Australian Church Greets Pope's Pilgrims With True Gospel

Issue Date: September/October 2008

Pastor Kevin Harris of Illawarra Independent Baptist Church in Wollongong, Australia could not pass up the opportunity when the pope came to Sydney. Half a million pilgrims were expected at the Catholic Youth Day rally. Arming a team from his congregation with 35,000 Last Rites tracts, they positioned themselves in the middle of the stream of people entering the pope`s meetings.

The organizers of the meetings had anticipated distribution of literature exposing the unbiblical traditions of Catholicism. They went as far as to persuade the New South Wales Parliament to pass a law making it illegal to "annoy" a World Youth Day participant. The law was immediately challenged in the NSW Supreme Court and overturned before the meetings began.

Some attendees had also been instructed not to receive any handouts, so Harris found about one in ten refused the tracts or received them and tore them up. Some were simply thrown on the ground which the team retrieved and "recycled." Yet, Harris`s team was encouraged that some did stop to talk and receive more information. Even with this resistance, the team succeeded in distributing 5600 tracts in just four hours one of the days. The church`s phone number and web site were printed on the back of the tracts and they received several phone calls requesting more information.

"It was good to speak with a few Catholics about the gospel," says Pastor Harris. "Of course, our goal is to plant the seed, perhaps be God`s instrument to water seed previously sown, and raise doubts about their Catholic faith. In time to come they may ripen and be ready to be harvested."

Pastor Harris`s opportunity is not different than those in every community. Any event that draws a crowd is a good place to get the gospel message to a lot of people in a short time. Ball games, parades, flea markets, music festivals, car rallies, fireworks shows, etc, are all opportunities to be a Matthew 13 sower.  Some "seed" will fall by the wayside or on stony ground, but others will bring forth much fruit.

Our job is to plant the seed.  Others may water it, but God will give the increase by working in hearts by His Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:6).