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Open-Air Mission returning to the streets

August 2020 | by JP Earnest

Back in March as the coronavirus pandemic gathered momentum, the Open-Air Mission committee (who oversee the work) suspended all open-air activity.

This decision, taken days before the ‘lockdown’ was imposed, sought to protect our workers, those we come into contact with and, ultimately, the gospel message we proclaim.

Thankfully, there were still many opportunities to share the good news online and using free literature boxes placed on garden walls belonging to our workers.

Having interpreted government legislation and guidance, and sought legal advice and clarification from various police forces, we began returning our workers to the streets from Monday, 22 June.

Then, from Monday, 6 July onwards, some of our associate workers recommenced street evangelism. Due diligence was given to drawing up new social distancing and hygiene procedures to facilitate a safe and legal return open-air work.

Guiding our approach was the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians, ‘Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ’ (Philippians 1:27a).

As citizens of heaven, we are to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of our citizenship. Our return to the open-air has been ‘prayerful and careful’.

We would never wish to risk the welfare of our workers or enquirers on the streets. Neither would we risk bringing the gospel of Christ into disrepute. Rather, we seek to bring glory and honour to our God in our conduct.

We have often heard it said, ‘Things are going to be very different.’ Open-air evangelism is no exception. Our measures are in force to protect our testimony before a watching world.

The committee keep these under constant review, looking to expand the work once more when we can. Upon returning to the streets we were met with many great encouragements.

Our workers reported very little opposition, meeting several who were genuinely seeking the truth. Perhaps Covid-19 has caused many to consider their priorities in life.

A young Asian man stopped to listen in Leicester (prior to the local ‘lockdown’ of July) and then engaged our staff evangelist, Paul Linnell, in conversation.

The young man said he believed in God and was very religious, yet he craved a personal relationship with God. Paul had the joy of pointing this young man to Christ — the only one who can remove our barrier of sin and bring us to God in a personal relationship.

Please pray for us as we take the gospel to the people, where they are.

JP Earnest