Australia, like most westernised countries, is quickly turning away from the light of the gospel and opportunities for public witness are less and less available. This was the case in 2016 when we found that Adelaide City Council would not allow the Gospel Tent into any of its parks for the preaching of the gospel. So, we proposed a Bible Exhibition during the day, with ‘seminars’ in the evening, i.e., gospel meetings. This approach was deemed a cultural and educational event and so it aligned with council strategy for use of parkland. We were able to have gospel meetings in the evenings as was our burden, but now we needed to plan, prepare, and produce an exhibition - we then had three months to do this! Thankfully, we were able to call on quite a few to help us, both with content and graphic design.
We continue to view the exhibition as a means of opening doors for the preaching of the gospel - we are convinced that the declaration of the word of God through preaching is the primary way of making the gospel known. We were hopeful that the exhibition would introduce people to the gospel and encourage them to come to the meetings. This has proved to be the case. One of the benefits is that the public come to us and so are wanting to engage. About 80% are religious, the vast majority unsaved.
We usually use a postal drop around the area, advertise in the press or social media, and email local contacts, as well as erecting banners. Obviously, the tent (12 metres x 6 metres) is an advert in itself.
Our approach to a Bible Exhibition was to assert the authenticity of what we have today as the inspired word of God and, therefore, the eternal relevance and importance of its message. We have 70 square metres of cloth-printed ‘banners’ and several tables of exhibits, with replica and authentic items.
We introduce visitors to the exhibition by telling them a little of how the Bible came to Australia and its reception. This is followed by a brief pictorial overview of the spread of the gospel message in Australia and provides an opportunity to highlight some of the great truths that were taught, as well as very quickly ascertaining where visitors are at in their response to the Bible.
We then take them through the writing, copying and canonization of the Bible, its translation into English, and how we can be so confident that what we have today is indeed the word of God. As a way of keeping people engaged, we have a number of items of interest, including pages from old Bibles dating back to 1549. Our oldest complete Bible is a 1723 KJV. We have also a miniature reproduction of The Ten Commandments section of the Dead Sea scrolls.
This is followed by a section on the features of deity, of the triune God, focusing on the deity of Christ. We then have a very large gospel chart, 6 metres x 3 metres. This traces the gospel message from eternity to eternity. This is the key section that we aim to get folks to. Normally, by this stage, we have a fair idea of a person’s spiritual position regarding the gospel.
When speaking of the cross, we will show people replica coins of the thirty pieces of silver, a crown of thorns, and a replica scourge. We then follow up the message by going through the uniqueness of the gospel and how it stands in contrast with all the meritorious systems of world religions.
We also have several other replica items and authentic old coins to look at and touch, which we encourage folks to examine at their leisure. The next section deals with ten points relating to the created world, which show that the Bible contains scientific facts which have only been discovered as true by science in relatively recent times. We have not focused on this deliberately, as we were concerned it might deflect conversation from the gospel.
The final two sections consider the fulfilment of prophecy and the certainty of future fulfilment. We then close with a section on the challenge of the Bible. We give people a summary booklet of the exhibition and there are free Bibles, tracts, booklets, memory cards, and picture plaques. Visitors generally take over an hour to go around and most opt for a guided tour. This means we need to have helpers who are ‘grounded in the truth’, are godly, and are able to discern the needs of the attendees.
We do find that quite a few will subsequently attend the meetings. However, we have had the privilege of seeing the blessing of God directly through the exhibition. On one occasion, one dear lady came to take a picture of the sunset nearby. She never got her picture, but she went home with the peace of God in her soul. On the other hand, I have vivid memories of talking to one man who acknowledged he was not the atheist he claimed to be, but, in distress, told me that the price of trusting God was too much!
COVID obviously caused a break in much of the outreach gospel work. We are thankful that in recent months we have been able to go out again with the Gospel Tent, proclaiming the good news of the grace of God. What a privilege to go out into all the world and preach the gospel, knowing it is ‘the power of God unto salvation’! May the Lord preserve to us the privilege of preaching Him to a perishing world! www.BibleExhibition.net
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