Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, brimming with over 1.6 million people (a third of the whole country!). With over half the population affiliating with other religions or identifying as non-religious, Auckland is a city that is thirsty for the gospel. Below is a letter from Brodie, a fifth year medical student who decided to spend a couple of weeks on our Urban Summer project to help train others share the gospel in Auckland.
Urban Summer is a short term project run by Student Life. This year we had 28 students based in Mount Eden doing outreach in the Auckland CBD for 12 days. We had free drink stations on Queen St and in Mission bay, as well as pairs of students who approached people in our cities’ green spaces. Overall we engaged with 1500 people: we had spiritual conversations with 917 people, 129 people heard the gospel, and 15 people made a decision for Christ!
Every morning we had training, prayer, and then packed our bags with church connect cards and plenty of water. After lunch we would head onto the streets, having conversations with people who were generally open to talk about spirituality. We used apps like “God tools” “Soularium” and “Perspective” to engage with people and share the gospel.
One of our main questions used when talking to people is “who do you think Jesus is?” and we usually started spiritual conversations by asking “do you have any spiritual beliefs or background?”
I had a number of interesting conversations with people ranging from locals, to German tourists, to a man we met on the streets called Derek. Derek had been on the streets for 2-3 months. He was waiting to hear back from a housing agency regarding his application for accommodation.
Simon, Antony and I got him a meal and we sat down to chat. When we asked him to tell us about himself, Derek told us that he’d been through some tough times in his life but that he loved the Lord. He was a year younger than my father and had been involved in a rehabilitation program recently. He was working on sorting out his life and getting back on his feet.
God really used my conversation with Derek to challenge my heart. I’ve often felt that some people have such great worldly need that I’d wonder whether knowing Christ will give them all they truly need. But as we spoke with Derek he said “This is the true church, this is true fellowship; to sit and talk with brothers.” He was appreciative of the food that we had got him but his heart’s desire was for fellowship, the gospel outworked in the lives of us as believers. He knew Jesus and despite the need for a house and food he wanted fellowship, to talk about bible stories, and to learn more of God. Christ really was enough.
Having dinner with Derek was hugely humbling and gave me a greater appreciation for the gospel.
During Urban I gave a couple of talks. One was on fasting and how it strengthens our relationship with the Lord. The other was at the opening night and was about dropping our “masks” and being real with one another about our weaknesses and our strengths based on Paul boasting in his weakness.
This helped to set the attitude for real, authentic relationship and teachable, spirit-led hearts throughout the project and hopefully into the years ahead.
All in all I had an awesome time in Auckland, I’m back off down south next week to work on my van and get ready for the year ahead as I move into 5th year. It is set to be a busy year with big exams as well as clinical learning. I also aim to start a small group with a missional focus to maintain my heart for the lost.
God Bless – Brodie