Team leader at the Ridley Centre in Forest Gate Turgay Yusuf finds people more open to the gospel than ever.
After the first week of government restrictions, our ministry hasn’t by any means slowed down.
We’ve stopped the drop-ins at the Ridley centre and meeting people face-to-face, of course. But in many ways it has opened things up for us. Our communication has been heightened.
We are based in Forest Gate, which has a large Muslim population. One of the challenges we have always had as a team is dealing with the large number of people we make contact with – exchanging phone numbers at book tables, for example.
We’ve always had more people to develop conversations with than we have time to reach out to them.
Now we’ve the opportunity reach out to the people that we didn’t haven’t time to before.
I’ve two separate lists of people to contact. The first is a list of my Muslim friends who I want to share the gospel with. The second group is more polemical – they’re people such as those I’ve met at evangelistic book tables. They want to talk about Christianity, and I’m developing friendships with them.
I’ve been messaging this second group, saying hello and letting them know that in the next week or so I’ll be contacting them by video to talk about Jesus, if they’d like that.
So far from that group about a dozen people have said they would like to talk to me. Out of a list of just over forty people, that’s pretty good.
With my Muslim friends, I am still in contact through phone and WhatsApp. It’s a time of heightened communications. There is a different quality to conversations now, as everybody is thinking about matters of life and death.
For example, a couple of days ago, I was getting essentials from the shops. As I was leaving the house, I stuffed seven tracts into my back pocket and I decided to hand them to the first seven people I passed.
The first four were workmen digging up the ground. I gave them the tracts, and as they asked about it I told them that it’s a gospel tract and that now is the time to call on Jesus – he is the one who saves.
I’m not normally as direct as that, but now it seems the right thing to be doing.
I handed another tract to a girl on the street outside Tesco’s. When I came out of the shop, she was stopped on the pavement still reading it. That’s unusual. I’ve not felt any resistance or hostility to me sharing the gospel.
I’m an evangelist, and like all evangelists I love the passage where Jesus talks about the plentiful harvest ready for the workers to gather. In reality, it doesn’t often feel like that, there’s lots of resistance and the work is slow and hard.
But today feels like a time when the harvest is ripe, the ground is ready, and we can take the opportunity.
Yesterday I went without three church pastors. The four of us delivered leaflets saying that we’d get shopping and so on. We went to about four hundred homes; our plan is to cover the whole of Forest Gate. There are volunteers at Ridley that would like to do that too.
The community really seems to be pulling together and doing a good job. But what the wider community cannot offer is the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that’s what people need to know – it’s time for everyone to call on the name of Jesus and repent.
This situation has pulled all the securities and idols of this world away. I believe this is our moment to preach Jesus boldly and fearlessly.