I just returned from a two-week speaking tour of New Zealand. Thinking Matters, the largest national apologetics organization in that country, invited me to partner with them to equip the local body of Christ.
Before I left, though, I realized I needed help. This wasn’t a sight-seeing trip. I had a jam-packed schedule full of massive training opportunities. I realized there was no way to depart for the Southern Hemisphere without asking a team of people to intercede on my behalf. That’s why in my April letter, I asked you to pray for my trip. Please thank God today because He delivered in spades by answering the following four prayer requests.
- Safe travel. Not only did I safely travel to and from New Zealand (each approximately 13-hour flights), but I also flew between the North and South Islands, and drove hundreds of miles to speak in four cities and their neighboring towns. Besides a little turbulence, I returned back home safely.
- Good health. I was asked to deliver 43 presentations in just 12 days of teaching. That’s not just a lot speaking, it’s a record for me! To be honest, I was unsure whether my body and voice were up to the task. Despite the grueling schedule, my health and voice never faltered. Yes, I got tired at times, but was never unable to train and equip believers in New Zealand.
Thankfully, I also had a few opportunities to break away from teaching and get outside for some much needed mental space. I brought my camera and zoom lens to enjoy my newest hobby of wildlife photography. I know those short times helped me recuperate as I enjoyed God’s creative work in that beautiful country.
- Effective teaching. With such a rigorous schedule, I never wanted my teaching to suffer. It was essential that I gave 100% at every talk, even the 43rd one. Thankfully, God delivered again and helped me teach effectively every time.
In one teaching segment, I role-played a Muslim, raising objections to Christianity to allow the audience to interact with me. An attendee, who used to be a Muslim, wrote, “As a former Muslim apologist, I can testify that that is exactly how Muslims come across.”
- Impact for the Kingdom. It’s difficult to know the ultimate impact this two-week tour will have for the Kingdom. Many people spoke to me and wrote about how my training gave them confidence and helped equip them to share their faith. One attendee wrote, “Alan’s goal – to put a stone in their shoe – has helped me to have a goal I can achieve. I have been given some passion and courage back.”
I also wanted people to walk away with skills they can use to help them share the Gospel and respond to people’s challenges. That’s why it was encouraging for me to read this person’s comment: “Alan Shlemon was brilliant and inspiring in his Friday night presentation. I really appreciate that he gave me specific ‘tools’ I can now use when in conversation with skeptics – namely powerful questions. His presentation was the highlight and most useful part of the whole conference for me.” So it’s encouraging to read the written feedback and see that God fulfilled these goals.
Rodney Lake, the President of Thinking Matters, was the one who invited me to New Zealand and arranged every event. He attended all my talks and spoke with hundreds of people who reported their experiences with me, my material, and my training. He tracked the thousands of people I spoke to and estimated I reached just under 3% of the entire Christian population of New Zealand. In his summary statement of my tour, he wrote: “No other Christian apologist has had this much impact on the New Zealand Church in such a short time EVER in this country's history!”
My point here is not to brag about myself. You know I don’t typically report these types of comments. I’m telling you, though, because you invest in me. You pray for me. Your goal is the same as mine. You want to see believers equipped with the tools, wisdom, and confidence to share their convictions with anyone. I’m here to tell you that because of God’s grace and our partnership together, New Zealand Christians are now better equipped.
Thank you for your prayer, support, and trusting me to work on behalf of the Kingdom. May God be pleased that our work together builds up the body of Christ and leaves behind a fragrant aroma.