, as I was either open air preaching or talking to people most of the time - which is good - but, sadly, there was much resistance to Jesus.
I continued a conversation with a guy I met, and shared the gospel with (as well as answering many questions) at the end of the summer mission to Christchurch (just over 2 weeks ago). But sadly he seemed more closed than the first time I talked to him.
And I set up my flip chart for the last 30 minutes of the outreach which attracted some conversations. But sadly, 3 elderly people openly mocked the concept of hell, making jokes. And after that, a man got angry with me and walked off in a huff while we were discussing the basis for truth. None of these people stayed long enough to hear the gospel.
Honestly, I went out dragging my heels today, and I left feeling dejected. It's hard work bringing a message to people that don't want to hear it. I guess I feel like Jeremiah today.
But I'm not discouraged. Jesus has asked us to go. I love Him and will obey, even when it's hard. We are not always going to be clicking our heels after an outreach. And I can't judge what is going on in people's hearts. May God use our fumbling attempts to share Jesus for His glory. (And yet, I'm motivated to be the best ambassador for Jesus that I can be.)
Looking forward to heading out again tomorrow. :) At the very least, it will be an opportunity to worship. Who's joining me?
A nice Sunday afternoon to get out and chat with people about eternity and the gospel, after enjoying worship and fellowship with our local churches. A team of 3 today from 2 local churches.
We decided to go to our old fishing spot just outside Ballantynes - a spot we have only recently been able to start using again now that the construction next door is complete giving the foot path its good flow of foot traffic again. We also set up a flip chart on the opposite side of the mall.
The Christchurch (NZ) team are loving the use of the Eternity tract. It's a great conversation starter: "Hi, we are talking to people about eternity today. What do you think happens in Eternity?" (while handing them the tract), and if people aren't keen for a chat, they will often keep the tract which explains the good news.
Today, a young lady walked past my flip chart and took a tract, but didn't stop to chat. Soon after, an older Catholic gentlemen stopped for a chat. Then I noticed the young lady was back, and patiently waiting for the conversation to end - she obviously had something to say. My assumption was that she was going to give me a piece of her mind over offense at the gospel message on the tract. The gentlemen moved on and my attention was with the young lady again. But to my pleasant surprise, she didn't want to give me a piece of her mind, but she had many good and genuine questions about God, and Christianity - and the gospel was shared. She had read the tract and it had motivated her to follow up - praise God for tracts!
It just goes to show that we can often think the worst might happen, when in fact it's often the opposite. And this often stops us doing what we should. I know evangelism often invokes a great fear, which holds us back, e.g.: "I'll be asked a question I can't answer" or "they'll get angry at me". And yes, that might happen from time to time. But more often than not a wonderful conversation will occur with people walking away with an understanding of the good news of Jesus - which is "the power of God for salvation" (Romans 1:16). And with training and experience, we will get better at dealing with those few times where we get asked hard questions, or people are upset. There are many teams of Christians out sharing the love of God that you can join to get that training and experience. I want to encourage you to step past your fears and take the first step by getting in touch!
Another wonderful conversation started with the "Eternity" approach. But the man wasn't interested, and wouldn't take the tract. But I noticed he was wearing a cap advertising a technology I was familiar with (my background is in IT). I was genuinely interested in why he was wearing the cap, and a conversation occurred naturally. It turns out that a conference was starting the following day, at the university, and he had flown in from Australia to attend. We talked about IT for a while, when he asked: "So what do you do now?". This opened up an opportunity to come back to the Eternity tract. He clearly said he didn't want to talk about religion -- and I respected that. But he did say he would take the tract and read it. He popped it into his shirt pocket, and the conversation drifted back to IT. Soon after we parted ways with a hand shake. But a silent missionary was sitting in his shirt pocket. God willing, it will come out and witness the gospel to him at exactly the right time.
Day 10 of 10: Christchurch (NZ) Summer Mission + Friday Night Outreach
Today we had a solid team of 9 out sharing, including 3 children. So wonderful to have people of all ages (including a retired pastor), abilities, experience levels and walks of life unified on the need to get the gospel of Jesus to the lost. I want to encourage ALL Christians to get involved. The gospel message is not complicated, and if you have the ability to smile, and simply hand out tracts to people walking past - then you can do this! And outreach teams are being established that you, and your church, can join to get training and grow in confidence and experience.
The photos only show a sampling of the many gospel interactions that occurred.
Thank you so much to those that have been praying for the Christchurch team while we were on our yearly mission to our own city. And the encouragement and support has been so appreciated. God bless! :)
Day 9 of 10: Christchurch (NZ) Summer Mission
Today we took the chilly bin of cold drinks and focused on walk up conversations with people: both in the City (including an excursion down to the Botanical Gardens), and at Sumner Beach.
Using soft drinks to start conversations is a wonderful tool (something unique to our Summer Mission). Proverbs 18:16 (ESV) "A man's gift makes room for him and brings him before the great." It is only a tool - a non essential, unlike the gospel message - which is essential. But many times today it caused people to stop when it was clear they wouldn't have otherwise - and often a wonderful gospel conversation was able to occur.
An example of this was first thing this morning, as we were walking down High Street towards Cathedral Square, a young man ended up walking parallel to us. An Eternity tract was offered and accepted, but it didn't look like he would stop for a conversation. When offered a free drink, he seemed genuinely surprised and gratefully accepted. By this stage we were waiting at the lights to cross into Cathedral Square and I was able to start discussing the law and gospel with him. He became engrossed, and we slowed down to a stand still in the Square as I finished explaining the gospel and offered a booklet with more details. I was surprised when he said yes, and that he would sit down right then and read it! I've never had that happen before. This young man sat down, read through the Eternity tract, and then picked up the booklet and started reading through it (see first picture, where another of the team is also sharing the gospel with someone else). I took the time to write out my contact details for this young man and gave them to him. I then moved elsewhere and had a separate gospel conversation; when I came back, he was still reading. Praise God! Our job is to share the gospel, God does the saving - for His glory alone.
Many other gospel conversations were had today. We thank God for the opportunities He provided to share of His mercy and grace - and we trust Him with the results. Your prayers and support are a vital part of this mission - please continue to pray as we move into the final day tomorrow.
Day 8 of 10 of the summer mission to Christchurch (NZ)
Today was a day of gospel conversations in the most unlikely of places and ways.
We loaded up the chilly bin with cold drinks to give away, with the intention of eventually making it to the beach for evangelism there. But we never ended up making it.
We decided to start in the central city, as we had to follow up with authorities in regard to the flip chart drama from the previous day.
Using cold drinks or tracts as conversation starters, or the flip chart - we had limited success in sharing the gospel message with people. Although some good conversations were had.
After lunch, we decided to head for the beach. But on the way to our cars, as we were walking down Cashel Street (the part outside the central city, and so with low foot traffic) we noticed a skateboarder who looked hot and in need of a cold drink! It was gratefully accepted, and turned into a wonderful gospel conversation (see picture).
While this conversation was going, another team member had other opportunities to hand out tracts & give away drinks as conversation starters. One of those conversations was with 2 construction workers on a break. This conversation was special for 2 reasons: 1) Every morning of this mission, as we have headed to the streets, we have passed a big group of construction workers on their morning break, some of whom received tracts. 2) 1 of the 2 construction workers approached today had received tracts on a previous day! This was a wonderful opportunity to follow up, and he started by saying "Religion doesn't make any sense". In as much time that was allowed, and starting with this statement, objections were answered, and the law and gospel was shared - with a call to repentance and faith. I'm hoping this will lead to some thinking on their part, and lead to more follow up questions in future mornings, God willing.
Once the conversation with the skateboarder had finished, we continued heading towards our parked cars, when a guy we had talked to the previous day saw us again, and was keen for a follow up conversation. This man had had some kind of powerful spiritual encounter a year or so ago, but was now believing in something that included Christianity, but wasn't Christianity. Specifically, he thought the Bible was interesting, and Jesus was important. But that God spoke to him directly. He was convinced that people are generally good, but yet he loved the hymn amazing grace (that saved a wretch like me). We continued to challenge this man about the sinfulness of man, and the gift of Jesus.
So, after all these conversations in the least expected of places, we had run out of time to head to the beach. But the day wasn't over.
One of the team decided to head back to Cashel Mall to do some more gospel sharing before the end of the day, and at the Colombo Street intersection an "Eternity" gospel tract was handed to a young man while waiting for the lights to go green to cross the road. A conversation got going, and neither of us ended up making the crossing. The young man was new to Christchurch and was lost. He needed to get to Riccarton Mall, and asked if he could walk there. It was too far, and since that mall was on the way home, a ride was offered and accepted. All the way to the car (back down Cashel Street), and on the drive over to Riccarton Mall, a wonderful gospel conversation occurred. This young man had gotten involved with Christianity through a youth group in his home town. But he had no understanding of the gospel, and was calling himself agnostic now, in spite of once being a passionate "Christian". He seemed to really appreciate the new gospel information I was giving him, and he gladly accepted a Bible, gospel booklet, DVD, and tract with contact details. The last photo on this report is of him just after being dropped off. Oh, may he understand, repent, and believe the gospel - to the glory of God alone!
Day 7 of 10 of the Christchurch (NZ) summer mission.
No rain today, but it was overcast, so we decided to go to Cathedral Square (instead of heading to the beach). Before heading out, we prayed together as a team and read some Proverbs. 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. And 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. Little did we know that those verses would need to be applied today - but God did.
On our way to the Square, we ended up having some great walk up conversations with workers on breaks. But once we made it to the Square, it was a bit slow - esp. at our usual spot at the southern Colombo St entrance.
Some of the team decided to move into Speaker's Corner, in front of the Cathedral. And this became a very fruitful spot for gospel conversations.
But sadly, to our shock and surprise, we had one of the local coffee stall owners abruptly pull down one of our flip charts (see photo) and try to put a stop to what we were doing! We refused to be intimidated, and so continued to use our flip charts to have gospel conversations with those that were interested - even with the stall owner continually coming back and trying to stop us. Those verses from the book of Proverbs were put to good use.
It's nothing like the book of Acts, but praise God we were counted worthy to face opposition, may it cause the gospel to prosper!
And today the gospel certainly prospered! The team headed home, clicking our heels, due to all the wonderful conversations that were had. A lot more gospel booklets (something we only give out to people that respond positively to the message shared) were given out today than usual.
Because of what happened today, it also provided opportunity to get to know some of the other stall owners that witnessed what happened and gave us the opportunity to start building good relationships with them. God uses all things for the good of those that love Him.
Tonight we will be having our weekly team prayer meeting - we have much to pray about after today. Please be praying for the team as we head into the last few days of our summer mission. May the lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!
Day 6 of 10 of the summer mission to Christchurch (NZ). We awoke to rain. Heavy rain. But we decided to not let that stop us. From previous experience I knew, at the very least, that we would be able to hand out tracts and have conversations outside the bus exchange. And that is exactly what we did, after first gathering for a time of prayer.
2 solid conversations were had there, in spite of the heavy rain. 1 with an atheist from the UK, and 1 with a young Jewish man. We praise God for that! The rain finally eased enough for us to move out to other parts of the city.
But, unfortunately, even the Buskers Festival wasn't running due to the weather, and there weren't many people about.
We had an early lunch as a team, before heading back again in the afternoon. The weather steadily improved drawing people out, and more conversations were able to be had, including a long conversation with a group of homeless men. And then, finally, the sun broke through!
We headed to Cathedral Square and ended up having a wonderful conversation with 2 kids out on their scooters. As you will see from the pictures, 1 of them was particularly impacted, and you could tell he was seriously processing the gospel message being shared (sadly, his friend got bored, and scootered off).
One buskers act did occur, and a crowd gathered for it, allowing tracts to be distributed. And late in the day, a man who was fighting stage 4 cancer, heard the gospel via flip chart -- his wife didn't want to be involved, waiting down the foot path, but the man wanted to stay to find out why I was there, it was my privilege to present the simple gospel message to him!
I told him my prayer is that he would be healed, and fully recover - but the reality is that we will all die and face God on judgment day. He was challenged to repent and put his faith in Jesus today.
The regular Sunday afternoon outreach for the Christchurch (NZ) team went well. Today we had a small team of members from 2 local churches. Due to the Buskers Festival, many people are in the central city. One of the performance areas is in Cathedral Square, and so we set up at the entrance.
At the end of each performance, there is a rush of people leaving, and it's a great opportunity to hand out tracts and start conversations - of which many were had (as per pictures). May God use the gospel message shared today to bring about salvation of souls -- for His glory alone!
Gearing up for the final week of the Summer Mission - please keep the Christchurch team in your prayers this week! :)