Elwyn Shares His Faith by the Book in Lakemba Every Week - Hope 103.2

Elwyn Shares His Faith by the Book in Lakemba Every Week

Book Table is a space for Christian conversation and support, a weekly provision for practical concerns as well as spiritual nourishment.

By Ben McEachenFriday 2 Feb 2024Hope MorningsFaithReading Time: 3 minutes

“Is your life working for you?”

Elwyn Chapman asks that bold question of strangers he meets in the street.

For the past six years, Elwyn, his wife Judith and other volunteers have brought Christian beliefs, conversation and connection to Lakemba’s main street.

Book Table is a meeting spot every week in a Southwestern Sydney suburb known for its cultural, religious and ethnic diversity.

A majority Muslim area (more than 50 per cent), Lakemba is also a fair distance from Elwyn’s home in Sydney’s north.

Elwyn has been involved in “street evangelism” for decades and enjoys discussing what the Bible reveals about God and us.

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Experience, knowledge and passion have informed Elwyn’s approach, including a desire to hear what strangers have to say when asked: “Is your life working for you?”

The most important thing

Such a blunt yet probing question is key to sparking a discussion rather than a debate.

In an era of polarisation and inability to disagree well, Elwyn endorses the aim of trying to get to the heart rather than getting into a contest of ideas.

“There are those who are seeking,” Elwyn told Hope Mornings about visitors to Book Table who are dissatisfied with their religion or circumstances.

“They are seeking for something… They are seeking for God.

“They are seeking for a change in their lives.”

With Christian materials in more than ten languages – from Lebanese to Bengali and Somali – Book Table is keen to provide Scripture in heart languages.

“Christians believe it is really important that people can read the Bible in their own language because we believe God speaks through his Word,” Elwyn said.

Along with resources and conversation, Book Table also wants to offer “Middle Eastern hospitality”.

Food and drinks are provided, as well as practical assistance that can improve the everyday lives of Lakemba residents.

Know what you believe and what others believe

Book Table has become an accepted mainstay on Haldon Street.

But it hasn’t been smooth sailing; Elwyn told Hope Mornings there was local “angst” when Book Table began.

Across Book Table’s tenure, Elwyn has encountered plenty of people who just want to debate.

Elwyn has prepared himself for opposition or pushback, even as he would rather share the core differences made in life by following Jesus.

Book Table at Lakemba welcomes all and some who show up are primed with objections to Christianity or the Bible.

Elywn said there are common concerns or arguments raised at Book Table, such as claims that the Bible has been corrupted or that Jesus never declared himself to be God.

“You’ve got to be able to interact with someone, so knowing a little bit about them and their culture is important in creating a conversation,” Elwyn said.

Having a “reasonable” knowledge of your Bible, as well as the Qur’an, serves well in an area like Lakemba.

Elwyn carries his own “marked-up” copy of the Bible, for quick access to passages which routinely arise in conversation.

He also recommended resources which compare and contrast Christianity with Islam.

Not trying to do God’s job

Elwyn knows the Bible and how to engage all sorts of people with it.

But he also knows that preparation, experience and the “correct” answers are not what it is all about at Book Table.

“Our clever words won’t necessarily convince people,” Elwyn said.

“It’s what we do and what we are prepared to do.”

“As Christians, building relationships is really important.

“We can’t convert anyone; it’s only through God’s grace.”

Book Table is a space for Christian conversation and support, a weekly provision for practical concerns as well as spiritual nourishment.

Or to more succinctly describe the goal of Book Table: “We are there to give out Scriptures because we believe God can change their lives.”

“I hope when I get to Heaven I will see a lot of those people,” Elwyn said.

Listen to the full interview with Elwyn Chapman in the player above.

Feature image: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash