United Beach Missions (UBM) ran ‘Christian Answer’ teams across the country during the summer months. Oxford and Cambridge proved once again to be unique missions, with unrivalled opportunities for gospel preaching in the open air.
What marks them out is the desire not to attack or ridicule, but to listen and genuinely consider the Christian message. There is still loud opposition at times, but it is relatively little and usually good natured.
From the first session, a crowd of listeners gathered, accepting Gospels and other literature offered from the front. Remarkable providential links were experienced. Many stayed after the talks to chat about the things they had heard.
Often the entire open air team of 15 were engaged in simultaneous conversation. We really needed a larger team to reach effectively all those who stopped to listen.
Those who stopped included a Chinese lawyer, who went for coffee with a team member. He had lots of questions and they talked for hours. The lawyer took a John’s Gospel which he made notes in.
A Muslim man from Bangladesh stopped, listened, took literature and asked to keep in touch. A religious lady, who had come last year having been recently widowed, came back. She was spoken to by the same team member who had prayed specifically that she would return.
‘It’s just a brilliant opportunity’, said Gill Evans, a biomedical scientist from Wigan who cooked for the team. ‘There are so many people out there in the cities that actually will never go in a church and hear the gospel message’.
One of the highlights for Gill was talking to a lady who had only been in the country two weeks. ‘It was the first time she had met Christians. She liked looking around our churches, but didn’t know anything of the Christian message. I was able to tell her of the Lord Jesus and give her a booklet in her own language’.
The team, who were in Oxford and Cambridge during June, came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including students, solicitors, a postman, a doctor, scientists, administrators and retired people. They were led by Graham Kneale, Andy McIntosh and Vinny Commons.