(Patrick and brother Enrique in Nottingham city centre)
“No, thank you” / “Yes, please”
“because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved”
(2 Thessalonians 2:10b)
“[the Bereans] received the word with all readiness of mind,
and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so”
You may ask, “What do you say when offering passersby a tract?” Well, we all have our own style, and circumstances often dictate what we can say. When people flow is calm and there are only a few strolling by, there’s more time to say, “Would you like a gospel tract?” “Here’s a message from the Bible” “Something for you to read,” but in very busy places sometimes it’s tough to even say “gospel message” fast enough, as people rush by, with tracts sometimes handed out like hotcakes and sometimes with a string of rejections.
Nevertheless, the most common reaction by far is “No, thank you,” and sometimes we hear it so often that we barely notice. Still, we wonder if that answer will ring at the Great White Throne Judgment and in that soul’s mind for eternity. We know that some are naturally wary of strange teachings and systematically reject street literature. But the banner should give people a clue as to where we stand … and of course, if they really were worried, shouldn’t they stop to engage?
In mid-March, we took a break from our usual obligations and gathered together in Nottingham for an outreach that we could describe as short but sweet. Nottingham is in the East Midlands region of England and is most famous for the Robin Hood legends, but we were visiting to bring the gospel to the city to the extent possible in three full days of outreach.
Once again, we were greatly blessed with rain-free days (well, almost). There was a bit of wind and sleet (bone-chilling to some), but otherwise the sun shone a good amount and the rest of the time was still pleasant.
Reception was very good, although most people did not bother to have even the briefest of conversations, which is the main purpose of our on-site outreach. Our prayer is that the rest will take a look at the Ex-Catholics website and spend some leisurely time looking into what the Bible says and comparing it to their current beliefs. We pray for conviction of their sinful state and for an understanding of the grace and mercy found at the cross of the Lord Jesus.
Since Sunday was the 17th of March, St. Patrick’s Day, there were plenty of people with green top hats, out for a pub crawl or some sort of similar entertainment. It was sad to see that some were even dragging their children along. It seems that the average person’s motto is: “Work hard, play hard,” reminiscent of 1 Corinthians 10:7b: “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”
We were reminded that Patrick was actually not Irish (but Scottish), not Catholic (but anti-Catholic) and certainly not in favour of all these activities, as he was a fervent servant of the Lord from a Christian family in Scotland, originally captured as a young boy and sold into slavery to a chieftain in Ireland. There, he cried out to the Lord and was saved, later escaping and eventually returning to evangelise the island and resist Rome’s efforts to establish the papal religion in Ireland.
One of our more interesting conversations was outside a fast-food place. A young man came out and recognized the words on our rolled up banner and stopped to chat. He seemed at first to be quite interested, claimed to be saved but still seemed to understand the gospel only in part and only in theory. Still, we were a bit alarmed at his quick admission (almost boasting) to smoking and drinking with no apparent guilt. Things got a bit heated despite our efforts to go to the heart of the issue, and eventually we departed.
We had another conversation with an older lady who said she was not born again, but thought she was “born into it,” an interesting way to put it. We briefly discussed what being born again meant and encouraged her to read the Gospel of John, but the cold winds kept her from a longer conversation.
We had a short conversation with a young guy who said he used to be an atheist but had become caught up in the demonic world, where he realised the spiritual world really did exist. He apparently exited soon after and started to read the Bible. He seemed to be perhaps saved and understood the importance of the blood of Jesus Christ; we encouraged him to read his Bible every single day, even if only briefly, and to meditate on it and apply it as best he could. Please pray for him.
One lady received the tract, then deliberating tossed it in the air onto the floor with a fling. We just said, “If you don’t want it, just give it back please!” Most people will actually give it back kindly, without the arrogance or hostility of this person.
An older gentleman loved our literature and got out a tiny notebook to copy the Bible reference (Isaiah 55:6) but did not accept the tract. We asked him if he had a Bible, and he answered “too many,” so we encouraged him to read it and perhaps give the other copies to people who need one.
Another interesting encounter was with the rubbish man at the car park where we had trouble with the machine for paying. He very kindly helped us get it all sorted out, and we gave him a tract and told him, “This is to keep, not for the rubbish!” and he was thankful. We imagine he does not usually get things for himself!
James also spoke with a friendly local charismatic pastor who was thrilled to see us on the streets of Nottingham.
In the end, we gave out all the tracts we had brought, approximately 1300-1500, and were encouraged by the lack of hostility. We estimate that the banner was seen by 5,000 or 10,000 people, as all the pedestrian areas were quite crowded, both on the weekend and during the workweek. As true of all of England, there were a fair number of foreigners, most of them more open to literature than the English.
All in all, we were blessed with a good outreach, with great daily King James Bible studies in which James recorded volume 2 of his study looking at the complete prophecies of Christ and naturally great fellowship. Our prayer is that the Lord will water and grow the seed that was sown, and may He alone be glorified is all He does!
Here are some of the most curious comments:
–If anybody doesn’t know where to go, send them to our church
–“I believe in Satan” (answer: Believe in the Lord instead!)
–I’m an —— atheist… (accompanied by spitting near us)
–What’s this? A message from God? I’ve already had a message from God, I love Him to bits!
–(Boyfriend:) No, I’m good (Girlfriend:) Well, I want one!
–I’m alright… no, you know what? I’m going to take it!
–No, I’m drunk, no thanks.
–That’s a —— laugh!
–What church do you go to? (we got this comment at least five times)
–No, thanks, I’m good (many times)
–No, not today (but 2 Cor. 6:2b says, “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”)
–I love the Lord too, I’m born again too; lovely work again
–You have to prove His existence first (answer: “He already has! That’s the easy part”)
–I’m already signed up with Jesus
–Thank you for what you’ve done
–I’m already a Christian (answer: well, give it to someone else)
Yes! Amen and amen!