Our month-long Annual New York City Summer Witnessing Campaign begins July 1. In order to help you pray for this month’s campaigners, we thought we’d share reflections from a couple of veteran campaigners. These articles share a vulnerable side of our missionaries that we don’t always portray, because we are not looking to throw a poor us” pity party. We do want you to pray, though, and to be able to imagine yourselves out there with us.
You’re not twenty-six anymore,” my friend insisted over a long distance call. She was reminding me that I was not as physically able to do what I could do when I began my ministry with Jews for Jesus. “That was 17 years ago,” she continued to chide. To tell the truth, I felt a little depressed when I got off the phone with my friend.
She was right; after all, I hadn’t been on a full campaign for many years. Still, I actually felt better than I had in years; I’d been “working out” to prepare for our month-long “Behold Your God” campaign in D.C. I knew it was going to be a major physical challenge, but I had done all that I knew to do to prepare my body.
Nevertheless, I sensed that with all my busyness, I hadn’t done all that was possible to fortify something more important—my spirit. And so three days away from our campaign, I was praying that God would prepare me spiritually for what I was about to encounter.
That same morning I turned on the radio to a sermon that was nearly over—but I don’t think it was an accident I tuned in at the moment. The preacher was talking about Stephen’s stoning, from Acts 7. The final point was that in the midst of his suffering, Stephen saw the glory of God. I don’t know who the preacher was, but he assured his listeners that when we are being persecuted for our faith, we are actually in the midst of God’s glory, sharing in His suffering. I tucked that message away in my heart, grateful that God heard my desire to prepare spiritually for our outreach.
The first week of our campaign, my team was sent out to Farragut North to hand out our broadsides to the lunchtime crowd. This is the heart of D.C.’s business district. Many people who passed by hurled insults at my teammate and me.
I was tempted to answer back harshly at one particularly disgusting remark, but was aware that God’s glory was present. From that moment on, I offered a “God bless you” to every vile remark, knowing that God would bless me with the presence of His glory. I prayed for those who cursed me, as Stephen had prayed that God would not hold the sin of his persecutors against them. In the midst of the yelling, the nasty comments, and the occasional attempt to knock the tracts from my hand, I felt the presence of God very powerfully on the street corner that day.
The following week my team was sent to the Wheaton metro station, in the heart of the Orthodox Jewish community. I stationed my teammate at one side, and I went to the other. After 15 minutes I went back to check on my teammate, and found her in tears. I asked her what was wrong, and she told me she was having a difficult time with one particular man who was harassing her. She pointed him out as he waited for his ride. I offered to switch places with her, as my side was a bit milder.
Within minutes of switching, the same man that harassed my teammate came back to harass me. He asked, “Just tell me, why are you doing this?” “Because I believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, and I think that every Jew ought to consider Him,” I replied. The man started to curse at me, but I asked him anyway, “How do you know that He is not the Messiah?” “Because He didn’t bring peace,” he screamed at the top of his lungs.
At this point a woman wearing a very prominently displayed cross, screamed out as she passed, “You should be ashamed yourself, telling Jews about Jesus.” “God bless you,” I called back. Immediately another woman tore up a tract and threw it at my face. Again I offered her a blessing. All this happened in an instant, so I turned to the man and said, “He does bring peace. He brought peace to me, and He can bring peace to you. Can you honestly say that your beliefs right now are bringing you peace?” He couldn’t answer—he wasn’t very peaceful, and he knew it. He looked embarrassed, and I told him I would be praying for him to know the truth. It continued like that for another hour, but I have to say I really felt the joy of Lord in the midst of those encounters.
After each sortie (tract passing expedition) I felt my age. My feet hurt, my knees were swollen and my back ached, but I was blessed. Each time I went out on the street, each time I was insulted for the cause of Christ, I felt the glory of God’s presence. Because each time I was reminded that I am a co-heir with Him, sharing in His persecution, and therefore I could also share in His glory (Romans 8:16-18).