Softening the Ground in Bronx/Westchester
Campaign leaders Amer Olson and Jhan Moskowitz
“We have a very strong, close Jewish community here,” a man informed campaign leader Amer Olsen over the phone. “We won’t stand for this.”
“This” was the Jews for Jesus Bronx/ Westchester campaign, headquartered in White Plains, New York.
People didn’t expect to see Jews for Jesus in the Bronx or Westchester. They expected to see us on the other end of their commute in the subways or on the streets of Manhattan. But when they arrived home to see us in the Bronx or Westchester, it got their attention.
In affluent Westchester County many people are self-satisfied. Suburbanites in large estates are not especially responsive to door-to-door knocking . . . or phone calling either, as campaigners found in the first two weeks.
However, halfway through the month, rainstorms pounded the area. That seemed to be a metaphor for the work of the Holy Spirit on this campaign because along with the soil, it seemed some spiritual ground was softened. That week, during calling, two Jewish people—in one night—prayed to receive Y’shua as their Messiah and Redeemer.
Then on Tuesday of week four, we had a screening of “Survivor Stories” at a church in the Bronx. It wasn’t a huge crowd; a little over 60 people attended. The audience included six Jewish believers and at least two unbelieving Jewish people that we know of (both of whom came with a believing Jewish friend or family member).
Amer relates: “After the film, I read Isaiah 53 and encouraged people to speak to one of us if they wanted to know more about the peace that Messiah brings. A Jewish believer from Westchester introduced himself to me and explained that he had intended to come to the showing we had closer to his home. He was unable to make it but it was “b’shert” (meant to be). When he decided to come to the Bronx showing, his father, Steve, a Holocaust survivor who lives in the Bronx, agreed to come along.
“I talked to Steve, learned of his life in Hungary and his experience in the ghetto. He still had the scars. When I asked whether he thought Jesus was the Messiah he said, ‘Yes.’ He had never, however, prayed to receive Him and was ready to do so that night. After giving his life to Jesus, Steve asked if the prayer he’d just said was to be prayed daily. This is not an unusual question since religious Jews recite daily prayers from the siddur (prayer book). But I put it in a different context for Steve. I told him that when I asked my wife to marry me, she only had to say ‘yes’ once. ‘Tonight,’ I told Steve, ‘you said “Yes” to God. Though you’ll want to renew your love and commitment to Him, you are His.’”
Fruitful evangelism doesn’t always refer to reaping. “There is ‘fruitfulness’ and there is ‘seedfulness,’” commented Amer. Turning over the hardened ground and planting seeds is indeed fruitful evangelism.
“The ground is softening in these parts,” Amer concluded. “It is softened by tears, such as those Steve’s son shed for his father. And it is softened by the multitude of prayers.”