This afternoon in Capalaba it was a little tougher to evangelise because there were less people around and a more people were vocal regarding their hatred of God and His Gospel. None the less there were still many valuable conversations had by the team!
In this tense time regarding the same sex marriage plebiscite, I asked a man, named Jamie, who was just walking by the bus stop if he thought he was a good person. Jamie responded and said he thought he was a decent guy and then inquired as to why I was asking.
I simply explained that Operation 513 is a Christian group existing specifically for the purpose of engaging with people to share the Gospel. Jamie's response was simply, "I'm probably not your kind of guy, I'm not religious and I'm gay."
I asked, "Why don't you think I would be interested in engaging with you?" He said, "Because churches usually are grossed out by and hate people like me."
This was my opportunity, to share with this man that Christians are still sinners. I started by saying, "Christians aren't a group of people who think they're good, rather they're a group of people who know they're not. We as Christians are united by the very fact that we desperatly need a Saviour."
He said, "Oh ok." He seemed very taken a back that I hadn't even flinched despite what he thought was an "unforgivable" sin. I went on to explain, that Christians are often plagued by self-righteousness. We are still prone to thinking we're better than someone else because they sin differently than us and even stronger every person, Christians included, are plagued with broken sexuality, broken identity and broken relationships.
I went on to explain that, every single person is sinful, proud and selfish to the core. We have all made ourselves enemies of God. We are all rebels against our Creator and that wickedness deserves Hell.
Jamie said, "How do we know we're not living in Hell now?" in reply I simply said, "Hell is a place where God removes all His good gifts, intimacy, relationships, pleasure and comfort and instead pours out His justice and wrath on those who are rebels and will rebel against Him eternally. The very fact that we can stand here talking means we are not in Hell."
That seemed sufficient. So I finished explaining, "Even though we deserve Hell and it is God who should punish us, God Himself made a way of salvation." I explained that God came into this world, in the form of a man, as a servant, in the person of Jesus Christ.
In fact, Jesus willingly volunteered. He is perfect and sinless and went to the cross to suffer the full fury and wrath of God for sin. On that cross Jesus was punished as if He were you and I so that if we turn in surrender to Him we can be redeemed. We can have our sin forgiven. We can have our relationship with God and others restored and we can have our true humanity repaired.
With these last sentences, Jamie seemed to be holding back some tears and was keen to take a tract and said, "I am quite interested, I shall definitely have a read when I get home and consider it."
During our outreach in Capalaba, we spoke with an Aussie bloke in his 20s named Kyle. He said he used to not believe in God, but then he was at a low point in his life and he found a Bible at a caravan park he was staying at. He read various parts of it, but thought he couldn't take the Bible with him because it was not his.
So he said to me that he has been wanting to get a Bible of his own for a long time now. I then ran to my car and gave him a full Bible. He was overjoyed. He said, "My heart is beating so fast right now. You have made my day. Thank you!"
He recognised that he had done lots of things wrong in life, but had no idea of how to get his sins forgiven. And he knew that simply improving his life wouldn't get rid of his past. He took a while though to understand the message of grace, and how we need to trust in Jesus' death alone for our forgiveness. But in the end, he understood it and is going to be counting the cost of trusting in Christ.
We also referred him to a good local church in the area. Please pray for his salvation and for all the others who got to hear the gospel today. To God be the glory!
At the outreach at Capalaba Bus Station on Monday afternoon there were 4 team members out and a whole host of conversations were had!
Capalaba is a very interesting place, some people are incredibly hostile, they will often yell, "Don't you dare talk to me" and yet the person sitting right beside them will be happy and open to hear about what God has done to save sinners.
An early conversation was with a woman named Chloe, she had no hostility but was completely open. It was a scary conversation in some respects because this woman who was in her early twenties had never heard of Jesus. You read that right, she had no idea who He is, who He claimed to be, when He had lived or what He had done. The only thing she knew about Him was His name, Jesus Christ.
There was great pleasure taken in explaining what sin is, who God is, the resulting penalty for sin and yet that God, through Christ had provided a way of salvation. Chloe left with a Gospel of John and said she would have to consider it that night.
Another man the team talked to was named Jordan, who is also in his mid twenties, at the beginning of the conversation he was saying that he was pretty sure Heaven and Hell didn't exist but after only 15 minutes of discussion he was asking how a sinner could be forgiven and be right with God.
This was probably the most encouraging discussion of the afternoon, he hopped on the bus pondering the question, "Will I continue to live for myself and suffer God's justice in Hell, or will I acknowledge that I am a sinner in desperate need of salvation and surrender in trust to the God who punished Himself on my behalf?"
There were a whole host of other conversations, so please take the time to come before the Lord in prayer pleading on behalf of these people and all those talked to that God would graciously grant them repentance!
Please also ask God to bring back these same people next week for follow up conversations and discussions! And finally may you lift up the team in prayer that God may equip and empower them by His Spirit to keep boldly proclaiming the gospel.
When I returned home, my wife said that she had asked the Lord to give me an encouraging conversation. God had graciously answered in the affirmative:
I spoke with a young man, Darren, who has some Christian friends but was not familiar with the Bible. He listened intently. Following the pattern of Paul speaking to Gentiles in Acts, I went through God creating, particularly mankind in His image so that one might enjoy God as one obeyed Him. Proceeding through Adam's rebellion (and this against only one external law) to God's judicial curse, I showed how this explains our problems with relationships today, especially with God but also with our fellow man and with nature.
Darren was quite sure that no one could meet God's moral standard (10 external laws) and he did not know anyone who is perfect who could aid him. Going through the sinlessness of Jesus, I explained that His submission to the judicial wrath of God was as Substitute for His people. God's raising Jesus from the dead proved that God was pleased with Jesus sacrifice.
So now to the one who turns from his rebellion against God and trusts in Jesus alone to save him, can ask God for mercy and God will grant this as this is His stipulated way for anyone to become a Christian. I pointed out some of the means of grace by which God empowers Christians to begin and to continue living for His glory. I encouraged him to make a serious reflection and ask questions from us, most Monday afternoons, or via the web site. He says he is going to. May God lead him in the everlasting Way, Jer. 6:16.
Praise God triune for His gospel which is the power of God for salvation, to everyone who believes, first to the Jews, and also to the Gentiles and for the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that glorifies our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.
God gave us a day where some meaningful chats were had with those He had prepared to come under the sound of His gracious gospel this day.
- Natalie, grew up in the USSR, had been taught in school that there is no God but she was to be a good citizen. They told her how to be good. Ryan took her through the Builder/building analogy and some more necessary corrections before getting to the law and gospel. Seeming to understand intellectually, she later asked, "If someone believes in God ... that one will be saved?: this also was corrected so Jesus, the Way, was shown to be the necessary Mediator. Now she has a gospel of John. May the Father show her the truth and grant her repentance and faith to be saved.
- Bek, a contact from mid-May, who after hearing the Good News again, still does not get it. Sadly, she does not read God's Word daily; it is one of the main means of grace according to Acts 2:42! Here is another church-goer who is still far from God. May He deal with her in her great need and give her ears to hear and faith to believe.
- Phoebe, educated in a Roman Catholic school, was unsure of getting to heaven. First, I showed her 1 Jn. 5:11-13, then going through the Law and Gospel, I stressed Jesus perfection does not (and cannot change because God will not have an imperfect Saviour) so we can always trust Him completely, Heb. 13:8. Her response was most heart-warming. May God bring her to see that Jesus is all she needs, Heb. 7:25.
May our great sovereign Lord, deal with each one contacted this day as only He can, Rev. 4:11.
God gave us a day where His protection was obvious as well as His usual guidance. One young man threatened Ryan with physical violence when he heard Jesus mentioned. Ryan walked away unharmed but the foul language continued for a little while longer. But that is all part of God's training and equipping of His witnesses and so the work continued. Please pray for:
- Jacob heard it all before his mates enticed him away. The peer pressure was evident but may our Lord draw this teenager to the Saviour.
- Matthew was given an overview of the Bible and how the gospel is central; that head knowledge is a precursor to saving faith. May the Lord stir him to read the Bible and see his great need for Christ.
There was one of those incidents that cheers the soul. I had given a "What is the Most Stolen Book?" tract to a man who was not religious and not likely to change anytime soon. The woman sitting on the bench behind asked for a tract also. As I seemed to be getting nowhere fast with the man, the lady started to hand the tract back so I asked her what she thought and she said, "Good!" Just then Ryan came by so he was able to help the lady to understand the gospel, for which she was thankful. Isn't the Lord wonderful the way He does things so we know He is aiding us in this work.
As always, to God alone be the glory and we thank Him for the privilege and pleasure of serving Him.
School holidays bring a different sprinkling of people to us, but God's good news is always the same. The ones we were speaking to who seemed more 'open' than others, heard the good news, then the bus would arrive. A few prayers please for these especially:
- Aden, had a Bible and had read half of Matthew but was not currently reading it. After breaking a finger, he had met a 'faith healer' who prayed for him. He said that the pain went away so he never went to a doctor. It was obvious that the bone had healed but not in its normal position. Pointing out the unique of Christianity by the fact of Jesus bodily resurrection, Ryan took him through the law and gospel. Aden then understood the gospel. Still thinking that he would commit to Jesus the next time he went to church, he was challenged to act now - one does not know how many are his 'length of days'. He was also challenged to read God's Word daily and get his spiritual food each day. He was also invited to join us at a local church we attend.
- Oscar, a young student who was unclear about spiritual matters. I took him through the questions he needs answers to if he could believe that 'God is' and that 'God has spoken = the Bible'. He gladly took a comic tract and seemed to likely start searching for God. If indeed the Father is drawing him, he will find the Saviour and new life in Christ.
God is good and His lovingkindness lasts forever.
- Dylan, with a spiritually mixed up father, hearing the gospel was a delight as we know the truth will set you free as you abide in it. He received a gospel of John. Pray the Lord opens his spiritual eyes so that he comes in repentance and faith in Christ alone to seek God's mercy;
- Ann, concerned for difference between her Bible and the Watchtower version. Explained how the Jehovah Witnesses call themselves Christians but are not (they worship another god, Gal. 1:8). Then we looked up 1 Jn. 5:1-13 and I challenged her to receive God's assurance based her trusting on the perfect object of faith, the Lord Jesus Christ;
- A person named Ryan thought the Bible might not be true. I related my wife's coming to faith from the same position of doubt. Going through the gospel he is now left to verify the Biblical facts from his own prayerful study and told that he needed to make a commitment that he would not renege on.
And some had never considered gospel truths:
- Ashley, very receptive to gospel. He received John's gospel to explore.
- Cam, gospel heard, "makes sense"; counting the cost
and whatever else He enabled team member Ryan to communicate in the ensuing hours.
What a joy and privilege to serve our great God. Oh, yes, there was the usual types who heard the reason to abandon their worldview but they preferred the life of sin. God, thankfully, has the last word in every witnessing encounter. Glory to Him alone!
In his meditation booklet on Ps. 51:7b, A. Murray gives us this personification, "... the law of God stands at the gate of heaven and guards the entrance to it. It lets no one in who is not "whiter than snow"."
Angelika, a young lady from Germany, joined us today for some more experiences on how we witness. We pray that she learns the things needed before she leaves in 2 days time.
Today, how to hand out a tract but not as planned: I drifted across the bus stop area to intercept a mother with her teenage son and a much younger child. As I neared them, I had to stop and 'blow' my nose. By the time I had finished, the mother had taken her youngest back to check the bus arrival time. So I sauntered over to the teen and asked him if he would like a tract (a Jesus one) for the family. He smiled and said yes. As I handed it over (he had never read the Bible) I had time to introduce him to the facts of eternal life or eternal death.
When his mother arrived, he showed her the tract and she muttered, "No! No!" He was still smiling so I left him with a challenge to check out the claims of Christ on his soul. God, our gracious sovereign God, countered my intentions which would not have gotten a tract into that teenager's hands. He did it by causing my nose to drip so we can praise Him for as Isaiah 55 says, His ways are not our ways and Jesus stated that in salvation,there is nothing impossible with God.
What else God achieved through His frail servants, we do not know but we can give Him all the glory because He alone is worthy to be praised.
Who did the Lord bring under the sound of His good news today at this bus stop? 2 examples:
- Jake had some unusual questions like"Why does the Bible state thieves should be stoned?" Stoning was God's commanded punishment for certain crimes under Israel's law when it was a theocracy. Stealing incurred a fine and restitution, not stoning. After answering some questions, Ryan was able to proceed with the law and gospel. At the conclusion, Jake said he had more important issues to consider. Ryan challenged him to make 'where he will spend eternity' his top priority - today. Pray Jake does consider his precarious position today.
- Hayley has a religious Mum but was not conversant with the Bible. She knew about the 10 commandments and after admitting her sin of lying said that God could not let her into His perfect heaven. After proceeding through the substitutionary work of Jesus, She was interested to know more. She said that she could read her mother's Bible. I suggested that she read John's gospel and ask God to show her who Jesus is.
There were gospels of John handed out plus tracts of course. As I was leaving, I saw 7 skate boarders. 6 of them were being young guys and the 7th was listening intently as Ryan told him the good news.
Thanks for praying!
Glory be to God alone.