Special Outreaches (QLD, Australia)
Australia Day (26 January)
ANZAC Day (25 April)
Christmas Outreaches (December)
New Years Eve (31 December)
Contact Ryan Hemelaar for more information.
The seventh and final day for Schoolies 2021 has finished. It was forecast for a thunderstorm to hit during the outreach, but the team prayed asking God to hold off the rain. It didn’t rain until we were walking back to the car. God had graciously answered the prayer and we were able to praise Him for doing so!
Another prayer was for God to bring any final people along that He wanted us to speak with. This was probably answered many times, but one exciting way was with Aaliyah. Her friends were in a chat with the team when she approached and noted that she was angry with God for allowing suffering in this world.
This was taken as a moment to sympathise that there have been times of great sadness due to pain recently but then the point was made that God has a purpose for our lives. Aaliyah of her own thoughts said, “Well I suppose God takes people when He feels they have finished what He sent them here for, not as a punishment to those around them!”. She paused and said, “I don’t hate God anymore!”
This was then taken as an opportunity to make Christ known, talking about how God isn’t in the wrong, but we are, as we have rebelled against Him. She was very sober as she talked through this. She reflected on, they ways she had acted in hatred toward God through her life.
She then heard of Christ and was encouraged to consider the seriousness of her eternity and to place her hope in Him!
It was a wonderful end to the week!
The fifth day of Schoolies rained most of the day but was dry for the outreach and God provided some wonderful conversations!
One conversation worth noting was with Nate. He proclaimed to be an agnostic, who lived as if there was no God and yet said he only believed that which he could prove. Firstly, time was taken to demonstrate that this position was dishonest as his actions demonstrated that he lived as though God doesn’t exist. This meant that he does hold a position he cannot support.
This was demonstrated through showing that he has no reason to believe that order can come from chaos, life from non-life, something from nothing, rules without a rule maker, information without and intelligence and more. At each instance he tried to suggest that he was neutral and couldn’t know so he acted as if there was no God. This was pointed out to not be neutrality but ultimately a commitment to being his own god.
Nate acknowledged that God’s existence would disrupt his ability to live for himself and was challenged at that point with God’s law and the seriousness of being God’s enemy. He then tried to undermine God’s rules, his accountability and ultimately God’s own revelation of Himself in Christ.
It was clear that prior to this conversation he’d gotten away with the half answers he’d given but into the conversation as the heat was turned up and his inconsistency and sinfulness was shown he ended up wanting to head off without hearing of the true solution.
May God work in his heart, to draw him away from idolatry to Christ!
The fourth day of Schoolies bought lots of small downpours, but God still reigns, and the Son still shines. God was still active in using His people to bring about gospel understanding and hopefully the conversion of those who heard!
A wonderful conversation was had with Saxon, who mentioned it makes sense that there must be a God, otherwise the universe doesn’t make sense and shared that he was pretty sure he’d lived in a way that deserved Heaven. As we considered what God made us for and how we have deeply defied God through our lives, Saxon came to see that he had no hope of getting to Heaven through his actions.
Just as he was coming to understand this and was considering what hope there would be for a rebel to go to Heaven, his friend came over encouraging him to leave, but Saxon was so engaged in the conversation he told his friends to go on ahead and would catch up later.
Saxon then saw the goodness of God and the beauty of God’s love and noted that although God had made the whole universe to show who He was that God wasn’t selfish demonstrated by the fact that He had given His only Son to save His enemies!
Saxon said he had much to think about and was thankful for the conversation and headed off!
Please keep him, the others the team spoke with and the team in prayer for the rest of the week!
The third day of Schoolies came with many wonderful conversations because there was no beach party meaning the schoolies were more bored, less of them were drunk and more were willing to chat.
Over the course of the night there seemed to be a lot of similar conversations, those with familiarity with things of God but no affinity. Three of these conversations were with young Islander men, Lorenzo, Hepo and Taj. They were polite, engaged well, answered, and listened but for all three this interaction seemed more of a formality of respect rather than a proper consideration of their sinfulness and eternity.
There were other conversations, as Brody who is an Australian who previously had dabbled in Islam but was living as his own. He heard the gospel from one team member and was challenged regarding its seriousness from another.
The teams energy levels are doing well considering the intensity of the outreach but please be praying that God would sustain us and keep us focused on serving Him during this time!
Please also uphold those the team is speaking to, in prayer asking God to do what only God can do, so that when God does it, only He gets the glory.
The third day of Schoolies 2021 was a day in which God showed His kind and sovereign hand.
There were many conversations throughout the day into the night but two similar ones with Nick and Lucy stood out.
Lucy approached a team member who was already in a conversation and had many questions to ask. She was pointed to another team member and a lengthy conversation began, in which she had lots of questions about God that the “religious” teachers at her school were unable to. Some of the questions were common ones, “How did God get here?” and others more specific, “How can it be just for God to forgive guilty people?” it was a beautiful conversation and Lucy left noting that she had much to think about and was thankful for the chat.
With Nick, he started by saying, “I know there must be a god because the universe doesn’t make sense without one” and then saw God’s expectation for us, His creation and very quickly saw and acknowledged that he was deeply sinful and deserving of Hell and at one point he said, “I don’t think there is anyway for me to get to Heaven”. He was so convinced of his guilt that it took him a while to grasp the fullness of what Christ had done but when he did, he was blown away!
Please continue to pray for the team and specifically for Nick and Lucy!
It is now the second day of Schoolies 2021 and the team has had some wonderful gospel opportunities! There have been many conversations with schoolies, often starting with a clear explanation for how we know that God exists, which is a challenge to them as most of them have heard the opposite their whole life.
Many of the teens and young adults are also quite drunk but there are the scattered few who aren’t drinking for various reasons. One of the common reasons is that they are “Christians” who seem to be trying to prove that they are good.
Two very similar conversations happened last night with such people, who insisted that they really were good people, and that God would be pleased with them on judgement day. After a lengthy engagement regarding their wickedness and guilt both seemed unfazed and were holding onto their own goodness. This meant that they were unable to comprehend the good news of what Christ had done since they didn’t think there was any bad news. It was sad to see but if you’re reading this, please be praying that God may humble them, seeing that He is infinitely good and that in comparison they are truly evil and therefore that they will come to understand that Christ is their only hope!
Please be praying for the energy levels of the team and for God to continue to bring those to the team that He wants them to speak with!
The Brisbane City team of Operation 513 had the wonderful opportunity to partner with and run a training day of evangelism at Wyoming Church of Christ over the Anzac weekend. It was a trip that had been postponed four times due to Covid, but God hadn't made a mistake with the timing. The church isn't overly large or grand but of the regulars at the church, a little over a third attended the training, meaning there were about 35 there for the two talks, one explaining the importance of the gospel in Evangelism, the second giving a rundown of the structure of a conversation. Then after a brief Q and A and some lunch, 14 from the morning training turned up, to pair with the team of 6 from Brisbane and set out in threes and fours to make the gospel known!
It was a wonderful day of equipping and evangelism! The morning sessions went well, with helpful information conveyed and the evangelism in the after was full of exciting opportunities to learn and to see how simple it is to make the gospel known!
Nigel, who was only recently professed faith, was stressing the importance of remembering that you're talking to a person who doesn't just want a lecture but wants to know that they're cared for. This touched on one of the key points of the talks, which is that as Christians and those seeking to communicate the gospel, evangelism should be treated very much like a normal conversations, where there is information given, questions asked and time left for the other person to respond. It isn't about giving a 5 minute talk you have prepared nor is it about seeking to argue about everything they've said. It was of great encouragement to see that this understanding was understood and being applied even on the first day.
Another person from the church, Skye mentioned that she was very encouraged by a line in the talk, "You're not the first Chrsitian to have sinned after being saved, meaning you don't have to seek to defend yourself or Christians when they have done wrong things". This was a helpful reminder that the trademark of being a Christian is that we are sinners saved by grace, that the gospel being proclaimed by us is an acknowledgement that we ourselves deserve Hell and Christ is our only hope, so when you've done something wrong, or another professing Christian has done something sinful we don't need to defend ourselves, rather we can acknowledge this fault and even apologise for it if need be to the one we're witnessing to.
Some highlight conversations from the afternoon were firstly with a young couple, who was very open to chat. The young man had considered the topic a lot and due to wanting the freedom to decide what he thought was best had settled with thinking that God doesn't really set the rules but rather judges you based on how well you have done in accordance with what you think He expects from you. This was slowly challenged and dismantled as not being the way the universe works and a demonstration of the depths of the wickeness of the human heart were shown but as the gospel was being explained the couple realised they'd been chatting for a while and had something to get to so had to run off. It was an insight into the way many people on the central coast thought though. They weren't generally hostile but many people had default to spiritualism, the idea of something other, without and need to stand before that other. This was the theme of many conversations had by the team, as many people proclaimed to believe in a reincarnation.
There was a terribly sad encounter with an elderly couple in their early eighties! When approached the man said that there was nothing after death and when asked why he held that position, he gave the defense, "Because I only believe what I can prove". This was followed up by the request to prove that there was nothing after death to which all he had to offer was a repeat that he only believe what he could prove. This demonstrated that the couldn't prove such a premise and was actually believing something that contradicted his proposed belief system. He threw out a range of other strawmen but wasn't very interested in hearing any answers, especially not the hope of the gospel. The conversation didn't last all that long but the final comments were left by his wife who shared, "We've had many born again Christians try to share this with us and convert us over the years, none of them have succeeded thus far and I don't expect you will either". She rejoiced in this resoluteness of heart to reject the very God who created her, breathing in the very air that He was letting her enjoy.
It was encouraging to hear that others had tried to share but saddening to hear that they'd just as quickly shut them down. But the next conversation was a cracker. Two siblings Ricky and Amelia said they'd thought about it previously. They saw that it makes that God exists, they saw that sin deseves Hell, meaning they were on their way there and that their only hope was found in Christ taking the punishment they deserved. Ricky grasped this really quickly and was surprised as he'd never heard of it before. Amelia on the other hand was still stuck wanting to live her own way. She was thinking she knew better than God and was shown why it makes sense that God knows best (as He is the creator and as the designer of all things would know the scenarios in which things would be beautiful and beneficial and the scenarios in which it would be damaging and detrimental). She came to see the logic of this but was still hestitant as it was clear that to acknowledge God as God would mean that she isn't God. They both took tracts and said that they would consider it themselves!
The final conversation of the afternoon was with a man named David. He at first declared that there was no God and the reason for this was that there was no evidence. Over the next thirty minutes, it was demonstrated in many ways that not only was it evident that God must exist but that he was actually viewing the world in a way that relied upon the existence of God. Then he came to hear of the good news of the gospel and understood how serious his predicament was and was really challenged by it all. He said he was definitely not expecting to have such a conversation but was very glad that he did and said he had a lot to think about.
Overall it was an exciting weekend and encouraged the team to look for more opportunities to equip churches and Christians in the work of evangelism, so if you'd be interested in organising it for your church, reach out, we'd love to make a plan!
Also please be praying for those spoken to on the Central Coast in the time there, not just the non-Christians that God will draw them to Himself in salvation but also the Christians that they will be built up, encouraged and enpowered by the Spirit of God to start making some plans to put into action this simple knowledge they have now that the gospel may flourish on the Central Coast and that many may come to salvation through the simple efforts of faithfulness of God's people!
Whilst on the Central Coast, after an exciting day of training the team made the trek down to Sydney, to check out some icons and catch up with some relatives. It was crazy drive as Queenslanders trying to navigate Sydney's roads but we succesfully made it to Sydney City. Then had the fun of finding a park and some food before walking to the harbour area.
Upon arriving at the Opera House, we took a bit of time to admire the architecture and the view of the harbour as you can see in some of the photos, before getting into conversations. Kiera first approached two young boys who were finishing their dinner, perched on the top step leading up to the Opera House, and looking out over the harbour. Even though they had been watching something on a phone, they were keen to engage in the discussion. Whilst initially they were unsure of whether or not they believed in an afterlife, they quickly came to agreement that there must be a creator for the universe, and that said creator would have a right to judge us based on how we have lived. They were hesitant to resign themselves to the fact that we would be helpless to rid ourselves of a punishment they'd already earned, and so she pointed out how we see that playing out in our own judicial system. If someone break's a law and tries to make up for it with good actions, justice does not overlook the broken law, and the punishment is still deserved. Upon hearing this analogy, one of the boys remarked enthusiastically: “That's a good point!” and was following along really well. However, his brother (who seemed to be losing interest in the conversation) reminded him that they had to return to their parents on the hour. Kiera used the remaining five minutes to take them through the solution to their problem. That whilst we cannot avoid our punishment by our endeavours, Jesus offers to take the punishment for us as a gift. They seemed to understand, and left with tracts, after being pointed to the Tiktok and Instagram accounts.
Next, she spoke to a young man and his girlfriend who were sitting further down the steps. The girl claimed to be a Christian, but said she was very tired, and wasn’t very responsive. Her boyfriend, however, was quite engaging. He didn’t want to believe that God existed, and he threw out a few arguments. The main point he wanted to stick on was that we cannot know anything for certain. The argument seemed to be a smoke screen, so it was proposed to could continue the conversation upon the premise (in his case) that God existed. A good conversation about the gospel ensued, and he understood that the only way anyone could be saved would be if they were to rely on Jesus to do the saving. That is, if they were to trust in his death on the cross to save them from their sins, looking to his resurrection as our hope of eternal life. However, it came back to his original argument. We cannot know anything for certain. He was shown that he still manages to go out and live his life well, even without being completely certain of what he believes to be true. He lives as if he knows things to be certainly true, and so lack of 100% certainty would not be a reason to reject God’s existence, our rightful judgement, and the glorious saviour offered in Christ. He seemed to agree on reasoning but not the conclusion, so the question was asked:
“Do you think the reason that you do not want to realise God’s existence is that it would mean you do not get to be in control of your own life, and that you need to be under someone else’s authority?”
Surprisingly (and this happens more often than you would expect) he readily affirmed by proposition. He was warned not to gamble away his eternity for the sake of living the way he wanted to in the short life he has been given, and was thanked for his time and willingness to converse. In return, he expressed his thanks at the conversation. He was left, with a comprehension of the gospel, and hopeful that the conversation would be weighing on his mind in the future - Lord willing!
After talking to several people about the gospel Fynn proceeded to find what would be his last conversation of the night. So far the conversations had been enjoyable where many of the people were open to hearing the gospel. The last conversation was not any different. The two youths that chatted to were very open to listen. Not just open to listen in order just answer the questions and be on their way, but open to listen because they wanted to actually have a chat. Therefore the whole gospel presentation was explained and afterward was followed with questions. This experience was another affirmation that the 5 million or so people of Sydney need to hear the gospel, as not one person spoken to knew it prior to the conversation, and also there are people in Sydney who want to hear of Christ!
Finishing up for the night, an exhausted team, had some McDonalds thickshakes and headed back to Gosford waterfront for some late-night shenanigans on the giant slide before plonking into bed for a big rest before Church the following morning and the beginning of the trek home!
Praise God for these encouraging conversations and please be praying for those who heard this good news! Also if you're interested in having the team come to your Church to help equip you to evangelise, we'd be very interested in hearing from you!
Well, the NZ Summer Mission is complete. It was, by far, the best one to date. This is mainly due to the trip to Dunedin, the first time we have ventured past the borders of Christchurch.
The people in Dunedin were friendly, open to receive tracts, very interested in the big flip chart, and happy to chat about the deep questions of life.
The christians and churches we worked with in Dunedin were extremely hospitable and seemed very encouraged through the week we were with them.
I’m just in awe of God at what He has done through His church.
And to think all this was initiated through needing to find a church recommendation in Dunedin for someone who had followed up after a gospel conversation at the Canterbury A&P Show 2019.
This report covers the final two days of outreach in Dunedin: Thursday and Friday where we spent all of our time in the Octagon and the surrounding area.
On Thursday morning, I was manning the big flip chart and got into a conversation with an interesting lady where it was very hard to reason with her because she just kept contradicting herself making it hard to know how to proceed! I just so happened to be on the “Jesus fireball page” when a man stopped to comment on the amazing artwork. Seeing that it was obviously Christian, he decided to get in on the conversation - he being an atheist. His first port of call was slavery. I was suddenly overwhelmed trying to address two people! Thankfully, someone else on the team took over the conversation with the lady, so I could focus on the atheist.
So I addressed his slavery questions and worked to calm the guy down (who was in attack mode) so we could have a conversation. After about five minutes, I’d had success! We had exchanged names and shaken hands and were able to engage in reasonable debate.
There was a focus on apologetics. At one point he was talking about a book written by Lawrence Krauss that supposedly explains how something can come from nothing. After listening, I eventually stepped back, gave him a look and said “really?” He looked at me, and said, “yeah, I know, it doesn't really make sense”! He was being forced to hear arguments from the other side and it was making him think - I was very encouraged. Through the conversation I was able to share the law and gospel and he was happy to receive a follow up tract before he moved on.
To my delight, I met the same man on Friday too! I was able to remember his name, and we quickly fell into a warm, yet deep conversation again. He had read the tract and the discussion started there. Again the conversation had a focus on apologetics, but there was a point where I had my Bible open on my phone and we were discussing scripture (on how we know God exists). But I was also able to keep coming back to the law and the gospel. Eventually he was satisfied and about to move on, when I asked him a final question: “What is the way to heaven?”. He was able to articulate salvation by grace alone through faith alone, in Christ alone. I was encouraged. May he be saved for the glory of God alone!
The next conversation I’ll mention was amazing. Back to Thursday morning I approached a young man. He believed in Heaven and Hell but then he said he had already heard the way to heaven. I figured one of the team had already approached him, but to my amazement he said he was from Brisbane. He said a guy with a camera had already shared with him there. I turned and pointed to Matt and said, “are you talking about him?”. He looked shocked, and then quickly decided that he needed to get going. Soon after, Matt approached him to say g’day. What are the chances!? This is actually the third time Matt has been able to talk to this guy: 1) Brisbane, 2) the Gold Coast, 3) Dunedin, NZ. You can watch Matt’s first gospel conversation with him here: https://youtu.be/WhaJS4p2wjU
The last interaction I’m going to mention was really funny. I was explaining some of the pages of the flip chart to Bronya. We just so happened to be on the “Fireman” page, when a fire truck drove through the Octagon and stopped right in front of us (due to a red light). I looked at the fireman page then at the fireman in the truck that was looking at it. I smiled, he smiled. And then Bronya took the opportunity to run over and give him a tract. He accepted it. A memorable moment that hopefully made him curious enough to read it!
We were sharing the gospel right up till 4pm on Friday. So many wonderful conversations. And over the week, hundreds heard the gospel. Over the whole mission, hundreds and hundreds of precious people heard the hope of eternal life found only in Jesus. And many, christians and churches have been encouraged. Please keep praying that the Lord will continue to raise up labourers for the harvest. May the Lamb that was slain, receive the reward of His suffering!
A battle log report of the New Zealand Summer Mission from an Australian perspective, part 2.
The week in Dunedin started very differently, the first morning of outreach consisted of three conversations with three heretics. The first was a lady who had been lead to believing that because she could utter phrases out of her mouth that she couldn't understand and had been immersed in water, although she was living adulterously and in direct rebellion toward God, was pretty sure she would be ending up in Heaven. The next was a lady from the same group (Revival Centres, an Australian export of false Christianity) except she was even further in, she was so sure that was how she would be saved that she rejected what God's word says in Romans 4:1-6, Ephesians 2:8-10 and every analogy about how gifts work. She was insistent, even after reading John 3 for herself (which she claimed talked about baptism) that it was her obedience toward God that would secure her eternity in Heaven. Lastly was a man who also was from Australia and was preaching that the life one lives after beliving in Christ was what would determines someone's entrance into Heaven. Thankfully despite the initial sadness bought by people professing the name of Christ who had been sucked in by cults the week began to improve significantly.
The first guy spoken to after lunch was named Cody. Over the course of the week the opportunity to have three conversations with him took place. This first conversation he came to understand the way to Heaven. After a morning with hard hearted people, he was open, willing to chat and grasped the good news very quickly. Two days later when he was chatted to again he said he had been wrestling with it. Not because the gospel wasn't good news but because he wanted to live his own way and specifically disagreed with God on the area of sexuality. He was given some simple answers and explanations from scripture as well as being asked some strong questions, the one that bought silence, was this, "Who knows better, Cody the twenty year old from New Zealand, or the eternally existing, all knowing, good and loving Creator of the universe?"
It is a pretty simple question to answer and Cody saw that his attempts to argue against God were folly. He was checked in with a final time on Friday and said he was really thinking it over. He knew that it was imoportant to consider, he was going to have a read of the gospel of John he was given and was very thankful for the opportunity to chat with someone who was patient, had simple and clear answers and really believed what they were saying.
Another exciting conversation was with Nelson who had moved away from the UK for work and left his wife behind (to follow when he got a job). He didn't really profess to be a Christian but was seriously challenged after a short conversation, was able to articulate the good news and how someone is saved and then asked a few questions about how to answer his wife who had started arguing some things about what meats "Christians' are meant to eat as she had started attending a SDA church. He was given the simple answer but was more importantly encouraged to start reading his Bible for himself (starting in John through Romans) to get a good grasped of the Christian message and lifestyle. I was able to speak later in the week and Nelson said he had a really tough chat with his wife about it. I encouraged him to pray for her, to keep reading his Bible to grow in knowledge and love for God so that he could lead and serve her well when they were back together.
A final conversation worth noting was with Gunja. A man who had been influenced by the JW's and was certain that if the Bible did not say what he thought, it must be "bodgey". He said the NWT was the only real Bible. In the first conversation he had two serious issues, firstly that people are made right before God by their own righteousness and secondly that Hell doesn't exist. Gunja, the discussion about Hell came first (as it was written on my tshirt) and it was answered simply by getting Gunja to read Revelation 20:7-14 in the NWT. He read it, asserted that it doesn't mention the word Hell and it was agreed that instead we could call it Gehenna, the Lake of Fire or the Second Deeath if he would prefer but that the idea of God's eternal judgement for sinners was clear in scripture.
Then he started to declared his own righteousness as the reason he would enter Heaven. He declared that he was definitly good enough. It was pointed out that he had blasphemed God multiple times by name during the conversation, had sworn, lied and been rude and angry and therefore he had no grounds upon which to declare that he would be good enough but Gunja in his pride determined he was fine. He was warned seriously about his eternity without Christ and he went on his way. He made a few stops by over the course of the week to stir up trouble but was mostly ignored because he already knew he was wrong and tried to justify himself with the declaration, "Hell does not exist".
A quick mention to God's sovereign will is regarding a young man named Ahmed. Glen approached him on Thursday and asked him what he thought happened after life, to which he responded, "Someome has already talked to me about this". When asked when and who, he mentioned it was in Brisbane and it was a guy with a camera. Glen pointed me out to him and he was pretty quickly wanted to leave. I spotted him and went to chat to him but he ran away. When he returned, I had a quick chat to him, he wasn't able to articulate the way to Heaven but I assured him that God was serious in getting his attention, this was now the third time we had spoken in as many cities. He was given a gospel of John and a tract and was challenged that he would have no excuse on judgement day when God had given him three very clear opprotunities.
Overall it was a week 89 conversations with 112 people and a wonderful time was had with the local Christians who hosted us and joined us for the outreaches. May God build His church in Dunedin!