On Monday, we had the privilege of being asked to evangelise at the Redlands Easter Family Festival. With about 20,000 people expected to be there, we knew it would be a great day to get gospel tracts out and speak to many people.
This is a 2 minute report from the festival:
To our faithful King!
Operation 513 Olympic Outreach Video Blog - (Day 6)
Operation 513 Olympic Outreach Video Blog - (Day 5)
Operation 513 Olympic Outreach Video Blog - (Day 4)
Operation 513 Olympic Outreach Video Blog - (Day 3)
Operation 513 Olympic Outreach Video Blog - (Day 2)
Operation 513 Olympic Outreach Video Blog - (Day 1)
From Rob Hughes, London team leader, currently on mission with JeremiahCry Ministries in Glasgow, Scotland:
Yesterday was a real blessing witnessing with the team. It's truly wonderful to labour with so many faithful men of God in the proclamation of God's Word.
Here are some of the great conversations I had...
I spoke with a chap (David) who beats himself up over the wrong he has done in the past, and so he labours to "fix" the past through many good deeds. This is ultimately a self-righteous pursuit to justify oneself in the eyes of God.
I explained to him that forgiveness found in Christ sets us free. We are saved and transformed, the evidence of which is seen by the good deeds we perform. When we receive salvation our desires change. The born again man wants to perform deeds "...in keeping with repentance." It doesn't mean he never sins, however the new desires born in him propel him to exalt the Lord with his life.
R.C. Sproul explains it like this:
"We are covered in an alien righteousness, a righteousness that is not our own, but under that covering we are still inclined to break the law of God. Justification declares us righteous, it does not make us sinless.
We are granted citizenship in God’s kingdom based only on the righteousness of Christ, but good works are not an optional part of the Christian life. In fact, believers must do good, not to secure justification but to evidence their justification."
There is great freedom found in Christ. We do not live under a heavy burden with regards to living a godly life. As new born believers we do not live godly lives in order to receive favour with God, rather we live godly lives out of gratitude and praise to God because we have already received favour with Him.
This is why we read in Galatians 5:1: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
I explained this as best I could to David. He did listen and appeared to get what I was saying, although it seemed that he was more concerned with earning favour with God, instead of humbly receiving the grace that God offers. He left with a tract and a New Testament. Do pray for him.
Together with others on the team, I also spoke with two young men who had grown up Catholic. They appeared quite nominal and were very open to hear the gospel. As we shared with them it definitely appeared that the light came on. They really seemed excited to understand and know why the Son of God lived as a man and why He died on a cross for the sin of the world.
~ Jesus lived a sinless, perfect life, in order to be the perfection we can't be, and then He died on a cross to pay the penalty for the sins we have committed. As a result of what Jesus has done, when a man repents and trusts in Him, God treats that man as if he lived Christ's life, and He treats Christ as if He lived that man's life.
It was a blessed day indeed. Do pray for all those who heard the gospel.
The sun was out, and the weather was beautiful as we arrived in Sydney for a day of outreach. Since moving to Goulburn in April 2011, I’ve wanted to be able to do regular outreaches in Sydney, but so far with all my work in Goulburn I’ve found it rather hard to make the two hour journey to the Sydney CBD. But today the opportunity to preach Christ had finally arrived.
There were three of us who came out for the outreach this day, Peter Noble, Sean and myself. At 11:30am we met at the Town Hall and from there we began to minister. I must admit things were a bit different today, I have been on many outreaches, but what I saw today I’ve never seen done
before. Peter Noble had brought along a wheelie bin that he had modified to use as a portable sound system for his work as a Christian hip hop artist, now while that was fairly cool, what he did with it was excellent. Peter jumped on the mic and began to do some Christian rap on the streets of Sydney, and as he did this held tracts in his hands. Many people came up to him to take tracts, and many hung around to listen. During this time Sean and I were able to have some excellent conversations with the people who stopped to listen to the music.
I got to speak to one young lady from Sydney who had grown up in a “Christian” home, but that all changed she said when she discovered that she was a lesbian. She said when she came out as a lesbian her parents, family and friends all condemned her and had nothing to do with her. As a result she was hardened towards the Bible. The conversation I had with her started off by her coming to take a tract, then reading it, then she wanted to talk about how the Bible views women. We spoke for a bit about the Old Testament laws, and also about how the New Testament viewed women, she seemed very surprised to find that the Bible is not anti-woman, but rather, Christianity is the only religion that affirms a woman’s value. From this point we spoke about the issue of sin, and how all sin is a crime against God (even homosexuality). She was quite open at this point, so we continued to talk about the Gospel. But then the hurt of the past came up. She spoke about how all her “Christian” friends left her when she said she was a lesbian, and how no one would speak to her. In reply to this I took her to John 4 and spoke about the woman of Samaria and how she was a despised woman, an adulteress who no one liked, but then I showed her Jesus, sitting by the well talking to her, and revealing that He is the Saviour. I was able to show her from that Scripture that Jesus is a friend of sinners, and that He is able to save the vilest of criminals.
When she heard this she said, “I like Jesus, He’s really good.” To which I replied, “No, you don’t like Jesus, as if you did, you’d do as He said.” This then led into a conversation about repentance, and how even though Jesus says the hard things, He says it out of love towards the lost. By the end of our conversation she was nodding in agreement with what I had said, and stated that she would read John’s Gospel. Please pray for her.
By now the rapping had finished, so we headed down to the Pitt Street Mall for some open air preaching. Peter Noble was the first man up, he preached on true Christianity and not just honouring God with your lips. As he preached a man came up to me all angry about the preaching. Turns out he was a local busker who hated what we were doing. He said that we weren’t allowed to preach here, and if we didn’t stop he’d call the police and rangers. I requested he do call the police as I knew we weren’t breaking the law. The man went off in a huff and then started calling people.
Peter Noble by now had finished preaching, so I stood up to preach. I spoke on “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” While I was preaching I noticed two police officers ride towards me on their bikes. They then stopped behind me and listened for a bit. I was later informed that a woman from a shop had also complained about the preaching and called the police, upon seeing them she rushed up to them, but the police told her that we weren’t breaking the law and thus we could continue.
After I finished preaching Sean got up and preached, and a few people stopped to listen.
Overall it was a great day of witnessing. Sydney is hard ground, but is in desperate need of the Gospel. Please pray for all those we spoke to today.
Soli Deo Gloria!
The Redlands Easter Festival is an event put on by a large group of Churches in Redland City. The organisers were expecting about 10,000 people to turn up, so we thought it was a great idea to share the gospel there to all those attending. So there were about twelve of us who turned up and after arriving at the festival, we went to sign in at the volunteer’s booth.
Operation 513 had set aside 2,500 Good Aussie gospel tracts for free use at this event. The organisers wanted us to hand out this tract because the theme of the festival this year was the Christian heritage of Australia. So the Good Aussie card suited very well.
The event did seem a little bit smaller than previous years, but there were still stacks of people there. So after signing in, we dispersed ourselves around the showgrounds handing out gospel tracts and getting into conversations with people. During Easter time, it is really easy to hand out gospel tracts, for you simply need to say “Happy Easter” and then hold out the gospel tract to them and almost always the person will take it.
After a few hours, the proportion of people who had received a gospel tract was definitely increasing and so it was becoming a more common thing to hear from people that they already had one. But I found that this was a perfect opportunity to ask them whether they had read it. If they said yes, I could then ask them what they thought of it. If they said no, I would say, “Well it asks you on the back, ‘If you were to die today, would you go to Heaven?’ What do you think?” And that would lead into a gospel conversation.
The usual response to the question of whether the person I was speaking to thought they were going to Heaven was ‘Yes’, for they thought they were good people. People by nature love speaking about how good they are, but the Bible clearly says that no one is good in God’s sight (Rom. 3:10-12). So in order to show people that they are actually sinners in need of forgiveness, I used the method that the Apostle Paul used, I showed them God’s law and how they fared compared to it. “...through the law comes knowledge of sin” – Romans 3:20.
The way I showed them God’s law was by, asking them how good they were, whether they had ever told a lie, ever stolen something, or ever used God’s name in vain. Everyone has committed basically all these laws, and so people usually won’t have a problem admitting that. I would then ask, “Well if those things are some of the standards in which God will judge you after you die, do you think you would innocent or guilty?” They’ll usually say ‘Guilty’. So I ask, “Therefore, do you deserve to go to Heaven or Hell?” This makes most people realise that they are in a very bad situation deserving of Hell, and so then I can talk about the good news of forgiveness.
Since it was an Easter festival, I could then ask them about what Easter is about. A great deal of people I spoke to actually had no idea what Easter is about. Some said, “Yeah I’ve always wondered what Good Friday is, other than being a public holiday.” I then shared about Jesus dying on the cross, taking the punishment that we deserve in Hell for our sins. But a person needs trust in Jesus’ death alone for their forgiveness (meaning, not a person’s good works or own goodness) and repent (hate sin and start turning from it), in order to be forgiven. I then shared the meaning of Easter Sunday – that Jesus rose from the dead three after he died.
In the evening, there was an AOG preacher on the main stage that was supposed to give the gospel talk. He started off on John 3:16 and talking about how popular it is to wear shirts that say John 3:16, but he suggested that many people don’t know what the verse says or means. So he read it out. But then he decided to focus on the ‘so loved’ part of the verse. He interpreted ‘so loved’ to mean ‘God loves you soooo much’ in the modern sense of using the word ‘so’. However, that is not what ‘so loved’ means. Instead it actually means ‘loved thusly’ or ‘loved in this way’. The ‘so loved’ in John 3:16 does not mean that God has such a great amount of love for the world, it is rather that God loved the world in this way that He sent His one and only Son... (you can even check it in the Greek - οὕτως)
So the whole main point of his message was completely faulty. He then spoke about how everyone has a desire to come to God. Where does the Bible say that? The Bible says otherwise, in that “no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10). He then proceeded to have an altar call, calling people to come to the front and come back to God.
But at no time in his message had he spoken about sin or the fact that we deserve punishment for our sin. Neither did he even speak about Heaven or repentance or that salvation is by grace through faith. He had simply talked about the sheer amount of love God has for everyone and that’s why a person should come back to God. So I knew that basically anyone coming forward could simply not be genuine, since the gospel had not been preached.
There were about 15 people who came forward, and there were a few counsellors going up to them giving them things. So Lindsay and I went to the front and got into a few conversations with a number of those came to the front and shared the gospel with them.
One conversation I had was with I think one of the counsellors, he said he had been saved 8 months. I asked him why he is going to Heaven. He said it is because he has changed his life and is not doing as much sin anymore. But I pointed out to him that changing your life doesn’t forgive your sin, because even if you never sinned again, you still would have the past history of all your sin that God cannot simply overlook. He understood this and said, “Yeah that’s true, I don’t know how I’m going to get forgiveness then.” So I shared the message of Christ’s death on the cross taking the wrath of God that we deserve for our sins if we repent and believe, and it was like something clicked in his mind. He said, “That makes sense, it’s because of Jesus death that I can be forgiven.” He was very appreciative of the chat; I pray that he is genuine.
During this, fireworks began going off, which marked the close of the festival. After they finished the rest of the team made sure to hand out tracts to everyone leaving, while I continued to have chats with those who came to the front.
The festival was good overall in the sense that it was good opportunity to witness to lots of people, both professing non-Christians and also those who attend Church but don’t truly believe. But the ‘gospel’ presentation given by the AOG pastor, Steve Kennedy was absolutely atrocious. The organisers need to seriously rethink who they get to give the gospel talk. The preacher they had last year was actually quite decent. I am not sure why they would scrape so low this year.
Please pray for the thousands of people who received gospel tracts that they would read them and that God would grant these people repentance and faith.
To God be the glory!