Reaching out in Leeds
There is something about doing open-air work which produces all sorts of emotions in God’s people – weakness, inadequacy and fear on the one hand; excitement, boldness and joy on the other. But whatever we feel, the Lord Jesus Christ has commanded us to, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel’.
Part of that world is the city of Leeds, with a population of one million. Four Open-Air Mission (OAM) evangelists and one trainee were in Leeds city centre each day for a week at the end of May, preaching in the open air, supported by several local believers.
The team stayed at Garforth Evangelical Church. The men spoke at several local churches on the Lord’s Day and then at open airs through the week.
There are, no doubt, a variety of reasons why people are in Leeds centre in the early afternoon, but they come across the preaching that the Lord is sovereignly bringing them to hear. We know that God’s Word will always prosper, and the gospel is the power of God to salvation to all who believe. We can never underestimate the work that the Lord may be doing in people’s hearts when the gospel is proclaimed.
People stopped to listen, sometimes from a distance and sometimes close up. Others just walked past, seemingly unaware of the preaching; and some were hostile in their comments. There are always different reactions. During the week there were many conversations with those who stopped by.
A young Thai lady, who was a Buddhist, believed she must visit the temple and try to get to certain attainment levels, in order to get to ‘heaven’. She said she is on level 5, with level 8 being perfection. What a joy it was to tell her that the Lord Jesus has done everything necessary on our behalf so we don’t need to earn a place in heaven. She went away with a copy of John Blanchard’s booklet Ultimate questions in her own language.
There was another young lady who was a student at the university. Although only 24, she had a drink problem. Debbie sat listening to much of the preaching. She shared that she had survived a suicide attempt two weeks before. She said,’There is something missing in my life and I don’t know what it is’, and was told that it was Christ that she needed.
Debbie had lots of questions about the Bible and church.She looked at the 10 Commandments in the Bible one by one and said ‘Guilty’ to each one. She didn’t try to blame God for her situation.
Debbie knew she had brought this mess on herself. She said that she had begun the conversation as a complete sceptic, but now really wanted to know more about Jesus. We later arranged for the mission office to send her a Bible. She seemed thankful for the conversation.
On the Tuesday evening and Thursday afternoon and evening there were further visits to local churches. On Wednesday we had the opportunity to share the gospel with around 25 people who live in the red light district of Bradford at a meal hosted by Sunbridge Road Mission. The folk listened soberly; earlier that day the police had arrested a man suspected of the murder of three prostitutes.
The highlight of the week was when a man called Shane came across the preaching as the speaker was finishing his message. He said earnestly, ‘I’m a sinner. I deserve punishment from God for my sins. Help me!’
One of the team spoke with him, explaining the gospel further. After some conversation, Shane at his own request asked the Lord Jesus to be his Saviour. We have linked him up with a local church near where he lives.
Well over 100 serious conversations took place during the week and around 50 John’s Gospels, plus other literature, were given away. Only eternity will reveal all that the Lord has done from this week of outreach in the Leeds area. We give thanks to God for these wonderful opportunities.