For a week in October, an Open-Air Mission (OAM) team went to centres in Darlington, Middlesbrough and Sunderland to witness alongside local evangelical churches.
There were five full-time OAM evangelists and a local associate worker who preached each day. There was also great support for the work from other local believers.
At the end of the week, the team calculated that around 90 personal conversations had taken place, and virtually all those individuals went away with a copy of John’s Gospel. Passers-by also took thousands of gospel tracts.
The first few days in Sunderland proved extremely hard. There seemed to be little interest in the message, but the mission evangelists’ experience has often been that, when there seems to be great resistance to the Word, the Lord often does something marvellous.
This proved to be the case with two people in particular – a young student from China and an elderly lady. The Chinese student was passing while evangelist Andy Little was witnessing.
Andy Little spoke to him about the historical truth of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and challenged the student to consider what he would do with this ‘new information’. Andy said, ‘I suggested that he go home and pray and ask the Lord to forgive and save him’.
Jimmy returned the following day, and told Mr Little that he had asked Jesus to be his Saviour and Lord. Jimmy is now in touch with a good local church.
The elderly lady said she attended church occasionally, but had felt constrained to go more often recently, as one of her grandchildren had been ill. She was challenged about the difference between knowing about someone, i.e. the Lord Jesus, and actually knowing him in a personal way. She saw the point and went off with a tract.
When she returned the next day, a team member said there seemed to be a real seriousness about her. She acknowledged that she was a sinner and said that she wanted to call to the Lord there and then. She was directed to a good evangelical church near to where she lived.
This dear lady went on her way rejoicing, with a Bible in hand, as well as other suitable literature to help her. In Middlesbrough, team leader Keith Bullock had an emotional encounter with a middle-aged lady called Wendy. Sheasked, ‘Why did my dad commit suicide when I was just a teenager?’
She then stormed off into a shop. He waited for her to come out, as he was keen to share with her his experience of his own father committing suicide some years before. Mr Bullock engaged her in conversation and she poured out her heart, also telling him that her husband had had a fatal accident when her children were quite young and she had had to raise the family herself.
Eventually, she listened intently as the message of the Bible was shared with her. Before she left, Wendy received a John’s Gospel and said that she was going to do some research.
Mr Bullock told her he would pray for her and she seemed quite moved by this. We trust that the Lord will deal graciously with Wendy and that her ‘research’ might result in her being saved.