Friday, June 29, 2012

An Episcopal Report

I thought it would be good to end with a little report on the evangelistic work we did in each of the cities that we went to:

(1st June; Peter & Taryn)

The first person we talked to was a lady having a cigarette break. Her name was Nikki, it turned out she was Greek Orthodox: ‘I tell everyone I know about God—they say, how do you know God exists—I say, how do you know air exists?’ Then, ‘the thing I’ve always wondered though, is whether we have to go to the priest to confess our sins’. We said it’s not important whether you worship and pray in this or that place, but God desires that we would worship him in spirit and in truth. She took two tracts and said she would pass them on to people she knew.

The next person to stop was a man called Finton, a Christian who goes to City Church in St Albans. I offered him two tracts to give to people he knew who didn’t know Jesus and asked if we could pray for them. He named his two children Liam & Claire, who have walked away from faith, so we prayed for them.

A man (I think his name was John) with an apparent mental disability was passing, with a South Asian carer (Sunder, I think). I was able to pray for him.

Talked to an elderly man wearing a straw hat who said, ‘It’s taken me all my life to realize that it’s not about how expensive your shoes are, the most valuable thing is faith’.

A friend of his approached, whose name turned out to be Phil, with guitar in hand. I asked if he wanted to play something on his guitar. To my surprise he accepted the offer, took out his guitar and began singing a song he’d written himself.

Catherine, an older Christian lady from the West Indies stopped, took 2 tracts to pass on

Ben, a Christian, took 2 tracts to pass on

Mother w/ toddler running loose called Daniel; I asked if she knew the story of the biblical Daniel; she took gospel tract.

2 Sri Lankan men, of which one Christian (Clement); gave the Christian two tracts, encouraged him to share the message with those he knew; explained the message to his friend, encouraged him to consider it

Teenagers (one called Jacob, another Christian (!), and friends) just finished final day of school, out on pub crawl, highly amused by the Archbishop’s hat

3 more sober pub-crawlers, but more hostile to Christianity. If there is a God of love, then why did he allow the Holocaust to happen?

Teenage girls, also just finished school. ‘No, we’re Catholic’

Man in red tie: Gordon, Christian, took 2 tracts

Business man took tract

A lady, whose name was Anne-Marie, stopped when I offered her a tract, was uncertain whether to accept—“I’m Catholic”. I said this was just a simple explanation of the good news that all Christians, Catholic or Protestant, believe. I encouraged her to take two to give to friends—she said she didn’t want to offend anyone—I said that to explain what we believe isn’t offensive, and that we could pray that her friends wouldn’t be offended. So she took two tracts and we prayed.

Another group of teenagers, one with foot in cast. A girl, Kim, was willing to listen to me talk briefly, and took a tract.

(4th June; Peter & Taryn)

Chinese lady w/ daughter looking at the raised map, took a tract

Lucian, Nathan, Thomas, seemed intrigued by the Archbishop’s hat. Impressive knowledge of the Bible but little love for the God of the Bible. Thomas took a tract and read the prayer of repentance: ‘That’s a really nice prayer!’ Nathan wanted to know what I thought about Romans 13:1. I looked it up and then explained how I understood it (it’s about submitting to political authorities). ‘Ah, Acts 5:29!’ he said.

An elderly Muslim man and his son came past and stopped. French-speaking, but with good English too, occasionally the son stepped in to translate what I was trying to communicate to his father. ‘Why are you a Christian?’ asked the father, I began to answer. ‘No! The reason you are a Christian is that you were born in a Christian family, the reason I am a Muslim is that I was born in a Muslim family.’ I was about to reply when a passer-by entered the conversation. He spent the next ten minutes very clearly and very graciously explaining the gospel to the Muslim man. I stood by, nodding my approval of what he was saying.

Chris, one of the touts selling punting tours, stopped to talk briefly.

Another punting tout, who I remember had been quite aggressive when I’d met him before doing street evangelism in Cambridge, stopped and complimented me on having the balls to do something like this. And then accepted a tract.

A Singaporean lady (Audrey) visiting Cambridge with a friend, refused the offer of a tract, only because she had her own stash of English/Chinese tracts in her bag.

Some Chinese schoolboys responded to me asking them whether they believed in God, and were then willing to listen to me explain the gospel. I gave two of them tracts, encouraging them to spread the message to people that they knew.

A guy called Mandali listened to me reading Mark for quite some time.

Leonardo and Chiara listened to me explain the gospel but Leonardo seemed more interested in knowing whether I was Catholic or Protestant. I refused to answer his question. ‘Do you believe in transubstantiation?’—my reply: ‘Whether you believe in transubstantiation or not won’t save you, believing the gospel is more important’

Jane was wearing a rainbow-coloured jumper and was willing to talk to me for a brief moment: ‘I already believe’. So I offered her two tracts to pass on to those she knew who didn’t believe, but she said that she preferred to live out her faith instead of talking about it. I said we need to do both but she went on her way.

A group of ladies at theological college in Cambridge wanted to know what I was doing, and then what I thought of whether there should be women bishops.

Finally I ran out of tracts and was about to leave, but still a young teenage boy was watching me from a short distance away. I asked him if he believed in God. He said, No but he was willing to give it a go. Will I have to go to church? I said, ‘You’ll have to trust and obey everything Jesus says. So if Jesus says you have to go to church, then you have to go to church. And if Jesus sends you somewhere where there are no churches, then maybe you’ll have to start a church instead’. Our conversation was brought to an abrupt halt as his mother shooed him onwards to wherever they were headed.

In the evening we were able to meet up with Andrew Harland, CU college rep at Caius, and former Hebron student. Shared some of the vision of what we were doing (as well as giving him some Circuit Riders flyers to pass on), and prayed with and encouraged him.

(5th June; Peter & James Swabey)

Prayed for two homeless men who needed food and accommodation.

A girl called Sidney stopped, took a tract, and was happy for me to pray that God would bless and meet with her.

An Indian Christian family stopped to listen at a distance – James went over and talked with them.

A Christian lady called Gladys stopped on the second time of passing and took two tracts to pass on to those she knew.

A Christian lady called Amanda stopped and took a tract to pass on.

A group of teenage boys came to sit on the bench next to where I was preaching. I shook one of them by the hand and asked if knew that God loved him. His name was Jack. He listened to me explain the gospel and took a tract. James was then able to talk to the boys at greater length.

A church-goer called Simon suggested that instead of preaching ‘hell and damnation’ at people I would do better demonstrating practical love instead. Regarding ‘preaching damnation’, I said that though God’s love is primary, sin is also a reality, and the cross makes no sense without understanding the weightiness of both. I invited him to listen to what I was saying and tell me if I was leaning too heavily on the ‘damnation’ side of the spectrum without talking about God’s love.

Two City Council officers came over and told me that I wasn’t allowed to do what I was doing. I said that I thought that street-preaching was legal. They told me that the square I was standing on was private property and that there was a designated ‘Speaker’s Corner’ that I could go to. I said, ‘Well, seeing as we’re talking why don’t I explain to you what I’m trying to tell people…’ and they very quickly made their excuses and left.

I went in search of another spot to preach, and on the way talked to a Sikh man sitting on a bench: I think his name was Amit. He said he believed in God, I asked if he was prepared for the judgment that one day we will all face, he said No. I explained the gospel, and left him a tract.

Unable to find the designated ‘Speaker’s Corner’, we decided to continue what we were doing in another open courtyard between shops.

Ali, a Muslim, took a tract and talked briefly.

Aileen & Cathleen, said they were Catholics but didn’t go to Mass anymore but still said their prayers each night. I gave them two tracts each and encouraged them to pass them on to any they knew who didn’t believe in Jesus. They eagerly accepted.

Archana & Ajay were rushing past but were happy to take a tract and listen to a brief explanation of the gospel.

Dawn, a Christian lady passing me for the second time, shouted ‘Don’t let them get you down!’ to which I replied happily that it would take a lot to do that.

A Muslim teenager refused to talk, simply saying: ‘Islam’s the truth, innit!’

An elderly man was very angry at the fact that I was talking about God. Shaking his fist at us, he said ‘My brother was a rapist, and still the priest blessed him when he died and sent him to heaven. Is that right?’ And then he walked away.

A Muslim called Abdullah was happy to talk at length, but was convinced that the Qur’an was more reliable than the Bible—though strangely he was eager to say that he preferred Jesus to Mohammed. I ended the conversation by praying that God would guide us both into His truth, and gave him my contact details in case he wanted to keep in touch.

(6th June; Peter, Taryn & Andrew Bowers)

A man called Jake and his young child, stopped when I read the bit in Mark where the Father speaks from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”. Jake said, ‘My dad sent me that verse yesterday’. I gave him two tracts to share with people he knew who didn’t yet know God.

I went over to talk to a couple sitting on a bench within earshot. The wife turned out to be a Jehovah’s witness, the husband a more conventional but more nominal Christian. ‘At least you’re speaking out for what you believe’ said the wife.

Andrew talked to a man who said that he’d previously been a pastor, but had quit because of too much disappointment with unanswered prayer. As he walked away, Andrew called after him ‘God’s not given up on you yet!’

An Oxford student came over to encourage us and ask if there was anything he could get for us. His name was Sam, he was from Singapore—and when we said we were with YWAM he said he knew Nick Holding!

A couple walking past took a tract and then returned a couple of minutes later asking for a few more tracts!

Steve from Germany nipped away from his passing tour group to encourage us.

A soft-spoken young man called Matthieu took a tract.

Andrew talked to a couple (Ben & Iva) for a long time. When asked what he could pray for them, the girl said ‘that God would reveal Himself to me’, the guy ‘that God would give me more money’. (Perhaps the two most common prayer requests among YWAMers?!)

Anoj & Saiba were a young Hindu couple who had been sitting within earshot of us on the nearby steps of the Bodleian library. I went over to talk to them and we had quite a long conversation about the ‘God within’ and the ‘image of God’. I encouraged them to read John’s gospel, gave them each a tract and also my contact details.

Another guy was sitting on the steps smoking and was open to taking a tract.

Andrew saw an old university friend of his, who was surprised to see him doing street evangelism.

A lot more people took tracts.

Met up with my old friend Jonny Reid in a pub afterwards, gave him some Circuit Riders flyers and shared what had been happening.

(11th June; Peter & Taryn)

On the train leaving Harpenden, we found ourselves sitting opposite a man reading a New Age (Brahma Kumari) magazine. Taryn offered him a tract and conversation began. His name was Raymond, he describes himself as a Buddhist, but he was interested to hear our stories. I shared a little of my testimony with him, and when he said he lived in Luton we told him about our church in Luton.

In Southampton it was raining, and so we weren’t really able to do street evangelism in the way that we did in the other cities.

As we walked from the train station to the centre of town, we met 2 Dutch girls who were there for the day to do some shopping.

We then spent some time in Starbucks, strengthening our souls in the Lord, and praying about how best to use our time in Southampton. We left a tract on Starbucks table.

We then went to the university, and spent some time praying there for the students in Southampton.

We returned to the main street and gave a few tracts to passers-by.

As we walked along the street, we saw Above Bar church, and decided to put a Circuit Riders flyer through their letter box. As we did so, Paul (one of their leaders) was coming out. He invited us in for a drink and then round to pub to join their ‘missional community’ watching the England game against France. Chatted to a few people as England managed to hold onto a 1-1 draw, and then returned home somewhat damp.

(13th June; Peter, Taryn, Nick Holding, Michael Green)

N talked to David, a Canadian

T talked to a Hindu family, and persuaded them to take a tract

M talked to Antonio from Italy

N talked to a man called Paul, who said he was a Christian but was unsure of his salvation

M talked to a Christian called Eric

M also talked to another Eric, a former churchgoer whose partner goes to church

We were joined by P’s good friend Phil Jackson, who helped do some evangelism.

P addressed a crowd of schoolkids coming out of St Paul’s, as they waited on the steps for the whole group to gather. I said, I’m wearing this funny hat because I’m ‘running for archbishop’. Because even though some people might say I’m too young, I have a Bible that says we should not say ‘I’m too young’, but should proclaim the words that God puts in our mouths (Jer. 1). And I say to you young schoolkids, that you shouldn’t let anyone tell you you’re too young, but should believe and share the gospel no matter how old you are! Now, who knows what the gospel is? It’s the good news that Jesus died –
Then one of the schoolboys shouted out: ‘And he resurrected!
That’s right! Now, who wants one of these tracts? (A lot of hands went up) Now, you can only have it if you promise you’ll pass on the message—okay? And I gave away a few tracts.

After stopping to catch my breath, P again preached to those sitting on the steps of St Paul’s. And was glad to be engaged by the friendly antagonism of a young guy called Liam and his friend Ben.

Afterwards P spoke a little to a man called Joseph, who was from a Catholic background and very cynical about religion.

P talked to Dimitri, Jehovah’s Witness

P talked to a young couple called Mike and Victoria, who said they were Christians.

We talked to an American Christian couple from Tennessee, who wished us well in what we were doing.

T talked to an Indian couple with a son called Saahil. They took a tract.

P talked to a Chinese lady with minimal English, who understood that I wanted to ‘introduce Jesus’.

T talked to a gentleman called Bill.

(15th June; Peter, Taryn, Nick, Moureen, Margaret)

Although it initially looked like it was going to rain, it only did very briefly, and so we were able to have a very profitable few hours on the streets in Canterbury. But we seem only to have kept a record of a small number of names.

A lady called Francis stopped briefly to encourage us, before rushing off for an appointment.

We talked to a lady called Helen.

P talked to two visiting French teenagers, Joshua & Fabian

P gave a tract to a young French schoolgirl called Camille

A French lady called Sylvie stopped.

P had a long conversation with an English girl called Jess and her friend Jack. She had a lot of questions and not a lot of patience for my answers. I prayed for her, and a few minutes later another friend of hers passed by. She said to him: ‘Ask him to pray for you, it’s really nice’. I asked the guy what I should pray for him and he said to pray that he would see God right in front of him – because that’s what it would take for him to believe. I said if he saw God right in front of him he would be terrified. He said good, because he’d not yet found anything which could scare him. I put my hand on his shoulder and prayed that God would put the fear of the Lord in him.

We then went to Canterbury Cathedral, and videoed a couple more Reasons. We had just finished when a security guard appeared. ‘Were you videoing and pretending to be the Archbishop?’ he said. The human heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, so I thoughtlessly blurted out, ‘Er, no, just taking a photo…’ Conscience then struck, so we went back and apologized, and after the security guard had called his supervisor, who called the press officer, it was established that we could indeed do what we were doing.

So let that be an encouragement to freely and boldly share the gospel in this country!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Final Reason: The Biblical Mandate

So I'm going to have to apologize, and admit that I'm not going to be able to get videos for all thirty reasons posted by the end of this month.

And so I leave you with this clip of me inside Canterbury Cathedral reading the bit where the Bible declares that whoever desires to be a bishop desires 'a noble thing'.

Thankyou for the various ways in which you the watching world have helped and encouraged me.

And now I in turn encourage you, whether you be clergy or laity, whether you be a bishop, a priest, a deacon, or a mere human like myself--to go and preach the gospel to everyone you know. And when they respond, begin discipling them. And don't think that you need a bishop to lay hands on you to make that group of faith-filled disciples a 'real church'.

For as our Book of Common Prayer says, a 'real church' is simply "a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance".

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord --
and to revive and reform England by the preaching of the gospel!

Reason #16: I'm Broad Church

Running For Archbishop is a campaign not so much to give you lots of reasons why I should be Archbishop, but primarily to share the gospel!

And we've been to St Albans, Cambridge, Coventry, Oxford, Southampton, London--and now finally we've come to Canterbury to share the good news that God so loved the world.

The whole world, not just me with my evangelical convictions, my liberal desire for a reasonable answer, my pentecostal zeal, my catholic reverence for tradition, but the whole world -- whoever will believe in Jesus.

And whoever would be Archbishop needs to have a deep conviction about the importance of Christian unity -- that, as the gospel declares, it's merely faith in the one Lord Jesus and baptism in His name that unites people of all sorts into the one family of the true God.

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

Reason #15: I'm Pentecostal

Not only is the Church of England a Liberal church: a tolerant church, a reasonable church; it is also a Catholic church: a traditional church, a church with history and heritage; and more, it is an Evangelical church, a Biblical church, a Reformed church.

But if the church is to be the "pillar of truth" that the New Testament says it should be, it must be more than that--it must be Pentecostal.

And by Pentecostal I mean believing that the Holy Spirit that we Christians claim to believe in is the same Spirit who filled the apostles on the day of Pentecost.

And we read in the book of Acts, that on the day of Pentecost that the disciples were praying together because Jesus had told them to wait until they were baptized in the Spirit before they went out to share the gospel, and 'when the day of Pentecost had fully come', the people began to praise God in tongues they had not previously known. And the disciples were filled with boldness to declare the gospel not in word only, but in the demonstration of God's power.

And if we are to see revival in England we need to pray that the gospel would not only be proclaimed by our words, but demonstrated by the manifest power of God, so that -- like the lame man healed in the name of Jesus -- our paralysed nation can go forth 'walking and leaping and praising God' (Acts 3:8)!

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Reason #14: I'm Evangelical

As well as being liberal and catholic, the Archbishop needs to be an evangelical who tests everything according to the Bible.

Since Thomas Cranmer and his Book of Common Prayer, the Church of England has been an Evangelical church, a Reformed church, a Biblical church. Which means the Church of England declares that we need believe nothing unless it can be proved from the Bible.

This means that although as good Catholic Christians we accept the traditions of the Church as a blessing, we need to pay heed to the word of St. Augustine -- passed down in church tradition (by Aquinas) -- that "Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning."

And of course in Scripture itself we find that Jesus criticized the Established religious leaders of his day for depending too much on tradition, and not knowing the Word of God or the power of God.

But Evangelical means not only that we love the Bible and test everything by it, but also that we are gospel people -- for the word 'evangelical' comes from the Greek word 'euanggelion', which means 'good news', 'gospel'. And the whole message of the Bible is good news, that in spite of our failure to live up to God's standards, God has paid the price for us to be reconciled to Him and experience the blessing of enjoying His promises being fulfilled.

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reason #13: I'm Catholic

We were speaking about how the Archbishop would need to be liberal. Now, we argue that the Archbishop must also be Catholic.

The Anglican church is part of the one, holy, Catholic church, having bishops that stand in apostolic succession from the original apostles of Jesus. And whoever would be Archbishop needs to appreciate and submit to the traditions of the Catholic church.

For as the postmodern philosophers have reminded us, all of us are tradition-ed human beings: we all have presuppositions that we bring to the table and that prevent any one of us from being a neutral absolute arbiter of truth.

And as the Church of England we have an incredible Christian heritage which we are responsible to receive and steward.

But of all the traditions we receive, the most important is the gospel. Which, St Paul says, he received and passed on to us: that Christ Jesus died for our sins and rose on the third day.

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

Reason #12: I'm Liberal

Whoever would be Archbishop would need to be liberal, for the Church of England is liberal.

Now Christians who hold to traditional biblical doctrine often use 'liberal' in a derogative manner. But, I believe that Christians *should* be in liberal, and in two ways in particular.

First, we should be liberal politically. Which is not to say that we should be secular (as we have previously argued), but to say that the tolerance that people enjoy in Britain today comes not from Britain being in any sense a secular country (it is not) but from Britain being a Christian and therefore a liberal country, that allows people freedom of conscience within acceptable limits.

Second, we should be liberal intellectually. Which is to say that we should have confidence that the light of the truth will shine clearly when it is presented openly and reasonably. And we should, as 1 Peter 3:15 encourages us to do, be prepared to give a reasonable answer to everyone who asks why it is that we believe the gospel.

So we see that it is possible to be unashamedly 'liberal', without being ashamed of the gospel that Jesus died for our sins and rose again.

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.