After a very busy couple of weeks in April things have quieted down a fair amount this week. Snow falling on the mountain and a chilling wind tends to keep people walking when they are in the mall. Despite this cold there was a number of appointments God arranged for today.
The first of these was with a group of friendly young Mormon men who have been witnessing in Hobart lately. We chatted briefly only today as they were doing outreach in speaker’s corner, it was good to continue building rapport with them. They have stopped to listen to me preach a few times and we have talked for quite some time. We have had good conversations about the similarities and differences between Christianity and Mormonism.
One conversation was about the role of good works in Christian and Mormon lives. The Mormon doctrine regarding good works is that it is essential for salvation as opposed to Christian doctrine which teaches the worth of good works but that they are only an evidence of salvation. As Ephesians chapter 2 states, we are saved by faith and not by works so that no-one can boast. This is a major difference between these two faiths and very clearly underlines the difference between the Bible and what Joseph Smith taught in the Mormon Scriptures. We talked for quite some time on this issue and I encouraged them to consider what God has said in scripture about the role of good works. I hope that we will have a chance to talk about these things again.
I spent some time handing out tracts with Tim and Penny and a moderate number went out. I am always pleased to see people take tracts because you never know where they’ll end up. I’ve met people who say to me that they have one of the tracts I hand out that a friend had floating around their house and they read and kept. I’ve heard people talk about Million Dollar Question tracts that they have pinned to their wall. And I know of at least one cleaner who heard the gospel through a discarded tract that caught their eye one day at work. You never know how God will use them.
Karl and I preached through the week. I am delighted to see my brother becoming more bold in his proclamation of God's glorious word and its always good to see him show up the emptiness of the world's wisdom (he studied philosophy whilst at university). On Tuesday I preached on Genesis 1-3 and then the 1st Psalm, I tried to keep to the passage and apply this to lives of the people of Hobart. It never ceases to amaze me, just how relevant even the smallest section of scripture is to life in any age. The realities of brokenness and sin alongside the beauty and nobility of our world is explained by God’s word with a clarity that is not found anywhere else.
Likewise, there is insight into our personal lives, why there is such beauty and such ugliness in the soul of mankind. While both passages do not explicitly mention the saviour they both point forward to Him with eager longing. My preaching urges people to look to Jesus in faith and trust in Him only. This is the only solution to the brokenness of our souls. The only answer to our accusing consciences. This is the only hope for sinful people living in a sin scarred world. Only salvation through Him, only cleansing by Him, only a good relationship with God through Him.
After preaching this week there were a good number of conversations. Firstly was a young lady who was very interested in the literature we had on same sex marriage on the Bible table. At first she avoided conversation but then asked "Will God send me to hell because I'm gay?". She was quite tentative and shy in her approach and so I spoke with her gently for some time about the holiness of God and how all of us fall short of His glory, not just homosexual people. I also shared the great love Jesus has for her and all people regardless of their sins. She listened to the gospel message and then walked away thoughtful. I pray that God would soften her heart and bring her to faith in Jesus.
Karl also had a fantastic conversation with a Muslim by the name of Ali who was very eager for further conversation and promised to come back next week to talk more. There was much discussion of who Jesus is and why He came and what he taught. I hope that we can reach out to him again in the near future.
Just as we were packing up on Friday a group of young ladies and a guy stopped and again engaged with our same sex marriage material. In marked contrast to the young lady previous they were very aggressively anti-Christian in their stance and arguments. Numerous times through the discussion I noted that there was no reasons for their thoughts given, only slogans that could easily have been lifted straight from the newspapers or internet. We discussed why Christians disagree with same sex marriage and say homosexuality is a sin. Karl and I both tried to show the balance of love and judgment that God's word responds to these issues. Tragically they left spouting yet another slogan, "You should try to be more open to love..." . May God work in their hearts to show the bankruptcy of the homosexual life and the great love God has shown through Jesus. May they turn to Him from this broken lifestyle.
God continues to work through my work here in Hobart. Praise His name for that.
It has been a busy fortnight here in Hobart, many people have been coming to listen to the preaching and there have been extensive debates on numerous issues. It has been wonderful to see the gospel preached to the large crowds but there have also been some very challenging moments also. Many bibles have gone out from the table and good conversations had whilst the preaching is going on.
Some of the issues raised are predictable and have been well answered by wise Christians in the past, some of these were:
If God is all powerful, can He make an object so heavy He cannot lift it? (answer: God can do all things consistent with His character and His character is not logically absurd)
The burden of proof in this argument is all on you as a Christian – prove God is real (answer: Christians have a burden of proof to bear and there is huge amounts of evidence for God's existence. Atheists on the other hand have an impossible burden to bear – to prove God does not exist means you must know all things and all time!)
If God is real then why is there so much suffering in the world (and variations of that thought)? (answer: there are many options to answer this, two options in summary: God provides us with the grounds of good and evil, if He is absent what do you base your protest of evil on? God made this world good and the evil we see came into it by our wrong doing, one day He will redeem the world.)
Why do you do this? (answer: Because I care about you and want you to have the great blessing that could be yours in Jesus Christ)
Some of the questions though have been very modern and very topical today and form part of the secular class of “untouchables”. Issues that no one is allowed to question the status quo on, you simply need to shut up and agree apparently.
I'm gay, what does God think of me? (answer: God has shown His great love for you and me both by sending Jesus to die for sin on the cross. We both deserve judgment and hell for our rejection of God and wrong doing but you and I both can be made God's precious children if we turn from sin and humbly trust in Jesus)
What does God think of abortion? (answer: All life is given by God and children are precious in His sight. To perform an abortion is to kill a human being at an early stage of life and is murder.)
What about other religions? (answer: Jesus said He was the only way to God and no-one would come to the Father any other way. He made an exclusive claim and proved His authority by miracles, prophecy and resurrection.)
For most days it has been wonderful to preach as I was given the opportunity to share the gospel liberally when engaging with people. It was good to keep coming back to the centrality of the gospel and Jesus Christ. Arguments are good to a point but the reason for doing this is to draw people to Christ, praise God He gave the opportunity!
Soli Deo Gloria
This week has been a sharp spike in interest in the work in the mall. We had many people gather to discuss the gospel and biblical matters. We also nearly ran out of bibles on the bible table, a problem every evangelist should have!
The afternoon began as many have, with quiet discussions around the bible table. Samuel dropped by to have a quick chat before heading off to other commitments. My discussions with Samuel have become quite cordial, something that I am immensely grateful to God for!
After finishing chatting with Samuel I began to preach the gospel and I was working my way through a passage of scripture when an aboriginal man started shouting at me that I should stop preaching about God on aboriginal land. Apparently God and Jesus are not welcome in Australia, and according to this man I was being disrespectful of his people by preaching as I did. I responded to him as best I could, seeking to show him that race and nationality do not remove our responsibility to our maker. I also urged him to consider the fact that many in the aboriginal communities of our land are Christian (75% according to the ABS census done just recently). There have even been elders come out in opposition to the activism of “Invasion Day” saying aboriginal Australians should be seeking to reconcile not foster division and hatred. None of this had any effect on this particular man and he continued to spew hatred towards God and threatening me if I did not stop preaching. All this obviously concerned some people listening because one lady called the police because she thought I was in danger. They came and spoke with the man off to one side leaving me free to continue preaching.
I rejoiced when I looked around at the large crowd that had gathered to witness the spectacle and doubly so when members of the crowd began to ask their own questions. It began with a question regarding other religions – what do I think will happen to them (with particular reference to Islam as some Muslims had walked past). This I answered with the words of Jesus underlying His claim to be the only way to God and asking in return if He was right or wrong? Not receiving a reply I urged the questioner to consider all that Jesus did that made it urgent that we believe Him, He was God in flesh and proved it beyond all doubt.
At this point the police spoke to me briefly about avoiding violence in the mall, something I assured them I was ng very hard to avoid if I could. They then left me to continue preaching, taking the aboriginal man with them.
The questions continued from there for the rest of the afternoon until I had to pack up and head home apologising to the unanswered questions. The questions were fantastic, biblical questions that allowed me to glorify both God and the gospel.
One set of questions in particular was regarding the role of biblical law in the Christian's life. My questioner claimed we had to fulfill all the law in order to be right with God, not only believe in Jesus through faith. This question was fantastic as I could speak about the full salvation that Christ had won on the cross and how we are freed from the demands of law which we could never fulfill. I went to Galations many times to underline God's thoughts on this false gospel. Praise God He gave us the law which has delivered us to Jesus who sets us free from from bondage to both law keeping and sin!
As I said many bibles went out as did much literature. Praise God that He is so kind to us here in Hobart and sent to gather the people to hear the way to life. May He use what was said and what was taken to be read!
Please continue your faithful prayers for the people of Hobart and for our work in the mall.
To God be the glory through Jesus the Son!
What a wonderful day God blessed us with here in Hobart today! Blessed with beautiful warmth and a gentle cool breeze, peace, good food and drink and the wonder of being called (though unworthy) to share the gospel with others. As is always the case at this time of year, there were many people in the mall and quite a few of them stopped to listen and some to talk. The only troubling cloud in view is the scowl that passes over certain people's faces as they read the pro-marriage flyer on the front of the bible table. The latest face to do that was homosexual activist Rodney Croome just before he took pictures and video of the preaching and bible table.
After I set up I was able to briefly chat with Tim, who has been coming to support my work for many months now. He and four other Christians all commented on the fact that I had been drawn by two atheists (Sam and Mitch) into a extended debate the previous week. They were quite concerned that I had not preached and a couple of them (rightly) rebuked me for neglecting my duty to bring the gospel to mall and to them. There is a lesson in this I am glad to hear; never, Never, NEVER neglect the gospel for any other topic or discussion. God willing it will not happen again, please pray for me in this.
For the first time in the afternoon I preached on the joy and heart-break of pregnancy and children. I firstly pointed to the great tragedy of miscarriage and grief and pain that so many couples face at the loss of a child in the womb. From here I pointed to the horrible evil of abortion, which denies the value of every human life, no matter how small. By normalising the "right to chose" an abortion society has refused the right of men and women to grieve at the loss of a child in miscarriage. After all at the early stages the child is "only a fetus", "only an embryo", or most horrid of all "its just tissue...". God says on the other hand that we should grieve whenever someone dies because death is an enemy and not a normal thing; it has come through sin and will one day be done away with. From this I called people to consider how much God loves each and every one of us, He makes us, provides for us, and gives us a mind and conscience. And more than that, He saw how evil and helpless in sin and death we were, are, and continue to be and He had compassion on us! He came and did something about it, He took our broken-ness and sinfulness on the cross and took our place. Then He conquered death and hell in one fell swoop, triumphing over them on the cross and rising from the grave! Praise our awesome God!
After preaching I got to have a good chat with Tim (another Christian friend) who has been helping with the fantastic work of Pierce and Christina Beahr. This lovely Christian couple run Pilgrim Hill, a ministry aiming to reach out to backpackers through hospitality and art. Each week they host 40-80 people for a free dinner and a short gospel talk and then an opportunity to talk with Christians about matters of life and faith. Among the many other calls for prayer out there I would add this one, please pray for the Beahrs as they do this difficult and demanding work week in week out.
I also discussed with Samuel my regular heckler regarding homosexual marriage. I had challenged him the week before to show me the ways that he would argue against paedophilia being legalised when they use almost the same arguments as the same sex marriage lobby (arguments he accepts). Thus far he has spoken only of the disparity in power between individuals as the basis of his argument, I will wait and see what else he thinks of in coming weeks. For those who may be unaware, since homosexual marriage was brought into law polygamy, paedophilia, incest, and even beastiality are being put forward as perfectly normal alternative forms of "marriage" in the USA, Europe, and Canada. The arguments put forward by these groups are the same as homosexual marriage advocates used, they merely challenge a further article of marriage (age, number, blood relation or species). This should be a clear warning to us in Australia that acquiescing to homosexual marriage will open wide the door to all manner of relational evils. As is the case of any compromise made with sin, national or personal.
I preached a further two times (quite croaky at the end) and spoke of the evidence of creation that is all around us and the deceitfulness of riches. I urged the people to humble themselves and have faith in Jesus and follow Him and no-one and nothing else.
Afterwards the conversation with Mitch and Sam continued for a time but I sidestepped the debate to talk to a young guy called Will. We had a wonderful conversation beginning with the documentary support for the bible and working out from there to topics like suffering and God, absolute morality and the gospel. It was fantastic to talk with him and hopefully he will come again in the future.
Praise God for all His goodness and faithfulness!
The increased interaction and interest has continued this month with many tracts going out and people showing an increased interest with the preaching. I praise God for these times but it is also a spur to pray that there would be more workers in the harvest. I fear I miss many opportunities by being otherwise engaged and people walk away when they run out of time.
There has over the last couple of months been an increasing interest in the ACL marriage facts flyer that I keep on my table. Quite a lot of people in Hobart are “allies” of the LGBTI movement and for them marriage is a point of discussion and division with Christians. The flyer acts as a discussion point for many “allies” and hopefully gets them thinking of what Christians actually say rather than the misrepresentations that the media feeds them. Also many times the flyer (which is a gently worded affirmation of the Christian position) has allowed me to share the gospel with homosexual people when they would otherwise stay away. Last week I had two young guys come and ask me what I thought of homosexual people. I was able to share with them the gospel of God's love for sinners and the responsibility of Christians to love all people (even when they disagree with their lifestyle). They listened to me and I heard their thoughts in return and we hopefully will talk more in the future.
Today there were many more teens and people in the mall than normally in the middle of the day. Many of the schools are finishing for the summer and this leads to good opportunities to reach the school kids. Many of them are hang around with friends and more likely to talk than if they were coming home from school in uniform (apparently its a big no-no to debate street preachers in school uniform…).
As I preached the first time a pair of young guys started to heckle that there was no God. I challenged them a couple of times to prove their claim but this was met with only laughter and scoffing. I made a couple of jokes, trying to engage them but they would not talk further so I continued preaching. As I preached an older gent came up and claimed the same – “there is no God”. I repeated my challenge to him to prove his claim. He replied that there is no need to “prove a negative” and the burden of proof was on me alone. I couldn't help but smile, this is a common atheist dodge and an illogical one at that. I pointed out that if I believed in gravity and he did not and I said that my bible would not float; that would be a negative claim that I would need to and could prove it. I restated that the atheist is as much in need to prove their position as the Christian, its just that they refuse to do so. Almost to illustrate this the man walked off punching the air in obvious frustration.
I finished preaching and urging the people gathered to trust in Jesus, humbling themselves and repenting of their sin. Afterward as the crowd dispersed another older gent came up and quizzed me as to why I would offer salvation to all who where present. I responded that I was commanded to in scripture and he replied that Jesus sent His disciples to the lost sheep of Israel only. Tragically this man and his friends had decided after much study that the only people who should hear the gospel call were the descendants of Isaac. He thought preaching the gospel to everyone regardless of race was unfaithful to scripture. I tried repeatedly to convince him from scripture that Jesus calls His people to share the gospel with everyone. Untouched by any of my arguments he left saying we would just have to disagree. I pray that God would open the scriptures to him and his friends and give them a heart for the lost, and may He save all of us from theology that would make us comfortable with the condemnation of anyone!
At the end of our time in the mall I packed up the bible table and then handed out tracts for a period. Many people took Christmas tracts praise God!
May He use these gospel opportunities to save the people of this city.
The beautiful weather of summer is upon us in Hobart now and as the wind and rain of spring lessen there are many more days of sunshine. This is wonderful for gospel proclamation because more people are taking their time or relaxing in the mall and are willing to listen or talk. This time of year there is also a greater awareness of Christian things with Christmas decorations everywhere and carol services and nativity plays all over the city.
I set up the table quickly and after a short pause got up to preach. I spoke from the beginning of Matthew’s gospel, about the humble and scandalous situation that Jesus was born into. He was not born into a palace to a queen and adored by all the populace. No, the king of the universe was assumed to be the illegitimate son of a poor girl from a no-where town in the middle of a tiny war torn country. Things were so bad that Mary’s husband to be had even assumed she’d been unfaithful to him too. Well, you all know the story of how God sent His angel to reassure Joseph and tell him to marry Mary… I used this story to point to two big gospel facts that come from this and many other passages.
Firstly Jesus cares for us and didn’t and never will stay aloof and distant from our problems. He is able to sympathize with our trials and temptations, because He’s been tested and tempted in every way even though He never sinned. He is willing to come into our lives and walk with us through life, just as He did with the first believers. And lastly, Jesus doesn’t care who you are, if you’re a success or a failure, rich or poor, respected or hated, it does not matter. He comes to offer all people salvation through Him.
And this was my second point, Jesus came to save His people from their sin. Jesus came with a mission, He came to buy back sinners from the judgment of God. From even before His birth Jesus was marked out to suffer and die in the place of people who did not love Him. Even before the making of the world the triune God picked out unworthy sinners to save from there much deserved judgment. He planned this! What a great love Jesus shows to us who are saved!
But who can be saved? All who humble themselves and trust in Him. Not the ones that are good enough, not the ones in the right church, not the ones with the right job, not the ones with the x factor. No! It depends on Him and not us, nothing we can do will make us right with God, we need to cast all that thinking aside and flee to Jesus for rescue. We must love Jesus and hate with holy passion anything that gets between us and Him.
I urged this message on the people of Hobart again and again. I hope and pray that God will use His gospel to soften the sinful and hard hearts of Hobart. Please pray with me in this, we need God to move in Hobart to save these people. They are marching day by day into the pit of hell, we should be on our knees weeping that even one precious soul would be lost to hell. How much more should we pray and weep when thousands go to their deaths happy in their unbelief and comfortable in their sin! Pray that God will shake them awake through the gospel and bring them to life and faith through Jesus.
I also pray for you my brothers and sisters, that God would give you a Holy discontent. That you would be driven to speak to people around you. That you would be a gospel gossiper and that Jesus’ great love would flow from your lips regularly and shine in your deeds always. May God’s Spirit fill us all and drive us to lovingly reach out to those in darkness around us!
After a fortnight away it has been great to come back to this city and share the gospel again in Hobart for the second half of the month. This last week has been full of interesting and gospel focused conversations and interactions.
On Monday I was intending to spend time at the University talking with the students but it is currently exam time so conversations are very hard to start with stressed out students. Instead I spoke with a series of very interesting people in the mall:
Jenny – Coming from a new age background she believed that our “energy” went onto somewhere else after this life and wasn't sure where that was. She then asked me where I thought people went after death. I shared the gospel with her and the two destinies of people after death, heaven and life eternal with God or hell and eternal punishment. As most people do Jenny found the idea of hell very difficult and thought it very harsh. I offered to explain why the idea of judgement was comforting, interested she ask why. I pointed to the horrible injustices of this life and the many people who get no reward for good work and the many who are never brought to justice for their evil deeds. I also discussed the wisdom and understanding of God and how we can trust ourselves to Him because He can see all the facts of someone's life and all their intentions also. So the infinitely good and infinitely wise God who will judge the earth is a comfort for all the injustice we become upset by in this life and also the resolution of the lackings of our justice system. Jenny and I also talked about the need of personal salvation and the many great promises made by God for those who will trust in Jesus. Jenny thanked me for talking as I left and I went glad in heart for the blessings of God!
Jeremy – We have talked before in the past and this time he stopped while I was handing out Eternity cards and asked what it was all about. I responded that the card spoke about life after death, where we go from here when we have died. Jeremy wasn't sure what happened and wanted to know what I thought happened to people. I shared with him about the judgement of Jesus and His separation of people into two destinies depending on their deeds and their response to Him. I showed how the law leaves us all without excuse before God and that my only hope (and Jeremy's) was that God would accept me for the sake of Jesus and His goodness and sacrifice in my place.
Annie and Jehovahs Witnesses – There are many J.W.s around the city regularly handing out literature and sharing the distorted gospel they have been taught by the Watchtower organisation. I spoke with Annie and her friends about who would be in heaven and who Jesus was. The discussion was quite congenial but there is a hardline that JWs will not cross and that is who Jesus is. They have been deceived into thinking of Jesus as another created being and not part of the Triune God. This then leads to a huge clash between the gospel we proclaim and the one that they proclaim. I did my best to show some of the many reasons that scripture gives to support Jesus as God not just a god. I hope that some small seed of doubt in the Watchtower organisation were planted and moved them towards faith in the real Jesus.
There were another couple of conversations over the course of the day and I pray that there would be God's hand on all of them. May they be blessed with the exact words that He desires them to hear which will glorify Jesus and draw these people to faith in Him.
On Tuesday I had a good discussion with Samuel who has been making an effort to read the bible and has begun with the gospel of Matthew. He had some questions he had about the law of God and how it applied to Mary's situation when she was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit. This appeared to be fairly standard questions for Samuel but at the same time it was encouraging to see him reading the Word of God.
Also encouraging was the crowd of people who gathered during the preaching. God in His grace saw fit to bring along three young guys who were heckling me during the preaching and a couple of other young guys who would answer questions. Initially I was preaching on the end of the world and asking people what they thought would happen at the end of the world. The amusing answers and shout outs from the crowd drew some people to listen as I spoke about what God says will happen and why. Further people were drawn in as the three young guys shouted for me to “Stop, Stop, Stop, Shut up, Stop!….” and that no-one was listening to me (they didn't get the irony of their own listening or the crowd they were drawing). I had to preach over the top of them as I shared the great need of salvation and the great salvation that Jesus offers through faith in Him. After a period they went away and I continued to preach the gospel.
After the preaching I was able to discuss with two of the hecklers and urge them to reconsider their opposition to the gospel. May God change their hard young hearts!
It has been a wonderful week in Hobart. May Jesus receive the glory and honour and praise and dominion!
Wonderful warm weather has come to Hobart and even with my thin Brisbanite blood I find myself shedding the coat and feeling a little hot. This reminds me of the warmth of God's love which sends us out each week into the mall to share the gospel with the people of Hobart.
I praise God for the support of Karl, Tim, Cynthia, Kath and Penny. It is wonderful to have other Christians with me in their various capacities to share in the work of evangelism. This last week there has been lots of people stopping to talk and take Bibles and small groups gathering to hear the preaching. This is heartening as Hobart is often a very hard hearted and apathetic place.
Karl has preached each Friday for some time now and does a fantastic job of sharing the gospel and bringing out the truths of the word of God. Today he preached from Romans and Genesis, sharing about the good gifts that God has given us in creation. From here he pointed to the brokenness of all people and our world that came through sin and the curse. Lastly he urged people to turn to Jesus and trust in Him for salvation.
Afterwards I preached from Luke 14 and 15 about the joy that God and the angles of heaven has when people repent and trust in Jesus. I began with the horrible feeling of having lost something and the efforts we all will go to to find something that is lost. I pointed to the immense efforts that God has gone to to save the lost and broken people of our world in sending Jesus to save us. I spoke of the restlessness of our consciences and the feeling of not belonging that dogs most of us, which points to our great need of a saviour. I spoke of our Lord and His great love for rebellious and sinful people both when He was on earth and now as He sits in Heaven. I urged people to trust in Him and turn humbly in faith to Him and Him alone. Finally I spoke of the cost of discipleship and radical nature of following Jesus. He must be first and must be worth dying for and living for or we are not really serious about following Him and are not His disciples.
Praise God groups of people stopped to listen while we each preached and I pray that there are many who heard snippets that will have those words stick in their minds and hearts.
There was a handful of fruitful conversations that followed this time of preaching and we were able to hand out a number of tracts.
Praise God for another day we are able to serve Him on the streets of Hobart.
After a bout of laryngitis and a nasty head cold it was a relief to be able to go into the mall today with a clear head and share the gospel with people. As my voice was still weak and sore I did not preach but there was many people coming to the bible table over the course of the afternoon and many opportunities to share.
A couple of people came asking for bibles and literature and quickly left afterwards. There was also a number of people who stayed who I would ask you to pray for:
Samuel : This young atheist/skeptic has been talking with me and other Christians for some time now and regularly stops to talk. He needs prayer that God will open his eyes to the gospel and his great need of Christ. Today he began by asking if I had been arrested, had been in Launceston or had been in court recently, all things heard down the grapevine he wanted to check. I assured him that none of these had happened to me as far as I was aware. After a short period however Barrie came and began to speak with me to encourage me in my work in the mall and this spun off into a discussion with Samuel as well. Instead of engaging in the discussion directly I tried to guide the conversation in directions that would be helpful and away from the difficult and unhelpful. The discussion was quite good and Barrie did a fantastic job of defending the faith and pointing to Jesus. Of course Samuel was quite unmoved by any proofs offered and deferred the discussion of scientific evidences to professors at the university.
Alexandra : She stopped to ask for a bible and directions to the church. She comes from a catholic background but has fallen away and is wanting to reconnect with God. I chatted to her about the bible and invited her to come visit our church whenever she would like.
Ben: I have been praying for Ben for some time now. The last time I saw him he was very distressed and in a terrible situation and facing the loss of his family and job and even jail time. At that time I tried to help in some small ways and encouraged him to seek God in prayer and Bible reading and to get help and accountability. Praise God that is exactly what God has brought into Ben's life in a dramatic way. He has been able to spend many days in prayer and Bible study and is now engaged in both church and accountability with a solid Christian friend. The problems are far from over but he is now facing these massive challenges with hope and purpose that comes from knowing and being known by God almighty. Please pray for Ben that he will continue in the path he has begun and will continue to delight in and walk with our Lord.
Mekaela : She came to ask questions and a long and enjoyable discussion followed. While claiming to be a Taoist she is open to all different sources of truth and holds opinions that are quite close to the Christian worldview on many matters. Ruben and I were able to point her to the bible and particularly the gospel on many issues. She is interested to discuss things further and hopefully the discussion will continue over the next couple of weeks and months.
Praise God for all these great conversations and opportunities. Please pray for these precious folk and ask that God would be at work in their hearts for their eternal good and His Glory.
It has been a mixed week this week in Hobart. Very cold but showers coming and going and even sleet and snow flurries. Likewise the responses from people has been mixed (as always). I was privileged to be able to preach the good news two days this week and give out many tracts and bibles.
Tuesday was very cold but there was a short break in the showers during which I preached in the mall. Despite the cold a small number of people stopped to hear the word expounded and some faithful Christian friends stopped to pray for the preaching. The rest of the day I spent handing out tracts and speaking to people, though few wanted to stop due to the weather.
On Friday the weather was fine and there were many more people willing to stop and talk. We set up the table and within a couple of minutes some asian students from the university had come and taken bibles. A Christian couple came and spoke with us for a little and encouraged out work in the mall and took some literature on evolution.
Just before I was about to get up and preach God brought a man to speak to me who needed help. Little did I know how much help he needed when he first arrived! He had just spent the night in the police station cells for drug and alcohol offences and had a restraining order placed on him for family violence. With tears in his eyes he told me that he believed in God but had progressively walked into sin until his family call the police when the abuse became too much to bear. He had not been able to go to work that morning and was going to have to tell his boss about what had happened. The whole situation sounded like a complete train wreck.
We talked for a while and I contacted his boss for him and gave him an opportunity to talk. I spent a lot of time just listening but also urging him to get away from the drugs and alcohol as a matter of urgency. He stayed around for a period and listened to the preaching. Afterwards he came and spoke to me again. There were a few glimmers of hope in the situation. His wife is praying for him and has allowed him to use a flat their family has as a place to stay. He was also intending to go and spend time praying and reading the bible we had given him. I encouraged him to come to church, to dive into the word and seek out the support he will need over the coming months. I pray that God will bless this man with the strength and wisdom to walk away from these sins and follow Jesus.
After I preached the gospel we also had another young man approach us to talk at the bible table. He was quite drunk and happily displaying the bottle of wine he was working through in his jacket pocket. Joshua was hitting the drink because he had had a big fight with his girlfriend. His plan to deal with the fight was to get drunk and then go dancing that night and then sort things out in the morning. I could relate to where Joshua was at, it is our human nature to resort to more sin (almost like a release valve) when we have messed up and sinned!
He claimed to know and love God and have seen Him in a near death experience when he was younger. In light of this I urged him to abandon both his drunkenness and reconcile to his girlfriend. God has made him for more than messing around with these things and God hates it when we sin. Unfortunately Joshua loved a god that "was cool with all this", a god that was in complete agreement with him in all he did in fact. We urged him to see that this was not the God of the bible who had given him life but a false god, an idol. We urged him to repent and trust in Jesus but Joshua walked away happy with both his sin and with his god. Please pray for Joshua and many like him who live lives of happy rebellion, not knowing the wrath that is being stored up for them on judgement day. Pray that God will soften their hearts and bring them to humble repentant trust in Jesus Christ.
The team came together for a time of prayer after this and we held up the people we had encountered in the city to the Lord. It is such a wonderful thing to gather as God's people and speak to our loving heavenly father.
Praise God for a wonderful week.