This month begins the second year of Behold Your God outreaches. Operation Behold Your God is our five-year effort to reach every city where 25,000 or more Jewish people live (outside of Israel, where we have a thriving branch).
This year we begin with Tampa, Florida. It is the largest of three cities that-along with a dozen or so beach towns and bedroom communities-make up the sprawling, diverse and frantically growing metropolis known as the Tampa Bay Area. (St. Petersburg and Clearwater are the other two cities.) Warm weather, world-class beaches and one of the busiest ports in the country may be why 2.5 million people have chosen to live there. It is also home to some 40,000 Jewish people, many of whom are snow birds”-folks who fly in from various parts of North America between November and April.
The Jewish citizens of Tampa have a history of serving in nearly every civic, social and philanthropic agency. The mayor from 1886 to 1894 was Herman Glogowski. M. Henry Cohen served as municipal judge and Harry N. Sandler as circuit judge.
In the last few decades, more and more Jewish people have migrated to Tampa to work in the tech industry and other emerging industries. The University of Tampa has some 2,000 Jewish students.
We chose February 1-18 for Operation Behold Your God as it is the heart of the high season in Tampa. The first weekend of February launches the historic Gasparilla Parade and Festival in honor of Jose Gaspar, a legendary French pirate who allegedly buried his treasures somewhere in the Bay. The festival draws some 400,000 people who come to enjoy the three-mile-long parade up Bay Shore Boulevard, along with a 2-day parade downtown. Our outreach also coincides with the Florida State Fair, which draws another 300,000 people.
Stan Meyer, the Jews for Jesus South Florida branch leader, has partnered with Messianic congregation Shoresh David in South Tampa to reach the Jewish people of Tampa Bay. Says congregational leader Steve Weiler, “I’m really excited about this partnership and I hope it will inspire unity within our movement.”
Campaigners from across the U.S. will participate in this three-pronged campaign. First, we’ll have campaigners distributing broadsides (our gospel tracts) in downtown Tampa, downtown St. Petersburg, and at local tourist spots such as the historic Ybor City. Campaigners will also be phoning people to offer free copies of “Survivor Stories,” our video featuring the testimonies of seven holocaust survivors.
The second “prong” of the campaign will be our booth at the Florida State Fair from February 7-18. We will be in the main exhibition hall to greet guests with the good news of Jesus. Finally, we will have a team sweeping outlying areas. They will focus on college campuses and beaches.
If you live in the Tampa Bay area or plan to visit between February 1-18, please drop by our booth at the Florida State Fair. Or better yet, consider joining us to serve for one or two days. We would love to have you with us to share the good news!
You can call Stan Meyer c/o the South Florida Jews for Jesus Branch at 954-917-3404, or e-mail us at [email protected].