Many come to the Big Apple and try to witness, but most traditional forms of outreach are barely even noticed as the masses hurry by. To be heard in New York City you really have to make some noise, or at least maintain a high profile. Such is the case with our Jews for Jesus Summer Witnessing Campaigns.
One of the ways we capture attention for the gospel is by "street parables" or evangelistic drama. In the same way that Jesus used stories and concepts that were familiar to his listeners, we use modern themes to relate the message of the gospel. First we have some Israeli dancing or some other kind of eye-catcher to draw a crowd. Then one by one our people come forward to present their "parables." The topics may be anything from shoes to rain to physical fitness, but they always lead to the message of Jesus and contain a Scripture verse.
Parades were among the various devices we used last summer to proclaim the gospel. One parade in particular stands out in my mind. The theme was food and fruit, and some of us were even in costume. We were led by a “chef” followed by one of the campaigners dressed as an onion. I marched next to the onion dressed as a giant California raisin. We were followed by about two dozen people in Jews for Jesus T-shirts, and behind them came one last campaigner in a chicken outfit!
We marched down the streets chanting slogans like, "Jesus made me kosher." Of course this succeeded in getting the attention of many New Yorkers. Our march took us to the New York Public Library. There we did some Israeli dancing and street parables. I even handed out tracts in my raisin costume!
One woman came up to me and looked into one of the raisin’s giant eyes. My whole face was in the eye of the raisin. "Aren’t you hot in there?" she asked.
"Well, I used to get hot under the collar all the time, but now Jesus keeps me cool," I responded. "Do you know who Jesus is?" I spent a minute or two talking to her, until she had to run and catch her bus. Then I realized how odd it must have looked for that woman to be staring at a giant raisin as she listened to the gospel.
It might have been regarded as a silly medium, but through its use a serious message got heard! Of all the times I have explained the message of sin, salvation and our Savior, this encounter will certainly stand out in my memory.
Editor’s Note: Since the early 1970s parades have been a staple of our Jews for Jesus outreach. Lined up usually two-by-two, we march to various locations as we sing or chant slogans about the Messiah while carrying placards with the same message.