Flying the Banner
On national holidays like Memorial Day, Flag Day and the Fourth of July, patriotic Americans like to fly the flag. If my Manhattan apartment had a yard instead of a fire escape, I too would participate in this custom.
Our flag—any flag—is more than just a brightly colored piece of cloth. It represents someone or something, and demands a choice from those who see it: whether they will give or withhold their allegiance from what that flag represents.
Although I love my country, the star-spangled banner is not the only flag I choose to fly. As a believer in Yeshua, I am also under his banner. As a staff evangelist here in New York I’m part of a team that is always flying Yeshua’s banner before the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.
During Summer Witnessing Campaign many must be curious about us Jews for Jesus as they see us in our T-shirts of witness, distributing gospel literature and proclaiming our street testimonies to the passing crowds. Surely on many occasions as they note our fatigue caused by oppressive heat, sore feet, and aching backs and as they hear some of the unkind responses we receive, they must wonder why we’re out there and what we hope to accomplish.
It’s simple. By our presence we’re raising the banner of God’s love. At Campaign time we raise that banner higher than ever. We must raise it high enough and long enough so that all people, Jews and Gentiles, can see it. They must be made aware of it so they can decide for themselves whether or not they will follow the One it represents.
A case in point is a girl named Nancy. She had seen us before—probably every day—and had regularly rejected each offer of a broadside as she thought how disgusted her Jewish parents would be if she ever brought one of those things” into the house. But one balmy summer day she thought differently about it. She took one.
I answered the telephone at our New York branch office to hear Nancy’s voice. “Is this Jews for Jesus?”
“Yes,” I responded. “May I help you?”
“I was just handed one of your pamphlets. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe this stuff; I just find it interesting.”
As our conversation continued, Nancy told me of her Jewish background, then began asking about our group. “How many of you are there? You seem to be everywhere!”
“Enough of us to raise the issue that Jews can believe in Jesus and still be Jewish,” I answered.
She left no address or telephone number, but she promised to continue reading our daily tracts. Our persistent presence on the streets of New York had pricked the consciousness of that young executive-in-training. As through our presence the banner of King Messiah continues to fly over New York, we pray that many will find the courage to give him their allegiance.
Bob Mendelsohn is the leader of Jews for Jesus' work in Sydney, Australia. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Kansas City, but became a college drop-out when he decided to look for the meaning of life in the counterculture of the '60s. He found meaning and relevance in Jesus which caused him much trouble at home. But he says, It was worth the cost." Bob has worked for Jews for Jesus since 1979, and served as the leader of our work in Washington DC and New York City before moving to Sydney in 1998. Bob and his wife Patty both graduated from the University of Kansas and Fuller Seminary. The Mendelsohns live in Sydney near their son. Their two daughters and one grandson live in the US.