Sharing the Gospel IN N Z 3 b's Testimony
Sharing the Gospel IN N Z 3 bLITTLE THINGS FROM LITTLE ONES
Often it’s the small things that are so special. And sometimes it takes some hard stuff too. One afternoon we were at visiting families. One was busy so we helped her with her tasks, and then had time to catch up. Some youth we know wandered past and asked when youth group was starting up again for the term – I was pleased to hear their eagerness as we haven’t known these ones for long.
We spoke to the children of another, and after a while the mum came and spoke her heart to us in front of them – that she expected better of them after all this exposure to church etc. and that yet they would still fight and swear. She still is keen for them to come along and learn about God because she hopes it will benefit them. It left a bit of sadness in our hearts to hear that, though it was true and something to pray about. People don’t just need to know about God – what’s important is that they KNOW God and His power in their lives to bring change.
Later on I biked back down the street, giving a friendly wave to the aforementioned mother on my way down, then I stopped to confirm with the teenagers when youth group was on, and at the same time got nicely occupied for about 20 minutes hanging out with some of the many kids that I know down this street. One who was quite naughty last week voluntarily apologised (and we visited her caregivers the day before to make sure there was peace, and they were all fine with things, so this apology was a nice bonus!). They asked various questions and told me their stories. One said that her younger brother doesn’t know about God much yet. She went on to say how because of all this church stuff, “I believe in God now” and her older sister agreed, saying, “I want to believe in God more!” So sweet!
I missed bringing “my” children to Sunday School over a few weeks, so I was so pleased to have them back with me this past Sunday! I may not have children of my own, but these are the ones God has given me. I am thankful for others who help me look after them sometimes too. They behaved quite well at church (even the ones that were naughty at the kids’ programme), and so I let them stay for a potluck lunch which happened to be on that day, which they also enjoyed!
TELLING THE TRUTH
A 95-year old man was sitting there as I locked up my bike. We started talking, and eventually I swung the conversation to spiritual things by giving him a Gospel tract. He said he wasn’t into religion after attending a certain school, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a Christian – however if not he does have the Gospel tract still before he decided to leave.
That was just the first of many people a friend and I talked to that morning. There were three young men who were very interested in the Gospel – they couldn’t even read a pamphlet but they listened carefully as I explained the Gospel with pictures. They have been going along to the Mormon church because the basketball there is an attraction – I warned them to be careful of the teaching though!
I started talking to a man from Vanuatu, who told me how people from his country aren’t always true Christians – sometimes they have a false security. I was pleased to hear a Vanuatu man say that of his own people, as that is what we have discovered! His friend turned up, who was one of the several who did Bible studies with us last year. They are both keen for Gareth and I to come and teach them in their remaining few weeks in NZ. Such a mission-field with these people who know a lot about God and are so open to the Gospel!
The standard greeting in NZ is “How are you?” and the standard reply, no matter what the truth is, is something along the lines of “good”. But occasionally – very occasionally – we get a different answer. Such was the case with one man we approached – he admitted to having a terrible day. He didn’t say why. We didn’t know what to do – except to offer to pray for him. He jumped at that idea, and so we prayed and went on our way. I was encouraged by an article I’d read in a MAF magazine the night before, how someone remembered a Christian years later because she’d prayed for her in a time of need.
On Anzac Day we had a regional day of prayer and outreach in Wellington. We did an overnight trip, so I enjoyed seeing my sister and staying the night with her!
My sister is studying law and living in Karori. While there, I discovered the school there named after Samuel Marsden, and the Marsden village... So next time I share the story of Samuel Marsden, I could include some of these pictures!!
The prayer and outreach time was worthwhile and good as always. It is nice to take time to seek the Lord, and also enjoy the fellowship, and then share the Gospel afterwards!
On the streets in Wellington we shared the Gospel with two ladies from Napier! Also I met some friends I knew from Headspace, and it was neat to hear from them how they are involved in reaching out with the Gospel through the university.
LANGUAGE OF THE HEART
Recently a friend of mine has been involved with Wycliffe Bible Translators in “Mother Tongue Translation” of the Bible in Bangladesh, and I met up with a couple involved in this organisation who happened to come through Hawke’s Bay recently. Around the same time, I was privileged to see first-hand the response of people receiving God’s Word in their mother tongue, the language of the heart.
Firstly, I have befriended two Japanese exchange students, and shared the Gospel. But I only know one language and they know two, and the language I know is foreign to them! So I asked some kind friends to hunt down some Japanese tracts for me, which they did, and I gave them to the students. Their eyes widened with excitement as they saw something they understood well, and they started reading them straight away!
Meanwhile several of the children who have been coming to kids’ programmes regularly have grown up in the Maori school, where they learn Te Reo first and some are still learning to read English. They had been reading the English Bible they’d been given, but would better understand a Maori one. So I researched and found the most recent translation of the Maori Bible, Te Paipera Tapu, and acquired two to give to the girls. One day I brought them round to their house, and I have hardly ever seen such a great reaction of someone receiving a Bible! When another sister came along, they proudly showed them off and said, “Look, we’ve got the Bible in Maori!” Now they can read God’s Word in their heart language.
I could be smart and say I know words in many languages – even if it is only one or two words. Really I wouldn’t get by very well in any country that didn’t speak English as a common language, and thankfully most countries do have English as a common language. Yet the Vanuatu people we are working with speak about four, five, or six languages!! They each have a tribal/family language, then the Bislama language, and also French and English. Gareth and I discovered that some understand French better than English, so we underwent a translation course of our own.
“Bonjour, j’mapelle Maria” and “Je ne comprend pas” is about all the French I remember from my one year of French at high school – and I probably haven’t even spelled it correctly! But thankfully there is a French tutor at church who I got in touch with. He kindly was willing to help with translation. Gareth developed a wallet-sized card for sharing the Gospel simply and easily, which we plan to teach to the Vanuatu guys so that they can share the Gospel with it. Since Gareth speaks English, it was in English. But with the help of this French-speaking man, we now have a French version!! It’s not quite their heart language, but over the next couple of weeks I guess we’ll see how it goes.
It was quite amusing actually, with one of the studies with the Vanuatu men last week. Gareth taught about the Gospel in contrast with various false gospels, using the sketchboard. God has gifted him with teaching in a captivating and memorable way. Then he gave time for questions. As they often do, the guys talked for a while in their Bislama language – something that is like broken English. I could pick out various words and get the gist of it – kind of. They were going through what Gareth had taught, and were commenting on various points. However I could not tell if they were in agreement or not. After they had discussed in their language and helped translate if necessary, they told Gareth how they really enjoyed it; they understood it well and now it all made sense!
On Saturday night I was out with the Dare2Share team, when a teenage girl called out to me, and came running over to hug me! I recognized her face, and frantically tried to remember why. Then I remembered – apparently once I had talked to her at the town clock, and then when I came to Girls High last term she recognized me. She was keen to come along, but the lunchtime programme clashed with her sports training. “Did you know I also do Bible studies with people when it suits them?” I asked. She jumped at the idea, and took my number so she can get in touch sometime. Please pray for her, as she is so keen to learn about Jesus!
Meanwhile the programme at Girls’ High and Havelock High is going well. What I would really like to see is a programme started at Karamu High also – please pray for this as I haven’t been hearing back much!
Bible in Schools at Havelock Primary has changed from one teacher per classroom to several of us with all the classrooms in the assembly hall. This is different and something to adjust to, but I’m pleased we had a few weeks with the class to get to know some students better, rather than just having a mass of foreign faces!
Next week OAC is having a Staff Conference at Whangaparoa, Auckland. We will be away most of the week.
On 23 May is a day of prayer and outreach in Hawke’s Bay – if you are in the area we’d love to have you along! Time and venue to be confirmed, but it’s normally in Napier 10am-4pm.
At Queen’s Birthday weekend I am driving up with some friends to visit my parents and brother in the Gisborne region, which is exciting!
Thank you all very much for your prayers, encouragement, and support. I appreciate it!
Love from Maria
“For who is God, but the LORD?
And who is a rock, except out God?...” Psalm 18:31 (ESV)
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