My skin felt sticky, and my shirt was damp at the shoulder under the strap of the tract bag I was carrying. It was a hot, humid day in downtown Boston. There I stood on the Freedom Trail by Faneuil Hall under the burning sun distributing a tract called Tourist Tsuris. (Tsuris is a Yiddish word meaning the kind of trouble everyone encounters sooner or later.) The tract, especially written for tourists, speaks of Jesus’ trip” down here to earth. I wondered if the tourists I saw swarming towards Faneuil Hall to see the old markets and stand where once protests of British policy rang out were having much tsuris of their own.
At that point I could certainly relate to tsuris. The corner where I stood was like a three-ring circus. At first, the only one beside me had been a fellow with a table full of sunglasses he was selling. Soon a woman arrived with a camera, a tripod, and a life-sized cardboard figure of Ronald Reagan, who was President at the time. She began yelling, “How about a picture with Ronnie?” Minutes later a man stood to the side and put on an “up-up,” a headband with colorful party blowers attached. A plastic tube ran up to the blowers so that when air was blown into the contraption, the wearer seemed to grow instant rabbit ears. It looked very comical.
I had hardly distributed 200 tracts when a woman in a frog costume walked up the street. She was handing out restaurant flyers. Soon another woman followed the “frog” and began to pass out Conservatory calendars. When I turned around again, a man was selling jewelry he had laid out on a piece of velvet on the ground. Last, but certainly not least, a self-proclaimed violinist came along. He stood about four and a half feet away and played Jingle Bells. I could not contain a broad smile and nearly laughed out loud as I thought of “dashing through the snow” to get out of the terrible summer heat.
All of those stimuli! Surely people must have felt a bit bombarded. I could hardly believe that I was standing there in the midst of all that chaos. What was I doing there? Then I thought again. The Hare Krishna people were just around the corner with their display trying to persuade others to join their ranks. I wanted to be in the midst of that circus atmosphere to share the good news of my tract—that Jesus’ trip to earth had been a success, that he had died for our sins so that we might be “kosher” before God, and that he had not stopped there. With power he had risen from the dead to return to heaven to prepare a place for us, so that we might live eternally with him. What I offered was better than sunglasses for squinting eyes, food for hungry stomachs, or laughter and music for weary spirits.
I remembered two Jewish women who had come by at different times that week. Each had read my tract through to the end. One, though she had been very pleasant and friendly, had not been interested in knowing anything more about the Messiah. The other had said that she would be interested in receiving more information about our view of Jesus. I knew that even one person like that who stopped to consider the Messiah made my trip to such a circus corner worth the effort.
Editor’s Note: This incident happened a few years ago, but the experiences described are timeless. Stephana and her husband Lee were on staff with our Boston Branch when she wrote this. They have since become parents and have moved to Iowa where Lee has enrolled in medical school. They are not on Jews for Jesus staff at this time.