In February, we had our long awaited open air services. Every year we set a month aside to conduct open air services for a full month, Monday to Friday. By the last Friday, we were exhausted. It was a long and tiring month of gospel preaching, but it was good to know why our bodies felt so tired. We were encouraged thinking about the many missionaries toiling for the Lord in countries where their lives are at risk every time they share the gospel, and here we were able to stand in the public and boldly proclaim Jesus through loudspeakers.
This reminds me of when we first started with these month-long open air services 4 years ago. As one of the brothers was giving his testimony, a gang member gave another gangster a gun to shoot the brother that was testifying. The brother that was leading the service saw this exchange, and with godly wisdom, took the microphone and said that there might be someone here ready to kill someone, but God can see him. The gangster came out from amongst the crowd weeping and confessing his intentions, asking for prayer that the Lord would change his life. That same gangster is serving the Lord today. God has amazing ways of drawing sinners to Jesus!
Now, back to our month of open air gospel preaching in the streets of Bellville South. Let me explain how we go about doing this. First, we identify the areas with the most gang activity and highest concentration of drug dealers and prostitutes. These are the most violent areas in Bellville South. The community knows us in these areas and it’s fairly safe for us to go into them. Once we’ve identified the area where we want to preach the gospel, we find a house that is willing to supply us with electricity for a week. We buy the electricity and the family that provides us with electricity benefits, since most of the people are unemployed and struggling. We will then stay in that location for a week (Monday – Friday), preaching repentance – Jesus Christ and Him crucified! At month’s end, we have reached 4 areas, preaching the gospel to people that would never put their foot in a church.
There are always those who scoff at our preaching and make rude remarks at us while we preach, but there are also those who bring out their chairs or a crate to sit and listen to the gospel. During our first week of preaching, there was a young 19 year old girl that came out every night to listen to the preaching of the Word. She has since come to every night’s preaching and has come to church every Sunday. She even joined our Sunday evening Discipleship Class. She comes from an environment where her whole family is drinking and her uncles are gangsters and drug dealers. Her mother is one of the most feared women in Bellville South.
She has a desire for the Lord and asked me what she must do to be saved. I had the privilege to pray with her, and encouraged her to keep on calling on the name of the Lord – to repent and believe the gospel. We can already see fruit that is befitting repentance. She has a hunger for the Word of God and a love for the people of God that was never there before. She has turned away from the wicked lifestyle that she used to enjoy.
Her mother does not want her to follow Christ and has put her out of the house. She used to be close to her mom when they were drinking together, but now her mother is cursing her. Her mother told her that she hopes her daughter loses her job and gets raped or murdered by the gangs. She told her that as long as she is with the “church people” she is dead to her. Please pray for her. Jesus promised that the gospel will divide families, and He demands that we forsake loved ones and follow Him. I am honored to say that this 19 year old girl has forsaken all to follow Him. Oh, the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
During our last two weeks of preaching, we had quite a number of the community packing out chairs to come listen to the gospel. The last three nights of preaching were particularly windy and cold, but people still came out with their chairs and blankets to listen to the Word of God. The Sunday after our last day of preaching, a woman and her nephew visited our church. This woman was one of those who came out every night to listen to the Word. She wanted to know what she must do to be saved. She wanted Jesus to save her. She came weeping over her sin. Hallelujah! This is why we do it! For Jesus to be glorified in the salvation of sinners! She gave us her contact information and wanted to know if we have mid-week Bible studies or prayer meetings, and asked us to please fetch her for these meetings. Oh, what a merciful Savior we serve!