As you read this newsletter the entire Jews for Jesus missionary team from around the world, along with many volunteers, has convened in New York City. There have only been a few times when all our missionaries have joined together like this.
Our first New York City Witnessing Campaign was in 1974. We were much fewer in number and were not entirely certain of what we were doing, but we all shared a sense of urgency and expectancy. We were pretty sure that Jesus would be coming back at any time, so we needed to go all out and preach the gospel as best we could. Even though Jesus didn’t come back as soon as we thought He would, we did learn a few things about campaigning and decided to make this type of all out” New York campaign an annual event.
Two years later it was our nation’s Bicentennial, so once again we gathered all our missionaries and as many volunteers as we could to campaign. This time we had too many people—we didn’t know how to deploy them effectively. We sent teams to Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. as well as keeping a large presence in New York. And we decided that we didn’t need that many people to conduct a good campaign.
In the summer of 1980 we had just finished the better part of a year with all our missionaries joined together in San Francisco, planning and preparing for the future. We called it our Avodah year, and as it drew to an end we all launched out from San Francisco and headed for our longest New York campaign ever—nine weeks. Campaigns are supposed to be tough, but nine weeks was really too much. So we settled on four weeks as the optimum campaign duration.
Since then we have conducted hundreds of campaigns around the world. With Operation Behold Your God we have held campaigns in 54 cities over the past five years and now we are in New York for the last one, enthusiastically dubbed “the Grand Finale.” Of course we don’t know how “grand” it will be—only God knows what will be accomplished. But it feels grand to have come this far, and to have our entire staff gathered together for this purpose. This is the first campaign in 26 years where all of our missionaries have joined together. And it is the first time that we have more Jews for Jesus missionaries in New York from outside the U.S. than inside. It’s like the end of a fireworks display; we’ve been sending up rockets to lift the name of Jesus, and now we want to light up New York and proclaim the gospel with as much color and creativity as we can, all at once. (We’ve got 30 new broadside tracts!)
We’ve tried to learn from each campaign. No doubt we will learn from this one as well. We believe we can deploy large numbers of people effectively by running nine campaigns simultaneously throughout the greater New York Metropolitan area.
We still hope and pray and believe in Jesus’ soon return. Maybe He will even come during this campaign! But if He doesn’t, we will continue campaigning and doing everything we can to preach the gospel, everything we can to make the Messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue in New York and worldwide.
During previous campaigns, headlines in the Jewish press would scream, “Hundreds of Jews for Jesus missionaries are descending on New York!” We’d smile because usually there were about 24 of us. Well this time those headlines might be a little closer to the truth. We are thrilled to be together in large numbers to do this work. But when you think about it, even with the greatest number of Jews for Jesus missionaries and volunteers ever on campaign, we are still quite a small group in a big place like New York. We may draw some attention but I don’t want anyone, especially us, to be too impressed by how many people we have working on this campaign. Rather they should be impressed with the strength of the gospel and the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
We aim to do our best, to make this an all-out effort to proclaim the gospel, but we know that victory is “‘not by might nor by power but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6.) It is the gospel that is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” There can be strength in numbers, but the strength in numbers we really need is in armies of angels doing mighty battle, and the thousands of Jews for Jesus friends like you who will hold us up in prayer and petition the Lord to do great things during this month. Can we count on you to pray for us to stand firm and remain faithful to the Lord throughout this month-long campaign?
We will have a special Jews for Jesus Newspaper to report after the campaign, but if you have online access you can link to daily “blog” reports and prayer requests from www.jewsforjesus.org.
This past Easter Sunday I was scheduled to speak at an evening service in Orlando. With the morning free, I decided to attend a worship service at First Presbyterian Church in the city’s downtown area. They had a full choir and orchestra and the sanctuary was packed. The pastor stood and announced, “Today we join our hearts and voices with Christians all around the world to declare, ‘Christ is risen.’ He is risen indeed.” I felt my emotions swelling as I considered the history, the joining together with this great cloud of witnesses and the sense of solidarity with followers of Jesus all around the world.
In a way that is how I feel about our campaign in New York this month. I am blessed to be with all of my friends and fellow workers in Jews for Jesus in New York City for this Behold Your God Grand Finale. We still have a sense of urgency and expectancy. No doubt we will have our share of struggles. We will enjoy such victories and success as the Lord will bring. But the great thing is to see the bigger picture, to join together with those who have gone before us and, if the Lord tarries, those who will continue when we are gone, to fulfill the commandment of Jesus so long ago. Just before His ascension to glory, Yeshua (Jesus) told that very first group of Jews for Jesus, “and you shall be witnesses to Me…” (Acts 1:8). And so they were. And because they and others obeyed, we’re here, doing what He told His followers to do. Yes, it would be wonderful if Messiah came back this month. But if He tarries, we will still be here declaring, “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.”