I had sat in those same chairs seven years earlier. After much prayer and consideration, I had left my life of 13 years in Honolulu to come on staff with Jews for Jesus. Upon my arrival at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, the scene contrasted starkly with the lazily swaying palm trees I had left behind in Honolulu. I had no idea what other changes lay in store! I quickly found out. Campaign training was the hardest experience I had ever encountered in my six years as a believer. It was a model of the most radically committed Christianity I had ever seen. No longer based on feelings alone, my faith became grounded on the objective truth that Jesus is the Messiah.
Seven years later, I stood in front of the current group of trainees, testifying to the fact that one does manage to survive training and Campaign and then comes to love it and wish it would never end. As they sat there looking incredulously at me, I could only gesture with upheld palms and shrug. Here I was, about to invest in this group of young Jewish believers. I was going to pour into them all the energy I could muster along with a verbal experience of my past seven years. If that could prepare them in some fraction of a way—equip them to go out and fight for the good faith—I would succeed.
They looked up to me as if I were the expert. I remembered looking up to my trainers in awe, wondering if I would ever be as smooth as they were in presenting the gospel. I had wondered if I would ever come to the point where I would know how to handle each question and each response in a correct manner. Now here were these people, looking at me in the same way, asking me questions as though I were the expert. The only real difference between them and me was seven years of experience. Yes, in some ways, I had become an expert.” I certainly knew a lot more than I had seven years ago.
Co-teaching the training was a stretching experience for me. Without being clinically needy, these people were, in some ways, like children needing attention. They needed to have their hurts talked out. They needed to receive my show of support for their endeavors. During those two weeks, I often wondered how I could keep on pouring myself out to meet all those needs when I sometimes felt as if I were running on empty myself. It was a stretch to stand in front of that group, lecturing day after day, getting tired of hearing my own voice, wondering if I had come across coherently. And in the back of my mind’s eye was the bigger vision: I was properly equipping 23 others in order to reproduce my own efforts. Now there would be 23 times as much effort and energy as I could give; 23 times as much evangelism as I could do.
Then the day came when it was time to say good-bye for a while. The trainers presented me with an oversized poster board card. Not only did it say thanks, the written message was a thank you for investing in their lives and caring for them in order to equip them for the task at hand. My mission was accomplished, my prayer was answered. They had grasped the vision. Soon I would have the opportunity to see those caterpillars turned butterflies, flying bravely and delivering the message. Twenty-three times one. And I knew that just as God had multiplied my efforts because of what I invested in those trainees, so He would multiply theirs as they invested themselves in proclaiming the gospel.