Sharing the Gospel IN N Z 1 a's Testimony
Sharing the Gospel IN N Z 1 aTERRIFIC TIMES
On Boxing Day I was off to Pounawea, near the bottom of the South Island. I spent a week there, training teenagers along the theme of Grow in God and Go with the Gospel.
While preparing for this, I had all sorts of ideas about what I wanted to teach these youth, but my prayer was something like, “God, I have ideas, but they won’t work unless You work in their heart and give them the desire to do these things, as You did with me.” And He answered that prayer, and the prayers of many others who were faithfully praying – thank you, and all the glory to God!
We saw some immediate answers to prayer that week, like in prayer for the music team who were in an intense spiritual battle, a sore on my hand healed after a couple of days, and a dog that was barking distractedly during prayer time with the youth stopped and I didn’t notice it again!
I enjoyed the time there, the fellowship and the opportunity to see God at work. I enjoyed being there with my cousins, who were running the kids’ programme. They did so well and it was awesome to see God at work through them as well. It was neat hearing of the dreams and goals of various people as they sought to share Jesus with those around them.
Here are some highlights I’d like to share. I had a group of 7 or more youth each session. I had made up 16 booklets for them in faith that they would all be used – and every single booklet was! Some locals came along for some sessions, and kept coming back!
I gave the youth “challenges” which were sometimes met with complaints that they were on holiday and didn’t want to do homework. These challenges were things like going to talk to people they didn’t know (in or out of the camp), using the conversational stack to ask good questions. Or sharing their story (testimony) in the group. Though they may have seemed unwilling to do these things, when I asked the youth what their highs and lows were, at least half of them said a high was doing these challenges! Go figure... God is at work!
One evening I challenged them to write their story, because everyone who has put their faith in Jesus has a story (and most of them, if not all, have put their faith in Jesus). They had time that evening, and any free time before the following evening, to prepare to share their story in a couple of minutes the following evening. And they all did, and very well – there were no tears at the time, and it was a neat night together of fellowship and seeing how God has been at work!
God really knitted the team together well – for duties, afternoon outings, and teaching times, they were a great group. I don’t like being “the big meanie” and didn’t feel like I was too much, yet they were mostly obedient and well-behaved and I really don’t have any explanation for it except that God must have been at work through me! Because I certainly don’t feel like anyone extra special and working with youth full-on for a week was a new concept for me, one which I was a bit uncertain about! So praise the Lord!
As well as reaching kids, we want to share the Gospel with parents also! They may not come to the kid’s programme, but we discovered that something else worked.
Someone had suggested running a talent show like X-Factor. I had no idea what that meant, but I was willing to help out in whatever way. We did this over three nights, and I soon discovered that it was an amazing thing to be part of – seeing these children be brave and demonstrate the amazing talents God has given them! What a great God we have!
Each night, we also shared the Gospel in a creative way, while the scores were being tallied. I used the three magic loops object lesson one night, intertwined with my testimony.
The third night, we did a drama followed by one guy giving his testimony.
The talent show was so worthwhile and it’s something that I would definitely recommend!
Nick-names don’t usually stick with me, but somehow I had one for the week in Kaiteriteri: Aquamarina. Complete with an accompanying song from the person who kept calling me that! I found it amusing.
One thing I liked about Kaiteriteri was the community feel, and the friendliness of people. I was inspired and challenged by one guy’s example of striking up conversations wherever he went, and then sharing the Gospel. I wanted to follow his example, so this camping community was a good place to practise. While sorting meals or doing dishes in the communal kitchen, we took the opportunity to chat and share the gospel on more than one occasion.
On our last day, after packing up, we decided to head to the beach for a final swim before leaving. Aquamarina was probably a good nickname, because I do love the water (even though I can’t swim now and took a lot of coaxing at school to even float!). While waiting on the beach, I could see people crammed in at either end of the short stretch of water, but a wide open space in the middle – why don’t we go in the middle to swim, I suggested. So we did. Soon we were asked to move... It was a boating lane! No wonder everyone was avoiding the wide space!
So we went for plan two, to swim out to the pontoon. The other night we’d planned to do this, but it was low tide and we could walk there in the waist-deep water. At least this time it was deeper, so we did actually have to swim. We hung around there for a while, taking turns to jump off the pontoon into the water (or to push each other in). Meanwhile, we weren’t the only ones there – a young lady was there sunbathing. I sat next to her for a while and started chatting. She was quite friendly, and I felt God telling me to share the Gospel with her. I procrastinated – transitioning a conversation from everyday things to a spiritual conversation still takes practise!! Soon the guys from the team decided it was time to head back, and I followed, still with a tug inside of me to go back and talk to this girl – she sounded like she was settled there and unlikely to come back to shore anytime soon. I silently prayed for help.
As I was dog-paddling back, I saw to my right, that this young lady had decided to go back to shore also! We made eye contact, and I swam over to continue the conversation. Meanwhile the guys were a bit further over on my left, and one teased “try aqua-evangelism!”. That was my challenge, a confirmation for the desire God had already put in my heart. I awkwardly asked this girl, “Can I ask you something?” “Yes,” was her willing reply. “Do you know about Jesus?” “No, not really.” “Do you know why people consider Him to be so important?” She was unsure and so I continued to share the Gospel, as we made our way back to shore. She thanked me before leaving, and I was excited to see how God used me to reach out to her! Please pray that she will come to faith.
I have been seeing and learning how many opportunities we have in everyday situations to reach out to people, not just in actions but also in preaching the truth of the Gospel. I challenge you to prayerfully try sharing the Gospel with people as you go through your daily life – whether in a communal kitchen, shopping, or even swimming! And I’d love to hear how you get on!
THAT WASN'T ALL!
As well as the campground activities, we also saw God at work elsewhere. Two afternoons, we headed off into a nearby town to share the Gospel. First, we went to Takaka which was interesting but hard-going. I went with J and like the opportunity to learn and practise his new Wisdom flipchart a bit.
Another day, we went to Motueka. Again, I went with J. While he was setting up the chart again, I saw a young lady texting nearby, and was wondering whether to speak to her. J had also seen her and suggested I go, so I took that as confirmation and did. She, River, was friendly and we talked quite a while. She grew up knowing about Jesus, but wasn’t certain of whether she would be welcome into heaven. We shared the Gospel and encouraged her, please pray that she will have sure faith in Jesus Christ and spread the good news with others!
Later on an older lady came up and started talking. At first she sounded like she knew a lot about the Bible, but then from what she was saying, I realised that she was a Jehovah’s Witness. We went on a few tangents but I have realised I don’t like getting tangled in big discussions about the Trinity – and instead it’s best to stay on track. Recently someone kindly emailed me this link of a method to use: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2014/12/17/how-to-use-the-back-of-a-napkin-to-prove-to-a-jehovahs-witness-that-jesus-is-god/
I could vaguely remember it, and shared the two sides with this lady. She didn’t have an answer, and neither of us had a Bible on us at the time. But she planned to go back and read John 1 and write to me. Please pray that she will and pray for wisdom for me in writing back – I can’t do this without the Lord!
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