MTB World Cup 2009 ~ Day I

Friday 10th April 2009

Today would be the first of three days that I would be out at the MTB World Cup being staged in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. This colonial city is nicknamed “Sleepy Hollow” and has become known as the “City of Choice” which now houses the local provincial legislature of KwaZulu-Natal.

Jonathan and I met at Cascades Shopping Centre around 07H00 and prepared to take up our positions to hand out a gospel tract especially designed for this event with a quiz dealing with mountain bike trivia on the front page and the Law and the Gospel of Grace on the reverse page. Jonathan went to the entrance leading from the Cascades’ parking lot and I took up my position at the main entrance leading from an adjacent car park where the competitors, event staff, course marshals, organizers and the media parked their vehicles outside the main ticket office. The reason is I would be here for three days, as the Lord willed.

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God is gracious in how He wants things done and the door He opens remains open. While I was waiting at the entrance, the main coordinator named Alec saw me standing with a hand full of the 3000 printed tracts (thanks to my wife Tammy for helping with the printing of the same) we hoped to hand out over the course of the three days. He asked me what I was going to hand out and without hesitation I replied “Gospel tracts.” He was silent for a brief moment and then recollected a conversation he had with his mother about this event taking place on the Easter weekend and that he would not be able to attend church service. This story was broadcast aloud while staff, security and marshals milled around waiting to be taken to their positions for the day. God allowed him to give me the go-ahead to take up my position at the main entrance outside the main ticket office as I introduced myself to the main security officer Craig and his gate attendees Andile and Carmenie (a Hindu). I tried to witness to both gate attendees but it would appear that at the time they were not open to the Word and they were busy working. God is the only Judge of their hearts.

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When the volunteers and paid marshals came through the gate I handed them tracts and some of them read it immediately and a few dropped them. I will relate to this incident a little later.

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This being a qualification day there was a steady flow of spectators coming through the gate and as each person came through I greeted them and told them to have a nice day as I handed them a tract. There were not many who refused the tracts – some asked what it was and I told them that it asks questions about this (MTB) event and on the reverse side is a presentation of a more important event that took place about 2000 years ago. At other times I just referred to the handout being a gospel tract. Mostly took without asking questions, some refused and handed it back with a comment, but this allowed me to speak openly in ear shot that they will have to stand before God someday and will they be found good enough to enter into heaven.

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Even though I did not stand up and preach a sermon by proclaiming the Law and the Gospel of Grace, I received a heckler – an American woman competitor whose name and photo I did not get. She rode past and pointed to the few tracts lying on the ground that the marshals dropped – surprisingly I did not see a spectator drop a tract that I was aware of, there was none lying about – but here this woman pointed to the tracts and told me to pick them up and that the people do not want them. She also alluded to that I was sinning by polluting the place with my tracts. My response to her was that if people reject the gospel it is not my sin but their own sin and that they should know better than to pollute. I had not handed her a tract so she must have been told about it or read it somewhere within the bounds of the event. However she came to know about the gospel literature I sensed she did not like the message. Was she being convicted? Only God knows why she heckled me. This took place early in the morning before the day’s proceedings were well under way. A short while later the main coordinator happened along and picked up the three or four tracts that lay about. Nothing was said.

From that point on it was awesome and humbling serving the Lord at the gate even helping the gate attendees with tickets and directing spectators to the downhill shuttle. At every opportunity someone received a tract and when the opportunity presented itself I spoke about the things of God. I even had an opportunity to speak to a member of MTB South Africa (name not known) who “boastfully” answered the trivia questions all right, but when I started to take him through the good person test he didn’t want to admit he is a liar. He kept telling me he is not a liar and God is love and he does not agree with me. The conversation was short and a seed was planted.

During the course of the day Jonathan laboured in the Lord’s vineyard and even at one point “they” closed his entrance to spectators to send them to the main ticket office entrance so tracts could be given out. This was no coincidence. This was God at work. We were also blessed to have our brothers and sisters in Christ join us for a while to encourage us and hand out some tracts.

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Thanks to Reghardt, Lynette and baby Leonard, Dale and Amanda (above picture), and Paul who has recently returned from England. Mark McDonogh is his dad and I know he was praying for us. You all are a blessing.

What I learned from the first day and marveled at the work of the Lord was when I recollected the events of that day and shared them with my family, when I returned home at about 16H00, God is faithful as He leads. We must allow God’s will to be done. Don’t try doing anything in your own strength. I was on my feet for nine hours straight and God kept me upright in overcast humid heat, He fed me spiritually (I did not eat anything until I arrived home;  I only had some juice I took along) and if I wanted to get up and preach to the crowds security could have tried to shut me down. At the end of the day I served the Lord by faithfully getting more tracts into peoples’ hands than I have done before on any day. At the day’s end almost a thousand tracts were handed out.

I would thank the Lord Jesus for glorifying Himself while we laboured not in vain. An early night to prepare for tomorrow.

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