Have Broadsides, Will Travel
We Jews for Jesus like airports—not merely for the purpose of travel, but also for the purpose of evangelism. Where else can you find such a cross-current of people from around the country and from around the world! That was very much the case at the Los Angeles International Airport during the 1984 Olympics. Los Angeles hosted the games, and the airport virtually hummed with athletes and enthusiastic spectators from all over the world.
I have no problem believing that God wanted to confront some of those travelers with the gospel so they could carry the good news back with them to their respective homelands. Just think of it: airport evangelism can have an international effect!
To be frank, however, airport evangelism does have certain drawbacks. The greatest is what we call the guilt-by-association” factor. You see, we Jews for Jesus are not the only ones who recognize the potential to reach out with a message at airports. Other groups who carry a different “gospel” also frequent airports, not merely to promulgate their beliefs, but also to solicit donations. We Jews for Jesus have a strict policy against soliciting or even receiving any donations while we are distributing our broadside tracts. The gospel, after all, is free. But even so, some will erroneously lump together those of us who proclaim the gospel of the Messiah with those others who proclaim another “gospel” and line their pockets while doing so.
Because of this unfortunate association, should we then leave the airports to the peddlers of misinformation? We think not! Once, while distributing our gospel broadside tracts at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, I struck up a conversation with a security officer who also happened to be a believer.
“Doesn’t it bother you that people think you are just like those others?” he asked.
“Sure, it bothers me,” I answered.
“So why do you keep coming back?”
I shrugged and smiled. “Where there is an abundance of lies, shouldn’t someone stand up for the truth?”
He nodded in agreement. We should. So we do.
Airport evangelism has a way of driving home a point to a traveler whom God might be “pursuing.” I remember a time when a gentleman approached me at Los Angeles International Airport and declared, “You guys are all over the place!”
I happened to be the only Jew for Jesus broadsiding at the airport at that time, so I asked him what he meant.
Wouldn’t you know it! He had boarded a plane at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York where he had gotten a broadside tract. He had changed planes at O’Hare Airport in Chicago where he had received another broadside tract. Now he had landed at Los Angeles International Airport, only to encounter me and to receive yet another broadside tract. I offered him an explanation for the sequence of events: “Maybe God is trying to get your attention!”
Not everyone has the opportunity to share the good news at an international airport on a regular basis. But in this day of rapid transit and shrinking distances, many of us do find ourselves flying from one place to another every once in a while. So, if you happen to be at an airport and you notice some Jews for Jesus distributing literature, go up to them and say hello. Tell them that you appreciate their presence. Tell them that you are praying for them. Tell them that you trust that God will use them in someone’s life that day. Sure, we already know those things, but it’s nice to be reminded and encouraged.
And if you find yourself sitting in a waiting room or at the boarding gate and you happen to notice a fellow traveler reading one of our tracts, you have a golden opportunity. Why not try striking up an evangelistic conversation with something like, “Jews for Jesus? Well, now, what do you think of that…?” Who knows? Maybe your conversation will have an international effect!
Editor’s Note: Whether or not we can continue handing out gospel tracts in airports will be decided by the Supreme Court of the United States on February 24-27. When the Los Angeles Airport Commission made a rule against handing out literature, we challenged them in court and won our case. They appealed that decision, and again we won. Now they have appealed the matter to the highest court of our country, and we are asking our friends to appeal to an even higher Court by bringing the matter before God, the Judge of the universe.
Avi Snyder is a veteran missionary and director of the European work of Jews for Jesus. He pioneered Jews for Jesus’ ministry in the former Soviet Union, before launching works in both Germany and Hungary. He will share with you what is happening in Jewish evangelism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Avi received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Ruth, have three grown children, Leah, Joel and Liz.