Open-Air Mission annual meeting
How many Muslims came to your church last Sunday? How many atheists, new-agers, pagans, alcoholics or drug addicts listened to the message of God’s love and grace and Christ’s power to save, from the pulpit of your church? The answer is probably none; or very few.
The fact is most people in the UK don’t go to church to hear the message of salvation. Therefore, Christians must take the message of the gospel to them – in town and city centres, in streets, on beaches, in fairgrounds and on racecourses. That has been the work of the Open-Air Mission evangelists for the last 155 years.
On Saturday 18 October over 200 supporters of the mission gathered in Wigston, Leicester, to hear the evangelists report on another year of gospel outreach. It was thrilling to listen as one after another reported on the open-air witness.
Thousands of John’s Gospels, tracts and gospel booklets have been distributed to enquirers. The evangelists encounter needy souls from all levels of society, all age groups and many different ethnic backgrounds. Apathy and indifference are still much in evidence, but often people stop to listen to the preaching or take a gospel leaflet.
Visitors from overseas and young people are generally more open to truth than the older generation, who think they are good enough for heaven. Instances were given of those who had walked past an open-air witness seemingly uninterested or had stopped to argue with the preacher, yet the seed of God’s Word was sown in their hearts and they were subsequently saved.
In his report, the General Secretary emphasised that the Bible is central to the mission’s work. We stand with the psalmist, who said, ‘I trust in your word’ (Psalm 119:42). As Christians, we face opposition from two fronts. The academic world has brainwashed society into believing the lies of Darwinism, and civil authorities are increasingly trying to restrict open-air proclamation of the gospel. But God’s Word is our authority for the message we preach and the methods we use. Another year of open-air evangelism has abundantly demonstrated that the gospel is still ‘the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes’.