It was so long ago that I was in grammar school that I have forgotten most of it, but there is one story we read that I will never forget. It was about a big, faithful German Shepherd dog on a pioneer farm. One day, as the farmer was returning from the field, he saw the dog apparently attacking his frightened four-year-old.
The farmer took out his gun, a piece of equipment that frontiersmen carried with them everywhere, and there, in front of the house, shot the dog. Then, as the child tried to sob out the story, the farmer moved the dog’s body to find a large dead rattlesnake that had been killed by the dog. The snake, not the child, had been the object of the dog’s attack.
Some 45 years later that story still greatly impresses me, and I have found its modem day counterpart in something that is happening to Jews for Jesus. You have heard about our Supreme Court case and the ordeal we have been put through for simply trying to hand out tracts at the Los Angeles airport. For 12 years we have handed out tracts there in a heretofore legal way. In order to maintain our legal right to continue proclaiming Christ in this loving way, we had to go to court. In court we won. Then we won again. Then the Los Angeles Airport Commissioners appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently heard our case and will hand down its decision in July. Well, this dog” is getting shot at for trying to throttle the rattlesnake of statism.
Some are misunderstanding our actions and our motives, and instead of a pat on the head and a “well done,” we are receiving criticism and even denunciation for doing the right thing. We have been hurt in important areas of our ministry like our Liberated Wailing Wall meetings. This mobile evangelistic team must maintain a tight schedule because expenses are high as they travel great distances to present the gospel in music and drama. The most important presentation is the Sunday evening church meeting. We try to schedule the team at what we call “anchor churches” for those nights and then schedule our other meetings around those pivotal churches.
Not long ago we were to be at one of those anchor churches in the Phoenix area, and six days before the presentation, they called to cancel. I would rather not name the church, but I have always held its ministers and ministry in high esteem. Amid much hemming and hawing, the reason they gave for canceling the Liberated Wailing Wall meeting was, “some of the people don’t like this legal business that you are involved with at the Supreme Court.” Because of that cancellation we had to interrupt our ordinary schedule and pay more than $1,000.00 for first class notices to all recipients of our itinerary mailings to tell them that we would not be able to minister at that great church.
That same day I got home in the evening to find a generous check in the mail from a friend of mine, a pastor of a small church. He wanted to help, but somehow he had gotten the idea that we had chosen to bring the matter before the Supreme Court. He asked, “Couldn’t you leave well enough alone and let the decision of the lower courts stand?” That decision was the one that gave us the freedom to hand out the literature. I had to write my friend a lengthy letter and point out to him that we did not bring the matter before the Supreme Court. It was the other side, the Los Angeles Airport, that was not satisfied with continuing to grant us the freedom we have always been accorded in the past. They appealed the case.
Ever since this court case was announced, our income has been down. Maybe Jews for Jesus could get “killed” for doing the right thing, just like that poor dog in the story. I wouldn’t like that. But I would rather get killed for doing the right thing than let my conscience die by declining to do it.