2- Connect with people

To search or not to search?

There’s a view out there that we don’t need to make a special effort to find people far from God. You don’t need to add something to your already busy life. Just do what you normally do. Hang out with the people you know and the opportunities will come to you — or not.

Then there’s the view that Jesus was always on the move from place to place, like a shepherd looking for lost sheep. My friend Grant takes the second view. Here’s a story from his latest newsletter:

A friend and I were preparing to go out to parks, believing God will lead us to people whom He has prepared to hear the gospel.  

As we were praying and asking God to lead us, I remembered an Iranian couple we had met two weeks prior. I believed God wanted us to again go to that same park to meet the couple and share Jesus with them.  

As we arrived we looked around but could not see anyone, then over under a tree I saw an older couple whom I recognised; it was the elderly Iranian couple. We walked over and reconnected with them. As we shared more about Jesus, Muhammad said, “I have read many stories of Jesus in Iran and I love Jesus but I cannot follow him because I am Muslim”.  

He went on to say, “In Iran if you follow Jesus and the government find out they will put you in prison or even kill you.  This is what happens to people there”.  

My friend and I began sharing how he didn’t need to give up his culture to follow Jesus and then shared a simple message through drawing a picture that illustrated who Jesus is and how we can be made right with God by going through Jesus. I then shared how Jesus had lead us to the park that day as He had wanted us to share this message with Muhammad and his wife.  

When I said this Muhammad said, “Really!  Really?  Jesus sent you here today?” I said yes and told him that Jesus wants Muhammad to know him. At the point Muhammad had tears rolling down his cheeks and a great joy came across his face.  

We ended our time by praying with Muhammad and his wife, giving Muhammad a big hug and arranged to meet him again and share more Jesus stories with him and his wife.

Healing on the streets - Alan Scott reports in

Alan Scott

Alan Scott

Healing on the Streets was birthed and pioneered by the Causeway Coast Vineyard on the streets of Coleraine in Northern Ireland in Easter of 2005. Adopted by many churches the Healing on the Streets model has spread around the world. It’s a gentle, non-confrontational way of connecting with people on the streets of our cities and introducing them to Jesus.

Causeway Vineyard website

Alan Scott reports that over the last 20 months almost 4,500 people have come to faith in their Northern Ireland community. That’s an average of around seven people a day.

Alan has some reflections on what is happening:

Our greatest impact is among those people - and in those areas - that historically have been difficult for churches to reach: the urban poor are most responsive. There seems to be particular favour among those who have never encountered faith, those struggling with addiction, single mothers, long term unemployed, those living on council estates and those wrestling with systems of poverty.

Unfortunately conversions on street don’t necessarily result in discipleship.

Disappointing levels of church connection: the miracle question has not led to massive connection. Whilst almost 4500 people have come to faith, we estimate that just under one seventh of those have connected in local churches.

Read the full report.

Let’s celebrate what God is doing through Healing on the Streets, not just in Coleraine, but in all the other churches they have inspired and trained.

I’m impressed that Alan is tracking the impact of the ministry in conversions and disciples. He’s also reporting the drop-off between the two and wondering how the gap can be closed.

Let’s just soak this in for a minute, a local church goes out into its community and offers to pray for people and share Jesus. Consistently, every week for 20 months people are coming to Christ.

Now here’s what we all need to do, before you start theorising about the gap between conversions and disciples, go and do likewise. Follow their example, follow Jesus’ example, and find people far from God. Offer to pray for them. Ask them if they would like to know more about Jesus.

Then we’ll talk about narrowing the gap between professions of faith and discipleship.

Taking Easter to your neighbourhood

Here’s what Dave and his team have been doing in the lead up to Easter:

We began visiting people last Wednesday.

Here’s what we did:

  1. Greeting: Hi my name is Dave and this is Fred, we are meeting our neighbours over this Easter period and wanting to share a little of the Easter blessing by giving a simple gift. Can we offer you this gift?
  2. Give the Gift if they are OK to receive. (we gave 5-7 small easter eggs in cellophane with a ribbon, Nice!)
  3. Question listening and Dialogue: We are wondering also if people have an opinion about Easter. Do you have an opinion about Easter? (Or you could ask “What do you think is the spiritual significance of Easter?)
  4. Prayer: After some discussion and interaction if you hear about a need offer to pray or: “We are also looking to bless our community with prayer at this time. If God was to meet a need of yours or of your family, what would that be? Can we pray that now?”

We now have thirteen people to follow up. We plan to follow up by telling a Bible story, bridging to a simple gospel presentation, finding out if they want to know more, inviting them to a Discovery Group in their neighbourhood.

Dave

It’s not too late to give it a try in your neighbourhood.

Q. What would Jesus do about Islam? A. Move towards the chaos.

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Everyday I get up and expect a new atrocity somewhere in the world related to the rise of radical Islam. We’re not just talking about the Middle-East this is a global reality from Nigeria to Indonesia to England to Yemen.

We can argue about whose fault it is. We can debate whether Islam is an inherently violent religion.

I want ask, what will it take to spread the gospel throughout the Isalmic world so that muslims discover for themselves the good new of Jesus.

These are days of great tragedy and horror. They are also days in which the light of the gospel shines even more brilliantly against a dark background. I once asked some workers who had gospel movements among muslims what they were learning. “Move towards the chaos” was their answer. Go to where the trouble is and expect an open door.

What did Jesus tell us to expect right up until the very end of history? Trouble. 

Expect trouble in this world. Expect triumph in this world because Jesus has overcome it. Expect suffering because his victory came through the Cross.

What would Jesus “do” about Islam? He’d move towards the chaos looking for people God has prepared. 

Coffee with Peter Ronnefeldt

Pavilion 

Peter Roennfeldt was in town yesterday so came out to see me. We took a walk in rain around the lovely Victoria Park and then sat down for coffee at the Pavillion by the lake.

Peter has been in Bosnia encouraging church planters. As he does all over the world.

He met up with one couple who were well connected in their region but had see very little fruit. He asked them what do you do once you’ve established a relationship? How do share with them?

They weren’t too sure. It’s a common problem. We think presence is enough. Somehow by osmosis people will come to faith. Say nothing and let your life speak. No one comes to faith, but at least we’re being faithful.

So Peter taught them a simple method of Discovery Bible reading groups. Then they hit the road and started visiting the contacts the couple had established.

They went from household to household throughout the district visiting 40 homes.

After two weeks the couple had started 30 Discovery Bible reading groups.