The team has been connecting with the people of Newtown on the streets, in cafes and pubs, at churches and schools. Excitement, disappointment and amusement: Newtown has provided it all. Here are some (usually truncated) descriptions of a few of our interactions so far.
A team member on meeting with a girl who approached her in a cafe to read the Bible:
“She’s very wary of anything institutional. It was a positive chat though. And I think we’re… well, friends!”
A team member who walked by the contact table at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre as an international student was checking it out:
“I walked by the table and there was an international student from China there. We went and had ice-cream together, we chatted forages. I invited her to Barneys because they have a good international students’ bible study there. She messaged me around midnight last night, to let me know that her grandfather has just passed away. She might not go to the Bible study tomorrow night, because that seemed a bit overwhelming for her, but we’re meeting up tomorrow.”
A team member on door-knocking around Hollis Park:
“When I said I was from Moore College this person was very interested in what was going on with the building on the corner. They thought we might we shutting down. I could see the disappointment in their faces when I told them that we were making it bigger!”
Wisdom from a local church minister on how to engage with people who ask for money in the street:
“I’m accountable to help people out – they’re accountable for their deception… Erring on the side of giving is something I’m learning.”
One reaction to being offered an invitation to look at some info on a table at the Neighbourhood Centre:
“Not a chance!”
Reflections of a team member who went down to the local Greek Orthodox church to find out what they do:
“The art was stunning… Then the service started and I couldn’t escape. It was one and three quarter hours. The ladies up the front got a lot of business with the crossing of themselves. They stay very fit.”
A team member on going to the pub and sitting down next to a stranger:
“I sent Jimmy to go sit down with him while I went and ordered some chips that we could offer him. It came out that he’d emailed St Stephen’s to ask whether he could be baptised. I don’t think he’s a Christian, but he’s going to be meeting with one of the ministers soon to discuss the implications of getting baptised. He just wants some sort of grounding point in his life. He thought it was amusing that I was studying theology. He said to me, ‘farewell, Father,’ as we left.”
An interchange during some door-knocking around Hollis Park:
Resident: I recognise your face!
Team member: Ah… from where?
Resident: You’re the local member, aren’t you?
Team member: No… I’m from the bible college up the road.
Resident: Oh, so you know Greek then? οὐ ψευδομαρτυρήσεις κατὰ τοῦ πλησίον σου μαρτυρίαν ψευδῆ. Do you know what that means?
This man grew up in the Catholic church, and post-retirement, took himself to Sydney Uni to learn ancient Greek. It appears he’s a committed Christian, and he’s said he’ll be at our picnic on Saturday when we can chat to him more!
After our day off today, the team is looking to have many more conversations – sharing the gospel where we can, inviting people to our picnic on Saturday and to the local churches over Easter. Please pray for us and Newtown!