Sharing the Gospel IN N Z 2's Testimony
Sharing the Gospel IN N Z 2CHALLENGED TO CONVERSE
I continue to be amazed at how God is working in me and through me. Despite my failures and many challenges along the way, He has been (and still is!) using me to do what I love and help so many people hear the Gospel and also to encourage others through doing what I love!
As I wrote last time, I really want to share the Gospel more in day to day life and not just when we set time to go out to find people to talk to. I like the idea of this, but often I get too busy with other things and make excuses and separate “ministry” from “life”. But I was greatly encouraged, challenged and inspired at Kaiteriteri by watching the example of Paul who demonstrated how easy and natural it can be to strike up a conversation with someone and lead into sharing the Gospel.
I don’t want it to just be when I am in a new place or on beach mission – why not all the time? Please pray that I will put this into practice more!
And the results can be surprising – you should try too! For example, I was waiting at the bus stop in Palmerston North, with an Asian man nearby. I sensed God saying to talk with him, but I didn’t want to bother the man. However he greeted me, and so I got the hint! (Isn’t it great how God gives second chances?!) He has just flown from Singapore to Wellington and then was waiting for a bus back to Napier where he lives. As we waited and chatted, I discovered that he has Christian friends who often ask him about where he will go after death. Though he wasn’t sure what the truth was, I realised that God had given me the privilege of being yet another person to point him to Jesus Christ!
A few days later I had another bus trip. We had an early lunch elsewhere, and then a 35-minute stop in Napier. Having already eaten, I wanted to do something productive with that short time. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and I crossed the road to Clive Square. Angling around the footpath, I saw a few people who I could have approached, but I sensed the Lord directing me to one person (and probably not my first choice otherwise!). Now I am learning to trust God in these things (partly because this person could have been uninterested and then I could’ve still gone elsewhere).
I approached this person, “William” (not his real name), and offered him a tract. He said he already had heaps at home. He went on to say about how he had been at a certain church that morning. As we talked for about 20 minutes before I had to go, William shared about problems he was having. My response was that yes we do face challenges in life, but these are outside things indicating that there is a problem on the inside. I shared how only Jesus can change us from the inside – He has changed me and He can change William too. Please pray that God will really reveal the truth to William; he seems to not fully understand this and also said he has some disorder. But like I said, God can change him from the inside!
WEEKEND IN WAIROA
Two years ago, before I knew for sure that I’d work with OAC, I discovered that there was an outreach at the Wairoa A&P Show in January 2013. Keen to share the Gospel, I found out how to be involved and headed down there for a weekend. It was a full-on time using the Good Person Test flipcharts.
Almost two years later, I learned that the outreach at the Show was on again in January 2015. As I was booking tickets and planning an itinerary for summer missions, I was pleased to see that the Show dates fitted in perfectly. I contacted the organisers and booked a bus.
Why was I so keen to go again? Well I had seen the first time just how much opportunity there is in Wairoa; people are so open to the Gospel and seem so close to choosing to follow Jesus. In 2013 I especially noticed how many people knew a lot about Jesus Christ because of the influence of Bible in Schools in the region. The seed-planting through that is not at all insignificant.
This year I had high expectations. The first evening at the Show was quite quiet – and some of those I did talk to weren’t very interested. But the next day was still to come. In the morning, before the heat struck, there were quite a few people coming and going. Some were resistant – like the lady who stopped to talk; but I could tell from the start that she wasn’t really interested. Her daughter seemed slightly curious though. Part-way through the presentation, the lady decided she’d had enough. I offered a tract, which she refused as she turned to go, pulling her daughter with her. The daughter wanted the tract though, so I stretched my arm that little bit extra and took a step to pass it to her as she was hastened off by her mother. Please pray for that girl.
Others were blinded by deception – like some from the Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness cults. One JW man was reasonable and discussed spiritual things for a while before even looking at the Good Person Test. In contrast, another JW lady was quite disagreeable, changing the subject (as those in cults often do) by saying, “I don’t mean to be offensive, but I see that you’re wearing a cross. That’s wrong, because Jesus was actually killed on a stake.” Not wanting to go on too much of a tangent, I replied that different people have different beliefs – and then went back to the main point – that Jesus died and paid the price fully. She soon went off, obviously not too enthused about the truth.
While I may have been thinking it was hard going, there were also supportive people, like Christians that we met. Sometimes families come up to the Good Person Test, and I’m not sure where the parents are at and whether they will take their children away (usually when I speak of judgment). If I get to that point about judgment and the parents are encouraging their children, I sense that they are Christians themselves and are pleased for their children to hear the Gospel. I had at least one of those.
In between these resistant, deceptive or supportive types were a lot of people (mostly under 30) who were really receptive to the Gospel. And as the day went on and the shadow from the marquee moved to behind me, the heat of the sun increased. Yet there was a steady flow of people who stopped to talk. Often they listened carefully through the presentation, and realised that they, like everyone, would not be saved based on what they had done in their life. They realised that Jesus came to take the punishment for them and that through His death and resurrection, they could be saved from the punishment they deserved. And they now have a choice to make – some had previously thought of making this choice, even. I challenged them – “Are you ready to
turn and put your trust in Jesus? ...Now, or do you need more time?” Few seemed ready at that time, but many left looking convicted and challenged to take time to think about it, “before you go to bed tonight!” Please pray that they won’t put this off, but that they will take the step of faith to turn and trust in Jesus Christ. Praise God for these opportunities.
Near the end of the time I had before I had to leave, I spoke to two young girls who were very sincere. Neither of them owned a Bible, and the ones we had there had very small print. So they took a Gospel of John each.
Soon after, there were three young boys, one in particular who showed maturity beyond his age. He has heard of Jesus from his family. He and one of the others was almost ready to turn and trust Jesus then and there. We encouraged them that God had brought them to us – it wasn’t by accident that day. As we went on to talk, one said he had a birthday exactly two months from that day – and I realised his birthday was the day just before mine! Coincidence? I don’t think so – God has a sense of humour and was probably just giving confirmation that we were indeed meant to speak to those boys that day. Praise Him!
I am also so thankful throughout my travels for the amazing Christians I get to meet, stay with and work with. For example, in Wairoa I stayed with an older couple – the man has just turned 90 years old! Yet I wouldn’t have guessed their age at all – they still seem a lot younger, cheerful, and on fire for the Lord! Even now they are still involved in reaching out to children with the Good News of Jesus. So no matter how young or old you are, don’t give up – God can still use you to advance His kingdom!
OVERCOMING OBSTACLES - THROUGH CHRIST!
New people, new places... again! Over the past 5 weeks I’ve slept in 14 different beds, as well as having a ferry trip, two flights, four bus trips and at least 13 lengthy car trips. I like adventure and travelling, but there also comes a time when you want to just settle down for a bit. And that is even harder when you’re surrounded by different people who have different ways of doing things – and really it’s not much different to “home” culture shock repeated in different forms and ways on a weekly basis (or more!).
In Kaiteriteri, my battles seemed mainly physical, with a blocked head followed by a sore neck. However in Foxton I had emotional battles to fight. But I am thankful to God, who answered my prayers and brought me through it all – though I found the circumstances rather difficult at times, He changed me to become more like Him. He gave me a desire to pray more for other people over this time, and He changed my attitude so that (though trials like this are still facing me) I see them in the light of being part of God’s good plan for me to purify and shape me... Though they are still challenging! But if God uses it to get me closer to Him, then I guess it’ll be worth it.
I was rather challenged by the passage in Philippians 2:1-11 at this time; please pray that for me, and that I will follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The kids’ programme at Foxton went quite smoothly, with about 10-15 kids each day. There was a good group of local leaders as well, which was neat. In the afternoons we had time to go and share the Gospel, so I enjoyed pairing up with one of these young leaders and going round her hometown with her, talking to people and sharing the Gospel. She seemed to enjoy it too, and said she realised it wasn’t as scary as it sounds!!
(Now is the time, if you haven't already, to see all the Foxton photos attached!)
We have a few outreaches coming up in February! Please pray for those involved – and also you are very welcome to join us in any of these – let me know if you’re free!
1) Rugby 7s outreach in Wellington during Waitangi Weekend, Fri 6 and Sat 7 February. Some of us from Hastings will be travelling south to join others in Wellington. The plan is to dress up and share the Gospel with the crowds that should be round for the Wellington 7s.
2) Family Fun Day in Havelock North on 14 Feb. We plan to have a morning of fun and games, a devotion time to share the Gospel, and then a BBQ lunch. This is near that start of the school year, and so it is intended to be a time to re-connect with the children and their families in that area where who we have been working with so much over the past few months.
3) Art Deco Weekend in Napier, 18-22 February. We plan to have a monthly day of prayer and outreach that Saturday (21 Feb) in Napier (with some joining us from Palmerston North for the day). Also we will probably be going out on the streets of Napier and Hastings a lot during those days (and some evenings) to share the Gospel with those around.
What does my future look like? The short answer is that I have no idea. God knows, and that’s a great reassurance. But we also tend to make plans and goals, because if you aim for nothing then that is likely what you’ll get! So here’s some of mine:
In the near future, there are a few weekend outreaches in Hawke’s Bay to prepare for and carry out (as you could see). Also some preparation is needed for the schools for this year! After that I plan to have two weeks of “holiday” at home with my family in the last week of February and first week of March. During this time I would really like to get my full driver’s licence – please pray that I will pass the test the first time round (so I don’t have to work out the logistics (and cost) of re-sitting!). Also I hope to have my eyesight restriction removed from the licence because my eyes have improved so much – praise the Lord!
In the longer term (i.e. this year), I plan to remain with OAC in Hastings. J is on sabbatical for the first half of the year. Gareth is remaining in Hastings for this year also. We plan to continue to share the Gospel in various ways (and encourage others to also) – on the streets, in schools, at events, in the Lipscombe community, and wherever else a door opens. In particular I would like to see a lunchtime programme start at Karamu High School this year, in addition to the ones that we have already been joining in.
I have been praying and brainstorming about detailed personal long-term goals for the year. I want to be disciplined and grow in the Lord more, and see Him at work through me. Please pray that I will set realistic goals and keep to them in the Lord’s strength.
In the distant long-term... I am not totally sure where I’ll be. I love being in full-time ministry, sharing the Gospel and encouraging / training others to. I love the variety in OAC, and one of the favourites would be working with children and their families. Though of course there are challenges (as is normal of life on this planet!), I am currently content in full-time ministry, being with OAC, and living in Hastings for now (and single, for those of you who think I should marry soon!!).
THE ONE WHO HEARS UNSPOKEN PRAYERS
God is the One who answers unspoken prayers. He’s done it again!!
In my many recent trips that have taken me through the Manawatu Gorge, I have seen that there is a walking track through the Gorge, and wanted to explore. But when?
I am sending this from Palmerston North, where I am staying for a few days before heading back to Hastings. I am thankful for the chance to catch up with friends here, and for a very quiet, restful and relaxing weekend.
I went to Grace City Church on Sunday, which is like a taste of heaven for me – the combined Chinese and English service is neat as different cultures together worship the same God. I went there for a month back in 2013, and it was neat to see familiar faces and feel like I was among family.
Anyway, a group from the church was going to do the Manawatu Gorge walk that afternoon – and I had no set plans. So I was blessed to be able to join in a relaxing walk on the beautiful
10km track through the Gorge; a refreshing oasis of rest amidst a busy few weeks. My walking shoes were bak in Hastings so I went barefoot for the 3hour, 20min walk! My aunty J would be proud... praise the Lord for tough feet!
Well that’s the news from me for now. Thanks so much for your love and support. I mean it. Prayer is crucial in this ministry.
Love from Maria
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