ReachAUT is a mission outreach in Austria, organised by the Liebenzeller Mission in cooperation with other Christian organisations, including OM.
The participants are first given training through a week-long conference which includes Bible study, prayer, team building, workshops for dance, drama, sketch board, preaching and much more.
Then the teams are sent to host churches throughout Austria. The activities at each place vary according to the local churches’ area of ministry and their emphasis.
During an outreach at a local lake, the OM team gave out free watermelon and invited guests to pick a Bible verse. On a nearby bench was a signboard with the words ‘Do you need prayer?’ for passers-by to read. The team also used Frisbee and volleyball games to come in contact with people. The team was encouraged to see how well these activities were received.
The memory of one meeting stayed very clear with some participants. A man of around fifty asked many questions about the church the team was working with, but also why they believed the Bible. During the conversation he told them that one of his colleagues had recently died. He is not a religious man and sees religion as simply a tradition, but this unexpected death had shaken him. What really happens when somebody dies?
A young woman on the team told him clearly about Jesus, and why she builds her life on Him, and gave him a Bible. When she said it would be better to think now about what happens after death, rather than when it is already too late, he agreed with her. ”This has been a very special meeting. Thank you for the Bible, and I will definitely read it. Maybe this is the beginning of a change in my thinking,” he shared.
One evening around 11:00 p.m., Sebastian* a physicist, turned up bringing a bag belonging to one of the team members which he had found lying on the path. He had seen the flyer, and the banner on the window showed him where the team members lived. His tiredness at the late hour disappeared immediately as Sebastian was curios over the outreach, and Jesus.
The team could see that God had led him to the apartment. Apparently he had read the Bible several times but had many questions about the contents and the many authors. Also, he saw God as harsh and judgmental, and had wanted little to do with such a God. He also struggled with the claim that Jesus had truly risen from the dead. He saw him simply as a good and intelligent person. After over two hours Sebastian finally left, taking with him different books about the Trinity, ’Evidence That Demands a Verdict’, and a New Testament.
Julian* was another man whom God constantly brought across the way. He was studying near the church and joined in a Frisbee game. The team gave him an invitation to the youth evening but he didn’t come. As some participants met him again ‘by chance’ on their free day in the town, they felt that it was time to approach him again. Julian came again to the lake, and is still in contact with a young man from the church.
Austrians don’t often talk with people they don’t know, unless there is a good reason for it. They consider religion, like politics and money, to be a private subject, and they see it as a threat if someone opens up this subject. If someone is evangelising on the streets, people consider him as a member of a sect.
Knowing this, it can take courage to step out and proclaim Jesus on the streets. But the team felt God rewarded their trust in Him. Once, during a sketch board presentation in a park, over 30 people stopped and listened carefully to the message. Even the questionnaires were better accepted than the team expected, and in spite of their initial suspicions about them, people answered the questions honestly about their attitude to God. These people also listened with respect when they were told how this good news had change lives.
Each participant was thankful to God that He stood with them, when they sought to lift Him up before others. And they were thankful that He prepared people to whom He wanted them to testify.
Please pray for those in Austria who have never seriously thought about salvation, and have avoided questions about the Bible and the news about Jesus. Pray for people like Sebastian, who have already thought a lot about God and the Bible, but have hardly ever met anyone who had a personal relationship with God.
* Name changed