Sharing the Gospel IN N Z 3 a
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SURVEY FOR A SNACK It’s past 11pm as I write this... and over an hour later when I send it. Or according to Daylight Savings time which my body should be used to – it is well past midnight! But I am awake, and am not in any hurry to sleep. It has been an exciting few days at the Auckland Easter Show, so now is a great time to reflect on the weekend and let you know news in response to your prayers on our behalf! On Wednesday and Thursday we travelled north for the Royal Easter Show in Auckland. Arriving on Thursday morning, we settled in and prepared for a full-on weekend. Thursday was a quieter day so it was nice to catch up with co-workers and meet many others in the large shed where we were spending most of our waking hours for the weekend – gates opened at 10am and closed at 10pm each day, and I was there for most of that time from Friday to Sunday! After Thursday it got a lot busier due to the public holiday! We had a nice corner stall with a couch, shelves of various Christian books, and the Jesus movie for Children playing on a screen. But the busiest part of the stall was the “What People Believe” Survey which people could fill out for a free chocolate bar! (The 10 easy questions ranged from purpose of life to what the Bible is and would they be welcome into heaven). By Sunday night, we had received about 500 or more surveys, and about 10% of people surveyed gave their address for a follow-up Bible study. Meanwhile, amongst all the various conversations and opportunities to share the gospel (or at least a pamphlet) here’s some that stood out! A Cook Island family came a completed the survey. I was pleased to see that the young boys were sure of their salvation by faith in Jesus Christ and not by good works – something many children and adults still struggle with! Four young ladies each completed the survey. From watching one complete hers, I was pretty certain she was a Christian. Meanwhile her friend sitting next to her was not so sure of the answers. After she completed it, I chatted a while and found out that she was going along to a youth group with a friend and had been learning a bit about God. Now I had the opportunity to explain the gospel! So be encouraged, take your friends along to youth group or “Christian” gatherings!! Another time, three young ladies came and filled in the survey. From their varied answers, I wasn’t sure how open they were to spiritual things. So I used questions like I used quite a lot over the weekend – “What did you think of the survey? Do you think about questions like these much?” To my surprise, they were actually very interest in a chat, and said they were unsure about whether we got here by creation or evolution (in response to the first question). I didn’t need much more invitation to explain the truth to listening ears!! We spoke to many Hindu people. They are often quite open to Jesus Christ, but the danger is that they add Him to their many other deities. I went through the survey with some Hindu children while Lew talked with the parents. Overhearing Lew’s conversation, I suspected they were Hindu, and later found out that they believed in the elephant god, among other strange beliefs!! Meanwhile their children had been answering the questions about the same as I would, as a Christian. I asked them where they learned all this, and if I heard them right, I think it was from Bible in Schools! And they weren’t the only children that knew a lot of the Biblical answers from their Bible in Schools lessons, religious schools, or Easter assemblies – I met several over those few days! Near our stand was a fantastic place which I visited daily – they had “Baby Pancakes” which were delicious and well-priced compared to the rest of the food at the Show. And they had pretty amazing smoothies there too! I became good friends with the couple there – they even sent me over some free pancakes when they’d had a cancelled order!! Our team went and talked to various people around the area, but these two in particular were very open to the Gospel. I shared the Gospel with the lady at one point and she was very serious and understood the Gospel. I even pressed to the point of “Are you ready to accept Jesus now, or do you need more time?” She wasn’t quite ready then, but said “After the Easter Show”. Please pray that she will choose to follow the Lord Jesus soon!! One lady I filled out the survey and then was willing to stay for a brief chat afterwards. I used the aforementioned questions to gauge where she was at, and she said she used to consider herself a “strong atheist”. Then she elaborated a bit, but hesitantly, I think because she didn’t know what my reaction would be. She said how various things in her life recently had been making her doubt that position a bit, and wondering if there was more out there – these things included a conversation with someone at work and watching an American horror movie! Wow, God can use anything to draw someone closer to Him!! That’s just a few of the many amazing encounters and divine appointments we have had so far. Not that I always saw an amazing side to things, or how God was using it, but I like to share the glimpses I do get!! We had people of various ages, cultures and beliefs come. Some were willing to hang around and chat, while others clearly weren’t – they were just there for the food! But that’s what happened in Jesus’ day too. I especially like working with the children (as is my usual!!), sharing the Gospel using pictures and the “magic” loops object lesson. And I just love the look on a child’s face when they are eyeing up balloon creatures and then realise that they are allowed to have one – for free! I am so thankful to God for this time, that He gave me strength, energy and enthusiasm for the long hours and busy weekend, and I loved every minute of it – it was sooo good to have a full-on weekend sharing the Gospel and meeting various new people, after a lot of preparation time and other stuff in the past few weeks! The strength and energy is a direct answer to prayer requests mentioned in my last newsletter – and also He helped me wake early and not be too sleepy later on, for time with Him! I am also excited about how God is at work to draw these people to Himself, and how He has used us as a small part of that, and how He will continue to draw these people to Him. Please pray for them. Praise be to God, who is at work in us and through us! HASTINGS HAPPENINGS Meanwhile, back in Hastings (before coming to Auckland), things were going well. I enjoyed sharing the Easter message at the schools we’re involved with, though the group at Havelock High was a bit restless. “My kids” that I pick up for Sunday School are going a lot better after a restless time – thanks so much to those who were praying specifically for them, as prayer is what made the difference! So please continue to do so. One who has been really high-energy and hard to manage in the past is now a little darling who often tells the others when to settle down! However one of the newer boys seems to have taken her place, and can be quite naughty so please pray especially for him!! After a lot of time in preparation for the holiday programmes, I was pleased to get out on the streets in Hastings for a bit of time to share the Gospel with strangers! One was a lady who has been attending the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) church. She was really interested in the Gospel, even when later in the conversation I tactfully said that Mormonism and other religions, though sincere, are wrong! She took my number and may be interested in finding a different church – please pray she will also find Christ! On a Saturday night with the Dare2Share team, we split into twos and threes to go out on the street. One of the guys I was with talked to a young man on a bike, who knew the other guy on our team from when he’d been to the youth group in the past. This young man didn’t talk for long to us. But I discovered afterwards that he had met someone else from Dare2Share later that night, and said he really had been thinking about spiritual things, and gave his heart to the Lord then! A while later, we stopped some people outside an Indian restaurant and my friend was sharing the Gospel with them. I could see some people at the table by the window inside, and they looked like they were listening to our conversation. As the people we were talking to moved on, someone came from that table, out the door to meet us – he turned out to be a brother in Christ, and just wanted to encourage us in sharing the Gospel!! Very nice :-) WRITING AND WAIHI Back in summer, while on various missions, I met an older Jehovah’s witness lady in Motueka. At the time, we were almost packing up for the day and so I didn’t have time for lengthy discussions, but she was keen to keep in touch. And she did – by letter, and then by email at the local library since she didn’t have her own computer. She was good at writing short and specific replies, that were very polite. I hope my replies were just as good! I prayerfully wrote back each time, after a bit of Bible study and consultation with others! I majored on the facts of Jesus’ deity, and salvation through Him alone – trying not to let it get onto a tangent. This lady seemed genuinely interested and wrote back her beliefs and defences, as well as various questions. Eventually she wrote saying that she saw we did differ quite a lot in our beliefs!! I’m glad she realised that and was still happy to email! She then asked a question on a tangent, about the Bible in relation to hope for the future. I replied, saying that it is indeed relevant for the future, and how it warns we must believe in Jesus to be saved – and we should be careful we believe in the true Jesus! I haven’t heard back, but please pray for her. Meanwhile we are off to Waihi for a children’s holiday camp this week. And next week we have the holiday programme in Hawke’s Bay. Please keep us in your prayers. Pray for more co-labourers in the Gospel, expecially for the kids’ programme in Hawke’s Bay, but also in general – more people need to be spreading the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ!! On Saturday 25th April, we have a day of prayer and outreach in Wellington. Anyone is welcome, so if you are in or near the area, let me know if you’d like to join in!! Thanks for your prayers and support. I know I write something to that effect every time but I really mean it. Just wait until heaven and we’ll see how God used us in so many little ways to be part of His big picture! Love from Maria :-)