A Funny Thing Happened…
Last year I was chaplain for the Jews for Jesus Summer Witnessing Campaign. I had the privilege of praying with and for the campaigners (and the stewards who tirelessly cooked, washed dishes, did laundry and packed tracts into the campaigners’ bags). I held counseling sessions and preached the Word to them every day. I was also blessed by some firsthand experiences in street evangelism and even led a few people in prayer to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. I found it a truly exhilarating experience, and I am looking forward to being chaplain again this summer.
Of course when we are effective for God we can expect strong opposition from the evil one. It can come from within, as we get very tired and forget the joy of what we are doing. It can come from police or other authorities who try to deny us our constitutional right to proclaim God’s Word. Sometimes it can come from those who, like the Apostle Paul before he met Jesus, think that by opposing us they are doing what is right.
I believe this third type of opposition was what we experienced when a certain anti-missionary group began to harass our people on the street. They surrounded us to keep us from distributing our literature. At one point they even brought out a video camera and tried to provoke one of the campaigners. We decided on a creative, but not very serious, response.
One of our campaigners designed a placard that said Jesus Christ Really Cares . On the reverse side the sign said Jews for Jesus . I had the privilege of standing with this placard in front of the opposition’s headquarters and boldly proclaiming the message of Jesus’ love to the hundreds of passersby in cars and on foot. After about 30 minutes I found I had company. Several people came out of the building. Again they had a video camera. They started to film me, thrusting the camera close to my face to intimidate me into leaving. At first I didn’t know what to do, but then I had an idea. Unbelieving Jewish people would watch that video! I looked right into the camera lens and began to preach about God’s love in Christ. When I finished my sermon they were still rolling the film, so I started on Isaiah 53. Just then their director ran over and had them stop the camera, but our proclamation was not yet over.
The band of counter-missionaries went down to the corner to harass one of our campaigners. They crowded around him and made it very difficult for him to distribute his literature. The man who was causing the greatest difficulty was wearing the skullcap and fringes of a very Orthodox Jew. I stood right next to him with my Jews for Jesus sign, and some pedestrians mistook him for being a Jew for Jesus too! At that he backed off and we were able to continue what we were doing. When it came time for us to leave, he and his co-worker followed us. To prevent them from rendering us ineffective, we orchestrated a little parade. The campaigner they had harassed walked away first, and I waited. When the anti-missionary and his friend followed in single file, I brought up the rear with my placard. With our campaigner at the front in a bright green Jews for Jesus T-shirt and me with my sign at the end, the man with the skullcap and his friend with her literature looked like they were part of a four-person parade proclaiming Jesus as Lord! Within a few blocks we joined with several other campaigners and continued the parade (including the two anti-missionaries who were following us). We sang songs and chanted slogans like, "Jesus is the Bread of Life." Of course our two opponents did not sing along with us, but with this strategy we exalted the name of Jesus and effectively immobilized the two who had tried to keep us from proclaiming the gospel message.
As for my being videotaped, such videos are intended by the countermissionaries to warn the Jewish community about us "dangerous missionaries" and to solicit money to counteract our efforts. But God can use what was intended for harm to accomplish his good purposes. Maybe some unbelieving Jewish person who viewed the tape really considered my message and came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That would be even better than a parade down Park Avenue !
Editor’s Note: Preaching the gospel in the face of opposition takes courage, determination and ingenuity. Our campaigners, Campaign Chaplain Scott Rubin and Tuvya Zaretsky (this summer’s Campaign leader) all need your special encouragement and prayers as once again we go out to the streets with the good news of Yeshua.