Jews for Jesus had a booth at Congress ’86, a conference of the New England Association of Evangelicals that was held in downtown Boston. As part of the activities, we gave shopping bags to people at the Congress. Printed on the sides in big, red letters were the words, JEWS FOR JESUS.”
The site of the conference was Copley Place, a new development with hotels at either end and an upper class shopping mall in between. The seminars and sessions were held in both of the hotels, so that participants on their way to lunch or dinner or one of the sessions passed through the entire mall and downtown area carrying the shopping bags. As those who worked in the malls and downtown Boston saw all those Jews for Jesus shopping bags, it produced some amazing reactions.
One young woman came to our booth furious that we were giving out the bags. She asked how dared we distribute them, and said that she was offended by them. When we asked what about them offended her, she didn’t answer. She just kept on repeating that she was offended, and after a while, she left.
Next a middle-aged man came in, threatening to return with some of his friends and rip apart our display. He also was furious and tried to convince us that we were wrong to believe in Jesus. After yelling for a while and threatening us a few more times, he too left.
Several of those attending the conference also told us stories of people approaching them on the streets of Boston to express outrage about their shopping bags and to try to turn them from believing in Jesus.
Despite those negative reactions, there were positive reactions as well. One woman came in from the shopping mall to ask some sincere questions about the Lord. She gave us her name and address so we could meet with her in the future to discuss the gospel. Who knows how many other people saw the shopping bags and started asking questions about Jesus? We ought to be praying for the angry people as well as for the ones who are searching for the truth. Along with that, we can certainly praise the Lord that something intended merely as a gift for those attending the conference served a dual purpose. Those shopping bags were also used by the Lord to create a public story to the Jewishness of believing in Jesus.