Present today: Daniel, June, Maree, Frances, Jarryd. Simeon joined us down at the shops.
I opened with Colossians 1:
“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Col 1:19-23).
We spoke of how blessed we are that God has chosen us – set us aside, and how important it was for us to share this Good News with others. We prayed for boldness to do just that!
It was a clear but crisp day down at the shops. There weren’t as many stalls as usual, but there were still plenty of people coming and going to chat to! When I arrived, the rest of the team were already deep into conversations.
My King Charles million tracts were being gobbled up, but it was difficult to get a conversation going. Many were pleasant, but did not want to engage, so I had to pray that the paper missionaries would carry out God’s work for me!
James: I had done a few circuits around the mall before bumping into James around the back of the shops. He was drinking a beer from a bottle. I asked him if I could ask him a question (seems a bit weird, I know). He said sure. The question was “What do you think happens after we die?” He said go to heaven. I asked him how sure he was that this would happen. He said 50/50. I asked him if he had been keeping God’s rules. He said he was trying. So we went through the law together, and he found out how bad he was. He put the bottle on the ground beside him, and clasped his hands together, in what looked like an act of submission. I asked him if God should punish or reward him? He said punish. I asked him does a punishment sounded like heaven or hell? He looked down and said hell. I asked him how could he escape his hell punishment? He said the usual things like asking for forgiveness, and changing his ways for the better in order to tip the scales in his favour. I said to try that in front of a judge: “Yes judge, I did commit all those bad crimes. But I’ve not committed any since, and tried to be good. Please forgive me”. Would the judge ignore your crimes? He said no. I said the same applies with God; all the good you do won’t undo the fact that you have a criminal record that the perfect, just judge of the universe will hold you accountable for. There is only one way to remove your hell punishment. He said “”Please tell me how!”. He seemed very humble. It was the perfect time to give him the wonderful Gospel. I told him how Christ offers to take his hell punishment on his behalf, satisfying God’s justice and justifying letting him go to heaven. He needed to accept this by faith, and let go of his striving to meet God on his own terms, which would mean certain eternal death. Just then, a friend of his walked past, trying to entice him away. I gave him a couple of tracts and a New Testament, and said I would be praying for him.
That conversation left me clicking my heels!
I walked around to the market side of the mall to find Marie engaging with a group of people. They were all talking at the same time, trying to make a point. I thought I would listen in and give her some support. It seemed like they weren’t being very reasonable with her. I heard her trying to explain that redemption is through the cross. Three of them sounded like they knew a bit of Christianese, while the other was talking in fairy tales about feelings and opinions. So I honed in on one of them and asked him what happens after we die. All four of them chimed in with different answers. The guy I addressed said he was going to heaven because he has a relationship with Christ. I asked what that meant, and he answered that without a relationship, you can’t go to heaven, which really didn’t answer the question. So I went to the law and asked them how they fared – they all were liars, thieves and other commandment breakers. Then the guy I addressed tried to tell me that was the law, but now we are under grace. I tried to tell him that we don’t know what sin is until we compare ourselves with God’s standard of perfection – then we will understand why grace is needed. We went back and forth a bit, then it turned a bit nasty. He didn’t like the way I evangelised, he thought I was too confrontational. He said I needed to show love, not tell people they are going to hell. I said I was sorry if it appeared that way, but I answered to God for my methods. I pointed to someone walking past and asked “Where is he going when he dies?” They said “nobody knows”. I said “Why don’t you go and find out, so you can make sure he gets to heaven?” They said they weren’t called to be an evangelist. At this point Marie had to go. I asked them how they would share the Gospel with someone. They said with love, not the way I did it – but they don’t really do it. I quoted DL Moody who was put in the same position by a woman. He answered “I much prefer the way I do it, as opposed to the way you don’t do it”. That made them grumble and scowl. They said I was under a prideful and arrogant spirit, and I should talk to my Pastor about the way I come across. I said “I can get him if you want, he’s standing right over there”. They said no thanks (no surprises there). They wouldn’t take any tracts off me, so I thanked them for their time and left them to their fantasies.
By the time I finished, it was after lunch time, and time to go. It was a great day out, regardless of how the chats turned out. As I always quote: “No chat in vain”. Success is not determined by the outcome of a Gospel conversation, as God is glorified regardless!