Pastors John Sherwood and Peter Simpson were preaching the gospel in the centre of Aylesbury, the county town of Buckinghamshire, on January 3rd. There was much rain about, but good sessions of preaching were engaged in, by God’s grace, in between the showers.

As Pastor Simpson was preaching, a middle-aged man came up, and engaged in mockery by taking his mobile phone and shouting out that he was just going to call up God to see if he would get an answer. The preacher asked him if he would be willing to engage in such public mockery if the preacher were a Muslim. The man replied that he was opposed to all religions. Pastor Simpson responded that he did not represent all religions, but only the faith of Christ, and that a specific mockery therefore of Christianity had just taken place. So would the man be willing to similarly mock in public in respect of Islam? The conversation did not continue after this. 

A young man walking by rejected the preaching on the grounds that “seeing is believing”. Pastor Simpson responded God is Spirit and cannot be seen. Furthermore, the Lord Jesus Christ declared, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). The minister also tried to impress upon the young man the need to obey the One who is his Maker. The sceptic replied blasphemously that God should follow him! Sadly, he was not interested in further discussion. 

An old man also walked by scoffing at the witness and arguing that Charles Darwin has disproved the existence of God. Sadly, he was not prepared to linger to hear a rebuttal of this unscientific assertion, but Pastor Simpson did manage to say to him that Darwinianism is actually devoid of solid scientific foundation. 

Perhaps the most basic argument against the legitimacy of the concept of evolution over millions of years is that it fails the fundamental test that operational science requires, namely that it is observable, repeatable and testable, but this cannot be said of the evolutionary process. Evolution requires that one kind of creature can change into a different kind of creature with different genetic information in its make up. It assumes, for example, that a fish can evolve into an amphibious creature. However, science has never been able to observe, repeat or test one kind of animal turning into a completely different kind of animal, let alone into a human being with a completely different and infinitely more complex genetic make-up.

The two ministers were displaying as one of the texts for passers-by to read Mark 7:21-22 . This was in order to emphasise that no one is good by nature, but must first deal with the problem of a corrupted heart.  The poster reads, “Out of the heart of men … fornications … blasphemy, pride. All these evil things … defile the man” (Mark 7:21–23). 

In God’s providence this poster was used to lead to a useful conversation over a vital contemporary moral issue. A schoolboy came up to Pastor Simpson and asked what fornication meant. The minister explained that it referred to sexual relations outside of marriage, and he also referred to the fact that it is a very common practice today amongst young people. It is, however, sinful in God’s sight, who has confined such activity to one man and one woman joined together within the marriage relationship. The schoolboy later came up to the preacher and thanked him for engaging in the witness. 

Despite some mocking and scoffing, there were some being seriously engaged with, and even the mockery and scoffing are an indication of people being challenged. May the Lord be pleased to open the hearts of many.  What a privilege to be able to begin the new year in proclaiming the most important message that anyone could ever hear, namely that in the Lord Jesus Christ there is new life for all unworthy sinners who come to Him in repentance and faith.