Sharing the Gospel IN N Z 2 a's Testimony
Sharing the Gospel IN N Z 2 aIT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN...
Hardly had I arrived in the town centre and was tying my bike up, I could see that we weren’t going to be the only ones out there aiming to talk with people – Greenpeace had come to town for the day. Before I’d finished locking my bike up, I saw one of the guys walking over to start a conversation with me. He asked if I biked for environmental reasons and I assured him that there was many reasons (like fitness, convenience, and not having a car) but the environment (as he interpreted it) was not at all on my reasons when biking. I went on to assure him that yes, I did care about not trashing the planet, but really people are more important than that! He went on with his agenda of trying to get me worried about the oil drilling, saying what foods to avoid due to palm oil, and asking me to become a member, and so on.
Not too enthused about any of this, yet wanting to keep him engaged for the sake of the Gospel, I started to turn the conversation, by asking him questions, firstly about Greenpeace – how did he get involved? And then I transitioned it to spiritual things – what were his beliefs? He was pretty open-minded. He even asked me how I became a Christian! He was reassured when he found I wasn’t Catholic, I thing because he holds something against the Catholic Church.
But being “Christian” still has the connotations of “anti-homosexuals” and so he soon asked a question about that, and how it is unfair since they are “born” homosexuals. Now I have heard someone say of me, that I get away with saying things to people that most others wouldn’t get away with – it must be a gift God’s given me. I tactfully replied that God loves all people, but hates sin – whether it is lying, hating, stealing, homosexuality or whatever – we are “born” sinners. And that means that equally – liars, thieves, homosexuals, and anyone needs to admit that they need a Saviour – and come to Jesus. And then Jesus meets anyone where they are at – liar, thief, homosexual, or whatever – but refuses to let them stay that way!!
This man, “Luke” (not his real name) seemed genuinely interested and took a pamphlet before he had to continue on his way. Please pray that he will come to faith in Jesus Christ!
CROSS-CULTURALLY SPEAKING OF THE CROSS
God has given me a lot of cross-cultural training throughout my life, from informal situations like my parents’ overseas workers to formal studies during Headspace. And I can see how it is paying off, because many foreigners come to NZ, and they’re often more friendly and receptive to the Gospel than NZ Europeans!
For example, last Wednesday, I walked into town, and had about an hour to share the Gospel before a lunchtime meeting. As I was heading into the town centre, I saw a young lady sitting and texting., while waiting for a friend. She, Switch, was friendly, and so we chatted and I shared the Gospel with her. Switch is from Malaysia, and believes in Buddhism – but she has some Christian friends, so please pray that she will come to faith in Jesus Christ also!
The following day, while at the night market, I saw her and a couple of Malaysian friends with her. They are all very sweet and hopefully this unplanned contact will keep up!
After talking with Switch on Wednesday, there were plenty of people I could have gone to talk to. But I am learning to stop and listen for God’s direction as to which one of the many! I saw another young lady sitting in the sunshine. I discovered she (Amanda) wasn’t in Hastings long; actually she was from America. Amanda’s area of America was mainly Christian or Jewish, and she herself had grown up in a Christian family. However she has walked away from her Christian upbringing, and wants to make up her own mind about what to believe. I asked her my favourite questions to see where she was at – “Do you think you’d be welcome into heaven? If God said to you, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’ what would you say?”
She answered with the most common response – yes she’d be welcome into heaven because she was a good person. That made it easy – I could share the Gospel by explain that God’s standard is perfection, and no on is perfect – that’s why there is no way we can be right with Him except through faith in Jesus Christ! Please pray for Amanda. And for those of you who have friends or family that are unsaved though they grew up among Christians, be encouraged that God can and does bring people across their paths (even overseas!) to remind them of the Truth!
SIGNIFICANT SEVENS! (See attachment for photos)
Over Waitangi weekend, several people from the lower North Island and one from Nelson, came together in Wellington to share the Gospel. There were plenty of people to speak to over this weekend, with the public holiday and with the Rugby 7s on. In preparation I had researched the number 7 online in order to do an Open Air message, sharing the Gospel on the number 7. Sadly I didn’t end up doing it because the crowds were quite transient, and so I did a different painting (see picture – with fluorescent paint under our new blacklight!) which worked for people who were coming and going. But it was still worth learning about the number 7 (outside of the obvious Biblical significance!), because a whole Gospel message could be based on it – from the Seven Deadly Sins to seven representing the supernatural realm, the connection with the Creator.
During the weekend, I enjoyed the mornings of rest and prayer, followed by a full-on afternoon and evening in sharing the Gospel. Previously I have found Wellington a hard place for evangelism (compared to Hawke’s Bay), but despite that God gave many great opportunities! I also enjoyed the fellowship with the team, and the chance to be part of a group where each of us could go out and share the Gospel, then return rejoicing with great stories to tell.
I’ve recently acquired a number-trick object lesson to get people’s attention and lead into sharing the Gospel. So I was keen to try it out. I saw one my co-worker from Nelson (with the same object lesson) boldly walk up to some people and start a conversation. Imitating his example, I tried... Several times but with rejections. Sometimes life is tough!
God’s taught me not to give up, and that as I press on there will be something worthwhile. He also taught me to stop and listen to Him about who to talk to next! Over the rest of that day and the next, I met many people and shared the Gospel and had a great time.
One was a man who knew about different beliefs but chose to make up his own religion, ultimately. I asked him what he though of Jesus, and told him the good news. Near the end, I felt God strongly prompting me to offer to pray for him, which I sometimes do, depending on the situation. I hadn’t particularly been thinking of doing it then, but I obeyed. The man was quite happy for me to pray, and was genuinely touched, hugging and thanking me at the end! He said how encouraged he was, and so I just said that it was because God gave me the gift of encouragement – which I learned can be towards unbelievers as well as for Christians!
At one stage I approached a couple sitting at the water-front. When I introduced the number trick as a “Christian” thing, they said they had their own beliefs. I’ve learned that sometimes with this response, you can get away with talking anyway. I asked “What do you believe?” The lady wasn’t too interested, but the man described himself as a “weak agnostic” – that is, he wouldn’t really believe what the truth was unless Jesus came and sat next to him and tapped him on the shoulder!
He turned out to be quite chatty – and since he knew I was a Christian, we talked about spiritual things. He brought up various oppositions to Christianity, most of which I answered and he seemed to take onboard. Then he asked what I believed about the age of the earth. I paused before answering, and so he continued on to say that if I said six thousand years, then he was going to think differently of me. After gaining some ground with him, I didn’t want to directly answer his question because I sensed that if I did, he would not be interested in an explanation, serious or not. So I avoided the question and said that it depends on one’s perspective and worldview – neither of us were there in the beginning, so we can only base our theories on what we see now. As I was explaining this, we were splashed as some people started jumping into the water behind us. That interrupted the conversation, and the couple decided to move on rather than getting wet, so they left with some things to think about, and not an answer to that last question – isn’t God’s timing perfect?!
Though it was the Rugby 7s, most people I talked to weren’t in fancy 7s dress (I was!). However I did see a friendly-looking group of 3 guys and 2 girls, aged around 20 or less sitting together. The girls were exchange students from Switzerland and Norway, as they indicated from the flags painted on their faces. The whole group welcomed me, and the girls made an effort to engage in conversation. They really liked the number trick, and did it five times between them to try and figure it out! The third time they called one of the guys over, saying, “You’ll believe in Jesus after this!”
Flicking the cards over, I showed them one of the pictures on the back – heaven. I asked what they thought about heaven, and whether they thought they’d be welcome there when they died. They weren’t sure. I also had the “magic” loops in my pocket, so I pulled them out to share and illustrate the Gospel – how God is good, but sin separates us from Him. I went on to say how Jesus had died and rose again to make a way for us to be forgiven and reconciled to God, but that it was our choice as to what we did with Jesus.
The group was very curious, the girls especially, and continued to ask questions afterwards – “What do you think of gay people?” “What do you think of sex before marriage?” and “The virgin Maria – was she really a virgin or did they just say that to cover up because people weren’t meant to have sex before marriage in those days?” Great questions, and they seemed to ask out of genuine interest, not to gain ammunition for reasons to avoid Jesus.
BACK IN SUNNY HAWKE'S BAY!
It’s kind of nice to be back in Hastings and into a routine again, though the school routine hasn’t come into full swing yet – which is probably a good thing! We have plenty to keep us busy in the meantime.
The Family Fun Day for the Lipscombe community is on this Saturday. It has been good visiting the families to let them know it is on, as we prepare for another year of outreach into this area. Please pray that God will work mightily in the hearts of the parents and children and that many will come to faith in Jesus Christ alone – this year! Praise God for how He is at work in this community – many kids are keen for Rally and/or Sunday School, some of the parents are keen for their kids to go as well. One mother who had a church upbringing would actually like to go to church herself, but it’s a bit hard for her. Pray that they won’t only come to church, but also to Christ. The kids have been doing really well at learning their memory verses too, so I was informed, and generally it’s exciting to gain glimpses of how God is at work here!
The following weekend is Art Deco weekend, with crowds coming to Napier and Hastings for a few days. We are networking with others and hope to have a worthwhile time of outreach, as well as prayer and fellowship, over this time. After that, it’ll be time for a 2-week holiday at home!
Some sad news to report is that my bike – my amazing, super-fast, gift-from-my-parents, complete with carry tray and mudguards etc. – bike was stolen in the last weekend of January!! I am not impressed, but trusting that the Lord has it in His hands, as Job said “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21b ESV). I notified the police and they did their best, but really there was not much that they could do from the lack of evidence that was left. So I am praying and hoping for it to turn up, and am thankful I can borrow a friend’s bike in the meantime. If I don’t hear anything in the next few weeks, I’m thinking I will probably go buy a new bike – and I am thankful that God has provided some extra over the summer that I can use for this. So in the end, He gets the glory J
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