New York City is home to our Jews for Jesus training center and we have year-round missionaries in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens (though no official branch in the latter).
Our regular staff go about doing regular missionary work in New York City all year round: handing out our gospel broadsides on a weekly basis, calling on Jewish people, meeting for one-on-one Bible studies as well as hosting group Bible studies and other events. So how come when summertime rolls around, the media suddenly informs Manhattanites that Jews for Jesus are “back”? It’s not like we ever left!
Once a year we make an all-out effort to saturate the city. Staff and volunteers go to the street corners and parks several times a day with gospel tracts and a desire to talk to anyone who is interested in hearing about Jesus. At night they witness in places like Times Square or the theatre district.
It’s not that there are so many of us, but our Jews for Jesus T-shirts are hard to miss. Two dozen campaigners can seem like two hundred when properly dressed and deployed. “You’re everywhere!” is one of the reactions campaigners are bound to hear (in addition to “You oughtta be ashamed of yourself!” “Does your mother know you’re doing this?” or the often-heard, polite yet misguided, “No thanks, I’m good.”)
Shaun Buchhalter, one of our regular New York staff, is leading this year’s campaign. He’s enthusiastic about some new opportunities and we hope that you will be, too. You can have a vital part in this campaign by covering Shaun and the other campaigners in prayer.
For Shaun, one of the opportunities is a “good news/bad news” story. With deep sadness he notes that the Mets and Yankee stadiums are closing, so this year is the last season for both. People are responding by buying record numbers of tickets, so the games should be especially good venues for greeting crowds with the gospel. Shaun is especially looking forward to bringing the good news of Jesus to the All Star game. We would have enclosed the tract for you to see but—it hasn’t been written yet! (Click here to see a copy of one of our other broadsides.)
Part of Shaun’s strategy is encouraging campaigners to make creative contributions. He says, “The first week will be very similar to our usual campaigns, with the literature we already have printed, etc. Then I want to open the door for campaigners to come up with their own ideas. I’m hoping to see new broadsides created during the campaign, including one for the All Star game. At the beginning of every week, we’ll throw out titles of possible new tracts and see what grabs people.” At the same time, Shaun wants to consider, on a weekly basis, any fresh ideas campaigners might have for evangelism. He hopes this might lead to interviews on the street, dramatic testimonies and brief dramatic skits—some of which might end up as YouTube videos on the web.
Campaigners point people to the Messiah through music and drama. Shaun’s wife, Crystal, is a professionally trained singer. Gospel opera, anyone? “Who knows?” Shaun smiles, “for some of the nighttime outreaches, we might even find a way to use karaoke to get people talking about Jesus.”
This year, in addition to the traditional after-dinner two-hour sorties (tract passing expeditions) Shaun is setting aside Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for teams to stay out significantly later, witnessing in areas where young people hang out.
Shaun’s hopes for this year’s campaign include building an even deeper sense of community among team members, and keeping people thinking, praying and energetically working out ways to tell others about Jesus.
To that end, we’re trying something new: rather than housing campaigners in a hotel, this year they will have a more “dorm style” experience, closer proximity, with fewer amenities but more fellowship and, we hope, more synergy.
As you pray, Shaun requests that you keep in mind:
This year’s campaigners are, on average, younger than in recent years; this was intentional but it will probably also require more from the leadership.
We have a “tiger team” of campaigners who will already have campaigned with us in Israel and London. Their experience will be invaluable. Pray for a burst of energy, and that they will be completely refreshed for this campaign.
We have a large Israeli contingent this year, as well as many from Russia and Ukraine. Pray for many opportunities for them to witness to Hebrew and Russian-speaking people. Also pray for each of these groups to have a sense of fitting in well with the larger group of campaigners.
Pray for the spiritual as well as physical health of campaigners.
Pray that the close proximity, sharing of bathrooms, etc. will be an occasion for people to be considerate and gracious to one another, and that people will be able to prefer one another in love.
Pray for God to sustain everyone’s energy and drive throughout the entire campaign.
Shaun would also appreciate your prayers for him to be able to care for both campaigners and stewards and to know how to encourage them, especially when they are tired or have gone through a difficult situation.
Finally, please pray that this gospel proclamation will bear lasting fruit, and that we will have the privilege to see some of that fruit in continuing ministry to many people we come in contact with during the campaign.