The last 3 or 4 occasions at S.B. were full of blessings. I cannot recall a single occasion where the Lord has not blessed. I usually only report every month or two.
I feel compelled to share a few special experiences from last Sabbath.
My friend Mark and I attended this time. After our display tables were up, for the first hour and a bit, things were very slow. There was little response and interest, which, had we allowed it, could have discouraged us – especially if we hadn’t done anything like this before. However, we know from experience that things generally change, so, we were expectant for some people to stop and check us out.
Before long someone stopped and then it all happened from there. (Anyone who has worked in retail, like I have, knows that you never can predict when a wave of people are going to flow in or whether it will be quiet.)
The Mormon Couple (Matt and Nicole): Groups of people (mostly south pacific Islanders) were walking past us and I found out they were Mormons. One of them told me they were participating in a walkathon to raise money for a mission project. Out of curiosity, some stopped by to see what we were doing, we gave some material out. Then a young blonde couple paused to see what we were doing and they decided to linger and chat for a while. Their names were Matt and Nicole.
Done Deal: When Matt realized we were promoting health principles, without being pushy he suggested I check out (Google) “The Word of Wisdom” to discover the true principle of health. He also invited me to their South Brisbane “temple” close by. Then I immediately knew he also must be a Mormon. Reaching for The Great Controversy, I said “I tell you what Matt, how about we do a deal; I will check out the word of wisdom (not that I really wanted to) if you will have a look at this book.” He agreed! It’s questionable as to whether he will read it or not, but I do feel his wife will watch some of the health DVDs she eagerly gathered from our health resource table. (Recently we decided to have one table featuring health materials and another table featuring the spiritual - which allows people to make a choice. Thanks to Mark who organized this it seemed to work quite well.)
Nicole started talking with me and said that she is a music teacher. She teaches the violin, the cello and other classical instruments. She also said she suffered from fibromyalgia. I mentioned I am a remedial massage therapist and that I have massaged people with that condition. Her condition is affected a little more by unavoidable postural imbalance while playing the violin. Interestingly she went on to say, one day while playing “E flat minor” (or E-flat? A little memory lapse) she felt a particular tight muscle release. I guess she was referring to the healing frequencies of certain musical chords…….So I had an enjoyable conversation with this communicative couple.
The Persian Man: Then there was a fashionable well-dressed character by the name of Eliezar (spell?). From the style of his neat-casual clothing, at first I thought this gentleman might be of French origin but he told me he was Persian. He was an avid reader and seemed to be open to new things. So I suggested a couple of books and DVDs and put them into a carry bag for him. He was very appreciative.
Peter: Then there was a familiar face named Peter. He is the middle-old age robust well-tanned cyclist that I mentioned in a previous mission report. I was so happy to see him again. Since I first met Peter, we have introduced some wonderful new resources and since he likes to garden I thought the outstanding “Back To Eden” gardening Documentary would be the perfect for him. (See my previous mission report blog “Drawn to something I never thought I’d love” for more on this DVD) I also gave him Luminesce. He is quite a character. Without hopping off his bike he said “Just put them in my backpack would you? And I will watch them” I asked if he had been reading the Bible we gave him and he said he had. (Some would have read in a previous blog that he never takes books that he never intends to read.)
Robert: Soon after this another cyclist pulled in, hopped off his bike to see what we were up to. His name was Robert. At first he came across as mildly contentious. He asked, “What’s all this about…. is this stuff religious? Then noticing a stack of 3 Bibles on the table he asked what translation they were. When I commented KJV…., he said, “The KJV has major flaws in it”. At first I was trying to work out his intention for saying this. Looking back now, I think perhaps he was just trying to test me out and see how I would respond. As it turned out, Robert knew little about the Bible. Anyway, I felt the Holy Spirit come upon me and impress me to go easy with Robert. It’s so true that, “A soft answer turneth away wrath but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). The Father impressed me to share some simple relational/gospel principles with him and he quickly began to mellow. Although, at first, he was skeptical and on the defensive, I could soon sense humble conviction setting in upon him. He seemed to have a typical New Age mystical/spiritual worldview believing that “all roads lead to God”. And I thought it best not to oppose this but just allow him the freedom to express and share his views. Besides, aside from his initial negativity, he was respectful, a good listener, and allowed me to share quite a bit with him.
After a level of trust was established Robert shared some personal trials he had been through. Because he was in no rush to go, I could sense a level of inquiry and conviction, I openly shared the gospel with him, and going by what seemed to be the beginning of involuntary tears in his eyes, the conviction deepened! He asked me if I believed in the existence of evil (Satan etc.). I said “Yes, absolutely and gave him a brief outline of the beginning of the controversy in heaven with Lucifer. Then he asked me if I knew any Bible references about Satan. I suggested he read Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 and he took out a pen and wrote down those references. Later I realized I could have given him more references in view of the following. I reached for a copy of The Great Controversy and recommended he read The Origin of Evil chapter, which had many other Bible references. I thought he would. I so wanted him to accept the book but I think he was wrestling with the whole idea and/or maybe he was not quite ready to take on an explorative path that far. And I had to respect that. However, I was very glad when he accepted “Back To Eden” and a health DVD. (Anyone who has seen Back To Eden will know exactly why!) So Robert left with some new, convicting and challenging thoughts for the day.
Buddhist lady: Then another happy spirited man came along with his lady friend. She was of a more serious personality and seemed very drawn to our resources and it was nice to see that he didn't seem to mind her doing so. The first thing she said brought delight and happiness to me. “Can I have a Bible”?! “Sure…” I said! So she chose one that suited her. She was also interested in our other books. She likes to read so I gave brief reviews for The Great Controversy, The Desire of Ages and The Ministry of Healing recommending these to her. I squeezed all these into a paper carry bag for her. She gave a donation of $10.00 to help make a dent in the cost. (We rarely receive donations so we rely on the Lord to impress people in the body of Christ to offer practical or financial support to keep this ministry going.) This dear lady’s name was Hai and the way she pronounced it sounded like Hi). She said she worked at the Brisbane hospital. Then she followed with something else that nearly bowled me over. She said, “I am a Buddhist”! Obviously she was not 100% content in her religion and looking for further light and truth. During conversing with Hai she wiped her eyes on a couple of occasions. I thought she must have some kind of air-borne allergy causing eye sensitivity. However, after we had finished and she turned to walk a way, I could see that this was not an allergy at all but these were real tears. The Lord really touched this woman’s heart. Please pray for precious Hai!
Young Jake the skateboarder: Then there was young Jake. Jake was a “cool” skateboarder I guess around 17 or 18 years old and we must have caught his attention. I adapted to his language and said, “Hey, give me a look at your board – then I reached over took it out of his hands and flipped it around….. and handed it back. I asked, “Do you skate in half-pipes?.....and I went on to say how a few years ago I was obsessed with skateboarding. He responded with, “yeah, so am I”. Anyway, this icebreaker worked and made it easier to shift his attention to our main purpose. Scanning our table he asked what many people ask and that is, “Is this religious?” and without hesitation I responded with, “We are not into religion, we are into Christ and the Bible but not religion because religion messes everything up” (This was a very simple version of the second angels message that I felt he could understand. I have found it often works effectively with older people also.) His response made me feel we had come to a good connecting point. He responded with “Yeah, it does doesn't it?!!!!! Now even more trust was established because traditional religion, with all its Babylonian doctrines (theological distortions of God’s character, eternally burning hell etc.) is a MAJOR obstacle between us and people and between them and God (this includes atheists), that need to be cleared out of the way in order for them to be less secretly or openly resistant! Perusing the table Jake’s keen eye noticed one of the DVDs about MONSANTO - the American multinational agricultural corporation and the world’s largest producer of herbicides and genetically engineered seed. And he said a few things against Monsanto I wouldn’t dare repeat indicating that he does not like the company at all and this made me realize this kid very informed for someone his age. I asked if he had seen the DVD and he hadn’t…… so I offered it to him along with one of the more important ones we use and that is Luminesce. Hopefully these seeds will not fall by the wayside in his teenage world but be planted in his fresh young impressionable mind. He said “Thanks dude” and then jumped on his board to catch up with his mates.
Something Better Than Thai
(Reaching Out To a Brother In Need.)
The last experience I want to talk about was not actually at S.B. It was something that took place while travelling home.
I had just missed the train in Brisbane so I had to wait another one and a half hours for the next (6:33) one ^_^. While travelling home different thoughts flooded my mind but I reflected mostly on the wonderful experiences of the day.
I am a bit of a greyhound (a lean guy with a high metabolism), had not had much for lunch and so I was feeling hungry and to be honest I was dreaming of eating some yummy Thai food at my favorite restaurant (Thai Seasons) in the Sunshine coast. But as it turned out, the Lord had something better in mind….. at least for then, and I’m not referring to the two large serves of French fries from 24/7 MacDonald’s - a poor substitute I do realize that I would later eat that evening. (Although I have English blood in me and I love potatoes, eating fries is something I very rarely do unless I can’t get anything more nutritious with a bit more colour and life!) Now I will share the experience that for me was “better than Thai”.
Noisy Unruly Youth Down the Back of the Bus: While travelling home an announcement was made that due to track work all customers need to disembark the train and board waiting connecting buses at the nest stop. I knew then my hopes of relishing my favorite dish that night were next to zero. So my mind went back to the experiences of the day. Eventually I boarded a nice comfortable cozy bus with others and we were on our way. Before long I heard in the back of the bus behind me the sounds of joking and jesting from a bunch of young men. The way they carried on in their loud laughter and profanity, in contrast to the quieter more conservative passengers, told me they had had a bit to drink that night although they didn’t seem to cause any real problem or threat. I could feel a deep love for these lost souls and I thought about how much Christ must love them and how He shed His precious blood for them to give them present life and must long for their complete salvation (1 Tim. 4:10; Rom 5:6-8, 18). I wondered how does one reach out to them?
Missed the turn off: The bus driver came to Palmwoods station and started off to the next, an after a minute or two of travelling down the road I wondered if he knew where he was going! I know Palmwoods and although I have a very poor sense of direction and I am not a good navigator, I had an impression something wasn’t quite right and that he should have turned earlier. I wasn’t wrong! It wasn’t long before the “clowns” down the back started piping up, saying, “Where in the world is he taking us?…. where the h___ are we? I had mixed feelings. I felt for the embarrassment of the poor bus driver but I couldn’t help laughing to myself at quite a very amusing situation. (I’m far from being an explosive or impatient a choleric, but I’m a bit too easy going at times.) The stirring youth down the back added to the distinctly choleric driver’s embarrassment and frustration. Finally, while approaching a “No Through Road” sign, fuming underneath, the bus driver apologetically announced “Sorry folks, ahrrr, I missed the turn off. He decided to pull into a long driveway in an attempt to turn around but the heavy wheels were digging into the drive and the youth carried on again. Now I really felt for the man. I then noticed silhouetted figures in the dark, the forms of surprised residents that came out of their home with flashlights to investigate the unusual event.
I had a brief word with the driver, stepped out of the bus and explained the situation to the residents. They were actually very considerate and they invited the driver to come up a parallel driveway and turn the coach around that way on their large property (fortunate that it was large!). At first the driver was reluctant - not wanting to tare up their driveway but with their persuasion he ended up conceding. He had managed to turn the huge vehicle around and we were close to our destination and the back seat boys had settled down a bit now. At this point God placed in my heart a deep love for all the people on the bus as I wondered what was going through their heads.
Just before the final stop a man who looked in his early thirties, realizing the lateness of the hour, asked the driver if there was any connecting buses to Gympie. The driver didn’t know and said he would need to enquire at the station. It was late and the situation for the man didn’t look good. I realized this man might not be able to get home. At this point one of the young men from down the back wandered down close to where I was seated and seemed to wonder why we were not frustrated with the driver. So I appealed to what I thought might be his unspoken sentiments and said, “Mate, it could happen to anyone hey? . . . . . I’m really grateful he got us here”; He nodded in agreement and I could see he was really thinking things through. But my mind was mostly focused on the man in front of me that needed to get to Gympie, which is 68 kilometers (a little over 42 miles) away from Nambour! When we disembarked the bus I decided I would follow behind the man and see if there was another connecting bus.
Working With Angels: Standing behind him without him knowing, I listened to the response of the Q-link bus and rail service lady. She said “Sorry, there are no more buses until tomorrow morning”! (I knew just how he must have felt. I am sure we can all identify with this.) I waited for three or 4 seconds to observe his reaction and then tapped in the shoulder, he turned around and I said, “Don’t worry, I’m going to get you home”. He was very happy and a little surprised and even more so when he realized an hour or two later I had gone way past my home in order to get him to his destination. (My home was only 10 minutes away from Nambour station not an hour’s drive north!) I guess we were both conscious of the fact that the only alternative for Nathan (I will call him) would be for him to either get a taxi (cab) home, and that would cost a small *fortune, or to sleep under a gum tree for the night or the other alternative is a hotel somewhere and it was getting a bit late for that. Afterwards I thought I could have invited him to my home but he may have felt a bit awkward about that.
I guess my motives for helping the man were 1) Primarily, unconditional compassion (1 John 4:11) for the man and his welfare 2) Concern for his eternal destiny (2 Cor. 5:14). Hence this would be an evangelistic experiment. My intention from the beginning was to plant at least one seed in his heart and allow God and other possible future encounters to grow and nurture that seed. But I realized the immediate situation would require great sensitivity and tact.
Nathan the Psychology Student/Federal Magistrate’s Son: We walked to my car and got in and got onto the highway. Naturally the conversation began with our individual career identities. He told me he had finished a degree in bio medical science and was currently doing a degree in psychology. That was a good start because, as I told Nathan, I am nearing completion of a diploma in professional counseling which contains a lot of psychology components so a large part of our conversation was on related topics. I told Nathan I work as a remedial massage therapist.
While driving him to his destination I was conscious I would need to definitely refrain from “preaching” or even speaking what might come across as “religious” jargon to him. I purposely avoided manipulatively taking advantage of the situation that could make him feel very uncomfortable and ruin any chances of successfully sowing that “one” seed. Not to say our conversation was un-stimulating: - to the contrary! I asked him about his father and he said he was a federal magistrate in S.A. but had passed away. I found out Nathan didn’t actually live in Gympie. His printer had broken down and he needed to print out and hand in a Uni assignment, which was due in two days time on Monday. Therefore he planned to use his “girlfriend’s” printer. I asked him about her and he said she was a school Teacher and single mother of three – two girls and a boy. Apparently he said her ex-husband had been “unfaithful” and had an affair with another woman and eventually left her. He let her in on his secret, of all days, on her birthday! This really shattered her. Nathan, never married, has won the heart of her and her children – but he told me it took time for them to trust him and believe that he would “not hurt Mommy like daddy did”. Listening to his story took up most of our conversation time. I believe there is a lot of wisdom in the famous book “How to win friends and influence people” that Christians can learn from and apply with good motives. I read the book several years ago and am only now trying to put the principle of showing interest in the other person into action. I must say it works. I believe there is a close connection between being other-centered and genuinely interested in people and divinely originating agape love. In counseling and psychology they refer to it as unconditional “positive regard” for the other person.
Nathan’s “Absolutely…Thank You So Much” Response: Before the beginning of the trip Nathan offered to pay me some money for fuel and I really didn’t say much then. He probably expected I would accept some money. But when it came time to drop him off, he pulled out a few notes that looked like 15 or $25.00 and I waved my hand and said something like, “It’s okay Nathan I am doing this as a favor for you, this is for free.” I expected he might be a little surprised but going by his demeanor and the look on his face it was like he was in disbelief, or to use a slang Aussie term, “gob-smacked”, thinking this doesn’t make sense and why did this guy do this?! (Today I happened to be in Nambour and I asked a waiting taxi driver what would the cost be to get to Gympie and he got out his calculator and with a straight face said, “$150.00” and I knew Nathan wasn’t in practice yet!) The tone of Nathan’s voice more than matched the verbal expression of his repeated gratitude. Now was the critical moment of my evangelistic “experiment” and I longed for what the DVD pointed to (the gospel of the kingdom) to find a place in his heart. I reached for a copy of Jonathan Otto’s Luminesce DVD and offered it to him saying, “Your wife’s a teacher, this guy’s a teacher and he talks about identity, the cause of teenage suicide and depression and psychological value issues that I think would interest you.” And then I took a brief calculated risk that I felt was necessary. That meant being open and honest with Nathan and letting him at least know beforehand that the presenter on the DVD was a Christian. He responded with a very sincere “absolutely . . . . absolutely, which flowed on back to his original gratitude by saying more than once, “Thank you, thank you so much ……” he then hopped out and watched me take off. Because his response was so extraordinary I immediately recognized it must have been influenced to a large degree by the kindness the Lord was showing him. I just chose to be channel for God’s grace and to allow HIM to manifest HIS character through me even though it initially required the decision to die to self. (It was a very little sacrifice to me.) I knew the love and care demonstrated to Nathan was not anything I naturally have inside me but something God puts inside of all His children.
Raising Children - The Noblest Kind Of Work: I don’t see myself, as having any extraordinary advantages or gifts. I possess some basic gifts, natural and spiritual, that by God’s grace I have cultivated and developed over time. I am a single man without the noble job of rearing a family so I guess that might make it a lot easier for me than others with these noble responsibilities of rearing and nurturing children for God’s kingdom. And there’s no greater and nobler work than that. However, I still want to appeal to those of you who may have never really come to the place of taking evangelical risks and experimented, even if it's a little bit, in the world of opportunity for reaching out to lost souls. I decided to share this story to show how easy it is, even amidst materialistic self-satisfied Australians. Start by sharing a thing or two about family and identity as that's something many can relate to.
IF you are prepared to simply place yourself in the other person’s shoes and IF you are prepared to be instrumental, focused, patient, hopeful and last but not least, very tactful. Try it and you’ll find aside from your favorite cuisine whether that’s Greek, Lebanese, Mexican, Italian, Indian or Thai, there will be times when your “meat and drink” will be to do the will of the Son and the Father that sent Him (John 4:34; 6:38). And sometimes being sustained by the meat and drink of reaching out to others we give them an opportunity to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).
That night, after wolfing down my later than usual snack from the golden arches, by the time I got home it was just past midnight and I had to work the next day. (I slept well with no unpleasant dreams by the way :-). Without question I can truly say what happened Sabbath/Sunday evening on the 4-5th of August 2012 in having the privilege of blessing a brother to whom Christ died for was something I will never forget, and something far better than my favorite Thai!
Going by Nathan’s positive reaction I feel it is a very good chance he will watch Luminesce and I am hoping out of curiosity Peta, his “girl friend” possibly wife to be, will watch it also and be profoundly moved by it also so that the Holy Spirit of God would impact their lives and hearts so that it will flow onto their children.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. – 2 Corinthians 4:6 - 11