RealityBites works in schools but we also work on the streets serving students, homeless people and passersby with Christian hospitality and good-humoured conversation. We set up our stall opposite the Library pub situated on the edge of Hyde Park, next to the Leeds University campus.
RealityBites is a ministry that is part of ThinkingFaithNetwork.
What do we do? Here is one of our projects.
My good friend Mark Yeadon and I reach out to students by telling stories and sharing the good news of Jesus. We are inspired by the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20). We follow Jesus by telling fascinating stories and asking provocative questions. We make ourselves vulnerable by serving hot drinks to students and homeless people outside the Library pub on Woodhouse Lane in Leeds.
The recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is, of course, tragic. Many heroic doctors, nurses and medics are struggling to contain the virus but did you know that some hardened secularists would welcome this outbreak?
Consider the following story.
Tudor History is a gold mine for evangelism. Porcine, flatulent Henry the 8th is on the throne. You are a prisoner in one of his foul-smelling dungeons and the vicious torturer is placing heavier and heavier stones on your chest. You are suffocating and the pain is unbearable. Suddenly Jesus comes into the prison, disarms the torturer and throws him against the wall. He takes off the heavy stones. He washes your rank, rancid body and He heals all your wounds and then He leads you out of the malodorous prison. You emerge into the warm summer's day.
Delighted that the Baptist Times has published my parable about the football genius Maradona.
Picture it. We are enjoying Sunday lunch with friends and the conversation turns to football. It could be Brexit but it isn't. Before you know it, the diners are debating that pressing question. Who is the greatest footballer of all time? Jackie plumps for Pele. Frank is a Johan Cruyff fan. Susan urges us to consider Cristiano Ronaldo. Roy puts in a kind word for George Best. The conversation is noisy and passionate.
In this short piece I want to explore the power of crafting and asking good questions.
Picture it. I am talking to a non-Christian social worker, let's call her Susan. My wife and I are foster carers for a young man from Eritrea and so this is just part of my work life. I have already told Susan some of my stories and she has been responsive and positive.
I have been studying Psalm 110 and I ask this question. "What do you think Jesus is doing right now?" She smiles warmly and tells me: "I think Jesus is very unhappy with all the horrible things going on in the world."
Delighted that the Baptist Times has published another article by me on creative, storytelling evangelism. Here is how the article begins...
It was the worst of times. It was the best of times. Years ago I tried to tell a non-Christian friend, Derek about my Christian faith. I was walking along a road in Bishopston, Bristol talking football and suddenly I blurted out: "Derek, you need Jesus." Derek said nothing. He just gave me a withering look. We went back to our conversation about Bristol Rovers and their bitter rivalry with Bristol City.
Why is talking about faith often awkward and filled with clichés? Why do our conversations about faith rarely grip people and intrigue them?
Mark Roques has spent his life tackling this issue and is convinced that our evangelism can be transformed if we 'do an Apostle Paul' and learn to understand and engage with the beliefs that shape our world.
In this course Mark will move us step by step through the world of religious and secular beliefs, equipping us to talk about the Christian faith in a way that is both engaging and insightful.
A simple and effective way to talk about the Christian faith is to craft speech acts about heroes and villains. For example, I was talking recently to a financial adviser about investing money in a variety of portfolios and my wife, Anne and I became bothered about the dodgy nature of some of the schemes. We're talking about our money being invested in weapons, tobacco and pornography companies. This is how the conversation went with 'Brian'.
In the past few weeks, RealityBites director Mark Roques has partnered with Whistling Frog Productions (Bradford) and St George's church in Leeds to bring RB stories and teaching to thousands of people in West Yorkshire.
On Christmas day Mark delivered six football monologues on the Pulse of West Yorkshire radio station to approximately 136,000 listeners! He told the story of Jesus' birth through the lens of five football fans from England, France, Germany, Spain and Russia. There was a clear gospel challenge to follow Jesus and not Herod! Feedback has been excellent.