Please, do you take away sins?” That was the unusual question that Lilia Litvinova—one of our Jews for Jesus campaigners in Russia—heard during the recent “Operation Behold Your God” (BYG) outreach in St. Petersburg.
With a lead-in question like that, Lilia had a wonderful opportunity to explain to the woman asking—who was named Olga—that she couldn’t remove sins, but she knew the God who could! With tears in her eyes, Olga then prayed to repent of her sins and receive Christ’s forgiveness.
This is just one of the exciting stories pouring in from around the world as the very first “Operation BYG” campaigns come to a close. Thanks to the prayers and partnership of friends like you, God is using this worldwide outreach to bring salvation to both Jews and Gentiles alike. And in this Special Edition of our newsletter, we want to share just a few of the blessings with you.
As you probably remember, “Operation Behold Your God” is our worldwide campaign to reach into every city around the world with a Jewish population of 25,000 or more by the year 2005. Currently that numbers 66 cities. As a result, “Operation BYG” is the largest Jewish evangelistic outreach we’ve ever launched!
Actually, instead of saying that “Operation BYG” is “our campaign,” we should really say that BYG is God’s campaign. Our motivation for this five-year outreach comes from Isaiah 40:9, which commands: “Lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
SAN FRANCISCO: “Why Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell Me?”
Because San Francisco is our home base, we held the very first BYG campaign in the Bay Area this past spring. Led by David Brickner, our executive director, we distributed 422,440 tracts as we witnessed on the streets. When presented with the gospel, one man asked, “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me?”
In all, 217 people prayed to receive Christ, including a Jewish man who was homeless and a man using drugs his first day out of prison. Eight of the new believers were Jewish, and nine were from the gay community. We also received the names and addresses of 2,155 people—144 of whom are Jewish—who want to hear more about Jesus. Hundreds of thousands of people also saw our newspaper ads, billboards and taxitop ads. We pray that many of them are considering Christ even now.
An unusual breakthrough came when the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, the main Jewish newspaper in the area, published a front-page article about our outreach. They also showed a picture of our billboard that included the phone number for people to request our Survivor Stories video! If we had tried to buy space for an advertisement, they would have adamantly refused. But God arranged for them to proclaim our message free of charge!
FORMER USSR: “Jesus, Come Into My Heart—Change My Life”
Your prayers and support also enabled us to hold three BYG campaigns in the former Soviet Union—reaching the cities of Moscow, Minsk and St. Petersburg with the gospel. In spite of decades of communist persecution, the former Soviet Union is still home to hundreds of thousands of Jewish people—making it a critical region for evangelism.
One of our campaigners, Rokiatu Wan, tells of seeing a woman on a crowded street who did not look Jewish—but she felt the Holy Spirit was saying to her that this woman was a Jewish person. Rokiatu began to speak to her about Jesus, and the woman (who did turn out to be Jewish!) listened intently.
Rokiatu then proposed to the woman that she repent and accept Jesus into her heart. Praise God—she agreed! When she repeated the words, “Jesus, come into my heart, change my life,” she began to cry. “Her heart was ready to receive Jesus,” Rokiatu explains. “This meeting was from the Lord!”
Opposition Means We Must Be Doing Something Right
While God has blessed these BYG campaigns so far, we have also experienced opposition to the gospel, especially in the former Soviet Union. But that is to be expected. In fact, if we didn’t ruffle a few feathers, we would probably be in the wrong hen house. Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you.” Over and over, we have found that effective ministry will result, not only in positive response, but also in opposition.
In one country of the former Soviet Union, the assistant to the president of that nation actually went through subway cars with police officers to tear down our paid advertisements. Some of our campaigners also were harassed by hooligans on the streets. Policemen asking them to move on. Please continue to pray for the safety of our BYG campaigners around the world.
While we are excited by what God has already accomplished through “Operation BYG,” we believe this is just the tip of the iceberg! This month, new BYG outreaches will be taking place in Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Please see the article to the right for more information about these cities and how you can be in prayer.
As we minister together with you, we believe God will use this worldwide campaign to reach His “lost sheep” of the house of Israel. In Romans 11:26, Paul writes of a day “when all Israel will be saved.” While our efforts are flawed and all too human, we are hopeful—and trust you are too—that God is using “Operation BYG” to bring us closer to that day in His perfect timing.