Folau in tears discussing bushfires
Israel Folau has spoken of his hope the devastation of the Australian bushfires will lead people toward Jesus Christ.
Addressing the congregation at The Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney on Sunday, Folau regularly wiped away tears with a tissue as he discussed the impact of the fires.
"We want as many people as possible to know who the Lord Jesus Christ is," Folau said. "Each week, every person who gets up here (to speak), we always remind and encourage one another that we are certainly living in the last days … there's no doubt about it.
"For us that's in the faith, we look around and see certain things that are happening around the world - famines, earthquakes, wars, rumours of wars, kingdom rising against kingdom, nation against nation - that's the beginning of signs, no doubt about it.
"We look at this country here and all these devastating bushfires that are happening. I see on the news and the mainstream media saying there's a lot of people out there, because of the things they've lost and it's been a tragic even for this country … you see people saying they've never prayed so hard in their life. Why does it take something so devastating like the bushfires for people to humble themselves and get down on their knees and ask God for help?
"The scriptures say God turns his face against the wicked and doesn't hear their prayers. But for us, as born-again believers, Christians in the faith, we need to pray that because of what's happening now in this nation with these devastating fires … that this event can cause people to turn and come to the Lord Jesus Christ. That's what our prayer is. It needs to be that."
Folau then read 1 Peter 3:12, which says: "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
"Those that are listening live please don't take this the wrong way with the scriptures stating that God turns His face against evil," Folau said, speaking to those who were watching his sermon on Facebook. "God can turn something so devastating and so tragic into something good and cause you to come to know who he is."
Folau created controversy last year when he told his church the bushfires were a "little taste of God's judgment".
"Look how rapid these bushfires, these droughts, all these things have come, in a short period of time," Folau said. "You think it's a coincidence or not? God is speaking to you guys. Australia, you need to repent."
The 30-year-old later released a video where he attempted to clarify his comments.
"What I was referring to in terms of the natural disasters that are happening now wasn't a direct, I guess, message to the people that are affected," Folau said.
"It was just a timely reminder of God's word and trying to point people onto the path of righteousness."
"In saying that, my thoughts and prayers do go out to the people affected," Folau added. "It's horrible to see and you never want anyone to go through that sort of stuff but, as a Christian, you are always praying for people.
"You see the droughts today, you pray for rain and things to be restored, and that's ultimately as Christians what we're driven by and what we're bound by is God's love."