It was my very first week of my very first Campaign in New York City. My team had been assigned to Wall Street, and I could barely wait for the subway train to stop. When we finally arrived at our station, we climbed the stairs to street level and practically ran to our assigned site. As we came within a few blocks of our corner, I noticed that all the men around me seemed to be wearing pin-striped suits, carrying black brief cases and twirling black umbrellas. I felt even more conspicuous in my denims and Jesus Made Me Kosher” T-shirt as I noticed that most of the women on the street were also wearing business suits, carrying briefcases and twirling umbrellas (color coordinated with their suits, of course!).
“Well, you aren’t here to do a fashion show,” I told myself. I also reminded myself that when I had first joined Jews for Jesus I had left many things behind in order to “put my hand to the plow.”
I assigned each member of my team to a particular spot, prayed with each of them, and went to my own corner to hand out our broadsides. As I gave my first tract to a young woman and met her empty gaze, I silently recited to myself, “I will not rest until I have told my people there is hope—there is new life in the Promised One of Israel.”
Remembering my original commitment to God and seeing the hopelessness in the businesspeople’s eyes gave me a new sense of determination as I handed out my literature. I began to smile and to greet each person individually. Instead of relating generally to the masses of uniformly dressed people I had originally noticed, I realized that had any one of them been the only one who needed atonement for sin, Jesus would have come for only that one, and that he had died for individuals, each a unique person he knew by name.
As I stood there on the curb, I sensed someone behind me. I handed out my last few broadsides and walked back in the direction of the man I had noticed behind me. As I reached for a fresh supply of tracts, I noticed that he had finished reading the pamphlet I had given him. I also noticed his Jewish friend standing a few feet away. He had that uncomfortable look on his face that said, “Excuse me. I’m invisible today.” I left the friend alone and asked my avid pamphlet reader what he had thought of the message.
“Yeah, I think there may be something to this,” he said, “but I am Gentile, and I think Jesus was Jewish.” I quickly determined that the “invisible man” might enjoy this conversation. “You’re certainly right,” I answered. “Jesus was born a Jew, gave his life for his people, died and rose from the dead, just like the Scriptures said the Messiah would. Your being a Gentile does not stop you from believing that, does it?”
“No,” he said, “but I don’t understand why he died, or how that could make a difference for me.”
I explained that Jewish people have a real advantage because our Scriptures and holidays give us a clear understanding of the Messiah. I began telling the man, whose name was Peter, that God had singled out my Jewish people in order to bring the news of his love to the whole world. After a few more questions, Peter decided that the “good news” was for him. We stood there on the corner and prayed as Peter came to know the Messiah of Israel personally. After we had talked for a few more minutes, I noticed that the “invisible man” had left. I explained to Peter how he had actually helped me share the message of Yeshua with that man by asking appropriate questions for him to overhear. Peter was elated that he had already had a chance to let another person know that there is hope and there is life in the Promised One.
I returned to handing out my tracts. Not many more minutes had passed, when I looked around the corner and noticed that Peter was still there. I moved back a few steps in his direction to try to hear what was going on. Peter seemed quite serious as he spoke to another Jewish man. I overheard him say, “It’s true. It’s in your Scriptures. Jesus is Jewish, and I believe in your God.”
That incident really encouraged me! Throughout the rest of Campaign I saw unique individuals instead of crowds. I knew that at any moment there might be another Peter behind me, or another “invisible man” to overhear our conversation.
Campaign was certainly not easy. At times it was incredibly tiring, humiliating and even painful. But then putting hands to the plow never indicated to a farmer that the hot afternoon ahead would be a relaxing one. At times serving the Lord is work, but we do not labor in vain, and in his time, God does reap everlasting fruit from our labors. The work we all did on Campaign, and the work each of us does daily for God may not be described as easy, but there are eternal results. No matter how high the cost, we continue to tell individuals that there is hope and life in the Promised One of Israel.