Sunday, April 5, 2009

Street Evangelism

I just received this email from a brother here in Adelaide! As you read this email I pray that you will be strengthened, encouraged, rebuked, challenged... God knows where you are at!

Hi all,

I thought I would pass on this update from the evangelism happening here in Adelaide, for much needed prayer, and to keep you all posted on the battle; this is taken from

Tonight was one spiritual battle to say the least!

"Why do the nations rage and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth have set themselves, the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision." - Psalm 2:1-4

This Psalm has summed up my views perfectly regarding evangelism in Adelaide. We don't live in a religiously 'free' country. Your rights are raped right before your eyes and you don't even see it. The strong language is warranted by the strong opposition of the prince of the power of the air to our Gospel mission!

I felt quite unwilling to go into evangelize tonight. People often think I must be some fire-brand who never hides away into fear - this is far from true. I was quite cowardly, not wanting to go in and reach the lost, until my wife rebuked me and told me I was a debtor to all men. Realizing my obligation I decided to go, but still didn't feel that I could. We arrived and started handing out tracts while some of the guys played some Paul Washer gospel messages. They walked away when we had word police were on the way, at this time, Celeste and I begun talking to a guy in his forties who was clearly stoned or drugged. He was very arrogant, and wouldn't suffer us to say one thing to him, he began to speak so loud that it was almost loud enough to preach and everyone around was watching him as he ridiculed us and mocked God.

I asked him, "Are you going to let us speak at all or are you going to keep on blabbering like a crazy man?" He swore his head off, got real angry and ripped the tract we gave him, so we walked away. This was quite frightening really, because the guy was almost inhuman the way he wouldn't let us say one word - which led me to believe the devil was involved somehow (without being super-spiritual - we are in a spiritual battle).

We then saw about 60 or more people from the Potters House group march down the mall shouting 'crucify him!' as a man was dressed as Jesus carrying a cross with fake blood all over him. It was beautiful to see such a strong and bold declaration of the CROSS in Rundle Mall. I could tell hell was raging in anger as Christ was exalted. Shortly following this, we caught up with the guys playing Paul Washer sermon jams and then the cops caught them. The police officer refused to give a receipt for the amplifier he was using (which is illegal - if police confiscate an item, they must provide a receipt - otherwise it is STEALING - by law). The officer would not yield a receipt, so Caleb refused to leave without one, and so they arrested him. Pulling some police trick on him, they pretended to make it look like he was 'resisting arrest' and so they pummelled him into the ground face first and was wrestling with him on the ground. The officer had grazes all down his arm afterward.

Josh held his hands out and asked the police to arrest him too, and so they did. Caleb and Josh were singing hymns in the patrol wagon as it drove down Rundle Mall, and all the passerbyers heard the hymns. I went to the end of the mall to preach beside Pulteney St, when the Potters House were there boldly proclaiming the Gospel. We went outside the Myer Centre to preach and Daniel kicked it off. After about half an hour, I hopped up and two ladies were watching me with sly smiles on their faces. One of them looked like a lesbian so I begun to preach from 1 Corinthians 6:9,10. They approached me and asked if I was condemning them. I took them to John 3:18 which says they are 'condemned already' - all I can do is show them they are. I then bluntly asked if they were lesbians to which one of them responded quite shocked, "We're sisters excuse me!" I felt quite stupid for a moment, but in actual fact, sisters or not - they were lesbians, as we found out later. Their conviction of sin led them to cover it up.

It was quite a sad conversation, the lady grabbed my hand looked into my eyes from her eyes that were so cold and full of darkness and emptiness and asked me if God loved me anymore than he loved her lesbian friend. I asked her, "Which God?" She said "You're God". I said, "Who is my God?" She said "God", to which I replied, "No, the God of the Bible". I said this because she didn't want me to share scripture, she wanted my opinion from the heart. I told her my opinion from the heart was wedded to the Word of God and that if she is asking me questions about God, she is asking about the God of the Bible, hence, I must turn to Scripture. I begun sharing with her the Gospel, and named many sins I felt she was living in. It was quite sad, because when I shared with her how God crucified, slaughtered his only Son for her sin she proudly struts in, tears welled up in her eyes - but her love for sin captivated her more than love for God.

She then started telling us that she used to go to a Pentecostal church (in England). She told us she was angry that they always wanted money, wanted bank account numbers, wanted 10% of her income. I told her flat out that's not in the Bible. She told me the Old Testament does mention 10%, to which I replied, "Yes, the OLD covenant, we are in the NEW". I was so angry at prosperity pimping churches at this point, places like Hillsong and Paradise and Edge Church. This is the damage they do - but it got worse. She then told me that when she was 7 years on (for about 5 years in duration) she was raped continually by an older man. She told us she prayed every night for deliverance and it didn't come. "Where was God!?" she said. I told her He was there, and that her issue was not one of God's answer, but the timing of the answer. God obviously delivered her, as she is no longer being raped, and yet the answer did not come as quickly as she hoped.

No wonder she is a lesbian now, she must think men are carnivorous evil-doing machines, (which they are by the way, without Christ). I pleaded with her to get right with God, but she left hand in hand with her partner. It was very sad, we prayed for them. This is the deal with street evangelism: you don't know who might be the next rapist in your city. The next murderer. The next hoon to kill himself on a stobie pole. You don't know. They MAY just be in the mall that night. Street evangelism is so much broader and deeper than invitational evangelism. You can invite friends and lost associates to church or youth group, but that is so limited. You are limited to one time a week (Sunday), you are limited to only a few people to get along - really, it's not profitable. It's not wrong - but it's not profitable. On the streets, you can share the Gospel with hurting people like this woman was, you can meet them face to face, eye to eye with what they need to hear, and only fools mock at the lack of results. Who are we to say there is none? God giveth the increase. Wesley testified that God most often hides from our eyes that part we play in the conversion of others - lest we boast in it. He concludes that if we are groaning in prayer for a soul, and that soul comes to Christ, then our prayer no-doubt had to do with it.

Street evangelism is real evangelism. I remember witnessing to a girl aged 15, not really a good friend, but someone I knew and had spent time with; Carly Ryan. I remember one night being on my knees before God in my room on Folland Ave, Northgate (where I used to live). I felt God burden me with calling up all the unsaved people I was spending time with, and witnessing to them. I remember I called up about 10 people that night, one of them was Carly. She was at a sleepover, and I tried to share the Gospel with her, but it didn't last long until she started saying '666' and 'hail satan'. They hung up after 14 minutes. I got on my knees and prayed fervently for them after the call, because my God is stronger than them. Shortly after, I bumped into Carly in the mall, she had a new boyfriend. I told her to watch out for guys wanting to use her body for their own satisfaction, and said sex is for marriage. She blushed and didn't really know what to say, and retreated into her friends. When I was leaving she ran up to me and gave me a hug, then I told her that I didn't want to seem weird or a fanatic, but that I told her those things because I cared for her, she smiled and sighed and said, 'ok'. That was last I saw of her. Three months later I was sitting in a coffee shop by myself off Pirie St reading the newspaper reporting of a girl, aged 15, with red in her hair, found washed up on the beach at Horseshoe bay, Victor Harbor. I thought nothing of it, until the next night at youth group I get a phone call telling me that Carly Ryan was raped and drowned when spending time with two men, one a teenager, the other quite older. Her face was on the front page of the newspapers for almost a week, and the story continued for weeks. God cared enough about Carly Ryan, loved her enough, to give her warnings. You know, Celeste and I have talked about this many times, and we truly believe, if God's sovereign hand was pleased to do it, that in those moments during her rape, in those moments when these guys were beating her up, in those moments when she was under the water, life flashing before her eyes, hands around her neck, drowning her - if she had remembered our words? If she had cried out for Christ to save her? God is sovereign. I trust it may be true. God really challenged me to ask myself if I had been fervent enough in witnessing? If I had been real enough, challenging enough, if I really plead enough with her to come to Christ? Or, even worse, what if I neglected to share with her? What if she had died and I had failed to give her evangelistic witness under the banner of 'relational evangelism' and spent time to build a friendship? It doesn't work. We must share the Gospel. I remember preaching about this at college and telling people now is the time to go all out with evangelism. After my sermon, the worship leader gets up and strumming a nice emotional tune says, 'Yes, Forbes was challenging this morning, we need to evangelize - but I really challenge you, DON'T SAY ANYTHING to your neighbours and friends, just be an EXAMPLE." Talk about a mouthpiece for satan if I ever heard one. Almost like my sermon went in one ear and out the other. The church is full of rebels like this, who indifferently snub away the Gospel's call to others, while they sleep at night, people in their community are on their way to hell. Carly Ryan to me, was an example of how we can't stop evangelizing. Who am I to sit at home because I don't feel like going out - when there are girls like her out there, next on someones' list. Will we stay home because we are tired? Because it is winter and cold? Because the police are onto us? Because the council wants to get rid of us? Because it may mean spending a few hours to the weekend in the city watchouse? To be honest, I for one, as long as the Lord wills, am not going cease to preach and teach Jesus in the mall for this reason secondly, firstly is for God's glory.

Who are the Carly Ryan's in your life? People you bump into every now and again. People who sit in the pew next to you on Sunday but have never truly been saved? People at your local high school? Working in the shops you shop at week in and week out? What are you afraid of? In the words of Leonard Ravenhill;

"Why are our feet so leaden in moving to the rescue of these who move relentlessly by the edge of eternity, and whose one step into it will seal their doom? Why is there at present amongst us this criminal indifference to the lostness of men? And criminal it is! Have we nothing to communicate? Is our living so inconsistent with our telling?Are we pitiably unsure of the truth of the Bible concerning the lost? Are we so stony-hearted that neither God's promises nor God's threats disturb us? What octopus has us in its grip? Where will our spiritual polio, our slovenly attention to divine truth land us - and others?
Ask yourselves these soul-searching questions:
Why don't we attack?
Why do we fear?
Why do we hesitate?
What chills our urgency?
Have we nothing to communicate?
Are we unsure of our own Biblical knowledge?
Do we lack personal assurance of salvation?
Are we unconvinced that the sinners stand in jeopardy of an eternal hell?
Witnessing is not optional, but obligatory. We Christians are debtors."
- L. Ravenhill, 'Why this suffocating indifference' and 'We need a baptism of Holy Anger' chapters from 'Sodom had no Bible' (1979 Bethany House publishers).

Following this conversation with the ladies, a young black African man came up, he seemed to enjoy my preaching, 'very biblical' he said. He proceed to ask me questions about the Bible, and he knew a lot of verses off by heart and their references. For a moment I was impressed; until I realized he was trying to get me to talk theology with him over whether to worship on the Sabbath day or not. He wouldn't' let me get a word in - so I thought I'd ask him a question to examine where his heart was; and proceed to ask if he would rather debate theology with me and in doing so stop me from preaching the Gospel of salvation, or if he would like to witness to people who might die tonight? He ignored the question and proceeded with his spiel and so I passed him over to Sam to deal with while I kept preaching the Gospel to the people who were still hanging around.

The devil loves to use any form of distraction he can. He is a master of deceit. We must not be ignorant of his devices. We must not deceive ourselves into thinking he is not out to get us. If the power of the Holy Ghost is upon to witness (Acts 1:8), then he will be onto us. He roams like a lion, seeking to devour. When he finds someone sold out to the Gospel, sold out to the evangelization of our nation, sold out to sacrifice, like Paul was, the demons will testify, 'Jesus and I know, and Paul I know...' - do the demons say of you, 'Jesus and I know and (your name here) I know???' or do they say to you, like they said to the seven sons of Sceva, 'Jesus I know and Paul I know but WHO ARE YE?' - Acts 19:15.

When the Christians came out of the upper room - all hell knew they'd arrived. The devil lost 3000 of his captives that day. Only a short time following, another 2000 captives of satan were brought from darkness to light. This sheds some light on whether or not satan has a cause to fear in this day - but I'll tell you this, he has learned from history. John Wesley has scarred him, Whitefield has thrashed him, Luther scourged him - all because God possessed the men! God shook nations through the men! And the pages of history cannot be erased. The devil knows what the firstfruits of an awakening look like - more than we, or even Jonathan Edwards knows. Hence, he will be as committed to pulling us down as we are committed to going out - but only as LONG as we put up a fight. The apostles of Acts chapter 4 and 5 put a fight. Their faithfulness led angels to lead them out of prison, even Paul and Silas blasted the prison walls with the dynamite of prayer. The prisons would never forget those men. The Philippian jailor had no choice but to cry out for salvation. The Gospel is needed in the jails as much as in the streets - so blessed be God wherever we land. "Who will go for us?"

"I feel a love constraining me,
To go and seek the lost,
I yield, My Lord, my all to Thee,
To save at any cost." Selah