They had come to infiltrate the city–a shopping mall, a prison, the harbor area, coffee houses, pubs, colleges and street corners–with the Gospel of Christ as they witnessed, preached and invited the community to the Franklin Graham Festival. What the evangelists hadn’t counted on, but were delighted to discover, was that a contingent of Christians in Halifax was eager to learn from them.
Their first Friday night in Halifax, the evangelists made a late-night visit to Pizza Corner, an intersection home to three pizza places that cater to the city’s collegiate, after-bar, crowd.
Through his church, Randall had heard about the evangelists’ coming. He had become a Christian only eight months earlier, and street-witnessing was foreign to him. But curiosity drew him, along with several others from his church, to Pizza Corner to observe.
Martin Durham, one of the evangelists from England, remembers the evening well. “Marc was asking all sorts of questions [about witnessing], and I said, ‘Let’s go do it together.’” After Randall watched for a short time, Durham drew him into a conversation that he was having with a group of young men. A firm believer that evangelism training involves more than “shadowing,” Durham asked Randall to share with them how he came to know Jesus.
“It was amazing,” Randall says. “Martin shared Christ with them–just started talking to them–and then he asked me to share my testimony.” Randall admits that at the time he felt put on the spot, but he now looks back at the Pizza Corner night as the initial point when he stepped out for Christ. “That was the first time I did anything like that,” Randall said. “It was great! I got to share how I know Jesus.”
After the evangelists left Halifax, Randall had more of a desire than ever to speak out for Christ in his city. Randall’s pastor recognized a calling on Randall’s life and encouraged and worked with him over the summer to formulate a “street survey” with questions like, “What is your opinion of church?” “What is your opinion of Jesus Christ?” and “If you could ask God one question, what would it be?” Randall says others at his church were interested in the evangelistic survey as well, including youth, whom he began bringing out with him to take the survey.
‘How Can I Learn More?’
As Randall continued to share his faith on the streets of Halifax, he still had many questions about witnessing, as well as a growing burden to share his faith in a public forum. He e-mailed Jon Turner, another of the British evangelists he had met in Halifax, and requested some pointers. Turner copied Durham on his reply to Randall. Reading Randall’s questions, Durham, who has a flourishing street ministry on London’s west side, detected a teachable spirit. Remembering the Pizza Corner night in Halifax, he began to correspond with Randall.
“I was asking Martin about places where I could learn more,” Randall recalls, “about what schools I could go to.” The answer to his questions evolved into an invitation to come to England for an internship with Durham that would focus on evangelism–with London as Randall’s classroom. In September, Randall crossed the Atlantic to work side by side with Durham for four weeks.
Not exactly Pizza Corner in Halifax, Randall was hesitant his first Friday night out with Durham in London’s popular Ealing Broadway nightclub district. He was especially tentative when it came to the “proclamation” witnessing, which was part of the internship’s training. Durham passed his orange-crate podium to Randall, who for the first time, spoke out publicly for Christ before a group. After watching him preach, Durham says, “He stepped out and saw God moving, and that’s what fired him [up] for the rest of his time here.” From his experience with other interns, Durham says that it’s when young people are “out there” watching God at work–not sitting and listening to lectures and taking notes–that they get really excited for evangelism. “God puts the passion in people,” he says. “It’s not something you can manufacture or learn through [classroom] teaching.”
London Evangelism 101
One Saturday Durham brought Randall back to the same nightclub area, and the two witnessed to the minicab drivers waiting to pick up their Ealing Broadway passengers. Many of them are from Arabic/Muslim backgrounds, which gave Randall new challenges for witnessing.
On Wednesdays, Durham gave Randall special assignments. One Wednesday he sent him and another young evangelist to a racially diverse area of London. “Martin gave me 10 tracts and wanted us to engage with people, not just hand the tracts out.” The two evangelists witnessed and also invited people to “Christianity Explored” Bible studies. On Thursday evenings, Randall witnessed in the Hammersmith area at a housing complex for children with troubled backgrounds.
On Mondays Durham and Randall went through Robert Coleman’s book, “The Master Plan of Evangelism,” which emphasizes the importance of not only winning people to Christ, but discipling them so that they can go out and win people to Christ as well. Durham made clear to Randall that the time with him wasn’t just about preparing him to go back to Halifax to preach on the streets, but to instill in him the importance of “multiplying himself” so that others could be equipped in evangelism. Durham worked with Randall on spiritual disciplines and on his personal walk with God. Randall’s London experience also included prayer walks and meetings and an ecumenical outreach with eight other churches.
Randall said that a high point of his time in London happened just a few days after he arrived. Durham had asked him–again–to share his testimony with a group, but this time to a gathering that included international students who had come to Durham’s church for an evangelistic service. Immediately after Randall’s short testimony, a Korean woman came up to ask him more about Jesus and how she, too, could have a relationship with God. Randall walked her through BGEA’s “Steps to Peace With God” tract and then led her to Christ. Randall was amazed by the Holy Spirit’s working through his “most basic,” two-minute testimony. “It was beautiful,” he says.
Randall says that the time in London changed his life. “Being around people who are so passionate for Jesus, and where He was central to everything they did,” Randall reflects, “has made my life more Christ-centered.” He feels encouraged to pray and to read his Bible more and to encourage others to share their faith. The trip was life-determining in that Randall also feels the call now to step out in full-time evangelism.
After Randall returned to Halifax, his pastor interviewed him about his time in London in front of the church body. A 14-year-old, who had been out witnessing once with Randall before his trip, came up to him after the interview and asked excitedly, “When can we go out and do some more street evangelism?”