Nearly 3 000 people have made decisions for Jesus on the streets of Port Elizabeth over the past six weeks through the ministry of students from a local Bible college.
One of the students, 42-year-old city businessman and former policeman, Brendon Slabbert says the experience has been “an amazing learning curve” and has confirmed his calling to evangelism.
“I definitely know that God has given me a passion for lost souls, the broken hearted and the poor. I am very excited for what is lying ahead for the rest of the year. I am in God’s hands and I know He is preparing the way. In the past I was the one making plans but where I am at the moment I can thank Him that I am at the Bible school. Every day is such an amazing learning curve and I really and truly can feel His presence and that is where I want to be. Evangelising for Him.”
Slabbert said he was a rough and worldly person during his 18 years in the police service. He met his wife, Christelle, 19 years ago. Through her prayers he opened his heart to God and in 1999 he accepted Jesus as his Saviour and began attending church. Six years ago when the family moved back to PE, he began to walk more closely with God and to take responsibility for spiritual leadership in his home.
His hunger for God’s word and His presence increased after he met evangelist Johnny Louw at a men’s breakfast at Kraggakamma Dutch Reformed Church in PE in January 2013. He and his son, Brendon, shared a wonderful time encountering God at the Karoo Mighty Men Conference in April last year, and they were baptised in June while attending another conference with Johnny Louw and his team in PE. Slabbert said he began to share his testimony at men’s groups and he responded to a call from Acts of Bravery, a Christian outreach to street people for an Afrikaans-speaker to join the group. His whole family – himself, Christelle, Brendon (who completed Grade 12 last year) and his daughter, Liani (who is in Grade 10), got involved in the outreach which feeds and encourages homeless people on the street on Tuesday evenings. The family is still involved with the group and the experience has taught them to adopt a lifestyle of reaching out to people with the love of Jesus in everyday situations. Slabbert also began to share the Gospel with people during the evening outreaches.
But he said his passion for evangelism really took off this year after he enrolled at the Word of Faith Bible Institute. The 28 students in his group are required to go on at least one street evangelism outreach a week to apply their training. He said he goes out on two outreaches a week as part of a group of seven to 10 students. Over the past six weeks, nearly 3 000 people have made decisions for Jesus during the student outreaches.
“Going out on a practical is where you realize that it is not about you, you cannot do it without the Spirit of God,” said Slabbert recounting experiences which included sharing the good news of Jesus on taxis, buses, on the street, in an office and on a construction site – to big groups, to individuals, to Moslems, to policemen, to schoolchildren, to a Rastafarian. Often there were tears as people came to Christ.
“You go there and evangelise and spread the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each and every time we go out it is just mind-blowing.
In my personal experience, the Lord Jesus has ignited a passion in me for lost souls because I was once a lost soul. When I reflect back, I am just so happy and filled with joy because the Lord saved me and took me out from where I was in my mind and in my whole journey. I realise today that my 18 years in the police force, my drinking buddies, my moving around from here to there, has given me the world experience – not the Godly experience but the sinner’s experience to go back and know when people are lying and to relate to their situations because I have been there.”
Slabbert said a number of people who made commitments to Jesus on the outreaches were people who attended churches but were not sure that they would go to heaven when they died. They went to church because their parents brought them up that way but they never spoke about God at home. He said there were other people who did not want to talk to them at first but who became quiet and open when they mentioned “God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel”.
“There is so much power in those words .We have experienced it and it is indescribable.”
He said: “There are still those who look away at first. I just keep it simple and tell them that God loves them but I have to ask the question: Where will you go when you die? Some get arrogant and some are quiet. When you tell them that we all fall short of the glory of God and all have sinned then it is like you relate to them and you are not rebuking them. When we say that God loves them, they quieten down and begin to respond.”
Slabbert said the evangelism team members try to direct people who make commitments to Jesus to churches in their areas, They check if the people have Bibles, and take their contact details in order to follow them up.
“The great commission is to spread the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ — every day, every week, every month. We just need to rock up because the Lord Jesus has already prepared the people,” he said.