This week I am blessed to be down in Christchurch with Operation513 as part of their New Zealand Mission.
I met Glen & Andy at the bus stops at Riccarton Mall at 9am. After prayer, Glen manned the Good Person chart while I paired up with Andy doing walk-up conversations. Andy was a pro! He had a way to engage that garnered confidence from the listener. I did some engagements, and Andy gave me some good feedback. He noticed that I am a bit too forthright when walking up to people, and not giving them any personal space. That makes sense, I can be a bit of a bull in a China shop!
Pierre: Andy engaged a gentleman who used to be a lecturer in Anthroplogy & Religious Studies at Canterbury University. It was a very intellectual conversation, and I am glad it was Andy talking to him, and not me! It turned out he was managed out of his position, and even though he could prove that he was bullied out of his job, he could not get a court decision in his favour. Despite all this, he was eager to listen to Andy, and hinted he might come to Redemption Church for a visit.
Nathan: While Andy was talking to Pierre, I approached a man called Nathan, waiting to cross at the lights. I took Nathan through the law, but he could not reconcile that someone in the Amazon rainforest would be judged the same as someone who knew that Christ died for them. I tried to explain that everyone knows the existence of God through creation, but he wouldn’t agree. Sadly, we had to agree to disagree, although he said he really enjoyed the conversation.
Afterwards Andy & Glen exchanged places. Glen was an evangelistic machine, seeming to engage with everyone he passed. I was really learning a lot from the both of them! While he was chatting with another passer-by, I noticed a man walking by, and engaged him. It turned out to be a great conversation…
Jason: I offered Jason a million dollar tract and asked him what happens after we die. He laughed and said he goes to church. He told me it was Arise Church, and alarm bells immediately went off in my head. He said he was doing an Alpha Course there – that was like the bells were upgraded to a Tsunami warning system. I asked him why he thought he was going to heaven. He said because he had given his heart to Jesus. I asked why he would do that, and he couldn’t answer. Knowing that Alpha did not address law and gospel, I went through it with Jason. He admitted he had been a bad boy in his time. I asked him what he would answer God when he asked him why He should let him into heaven. He couldn’t answer that either, so I started again. After eventually realising that the only way he could get to heaven was trusting in what Christ had done for him, I went about trying to explain the pitfalls of the church he was attending. He accepted that, so I introduced him to Andy and Glen, who told him how to find Redemption Church. I pray he does turn up there.
It was an awesome morning at the mall. We debriefed over lunch down by the Avon River at Deans Bush.
In the afternoon we moved to the Eastgate shopping centre bus stops. There were ample opportunities for walk-up conversations, with buses constantly coming and going. We all split up this time, and I had some very good conversations…
Harry: He reluctantly took a tract off me. However he had no qualms in telling me he wasn’t interested. I did get him to admit that he was in bad trouble on Judgement Day, but thus would not admit that it was worrying him, even though his face was telling a different story (reinforcing that he was indeed a liar!).
I then fell into a sweet spot with a string of great conversations…
Anita: When I explained the building/builder, painting/painter, creation/creator analogy to her, she was very interested. When her bus arrived, she hopped aboard knowing all that was required of her.
Dakota: My eyes lit up when I saw the Mairehau High School emblem on Dakota’s blouse, as that was my old High School! It turned out she was a Christian, and she answered all my checking questions correctly. I was able to encourage her, and gave her some Good Person cartoon tracts to hand out to her friends.
Jacinta: Was a very honest listener. I could tell she was convicted by her sin, and wanting to know more. Her toddler daughter was playing cutesie with me, and it was hard for me not to get distracted by her. Jacinta understood everything I said via checking questions, and was so engrossed in the conversation that she had to make a mad dash when she realised her bus had already pulled up.
Miraz: A younger high school student, who was sitting alone in the bus stop. A very polite young man, even calling me ‘Sir’! He was very humble and honest kid. I was careful not to get too technical with him. He understood everything I said. I suddenly noticed that him & I were the only ones in the whole bus stop area, so for accountability sake, I finished up, but through checking questions making sure he knew what was required of him. He even thanked me for taking the time to talk with him.
Then I had one of the hardest conversations I have had for a long time…
Hikiroa: This young lady had face make up to resemble a Goth. She looked a troubled person. After accepting a tract, I asked her about the afterlife. She was defensive. She said she didn’t understand God. I was able to point her towards the law, and explained to her how God was perfectly just and yet merciful at the same time. She said her mum had died. I said I was very sorry to hear that. She said “yeah, and my younger sister was killed in a car crash”. I shook my head, and couldn’t speak. Then she said “Yeah, and my baby sister has a sickness and is going to die”. I just sat there with my mouth open, trying to hold back the tears. She asked me if I would like to see pictures of them. Her mum looked young, maybe in her early 40’s. Her sister was 10 when she was killed. Then she showed a photo of her baby sister, with tubes all hooked up to a ventilator. I swallowed hard to hold back my tears. All I could say was I was so sorry that she was going through all this at a young age. She asked me where her mum was now. I said that I don’t know her heart, but she would have had to answer the same question I asked her earlier, and depending on her replies, she would either be in heaven or hell. She understood that. When she left to jump on her bus, I told her I will be praying for her.
I walked back and forward along the bus stop trying to gather myself after talking with Hikiroa. I prayed that her grief would not turn to anger, but drive her to Christ.
Jack and Harvey: In my last conversation of the day, I changed tact. I asked the high school students which one is the more intelligent of the two. Jack bravely voluntold Harvey. I pulled out my phone, and ‘printed’ out an IQ test, which got their attention! Harvey failed miserably, so I tried Jack, and his test turned out the same. I quickly turned the conversation to the spiritual and gave them another test – the good person test. They both failed that as well. Praise God, they were both very receptive to the Gospel, and knew what they had to do before jumping aboard their bus.
So it really was a great day out. The weather was fine, although a cool wind did catch us out in the morning – I had forgotten how chilly Christchurch mornings can be! Glen and Andy were very patient with me, and it was great learning from the pros!
I pray that God gets all the glory from our conversations today!