Tim with Lorraine and Clare in Townsville… Read their stories below!
Over recent months I have continued to transition into a broader role of training others to share the gospel and make disciples. This includes Airds but also a growing number of teams in areas such as Auckland, Townsville, Canberra, Adelaide, Macquarie Fields, Doonside, Marsfield, Glenmore Park and on.
I have become convinced that in order for more Australians to be following Jesus we need to significantly increase the number of Australians who hear the gospel and are given a chance to respond. How many Australians will hear the gospel today? The number of people that make a decision to follow Jesus will most likely never exceed the numbers who hear the gospel! “Faith comes through hearing the message… Romans 10:17”
The pressing issue is to radically increase the numbers that hear, “And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? Romans 10:14”
The problem with the harvest has never been with God! He has done all that is required in Jesus. He has sent the Holy Spirit. Why aren’t more Australians following Jesus?
Please pray with me for many more workers (sowers) to be equipped with confidence to share the good news of Jesus with family and friends and those they meet. “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Matthew 9:38”
In Sydney, Anglicans have had the goal of seeing 10% of Sydney’s population in bible-based churches in 10 years. That requires an increase of more than 400,000 people in Sydney following Jesus. How many people would have to hear the gospel for 400,000 to begin following Jesus? Where was the strategy to radically increase the numbers of those hearing the gospel? We didn’t think they were going to just “come to church” one Sunday morning did we? Did we think that if we did a better job of welcoming visitors that they would encounter Jesus and follow him did we? Maybe if we plant a few more “attractional” churches among young professionals like us?
Those 10 years are nearly over and my understanding is that the Sydney Anglican church’s growth in that period has just slightly been ahead of population growth – nowhere near the goal of reaching 10% of the population!
I love the goal, and I think, under God, it is possible to achieve. But how?
According to Luke 10 Jesus sends out the 72 and tells them to “Ask” and then “Go!” Why don’t we try that?
In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says, “Go” not “come”. He’s says to share with “all” not just “some” and he says to “make disciples” not just “church members”. Is the Great Commission just a suggestion or is it a command? Is it just for some or is it for everyone?
I feel better now that I have had my little rant…
I want to share with you why I am so encouraged and excited about these simple things. I am excited by hearing stories of ordinary people finding the confidence to share the gospel and the stories of those who believe because of their witness. Please pray with me that waves of powerful evangelist will be equipped and will train people in Sydney, all over Australia, and beyond.
As mentioned above I have been training people in Townsville – Anglicans! Below is an interview I did with Clare and Lorraine’s story. Please pray for Clare, Lorraine and other ordinary people being trained.
Clare: My mother and I always went to church and then I left school at sixteen and went to work. When I was eighteen an old school friend and I went to Brisbane for 10 days in 1958. We went on the Sunlander train and we stayed at Selby house on Wickham terrace. A cousin of mine came and had a meal with us and I said to him, “What religion are you?” And he said, “I’m a Christian Clare.” My friend Margery got all excited and said, “I’m a Christian too!” Then I thought, “Well Margery you’re Methodist.” Anyway I queried what he meant by saying ‘I’m a Christian’ and he said, “Well maybe you would both like to come and talk to a friend of mine and he’ll explain what it is to be a Christian.” So we went with him and that day I made a decision for Christ. It was a very significant time in my life.
Tim: Clare, can I ask you when you made that decision, when you were eighteen, what happened? What did you experience? What changed for you?
Clare: I felt forgiven. I felt as though I had been washed clean. And it was a significant change in my life. I felt that I could look ahead with much more comfort then I had been able to have previously.
Tim: Now last month I came up to Townsville and we had our first training week and you came along. Can you tell me a little bit about why you came along and what you experienced?
Clare: I came along to the training and we learned how to introduce people to the Gospel in a very gentle way. First by saying, “Do you have any spiritual belief?” There are 5 questions that I feel are so much better then saying “Are you born again?” or “Have you made a decision for Christ?” because they are so much more gentle and I thought “Wow, this is really good!”
Tim: So why did you decide to come to the training?
Clare: I have led one person to Christ since I was eighteen (Clare is now 73 years old) and that was my neighbour who was dying. I would dearly have loved to introduce other people to Christ but I have never been able to; all I’ve been able to do is be friendly when people come to Church, make sure they meet other people at church, have someone home for a meal, and make them feel welcome that way. So this was a big step for me.
Tim: So I think you had said to me before that you felt that you had lacked the confidence to do that.
Clare: Yes I did, and I really didn’t know how to do it.
Tim: So how did the training change that for you?
Clare: Well I still felt a bit tremulous about it but I sat down with my husband and I took him through the gospel including the 5 questions. He did the little readings, which was fine, then I asked him the diagnostic questions from the ‘Share Jesus Without Fear’ New Testament and he ended up by saying the sinner’s prayer. And I thought, “Well that went ok,” so I went to visit two of my neighbours and I said I had just learned a simple way to share the good news about Jesus and I was practicing and would they mind if I spent a little time with them asking them a few questions? They were quite happy; both of them went right through, said the little prayer at the end, and spoke about their lives. They talked about things I had never heard before.
Tim: And how did that feel for you by being able to share the Gospel with them and help them place their faith in Jesus?
Clare: That felt really good. I went over there rather anxious, but thought “I’ve really got to do something; I can’t just rock up in a week’s time and be asked ‘What have you done?’ and say I’ve done nothing. I’ve known these people for 40 years; perhaps it might be easier for me to talk to them rather than other people in my group of friends.”
Tim: Did you have a sense that God had prepared the way for you and prepared their hearts?
Clare: I did when it went so well, because I did pray beforehand. I was surprised at how easy it was! Once I started asking the questions and they were willing to answer and share, I relaxed.
Tim: So where to from here, do you think?
Clare: I have a few friends and also people within our church that I would like to share the Gospel with. I also help at a playgroup at our church where there are quite a few mums there that I feel I would particularly like to share Jesus with.
Tim: And you now feel like you’ve got a simple way to do that and you found the confidence in God and in His Gospel to do that?
Clare: Yes, still with a little bit of a tremble but I just think that this is such a gentle way to introduce Jesus.
Tim: I don’t know if that little bit of a tremble ever goes away.
Claire: No it doesn’t
Tim: And that’s probably a good thing because it reminds us we need to rely on him and we’ve got to go prayerfully and it’s His work. Anything else you want like to add?
Clare: Just God is great! Just rely on Him every day, and I can’t imagine life without Jesus and without His grace.
About 3 years ago, I began witnessing to people in the supermarket where I work, and anywhere else I found an opportunity, and now after training with Tim and his team from the Church Army, I feel confident, while working with others from our Heatley Ascension Church in Townsville, that we can really make a difference in this community.
I have been attending Ascension for over 5 years now, but since I began this training, I have noticed, that I have a better relationship with those involved in the training, growing together in friendship and love. I also feel blessed to be able to get to know people in our community of Townsville who are so friendly and eager to learn more about having a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I am so amazed when going out door to door to find so many people hungry for Christ and needy for prayer. People are so lost, searching for peace and love, not knowing how to find it. The first Saturday that we started our visiting, two people of the first two houses, gave their life to Christ. Another man, a non-believer, accepted prayer. A few of the people were church goers that don’t go anymore, but accepted prayer or communion. We met a lot of people that invited us into their homes for prayer. The love we are sharing about how God loves them is amazing.
My older brother believes in God, but isn’t committed to prayer or church or anything really. He came for a holiday to stay with me in June and as much as I talk about God to him, and bought him a bible about 7years ago, I have never thought about asking him, if he had the opportunity, would he be interested in giving his life to Christ. I plucked up the courage this time, (it’s now or never I thought) and he actually gave his life to Jesus and is now praying for his wife who is a non-believer. We are now often on the phone sharing more about God.
I feel with Gods help, I can plant the seed by using my knowledge and training from the Church Army to bring people to Christ. As the great commission says in Matt 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you and be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
After just turning 60, I am happy to commit for the rest of my life to go out and change peoples’ minds, leading to a change of heart, resulting in a change of direction. How else can we expect to save the lost?
Yours in Christ,