It sounds daggy, a hopelessly old-fashioned way to witness to Jesus. But it works. Michael J. Smith sits by a sign in Martin Place in the Sydney CBD that simply says “Chaplain. We are here for you to chat, encourage you and pray with you in the love of GOD.”
And people do stop and chat. He’s there every Monday at Lunchtime as a volunteer. He does not fundraise. they are not put off by the Bible verse on the sign: “I, I am the Lord and besides me there is no Saviour.” (Isaiah 43:11)
“It was wonderful to be there with the word of God on the sign witnessing and speaking to hundreds as they walked past at Martin Place,” Smith wrote recently.”
“A young professional came up to chat and share his burdens, describing his emptiness, confusion and challenges as he was searching for answers.
“What a privilege to be available to share with him. I felt he needed to surrender his life to the Lord to find true life. I got to share how Jesus came to give life that is true life! And His need to surrender his life to Jesus, to receive that true life that Jesus died to give him then we prayed together.
“We prayed together and he would like to meet up again.”
They did. Smith updated it this way.
“He shared with me that last Monday before we met he felt like he was ‘dying on the inside’ and ‘about to break.’
“I was overwhelmed with emotion at this point, as I sit at Martin Place reading the Bible and praying for the people. I so humbled that, that God could use that to impact and change a life.
“I am realising how important it is to be visible, and accessible in a public space for people. You never know the impact it has on someone to be there for them In a difficult time of their life. I was very overwhelmed that God would trust me enough to bring people to me, so I could then connect them to Him.
“So so grateful, he also shared how his life has been so different this week and that he felt God is guiding him on some significant decision/changes in his life that he couldn’t make before.”
It is a simple ministry, of being ready to talk. He trusts God to provide someone to talk to. They come up to him to share stories, and confide their burdens and challenges, grief and brokenness. “I see how much God loves them and how much they need Him,” says Smith. “I have the privilege of sharing about a saviour and loving Father.”
He hears some amazing stories.
“A few weeks ago I spoke with the young man who had been addicted to drugs and living on the streets of Sydney CBD several years ago. A Christian lady from the North Shore came to him as he was lying down near the Queen Victoria Building, she knelt down and prayed for him.
“Days went by he was hoping to see her again. One day he was walking down Martin Place to go to the pub. The lady saw him walking in the opposite direction.She followed him and spoke to him just as he was about into the pub. She said ‘you need to be water baptised, we should try and arrange that soon’ the man said ‘why wait? we should do it now!’ So they went to Balmoral Beach and the man was baptised and saved and transformed.”
“The amazing put of the story is years later they are married with two children and became a beautiful Christian family.”
Smith takes to heart1 Timothy 4:13 “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
“So I go and read the Bible out loud and pray for the people in the area, I wait for God to bring the people.”
And God does!