It is a tale of two outreaches, last time we were in Redcliffe it was hard and hostile, but today it was vastly different; today, people were friendly with many good conversations taking place. It is amazing what much prayer can do; after my last report I received messages from Christians worldwide saying they were praying for the gospel work in Redcliffe, those prayers were answered today.
We arrived at our outreach location at 11am. The ‘cold’ Brisbane winter was but a memory as the thermometer showed 27’C (81’F) on this winter’s day. The Operation 513 team was small today, but we rejoice in the fact that several labourers showed up to make much of Jesus Christ.
As usual we began by setting up our Free Bible table, then we started to hand out gospel tracts. Soon Col had a conversation underway with a Roman Catholic atheist (I’ll let you try to understand out how that works!), this man was angry at Rome due to all of her scandals and abuses. Col agree with him that Rome was wrong, then he brought the conversation around to the gospel. The man listened, and engaged as Col shared of the love of Jesus.
While this was happening, I offered a tract to an elderly man named Frank. Frank took the tract and said, “What is this all about?” I replied, “It asks if we will go to Heaven one day. What do you think?” Frank smiled and said, “Of course I’ll go to Heaven; everyone does!” I asked Frank if sinful people went to Heaven when they died and if men such as Hitler went to Heaven. Frank replied by saying that since God is forgiving, everyone gets to go to Heaven.
Frank was a really friendly man, so we chatted about the justice and holiness of God. I explained that the Bible says that no one deserves Heaven, but rather we all deserve Hell because of our sin. I then went on to explain that God has shown great love towards His elect by sending Jesus to pay the penalty for their sin, and that it is only by trusting in the Lord who died and rose again, that we could be forgiven. Frank listened, but said, “Yes, but Jesus will forgive everyone.” I then told Frank a story; I said, “Frank, imagine someone you love dearly was brutally murdered. The Police caught the murderer, then took him to court. Once in court, the Magistrate that was hearing the case said, ‘Mr. Murderer, I am a good, loving and forgiving judge. I am going to let you go this time.’ Frank, would that judge be good?” Frank thought deeply, “No, that wouldn’t be good or just” was his reply.
The penny seemed to have dropped for Frank at that moment, the gospel made sense; then he asked, “What church do you belong to?” I replied by saying I am a Pastor of a Baptist Church. Frank smiled at this and said, “I’m a Baptist too! I went to a Baptist Church in Sydney before moving here.” Truly it is a wicked thing for a man to sit in Church for many years yet never hear the gospel of salvation. Frank took some gospel booklets; then I asked him, “Do you have a Bible?” Frank said he has never owned a Bible or read one. We offered him a large print edition, which he very gladly took. He held the Bible in his hand as if it was a precious treasure. He looked at it, then said, “I really appreciate this. No one has given me a Bible before.” He then asked if I wanted to go the RSL to have a beer with him, and asked if I could recommend a local church. I helped him with the church, but I decline the generous offer of a beer.
As Frank walked off, I was reminded that we regularly can have people in our churches that are unsaved. As Ministers of the Gospel, we need to ensure that the message of God’s holiness, justice and grace is always central in our preaching. May we never have people like Frank who regularly sit in our pews who haven’t heard or understand the gospel; we must make sure they know.
Towards the end of the outreach, Col managed to get into a conversation with a friendly young couple. The gentleman was making a few arguments as to why he didn’t believe in Christianity, and why he didn’t attend church. After awhile, I somehow ended up in that conversation. The young man made a few arguments that weren’t historically correct, so I pointed out that his position was not built upon fact. He quickly conceded that point, then went back to arguing against church attendance. I listened for awhile, then it became clear why his argument was being made. This young man had grown up as a Jehovah’s Witnesses, he had always been told that if you want to please God then you must work hard and attend meetings. I explained to this couple that attending church did not make one a Christian anymore than going to Subway made you a footlong. They laughed, and agreed.
Now the conversation was off and running. The young man said, “I don’t want to offend you, but I think all religions are true, and they all teach the same thing,” he went on, “For instance, Subway doesn’t give everyone the same sub, they cater for different tastes, that is what religion is like, they cater for different tastes, but they all believe the same thing.” I replied by, “Look, I don’t want to be rude, but that statement you just made tells me that you don’t know much about all the different religions.” The man laughed and assured me he wasn’t offended. I went on, “Subway does cater for different tastes, but everything is still going to get a sub of some description; there is always going to be that core ingredient. The problem with your analogy is that the other religions don’t even have the sub in the first place; they are giving people that which isn’t bread and won’t give life.”
From there I gave him a few illustrations from Hinduism and Islam showing that what they teach is vastly different to Christianity. The young couple agreed, then said, “We want a religion that is all about loving each other, caring for people, and loving God.” I said, “That is what Christianity is. Jesus said love God and love your neighbour. What you want is what Jesus calls us to do.” I then said, “But think about it, Jesus said we should love each other, but we don’t. He said we should love God, but we fail at that point also,” they nodded in agreement, I went on, “We all break the loving standard, we all do wrong, the Bible calls this sin. That is why we need Jesus. He came and showed true love when He died on the cross for sinners, then rose again. He shows love when He calls on us to repent and trust in Him, and He shows love when He forgives all the sins of those who believe.”
Upon hearing this they both smiled and said, “That makes sense.” The young man then said, “I am so glad you guys are here. I can approach you and ask questions. It is great that you are here to help me understand about God.” He then went on with a few more questions relating to the Trinity, same-sex “marriage,” and the authority of Scripture. With each answer that was given the couple kept saying, “That makes sense!”
At the end of the conversation, this couple took several gospel booklets, shook our hands, then said, “Thank you so much for being out here today. I am so glad you guys are here!”
As this couple left I was reminded that even though we can face hardship in gospel ministry, there are still people out there who are open to hearing of Christian things. We must press on; we must remain faithful; we must keep making much of the Lord Jesus.
Please pray for all those we encountered today. May the Father draw them all to Christ.
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