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.
Day eight of the NZ Summer Mission is complete. Two days to go. Today we spent the late morning and early afternoon in the Octagon (it has quickly become a favourite outreach spot!) and then we had another evening outreach outside Otago Museum. I love Dunedin! So much opportunity to talk with lovely people. And the flip chart has been a hit. It turns heads, and people are keen to try it leading to wonderful gospel conversations.
In my last report, I mentioned that two overseas Christians who heard the preaching on Monday were keen to join us for outreach today. True to their word they joined us! Estelle and Laura. The team was greatly encouraged.
Estelle was paired up with me, and is in some of the photo’s sharing the gospel via the big flip chart. We were having a harder conversation and the big flip chart had the “Jesus fireball” page open. A young lady stopped and her eyes turned to saucers! Estelle didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity and cut across to talk to her while I continued on the big flip chart. I quickly pulled out my mini flip chart and passed it to her and she was away on her own! Well done! She had two gospel conversations with the mini flip chart while I had two on the big one before we teamed up again.
Some cruise ships were in port today, and so there were lots of people around. A funny conversation that occured started when a man from a cruise ship came and stood right next to the flip chart while I was talking with someone else. It was going to be too hard for me to interrupt the current conversation, so I passed him a gospel tract. He took it, but wasn’t satisfied. He then interrupted to ask the way to Larnach Castle. It was then that I realised he thought I was a tourist information stand! 🤣 I couldn’t point him to Larnach Castle, but I could point him to the way to heaven: Jesus! I hope he read the tract.
The evening outreach again started with plenty of people around, but the numbers soon dwindled. But, same as the previous evening, there were enough people to keep us busy.
My first conversation was with an Asian family: Dad, Mum, and a young daughter - maybe seven years old. The thing that stood out in this conversation was some absurd arguments the Dad was making. Three times in the conversation, I addressed the daughter to get her thoughts and she gave the logical and obvious answer - showing up her Dad! Eventually, the parents stopped to listen. Tonight all three heard the gospel and took follow up tracts - they all seemed to appreciate the discussion.
In search for people to talk to, I ended up on the University campus and encountered an Atheist. We had a lovely conversation about the gospel, which he thanked me for - but he wouldn’t take a tract. But he did see the “Jesus fireball” page of the tract, and he said he had seen it before. He asked if we were in the Octagon earlier! He had seen the big flip chart there! We are reaching people - be encouraged.
On my way back to the Museum, I noticed a bird that had lost all the feathers on its head. I was looking at it, it was looking at me, when a lady walked past. So I asked her about the bird, and from there we got into a conversation. She had a Catholic upbringing, but had rejected it when she read the new testament. But now she seemed in a bit of a limbo: believing in God, but denying hell (as an example). So today she heard the gospel, along with a good discussion about what hell was and why it logically must exist.
The last gospel conversation I’ll write about was the best one I’ve had in a long time. It was with a young couple that were extremely postmodern in world view. It’s hard to pinpoint why it was so good, but I seemed to have the right response at the right time to the objections they raised. And I became quite passionate. And yet, as I think back on that conversation, I realised that it wasn’t a technically ideal gospel conversation: e.g., I didn’t ask checking questions. I guess it’s a good reminder that even what we think is our best is nothing compared to God and what He can do in our weakness. This work is not dependent on my ability, but God. Our job is to share this gospel message, no matter how weakly, and God can use that mightly. So be encouraged to step out. You can do this. Be encouraged. Join us.
The first two days of the second week of the NZ Summer Mission, in Dunedin, are now complete.
It has been testing coming out of our usual environment (Christchurch) - but it has been so worth it in so many ways.
It has been testing because we have had to adjust to so many things: meeting the elders of the local church we are serving and getting to know each other, being hosted in strangers homes for the week, finding the outreach locations, parking, the list goes on.
But so worth it because we are getting to know wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ in Dunedin: Elders, hosts, and others - the support has been amazing! And the people we have encountered on the streets to share the gospel with have been so open (compared to what I’m used to in Christchurch). Nerves about being in a new place for outreach have been quickly forgotten, as we have started conversations and shared the wonderful gospel of Jesus with many people in this city.
So a big thank you to the Christians and Churches that have welcomed us, are hosting us (strangers no more!), praying for us, and supporting us. Thank you!
As well as the many open hearted people we have been able to share the gospel with so far, there have also been many cults and false teachers out and about. We have had interactions with:
* Jehovah's Witnesses
* people who believe Baptism is required for salvation
a family teaching that we need to become perfect (in our own effort) to be saved (the father wore a big sandwich board and they had some kind of pre recorded preaching running through an amplifier). Matt engaged him with scripture and wonderfully he ended up leaving. We haven’t seen them since. But in the meantime, I had an opportunity to engage with his son and show him that it is impossible for us to be perfect in our own effort, but the only way to become perfect was through the imputed righteousness of Jesus that is received by faith alone. He was open until he was told by his mum that I was sharing a “false gospel”, he quickly shifted into a pre programmed mode and started quoting scripture at me. Sad.
* I had a guy who seemed to know scripture well and was saying the right things, but he was desperately looking for something to be divisive with me over. Once he knew I was a Calvinist, I was considered a heretic to be attacked. Sadly, this man is not connected with any church - a lone ranger.
And yet, we love all these people, we want them to understand the good news of the gospel, and we have done our best to respectfully do that.
On the Monday, Andy and Tom open air preached in the Octagon. There was an openness to it. People didn’t scatter, many were listening. People even asked questions of the preacher. To my amazement, two Christians (from overseas) who listened to the preaching were so encouraged that they are going to join the team for outreach on Wednesday!
Also on Monday, Nikos and Bronya ended up having a long gospel conversation with a young man. And I was able to follow up by taking him through the flip chart. He really appreciated the visual aids - he said it helped him to understand the gospel. And yet, counting the cost, he wasn’t ready to believe in Christ as Lord.
The next morning, he came back to the Octagon with his friend and found us. He wanted his friend to hear the gospel too! And so Matt and Emma were able to do that. Praise God. May they both come to know God’s grace!
Tuesday saw the first evening outreach outside the museum. As the evening progressed, there were less people around to engage with. But still there were enough to keep the whole team busy in gospel conversations for the whole time. We thanked God for answering our prayer in that regard.
So I’m amazed at how God has gone before us in so many ways for this trip to Dunedin. May people be saved, the church grow, and the community be changed for God’s glory as a result. Thank you keeping us in prayer!
We learned some very sad news while we were in the city on Thursday morning. And this report will focus on that, please keep reading.
The first week of the NZ Summer Mission, in Christchurch, is now complete.
On Thursday morning, we were back in the central city (team of six) - and in the afternoon, we were at the Northlands bus stops (three). On Friday we followed our usual schedule: with a gospel + abortion outreach in the morning (team of seven), preaching in Cathedral Square at lunch time (seven), flip charting and walk up conversations in the afternoon (seven), and an outreach to the city in the evening (four).
On Thursday, while I was in Cathedral Square, I noticed two construction workers sitting next to some flowers. So I approached them asking if they were selling them! 🤣 Of course they weren’t, but they said that someone had died and the flowers were there in respect of them. 😢 I was sad to learn of this, but it opened up an opportunity to talk about death and then share the law and the gospel with them. One was resistant, the other was open.
Afterwards, I was walking with some of the team towards Cashel Mall, when one of them informed me that Kelven had died! I was devastated. Kelven was the blind busker who was always in Cathedral Square. We had a friendly toleration of each other. He would stop busking to allow us to open air preach - but he didn’t agree with our views.
I remember at Christmas time, on a rainy Friday Kelven requested Andy & I sing a Christmas carol with him. We obliged. Even though we disagreed on religious matters, we could be nice!
In my last Christchurch report I mentioned how difficult the open air preaching had been (last Friday). I was on my own, and I had a lot of hecklers who were mocking. Sadly I remember Kelven laughing while this was all happening.
Here is what I wrote:
"I felt quite grieved at how people were mocking God (I don’t care if they mock me). God is not mocked. And one day they will face Him. But I’m thankful for the patience of God! I hope some heard the gospel and will be saved from His wrath."
I also specifically remember declaring that, although they are mocking now, there will be a day when they face God, and they won’t be laughing. I pleaded with them to accept the mercy of God while they can.
And tragically that mercy is no longer available to Kelven. Did he repent before the heart attack struck on Tuesday? Possibly, but all the evidence points to his rejection of the gospel. If so, Kelven will face a just God without the mediator: Jesus.
So it was with this in mind that I preached with a fresh passion and love for the lost of Christchurch today (Friday). I talked about the things I’ve mentioned above, I proclaimed the law (the bad news), and the wonderful good news of the gospel. And I afresh pleaded with people to repent and trust alone in the free gift of forgiveness found only in the sacrifice of Jesus paying the fine for sin.
Kelven heard the gospel many times over the years we have known him. What about you, have you heard the gospel and not responded so far? We don’t know when we will die - this is so important. Please understand and respond to the gospel today. You can read about it here: https://www.needgod.net/
A battle log report of the New Zealand Summer Mission from an Australian perspective, part 1.
The first week of the Summer Mission in Christchurch started strong. The first morning a team of eight turned up which was very exciting considering it was a Monday. The week continued, with eleven people on Tuesday and similar numbers throughout. Over the course of the week I personally had 77 gospel conversations with a total of 96 people. 5 days, 11 outreaches and over the course of the week, there have been a few stand out conversations.
Every opportunity to speak of Christ is a good one. Even opportunities to challenge people about the inconsistencies in their beliefs, to point to God's existence or to reveal sin via the law are valuable as well. Occasionally though there are moments in which God seems to really be calling someone.
On the first day there was a young man named Salomse, who had only been in the country for a matter of days and had been looking for some accomodation, as he was intending to start at university in the coming weeks. At first he was being quite closed and a little hostile and was struggling to engage as he was really trying to shut it down but by God's sovereign hand there came a point where he declared that he had tried his best to convince himself that God doesn't exist, so that he could justify living his own way but he knew that wasn't true. It was a wonderful moment where I got to help him with the clarity of how one is justified and the importance of responding in faith and therefore the resultant life change that will occur.
There was an important conversation with Jamie a professing atheist and quite knowledgeable about many topics but this didn't stop the gospel being his greatest need. He first came to hear the good news, was able to explain to me the way to Heaven and how a Christian will live and then was challenged as to how he would respond to it and then the excuses started. After answering quite a range of his objections, each time pointing out that it wasn't intellect or information stopping him from trusting in Christ but his desire to live his own way, it was cemented with the analogy showing that in every other case one can simply leave the place where the rules are set but when it comes to God because we cannot leave the universe we are stuck either to obey or to try and justify our disobedience by declaring that we don't believe God exists. Jamie heard this, said it made sense and was actually the best answer he had received and said he would have to consider the gospel.
A theme of people that I spoke to was professing Christians. It is almost hard to believe how many people say they are Christians (attend evangelical Churches) and then when asked what they would say to God if He asked, "Why should I let you into Heaven?" have in the forefront of their answer or sneak it in the back that they own obedience, or their baptism, church attendance or prayer life is why they are hoping they will end up in Heaven.
The last conversation of the week was with Louis an American who had stopped by in Christchurch on his way to working in the Antartic project. He said he had grown up with a Christian grandmother and once upon a time attended church but had walked away from it all a few years back. He was surprised that we stopped to chat to him and mentioned late in the converastion that he was sure God was trying to call out to him as just that previous night he had been pondering it in his hotel room. He was able to grasp the way to Heaven and was able to answer the questions asked correctly and took a gospel of John and a tract. He was challenged not to leave this just as knowledge but to trust in Christ this day because there are many people in Hell who knew the way to Heaven and yet never responded in faith.
Day three of the NZ Summer Mission is complete. Today we focused on outreach at the beaches in Christchurch. In the morning we were at New Brighton, and in the afternoon we were in Sumner.
We were slightly late getting over to New Brighton, but it was providential that we were. When we arrived, the location was dead. We peered over a low wall to take a look at the beach, and the only person I could see was someone surfing! But then I turned around and noticed a young lady walking past, I mentioned to her that there weren’t many people around, and from there I ended up having the best gospel conversation of the day (for me)! If we had arrived earlier, I may have missed her. It felt like one of those divine appointments, and I knew I needed to focus on the conversation rather than getting the team organised. At one point, Andy tried to call me, but I ignored it. Eventually the lady said, “I think your phone is ringing”. I just responded with, “I know, but this conversation with you is more important right now”.
After that conversation, the team (of seven) gathered (in the meantime, some had distributed tracts to the people fishing off the pier, and others had gospel conversations with those they could find), and we prayed together before pairing up as usual. And by now, there were more people appearing - not too many, but enough to keep the team busy sharing the good news of Jesus for the morning!
And this just caused us to be brave and bold, and approach everyone we came across. This led to many surprisingly good gospel interactions.
At lunch time, we bought cans of soft drink and some ice to fill a chilly bin with before moving over to Sumner. The team enjoyed lunch together before we headed onto the beach for round two of the day armed with the chilly bin as a means of blessing people with a free cold drink and starting gospel conversations (that is, if they wanted to talk - some took a drink but didn't want to talk, which was fine, but most would at least take a tract).
A highlight conversation for me was with a family of four from the Philippines. They were very grateful for the drink, and were keen to chat about what happens after life. This was a great opportunity for Julia to try using the mini flip chart for the first time. She did a fantastic job! Well done Julia! She got stuck a few times, which was fine as I was there to help her through. It turns out that this young family had a Catholic background, and so the conversation focused on salvation by faith alone (not works) - and what the right motivation for good works should be (not trying to earn salvation). I gently challenged them to trust in Christ alone for their salvation, and to come away from the Catholic church. Their young son, engaged in the conversation very well. I was surprised that when the conversation ended, he gave me a hug! How precious was that!
But the afternoon had it’s trials as well. One lady was so offended at us giving away free drinks to “dupe” people into a conversation that she made a bit of a scene about it. This was out of the blue and I wasn’t prepared to deal with it. I could have handled the situation better, and it was a good learning opportunity for me. Unfortunately it spoiled the conversation that had started but, praise God, another team member was able to share the gospel with one of them later in the day. And it certainly didn’t stop our efforts to continue the mission! It was a reminder of the battle we are in, and the desperate need to have our armour on and to be in prayer. We need your daily prayers also - thank you!
The NZ Summer Mission has started! We have now finished the first two days of outreach, and they have been better than I could have imagined. We had a total of nine people involved on Monday and eleven on Tuesday. That’s a lot more people than the regular outreaches - so very encouraging. Not only that, but it’s been wonderful seeing all those people having many opportunities to share the gospel with people. Those with more experience have been encouraging those with less - everyone is growing. And most importantly, God is being glorified in his people obey the command to go!
Monday started with a morning and afternoon outreach within the central city - and Andy open air preached during lunch time too (pictured).
After prayer, we split into pairs and made our way around Cashel Mall, Cathedral Square, and everywhere in between sharing the gospel with anyone willing to listen.
I was initially paired up with my wife, Ruth, and one of the first people we had a good chat with (pictured) worked with her step brother! It is a small world. :) He stayed to talk for as long as his break allowed. We didn’t get to fully unpack the gospel with him, but he did take two types of gospel tract.
By about 10:30 am, lots of construction workers were also taking their breaks providing some great opportunities for gospel witness with them. Ruth and I had three conversations and many of them received tracts.
The second conversation was with two of them sitting down by the Avon river. As I was approaching them, I looked at them and the thought went through my mind that they wouldn’t be interested. Thankfully I didn’t let that stop me, because they were very interested in the conversation and were very engaged! They heard the law and the gospel.
The third conversation was with three more construction workers - and it was one of those conversations where it just clicked. They seemed deeply impacted as they heard the gospel and my impassioned pleas to respond to it!
In the afternoon, we continued our gospel work. The conversation that stands out to me is one my daughter and I had with a lady (pictured). Firstly, as a Dad, it was wonderful watching my daughter taking this lady through the law and the gospel with the mini flip chart - she did a wonderful job.
But this lady, kept getting stuck on the checking questions. She kept defaulting back to saying that her good deeds would get her to heaven! Eventually she started giving the right answer (it’s faith alone not works), but I suspect that she was just saying it rote. I don’t think she was understanding. She left with two kinds of gospel tract, and I hope she was challenged enough to start thinking about this more deeply - she is in God’s hands. But I was afresh challenged in realising that a) without the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we will be blind to the truth, and b) my responsibility as a Christian to labour with people in getting them to clearly understand the important concepts of the gospel.
Tuesday saw us at the Eastgate bus stops in the morning, and in Riccarton in the afternoon.
Initially there were way more evangelists than people to share with, but us the day grew hotter, buses brought more and more people to talk to.
The highlight conversation from this outreach was with a man who was going to prison, so the courtroom analogies had high impact. He was very engaged, and seemed to really appreciate the conversation. He wanted to be able to get in touch and so we connected on Facebook. He left with gospel tracts.
In the afternoon in Riccarton we set up four flip charts in various spots, and had people also doing “walk up” at the nearby bus stops. And everyone was really busy sharing the gospel.
Near the start, one of my daughters noticed a girl and asked if she should offer her a tract (did she really need to ask?! 🤣 ). But I told her to try taking her through the mini flip chart, she looked really nervous, so I said a tract would be fine. I was busy getting flip charts set up, but a few minutes later, I glanced over and noticed that my daughters were taking the girl through the mini flip chart together! (pictured) Go girls! I was so pleased to see them getting over their fears, giving it a go, and seeing the fruit of it. Praise God. What about you?
Personally I had a number of wonderful gospel opportunities through the outreach, but I’m out of time to write about them. And I know all the other team members had wonderful gospel opportunities as well. Many are hearing the gospel, because a group of feeble Christian are stepping past their fears and giving it a go. It’s wonderful seeing God show His strength through us! All glory to him.
And thank you for all your prayers and support! Please keep praying for us! We need His power. God bess.
In normal fashion, the Operation 513 team, consisting this year of sixteen members, ended out the year and entered the new year in a mixture of evangelistic conversations and handing out tracts. Over the course of the evening over 10,000 tracts were handed out and many conversations were had.
The evening was filled with a range of responses both to the tracts and to the conversations. Many people were asked, "What do you think would happen to you if you didn't make it through 2020?" others were asked, "What would happen if you didn't make it to 2020?" and many responses sadly were, "I don't care" or "I don't want to talk about it". A range of conversations were even cut short by people saying, "I just want to keep doing my own thing (and play on my phone until midnight)". But amongst the apathy and rejection God in His providence had some people who were open, willing to engage and listen.
The first conversation was with a young couple, Tyler and Kyla. Tyler declared that he didn't think there was a God but didn't have any defense or reason for his position and Kyla said she thought she would be going to Heaven because she was good. They were shown how we know God exists, they were taken through the law and the gospel and Kyla came to understand it quite quickly. Tyler on the other hand, even after being able to answer the questions previously when asked at the end, what would he say to God, said, "I think I have lived a good enough life". He was once again shown that this would not be enough, rather would be the confirmation of his eternity in Hell. He was given the correct answer and was encouraged to ponder it in his own time.
There was also a converastion with Laud a Spanish speaking, French, Catholic who came to grasp the good news. She had struggled with understanding it for much of her life and she said she was sure this was a God send, that He had sent us to talk with her because she had really been struggling with it all over the past few days. She seemed to grasp the gospel but it is hard to know for certain because even throughout the conversation she had moments of clarity then went back to saying her old answers.
Overall it was an incredible night, the final gospel conversations of 2019 and the first conversations of 2020 were a priviledge and a great way to bring in the New Year. Why not find a time to join the team this year. Find an outreach that you can attend and come along. You will be glad you did!
Schoolies 2019 Week 1
My last log entry covered the last two days of the Canterbury A&P Show, in Christchurch, NZ. I then had the privilege of flying to the Gold Coast to be involved with the first week of the Schoolies outreach. This log entry will detail my experience of the week.
The first thing I want to talk about is the slogan for Schoolies: Best Week of Your Life. That is wrong on so many levels. When I would ask some of these kids three things Schoolies was known for, I would get pretty much the same answer: drink, drugs, and sex. We know that those three things do not equate to the best week of your life. In fact, it’s leading to devastated lives. And if that was the best week of your life, what does that say about the rest of life? How depressing! Oh, how desperately is the hope of the gospel needed in this environment. And so, our team, ranging from about 8 to 12 Christians (depending on the day) would head out for two outreaches: afternoon and evening to share just that.
Oh, and these kids want to talk. It’s pretty much a constant stream of conversations for the whole team. Some are open, some resistant, some mock, some seem deeply impacted by the gospel. Ultimately the results are in God’s hands. But God is glorified in our obedience to bring the gospel to hundreds of these kids. It is the power of God to salvation for all who believe.
And because we were out there in the afternoon and evening for the whole week, there were many opportunities to have follow up conversations.
I remember talking to one young man in the evening, and then seeing him again during the next afternoon’s outreach. He remembered me, but not much of the content of the conversation we had. So he was given the opportunity of hearing the gospel a second time. I’m confident he understood the gospel - checking questions confirming - but, for now, he is resistant, with “meditation” being his excuse.
Another long follow up conversation with a young man revealed how he was struggling with suicide. Through a clear explanation of the gospel, and testimony of how God saw me through my own struggle with the black dog - I could see genuine hope sparking in his eyes. This young man actually hugged me. I hope he counts the cost and accepts the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus’ payment for sin.
Something that really encouraged me was the openness to logic and reason. I would often start conversations with the building / builder, universe / universe maker analogy and get responses like: “you’ve blown my mind - that makes so much sense”. This would set up a conversation so I could explain how we know right from wrong, the problem of sin, the good news of the gospel, and the cost of accepting the gift. And that cost was often too great: some would suggest that that would accept the gift after schoolies - which just shows that their heart hasn’t been regenerated. But from time to time, people would understand and even say that they would have to leave Schoolies as a result of accepting the gift of Jesus.
The week of outreach was tiring - but oh so worth it. So grieving to see these kids in such a state, night after night. But such an open harvest field! Oh to see some come to know saving faith in Christ to the glory of God alone.
I’m now back in NZ, but the team are still on the Gold Coast for Schoolies week two. Please keep them in prayer!
Schoolies Outreach Week 1
Hundreds of young people have been personally witnessed to this last week at Schoolies Outreach at the Gold Coast.
Be encouraged with these videos from each of the days:
On Thursday, as it was Anzac Day and a public holiday, instead of heading into Sunnybank during the afternoon, the team attended Brisbane City to speak to people at the march. Over the course of the morning almost five thousands tracts were handed out and many conversations were had!
As people flowed out of the train station and into the square, they each were offered a tract. As people walked along the sidewalks, people were offered a tract. It is wonderful that here in Australia, due to the great sacrifice of men and women we can be free to live in a democracy. This day of celebration and the sacrifice offered, though exceedingly costly and loving, doesn't compare to the work of God, not to save His friends but those who had declared themselves to be His enemies!
Whilst celebrating the great sacrifice of our soldiers, the team were able to declare the immeasurable sacrifice of our God and invite others to be beneficiaries of Christ's sacrifice, through faith!
An early conversation took place with a man who wanted to believe that God saves people, because of their good works. He professed to be a Christian but had a very muddled idea of salvation, declaring that good people in countries who had never heard of Christ will be accepted by God into Heaven. He was shown why that cannot work and was pointed to the gospel but he said he still disagreed. He was encouraged to read Romans to see what Paul has to say about salvation.
This was followed by a short conversation with Marilyn, who declared that we should all believe what we want to believe. She was warned that this was very unwise considering we all want to believe that which is easiest for us, or what we perceive to be most enjoyable, not that which is true. It was pointed out that this could leave her in a lot of trouble, in fact it would. She was briefly shown God's law and left with the guilt of her actions as her husband came back and they left.
Lastly was an exciting conversation with John, a Portuguese speaker who came to comprehend the gospel and said that this very day he would consider what Christ has done and start reading his Bible. He was also encouraged to head along to a local Church so that he may grow in understanding.
Please be praying for the many who received tracts and for those who heard the message of salvation, that God would use this simple message to bring them into His Kingdom!
And maybe even start planning to join the team next public holiday, that you may use the time God has given you to declare His glory among the nations!