Here are the tentative weekly outreach times for online evangelism:
Sunday 1-3pm (Practical Training Outreach)
These times are all in AEST (GMT+10), so adjust them based on your own timezone.
How to take part
To watch any of our online outreaches, you can watch live on our YouTube channel or Facebook page. Or to take part in any of these outreaches, email us for the virtual room meeting link.
The weekend online outreaches were wonderful. We had more people joining us to pair up.
On Saturday, I paired up with Craig from the Hutt Valley (south end of the north island of NZ). And on Sunday I paired up with Graeme who is part of the Christchurch (NZ) street team.
But on Saturday morning, as I was on my own, I decided to see what was happening on the IRC, Freenode, Truth channel. Sadly, I walked into a discussion about suicide. I’m often encountering this subject in my online outreach. I was able to chime into the conversation and start providing some hope, having personal experience with this subject (in my own life). I was also able to point people to the basis of my hope: Jesus. At the end of my time there, I left a link to needGod.net.
I then moved to Omegle, I had a text chat with a guy who was quite engaged (sadly he had forgotten it was even Easter weekend!), he heard the law, admitted he would be guilty, answered Limbo to whether he would be going to heaven or hell, and then when I explained why there is no middle ground, he bailed - sadly, no chance to explain the good news, or share a link to more information - that’s one of the down sides to online evangelism, it’s so easy for the person to disconnect, and that’s it - gone forever.
I followed that up with a wonderful video chat with a girl who was open, and came to grasp the gospel - but was counting the cost. Sadly, she was keen for the conversation to end - but at least I was able to leave her a gospel link with follow up information.
In the afternoon, with Craig observing, I ended up being connected with a guy who it turned out was smoking a drug (after sharing the law and the gospel with him). He admitted he probably would never remember talking to me. Which is sadly probably true (but God). I told him to write down needGod.net and look it up in the morning.
On Sunday afternoon, with Graeme observing, I had two wonderful longish gospel video chats with young men, both from New York! One had a Christian background, the other was Jewish. Both were very intellectually engaged and came to grasp the good news of Jesus, and the cost (in this life) of trusting in Him. They were challenged to count that cost, and take it a step further than an intellectual exercise, and actually trust that Jesus had paid their fine. They are in His hands.
Graeme also watched me do a text chat. It was great because he was able to give me tips as to what the guy I was chatting with was meaning behind some of his cryptic sayings! Sadly, when I got to the point in the conversation where I said, “If you were to die today” - the guy freaked and disconnected.
To finish off the Sunday outreach I jumped on to IRC again, and I was able to reconnect with the Christian I had encountered the first time I signed on (about three weeks ago) - we are now Facebook friends.
Looking forward to another week of outreach. He is risen! :)
This report comes from the Christchurch (NZ) team, but we are now part of a more global, online, team (temporarily, due to Covid-19).
And it’s wonderful seeing people we haven’t previously known joining us. On Good Friday we had a gentleman join us for prayer at the start of outreach. I then offered to pair up with him and show him how we do online evangelism.
It was a joy to get to know this man, from Sydney, it turns out we had a mutual friend (it’s a small world)! We, of course, also had a mutual love of Jesus and a desire to make Him known.
In Sydney, he normally does outreach at a market (I think he said), and door to door. But not being able to do this at the moment, due to Covid-19, he joined us. Praise God!
So in our Jitsi meeting, I shared my screen and audio with him, and then I fired up Omegle. I showed him a technique for how to hide the video feed, in case something undesirable came up, and then (after he muted his microphone) I proceeded to demonstrate how an Omegle gospel conversation works.
I received an initial round of people who saw me and instantly bailed (I intend to shave my beard to try to make me look younger!). But then I got into a gospel conversation with some kid from America. He was resistant to my explanation of how we know God exists, and what he is like. He threw evolution dust in the air. I addressed that, but he wasn’t being logical, and I could see we were heading down a rabbit trail, so I quickly changed tack and asked if he was a good person. That worked, and I was able to take him through the law, and then present the gospel, and then start working on some checking questions. But I could tell this kid wasn’t engaged, and so I let the conversation come to a natural end.
My new friend who had been observing then unmuted, and we had a discussion about it. He was very encouraged! I then went to demonstrate how text based gospel conversations can be had through Omegle too. And I started a conversation expecting the person to bail straight away (The first thing you usually get asked is if you are male or female - M or F - and when I say “M”, they usually just leave). But to my surprise, the person engaged, and I was into a text gospel conversation.
The person seemed to have a Christian background (and wasn’t Catholic), but without really realising it, were trusting in their good works for salvation. They were reserved and suspicious, but clearly had never heard the law and gospel presented the way I did. They even wanted to look up Bible verses - which is great! The conversation ended a bit abruptly, but on good terms:
You: It's why Good Friday is so "Good" :)
You: Now, what will our response to the gift be?
Stranger: It’s it 5am?
You: 4pm here
You: I'm in NZ
You: Our response will be gratitude
Stranger: Well sorry for the abrupt ending but I have to go
Stranger: Fun talking to you
You: ok, please take a look at that link
Stranger has disconnected.
So, my new friend was able to observe that as well, was encouraged and willing to give it a go for himself. I was so blessed to have met him. I hope he will continue to join us, online, for prayer at the start of outreaches, and debrief at the end.
Anyone is welcome to be involved, get in touch for more details!
Later on Good Friday, I got into a long text gospel chat with someone. They were very resistant to the gospel, but I was careful not to push too hard. I would step back and talk of other things, before gently trying to re-open the discussion to spiritual things. To my surprise, the person became very engaged. There was a real connection with this person - amazingly purely via text messaging. The discussion turned a bit pastoral, as they opened up about some difficult issues, including depression and suicide. They completely refused to look at any resource links I sent them, but they were willing to talk to me. It got to the point, where they would just fire question after question at me, and I would do my best to answer.
You: I don't do those things to earn my way
You: Still there?
You: Sorry, I'm preaching
Stranger: No go on
You: I'm a Pastor
Stranger: I could guess
You: haha, right.
You: But, I've only been a pastor for about a year
Stranger: I have lots of q but I don't want to bug you
I would return with checking questions to reinforce the gospel message I was trying to share (by this stage, they were comfortable with me talking about it, even though they were still resistant to it). But it got to the point where this person just didn’t want to stop, and so I had to end the conversation:
You: Will you read NeedGod.net?
Stranger: I won't
You: Thanks for your time, I gotta go.
Stranger: Bye friend
You: God bless you.
You have disconnected.
There is only so much you can do, online, or even on the streets - you have to leave them in God’s hands. He has the power to save them, and lead them into a place where they will be discipled. But God condescends to use weak vessels like us to bring the gospel message to them.
The team was also out on the virtual streets on Thursday. I had an interesting video chat with a biker guy from Ohio, who was smoking pot. Surprisingly he claimed to be a Christian, and even seemed to understand (or at least articulate) the concept of salvation by grace through faith. But I could tell this guy didn't really want to talk about spiritual things, and it wouldn’t be long before he bolted. So I made a decision to focus on talking about repentance and the fruit of which is evidence of true faith (after I had quickly taken him through the law and tried to explain the gospel in that context). Sure enough, the conversation ended soon after. He did receive a link to NeedGod.net. My gut says he will forget ever talking to me, but only God knows what is going on inside, behind the outward exterior. God can use our weak gospel efforts powerfully. Be encouraged! :)
I had a hard outreach today. It was wonderful, but very emotional. Pastors, evangelists, all Christians often have to say some hard truths to people. And those people don’t like it. And often fellow Christians don’t understand, and question your motives. But that’s okay - I do get it wrong, I know. I want to learn and grow… but that’s not a reason not to keep trying, right? To do our best to share this wonderful message of hope, no matter the offence it brings?
So over the last two days, I’ve been having video and text gospel chats, mainly on Omegle.
Lots of wonderful chats, and not only me, but many on the team, here are a few quotes, just from today:
“I had a chat with a guy who just found his old laptop in his basement, and he opened it and went on Omegle, the first person who came on Omegle was me. He came to grasp the gospel and even noted the time when he started believing in the middle of the conversation - 12:54am. Glory to God!”
“It was a wonderful conversation and you should have seen the smile on his face as he came to grasp the gospel. This beautiful grin came over him!”
“And they were so touched, they came to tears.”
But for me, two very hard conversations stand out:
In both conversations, the person I was talking to, insisted on their goodness - but for different reasons.
One of them really opened up to me and I had a real insight into his motivation for why he considered himself good. He was comparing himself to someone who had done a very wicked and evil thing to him. Compared to that wickedness, I think most of us would be going to heaven. He himself was doing wicked things - but he didn’t realise it, until I pointed him at the standard we should be comparing ourselves to: God - who is perfect.
He claimed he didn’t care, but I showed him how I knew he did care.
The guy went from joking / mocking, to being entertained, to the point where I could tell this guy was very interested in what I was saying:
You: Do you want to hear the good news?
But he insisted on his goodness, in spite of the clear evidence to the contrary, and he didn’t like it. He erupted. And that’s when he shared his reasoning that I mentioned above.
I was devastated at the hurt that he experienced. Oh the love, and concern I have for this guy, and I tried to express it, but it was lost on him. He was very angry at God. And he cussed me out big time, before he disconnected. Oh, how I feel for this guy. How I want him to hear the good news. How I am praying for him.
The second person’s response to the understanding of their sinfulness was this:
You: He is also merciful
You: And he has done something so we can all be forgiven
You: But, God forbid, but if you were to die today, and face God, and be judged by perfection, would you be innocent or guilty?
Stranger: oh my, your so right
Stranger: i would probably be guilty
Stranger: i have sinned
Stranger: and i’m definitely not perfect
I was so encouraged, and I thought they would then open up to the amazing good news of the gospel, but instead they hardened to it. When I asked if they would deserve heaven or hell. They insisted on heaven.
I tried to reason with them, but they became harder, to the point of it being ludicrous. So I had to leave them to it:
You: But you are good enough for heaven? Ok.
Stranger: yes i am
Stranger: ok i’m done with this
Stranger: thanks for ruining my night
Stranger has disconnected.
I just feel devastated. They are both maintaining their righteousness, and are not interested in the good news. My only hope now is prayer, that this will weigh upon them, and they will come to an understanding of THEIR sin. And that another Christian will have an opportunity to share the real hope of forgiveness found in Jesus. That they will know the joy of salvation.
The Christchurch (NZ) team have been doing online evangelism for two weeks now - due to Coronavirus lock down. We have all learnt a lot! And we are ready to take the next step: leading teams in online evangelism.
But first, I’ll talk about the weekend outreaches.
On Saturday, Andy was able to overcome some tech issues, and was able to jump onto Omegle and start sharing the gospel via video chat! Roger was also able to join a team meeting via Zoom and learn the ropes. So great to see the team getting up to speed again - albeit in a new environment.
For me, I had my first hard patch of online evangelism. Lots of rejection, and tough conversations - mainly via text chat. It’s just the same as on the streets - you have good days, and not so good ones. But no matter the result: the command to go and spread the good news has been obeyed. God has been glorified.
On Sunday, I held off the afternoon outreach so it could coincide with the team in Aussie. We started with joining together in a Jitsi meeting (similar to Zoom). We prayed together, and then we did something different, we paired up into our own Jitsi meetings.
One of the pairs would share their screen and audio with the other, and then start an Omegle video chat. The other person would mute their audio and would be able to observe the action. It is a fantastic way to learn how to share the gospel with strangers. After the Omegle conversation, a discussion between the pair could occur to evaluate the experience. Then repeat.
The technology is making it so easy: a) to find people to talk to about the gospel, and b) learn how to share the gospel. It really is lowering the bar of entry to get involved with sharing the message of hope: Jesus.
Yes, I can’t wait to get back to the local mission field of Christchurch. But until then, it is so wonderful that people can still be reached!
I was paired up with Martin. Like Saturday (for me), we started out having a run of conversations where the person on the other end would suddenly bail after a good start. One example that stands out in my mind was with a pair of ladies living in Moscow, Russia.
But then the conversations started getting better and better, and we were able to share the gospel a number of times in the two hour outreach.
I remember one young Christian teen clearly heard the gospel and was thankful.
But the highlight was a conversation with a young lady who was cutting her hair! She believed in heaven and hell, and when I asked her which she would be going to, she said: “probably hell, cos I’m gay”. I didn’t let that distract me, and proceeded to share the law showing why we all deserve hell, and then the amazing hope of the gospel - even for homosexuals. Yes, I clarified that homosexuality was a sin, but if we accept the gift of forgiveness by faith, God will not leave us as we are by granting us the gift of repentance. We stayed on good terms throughout the discussion. I leave her in God’s hands - may she be saved!
We finished the outreach by joining together again, via Jitsi, for debrief and prayer.
So, from now (well, Tuesday), the Christchurch (NZ) team will be restarting team outreaches - but you can join us from anywhere in the world! No experience required, observation welcome! And we will work with the Aussie teams as well, when outreaches coincide. I will be encouraging you to join me, via the usual channels! :) God bless!
For the Christchurch (NZ) team, Thursday & Friday would normally involve: bus stop outreaches at Eastgate and Northlands, gospel + abortion ministry outside the hospital, open air preaching in Cathedral Square, flip charting on Cashel Mall, and a “walk up” evening outreach in the city. Due to Coronavirus lockdown, none of those things were able to occur.
But, to my amazement, this has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for the gospel: online. Just a little bit of digging, and gold mines (harvest fields) have been found.
So instead, Thursday & Friday involved outreaches to: Omegle (video and text based) & the Freenode ##truth channel (IRC - Internet Relay Chat).
All this while: staying connected to, praying with, and being encouraged by a team of Christians via Facebook Messenger, and Zoom.
I want to encourage you to join an outreach team. Set aside a couple of hours to spend talking to strangers about the gospel. I know it’s terrifying. But, with God’s help, we can do this. Please get in touch with Operation 513 via Facebook to learn more!
For me, Thursday started with some text chat on Omegle. I encountered a vile young man, (but who I persisted with, because I’m vile too), who heard the law, but didn’t want the gospel. I sent him a link to the Atheist Delusion on YouTube. The conversation ended like this:
Stranger: you saved me
Stranger: i've seen the error in my ways
You: I can't save anyone.
Stranger: GOT EM LOL APRIL FOOLS
Stranger has disconnected.
God save him, there will be a day where he will regret the mocking.
To mix it up, I then spent some time on IRC. I responded to a guy (who denies that the Bible is infallible) about what sin is, and this moved into a discussion about the Bible, and then the Gospel, and hope. It was really good. Someone even chimed in asking: “what is the gospel?” - presenting a wonderful opportunity.
The great thing about IRC is that you can get to know the regulars in a channel, and start to build relationships. So the way I’m treating it, is to have IRC on in the background, and cut to it from time to time to see what’s being discussed - jumping in with the gospel, as appropriate.
Later in the outreach, I had a wonderful gospel conversation with a young Catholic teen guy, who was initially surprised by the course of the conversation, but warmed up quickly, hearing the law and the gospel.
Friday started with a gem of a conversation with a young teen who considered themselves a good person, but the law seemed to have a deep impact upon, and they turned nasty. For someone claiming to be a Christian, I don't think I’ve ever been talked to so vilely.
You: If you were to die today, and be judged by God, by perfection, would you be innocent or guilty?
You: I would be guilty.
Stranger: Stoppppp he never does that God love all of us so just shut up ðŸ˜¢ Your making me cry
You: But what should happen to murders?
You: He paid our hell fine.
You: No, the only thing you need to do to go to heaven is: Trust that Jesus has paid your fine. It is not "follow what he says" that gets you to heaven. But...
You: We will WANT to follow what he says, if we are trusting he has paid our fine.
You: So, we have to be good (perfect) to go to heaven, but only God is good and pays our fine for us.
You: We accept that gift by TRUSTING him.
You: It is good news :)
You: Because it's not about you being good enough.
You: But about accepting a gift.
You: Does that make sense?
Stranger: [can't repeat] no one is perfect you [can't repeat]
You: If you are trusting in Jesus, you won't want to say things like that. But you can be forgiven - as a gift! :)
Stranger: [can't repeat]
You: God bless you, I want the very best for you - my friend. :)
And it finished with:
You: Check out this video
You: Matthew chapter 7 has something terrifying to say to "Christians".
Stranger: Shut up u dhrhsjsudhsjdnrhajajfhxjejdjuse
You: I'm encouraged by your responses, and the fact that you haven't left. It shows that I've helped you understand some truths about yourself.
You: And there is hope, because you care about it.
You: It's good that you realise you are not good.
Stranger has disconnected.
I spent time from here alternating between video chat and text chat. I had a great video chat with a guy from Canada. And then a long text chat with a Muslim, who was trusting his good deeds to maybe get to heaven, and who couldn’t explain how God can be just and merciful at the same time. He was challenged but resistant, but he heard the gospel.
I then had a video chat with a teen girl who was talking to me via her computer, but ended up having friends calling her on her phone. I ended up sharing the gospel with the teen directly, plus two of her friends listening from her phone (I think via Facetime). I was even able to use my mini flip chart! A bit mind boggling, but amazing! Even after considering the cost, she said she wanted to trust in Jesus to pay her hell fine - but I’m not sure if she fully grasps the implications yet. I leave them in God’s hands.
I finished my outreach with an hour on IRC in the evening. It was amazing. Some things were said that I just couldn’t help responding to. And I got into a great conversation with quite a few people that started with the point / pointlessness of life. It was fascinating to watch the conversation split up, with multiple one to one conversations happening at the same time - yet everyone being able to follow the whole discussion. I’m finding presuppositional apologetics very useful here. They don’t seem to have encountered it before, and it puts them on a back foot while they try to process this new line of argumentation, I then take that opportunity to drop gospel seed. Also very encouraging seeing new people joining the conversation - it shows people are watching / listening. Oh, the opportunity for the gospel is great! Come join us, on the virtual streets of the world! Glory to God alone.
After a day off on Monday; Tuesday and Wednesday involved more online evangelism. So much learning is taking place - about new opportunities and ways of reaching people with the gospel, and also about new avenues for Christians to get involved with the great commission. Personally, I don’t think I want to do online evangelism full time for ever, but there is no doubt it is a great option.
On Tuesday I tried my first video chat on Omegle (after some text chat conversations to warm up first).
I got into my first chat quite quickly. A young lady who was shielding most of her face. She thought I looked like a teacher! She was keen to talk about spiritual things. But she only wanted to type (not talk), and when I talked, I got feedback. So we ended up just text chatting. I had to work with her to get her to understand how we know God exists, and took her through the law. She wanted to know why I was doing this, and so I said that I wanted to share the good news. In the end, she wanted to go without hearing that good news. But she did say that her thinking had been expanded.
To eliminate the feedback, I put on a headset - that seemed to solve the problem.
I then had a long string of people hang up on me, plus one guy who tried to show me offensive material - so I had to leave that chat quick smart (reader beware - set up a system to hide the picture till you are into a conversation and you know it’s safe).
I finally struck a guy who didn't cancel on me! I quickly worked on getting a conversation started. It turns out he was a Christian, so we didn’t talk long so I could get talking to someone who needed the good news!
I moved on and had another string of cancels before getting into a conversation with a likely false convert. I used my mini flip chart to share the gospel with him. He seemed enlightened / challenged in many ways. I was very encouraged!
Video chat can be a lot quicker to share the gospel than via text chat - that's for sure, but I still enjoy text chat as well - it has its own flavour for communication.
I needed a break, so I went for a short walk. And then I decided to go for another text chat, and it was epic! It went for over an hour, but it was worth it as the person I was talking to wrestled through understanding the concepts I was explaining, and then working through objections. Here are some snips from that chat:
You: too deep
Stranger: yes haha
Stranger: never thought i wild have this type of conversation here
You: I'm a Pastor.
Stranger: no way
You: My job is mainly on the streets talking to people about this.
Stranger: NO WAY
You: But because of covid-19, I can't be on the streets right now.
Stranger: tell me you’re kidding
You: Yes way :)
You: Not kidding.
You: Just over a year ago, I worked in IT. But now I'm a Pastor.
Stranger: how old are u?
You: But most of my time is working on the streets. I'm 43.
You: Married, with 3 awesome kids.
Stranger: this is unbelievable
You: Hell is real. Logically, and I've been saved. And I just want to tell others about Jesus.
You: He died to pay my fine, so I could be forgiven.
You: It is an amazing gift.
You: Why unbelievable?
Stranger: so god is doing this to us?
You: ah, good question.
Stranger: like this world crisis
You: Very deep question, now we are getting somewhere!
You: He has a plan to save us, so He is holding off justice so we can receive mercy.
You: But I'm starting to ramble...
You: If you want to talk it though, I'm keen.
Stranger: im laura
You: Hi Laura, I'm Glen :)
Stranger: so all of those world wars
Stranger: but talking abou covid- 19 many of his followers are dying
Stranger: did they deserve this?
You: Lets, back up a bit. Are you a good person?
You: He sees our anger, like we feel about a murderer.
Stranger: so we would never be good enough
You: In our own effort - yes... but God has done something amazing, so we can be forgiven.
You: But... the problem is.
You: Who is there that is perfect? Let alone willing to die for us?
You: Do you know anyone who is perfect?
Stranger: oh i know where this is going
You: You don't like where it is going?
Stranger: it’s not that i don’t like
Stranger: it’s that i’m angry with all these rules bc it only brought sadness to my life and the ones i love
Stranger: my boyfriend was a jeová witness
Stranger: you are almost convincing me
You: I can't convince you :)
You: Only God can
You: But he uses weak people like me to share his message.
You: I'm listening...
We went into a discussion about suffering here.
Stranger: im a little lost
You: Do you have more questions? I want to make sure you understand
Stranger: but i think i get it
You: We will still muck up, no doubt! But our desires will change.
Stranger: so we only have to be grateful and try to do better
You: no, not at all.
You: It is not "try to do better".
You: You must only Trust in Jesus sacrifice to pay your fine.
You: If we do that, if we accept his gift of paying our fine, our desire for sin and God will change.
You: We won't WANT to sin anymore (even though we will).
You: We will go from wanting things our way, to wanting things God's way.
You: Sorry for preaching at you Laura! :)
Stranger: haha not at all
You: I just want to help you understand :)
Stranger: it was fun
Stranger: gave me another perspective
You: So, what do you need to do to go to heaven, based on what I explained?
Stranger: that i’ll think about it i promise
Stranger: trusting jesus is the key
Stranger: got it
Very encouraging for me.
Later, I had a chat with a guy who was suicidal! Part of me wondered if this person was just playing with me. But you have to assume what they are saying is true:
Stranger: I’m going to end it
Stranger: There is no point
You: Don't do that, there is hope.
You: Are you a good person?
Stranger: No there’s not I can’t ever see the light
Stranger: I try to be but it doesn’t work
You: ok, lets confirm... 1) Have you ever told a lie?
This guy heard the gospel, although he didn’t respond to my checking question.
Stranger: Thank you for helping me
You: What do you need to do to go to heaven?
Stranger has disconnected.
I leave him in God’s hands.
On Wednesday, I decided to head back to IRC: freenode network, ##truth channel. Over 200 people in there. I’ve been keeping my eye on the channel for days, but today I decided to jump in. And I managed to get into a wonderful debate with a few of them taking me on. It was quite a challenge, but I managed to stay on target and share the law and the gospel, while keeping those who were talking to me engaged. I was overjoyed. All glory to God for helping me through! I have no idea how many of the people in the channel were following the discussion, but I know there was at least one other. I went for a break, and then came back and had someone else gently challenge me - he had been watching. I was greatly encouraged. It felt like open air preaching - you just don’t know who is listening!
On Omegle I had another great conversation with a young teen boy, who had given up on church three years earlier. Today he received a wake up call:
You: Here is my point, Jesus said, if you are just angry with someone, it's like murdering them in your heart.
You: His name was Jesus. Do you know how Jesus died?
Stranger: he suffered for us
Stranger: he was crucified
You: You are right, by dying on the cross.
You: Why? Because he was being the perfect and willing sacrifice to pay the fine for our sin.
You: If Jesus has paid your hell fine. Where will you go when you die?
You: Good news, right?
You: But, we have to accept his gift.
You: This is how: it's not by being good.
You: It's by trusting that Jesus has paid your fine.
You: Does that make sense?
Stranger: i get it now
You: So, what must you do to go to heaven?
Stranger: i must believe that jesus has paid for my sin
Thank you for your prayer support as the Operation 513 team continues to engage people with the gospel, in spite of lockdowns. God bless! :)
Saturday & Sunday I was back out on the virtual streets (literally)!
On Friday night I watched a YouTube video about a virtual pandemic that had occured in an online game. This got me thinking about this as an option for online evangelism, but I didn’t want the game to distract from my time in sharing the gospel. And this made me think of something that caught a lot of media attention back in the year 2000 (I think it was): Second Life (https://secondlife.com/). It was a virtual world, where people could build things and socialise. I looked it up in the morning, and to my amazement, it is still a thing - all these years later.
I signed up, downloaded the client, and installed it. I logged in and instantly I was in a virtual world, with people around I could interact with! I followed the tutorial and it wasn’t long before I was attempting to start conversations with real people.
Interestingly, second life has rules, just like real life (pictured). But that makes sense. The same gentleness and respect is required in virtual conversations as in real ones!
I managed to get into a conversation with a newbie (like me) from Poland. But she wasn’t keen to talk about spiritual things, so I just left it.
Later, I was in a spot with three other people near me, and I realised I could talk to them all at the same time. So I simply, and politely asked them what they thought happened after life. I got a nibble from one of them, but the conversation didn’t get rolling. Just like in real life!
To my surprise, the girl from Poland got in touch later on. She wanted to catch up, and she was bringing a friend. Before I knew it, I was talking to both of them about the important questions of life (pictured)! Unfortunately, they both left before hearing the gospel - but I was very encouraged by the gospel possibilities - even while in COVID-19 lock down!
What have I learned so far? 1) Typing in the Second Life client is laggy (I can type faster than the letters appear on the screen) - this actually makes it really hard to communicate. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a solution for this. 2) There are areas in Second Life to be avoided, just like in real life. I ended up getting teleported into a nightclub at one point, and you can come across some visuals that are not wholesome. So beware of this if you are thinking of trying this yourself!
On Sunday afternoon I would normally be on Cashel Mall, but I can’t be there! So I decided to try Second Life again. I didn’t want to waste time, making the most of my opportunity to share the gospel, so I realised I was just going to have to start approaching strangers and try to start conversations. I was suddenly very nervous! Just like in real life! But putting aside my fear, I got to it.
The first two people I tried talking to ignored me (pictured). But on my third try, I got some response (pictured)! To my shock, the guy was a pastor in real life too! He gave me some in-game money (I don’t know how to use that yet), and he gave me some tips.
Due to the typing delay, I decided to move back to Omegle.
My first conversation was with another guy who seemed to be involved in a Christian cult. I could tell this was going to be a good conversation, but he unexpectedly left. :(
My second conversation started well. The person on the other end didn’t believe in God, but when I explained how we know God exists - they clearly saw the logic of it. I was encouraged, and used the law to explain the bad news. At this point they started to understand the implications, and didn’t like it. They insisted they would go to heaven, but eventually came to see it wasn’t so: “OK i understand”. I now had the chance to swing to the good news, but I decided to try to spend a little more time to make things clear, when they suddenly disconnected. I felt grieved. Maybe I should have just shared the good news first, and then tracked back? Oh well, I leave them in God’s hands. May they have another opportunity to hear it!
I wanted to see what other online communities I could engage in. So I searched for “talk to people online” via Google. A long list came up! I tried the first one: https://chat42.online/ - it’s just like Omegele! There are many opportunities for the gospel online.
I’m going to keep working with Second Life, and see if I can find good spots for other Christians to join me in evangelism. I’m confident that we could even make a flip chart - you can make anything you can imagine in Second Life, and there is a scripting language for making the objects interactive.
Looking forward to getting back to the real streets, but in the meantime, I’m trying to make the most of these online opportunities. I hope you have been encouraged and inspired. What gospel gold mines are yet to be discovered?
Due to NZ being in lock down due to COVID-19, Thursday and Friday were another two days of online evangelism for me.
At the moment, my main place to have conversations is Omegle. Same as on the streets, you get a lot of rejections from people simply not interested. But also, same as on the streets, you can get into wonderful gospel conversations with a little bit of patience.
On Thursday, I had a gem of a conversation. I’m going to give you some highlights. This is an added bonus of online evangelism: you can keep the text of all your conversations! I hope this will encourage you (I’ve done a lot of snipping).
This person was very open to the conversation: Believed in God, heaven and hell, admitted they would be guilty. But they were slowly becoming aware of the implications of that and wanted to put their head in the sand, but at the same time were interested:
You: So if I've broken His laws, I would deserve hell - right?
Stranger: I'm supposed to be sleeping. it’s literally 2:30am
Stranger: yh u would deserve hell bc u broke his laws
You: Well, there is hope for heaven, can I share that before you go to bed.
I then shared the gospel. The response was encouraging:
You: We must trust that Jesus paid the fine for our sins.
You: Trust is another word for faith...
You: We are saved by grace, through faith.
You: It is not our good deeds.
Stranger: that’s amazing
You: You said it! I agree
You: That is why I want to share this with people.
Stranger: thank you so much. that’s made me appreciate life more
So it’s one thing getting a person to appreciate life more, but that won’t save you. So I continued to work with this person. I explained the cost of following Jesus, and started using checking questions to get them thinking through what I was sharing.
You: so may I ask you: what must you do to go to heaven?
Stranger: ummm i think just be grateful for life and don’t regret any second of it
Stranger: is there supposed to be a right answer
You: But if I had murdered someone, I can still be grateful for life.
Stranger: i’m really confused
You: Jesus, who is God, paid the fine for our sins, when he died on the cross.
You: That's okay, I'm happy to slow down, I want you to understand this, it's so important.
I now realised I had them engaged enough, that I could slow down, and backtrack to go over things in a different way.
And then I got this:
Stranger: wow you have made me feel so much better
You: Why do you feel better?
Stranger: just learning
You: cool :)
Feeling better is great, but it won’t save you from hell. So I persisted. This encouraged me, as it showed the person was starting to understand:
You: And that is have someone pay your fine.
Stranger: like jesus payed for our fines
And then later this:
You: So, what did I say you need to do to be saved?
Stranger: trusting jesus to pay our sins
Stranger: i think
You: You got it!
You: Now, what is stopping you from doing that?
You: What is stopping you from trusting that Jesus died to pay for your sin?
You: Let me explain what I mean.
I then moved on to continue explaining the cost of following Jesus, and I got this:
Stranger: i don’t understand sorry
You: All good, let me explain :)
You: Let me give you an example.
You: Am I making sense?
Stranger: yh it’s all adding up now
You: Good. So the paradox is that Jesus is a gift... that will cost you.
You: For that reason, most people reject the gift.
For some reason, the person I was talking to became concerned for their Mum - the thought of losing a loved one.
You: Well we will all die one day.
Stranger: ok now i’m gonna cry
You: Has your mum died recently?
You: Is she alive?
Stranger: it’s just the thought
Stranger: yh shes alive
You: Yes, we love our parents - I understand.
You: Well, there is hope for eternal life.
You: Trust in Jesus sacrifice to be saved, knowing your life will come into submission of him as your Lord. Then tell your mum about the amazing gift of Jesus! :)
Stranger: i will
You: Do you have a Bible?
Stranger: well i have to go now i have to go sleep
You: Thanks for talking with me.
Stranger: no i don’t have a bible
Stranger: aw it was amazing talking
You: ok, well get one, plenty of free ones as apps on your phone. Start at the book of John.
You: And then find a church (a good one).
Stranger: i used to go church but i don’t go as much
You: Thanks for your time! God bless you!
Stranger: god bless! x
You: bye :)
It all became rushed at the end as I realised the person was going to leave. I wanted to connect them to a Bible and a good church. But ultimately, it is God who saves through the weakness of us sharing the good news (even online!). I have to leave this person in God’s hands. I have no idea who they are and I will never see them again. If God saves them, there will be a desire to read the Bible, and to find a good local church.
I’ve started thinking of other places where I can find groups of people online to talk to. I will experiment, and if any of them work out, I’ll write about them in future Battle Logs.
On Monday, in New Zealand, it was announced that the whole nation would be going into lock down to protect from Covid-19. What this means is that everyone needs to stay at home, except those working in essential services.
As much as we know that sharing the gospel is absolutely essential, we won’t be able to be on the streets of Christchurch to do that at the moment. And there won’t be anyone on the streets anyway.
So starting from Tuesday, I started doing online evangelism!
It started with responding to a comment on a Facebook post. (Which you can read here. Ryan also responded to the post, here.)
I then went to a web site that facilitates starting one to one conversations (via text): https://www.omegle.com/.
It took a few tries to get someone willing to stay and talk, but I was very encouraged with my first conversation. It was with someone who was very resistant - an agnostic who was very close to atheist. But they were intrigued with my line of argumentation, and stayed long enough for me to share the gospel! They left the conversation soon after.
My second attempt was with someone who was Hindu. But they bailed before I could share the gospel.
My third conversation was with a Christian from Brazil. He was very encouraged by what I was doing:
You: No, the Bible teachers that God is just and must punish sin.
Stranger: and he did that
You: Yes, either in Hell, or on Jesus taking our punishment on the cross.
You: But there is 1 thing we must do in response to be saved: TRUST.
You: We are saved by grace through faith.
Stranger: i like u
You: So If you came to me, I would get you to realise your sin, and then tell you about Jesus. And then tell you to trust in Him.
You: I like you too.
You: I'm from New Zealand
Stranger: im from Brazil
Stranger: it's a nice thing u doing man
You: I go on the streets to do this, but I can't now because of Corvid19... so I am trying to talk to people about Jesus on the Internet
Stranger: thats such a cool play
Stranger: i will do that too
After that, I decided to investigate other ways of doing evangelism online. Over twenty years ago, before I was a Christian, and in the early days of the Internet, I used to use a thing called Internet Relay Chat (IRC). I decided to look into this again, and I found a channel on the freenode network called “truth” - a place where people can talk about politics and religion. It had been a long time since I used IRC, so I had to spend some time getting up to speed.
This work continued today. After rushing out to buy a new monitor before the lock down (pictured), as I’ll be spending many hours in this new venture, I had downloaded an IRC client (mIRC) and had connected to the truth channel on freenode and started reading an FAQ to relearn how IRC worked. I could see some people talking in the channel, but I didn’t take much notice.
After some reading, I looked up, and I noticed that people were talking about Christianity in the channel! So I jumped in. I started with: “Interesting, I just noticed that there is discussion about Christianity. I am a Christian. I was attracted to this channel by the name "truth" and the topic.” And slowly but surely, I was able to join the conversation and make connections:
Response: “Can it be...another Christian?”
Me: “I am new, popped in yesterday for the first time.”
Response: “PLEASE return. I'm usually the only Christian in here.”
Me: “I'm happy to stick around for the next 4 weeks at least.”
Response: “I can thank the virus for that? ðŸ˜¬ðŸ˜…”
Me: “God uses all things for the good of those that love Him.”
Me: “I can see it's going to be hard to follow conversation in this group - apologies if I miss things.”
Response: “oh, people in here will dogpile you, and yes, you won't be able to reply to all of it”
Me: “dogpile = overwhelmed with responses?”
Response: “Yes, many people wanting to go after the Christian :P”
Me: “I'm up for it.... I think :)”
So I ended up making connections with two Christians and I’m very encouraged. I can see how important it will be to work on staying on target with online discussions - not allowing things to go down rabbit trails, but I'm hoping it will be very fruitful.
Earlier in the afternoon, I had another conversation via Omegle with a young ex-hindu now atheist from the UK. I was able to share the gospel with him.
I’m so encouraged. A whole new world of gospel opportunities is opening up to me. I will keep reporting what I learn - maybe some of you will be able to do something similar while in lock down. God uses all things for the good of those who love Him!