Campaigning in the BYG Apple
Campaign leaders Dan Sered and Greg Savitt
Ask Manhattan campaigner Sharon Turnil her favorite place to hand out broadsides and she’ll tell you “Bryant Park, because people are relaxed and willing to talk.” (Or as Michelle, who also favors Bryant Park put it, “People are chillin’ and willin’.”) Monte Hinojosa will tell you his favorite “sortie site” is the subway station at 59th and Lexington (dubbed “the Panic Room” by campaigners back in 1980) “because people come from all directions so it’s hectic and you can hand out a lot of broadsides.”
The Manhattan campaign has more places than anywhere in the greater New York area to hand out tracts. And the various places play to the respective strengths of different campaigners. So why didn’t we just bring the whole BYG crew to Manhattan? Let’s face it, Staten Island is not the city that never sleeps. The Bronx is not the Big Apple. Et cetera.
The wonderful thing about having a nine-in-one New York grand finale was the way that God used each campaign to create a series of impressions greater than the sum of its parts. Someone from New Jersey would get a phone call from Jews for Jesus, would even hang up on the person. Next morning they’d drive into Manhattan, seeing one of our bannering teams on the way. They’d return home that night and phone the Manhattan office, because that was the number on the tract they received at lunchtime—perhaps down on Wall Street. After seeing us three times in one 24-hour period they had to ask, “Alright already, what’s all this about Jews for Jesus?”
Each campaign contributed to the cumulative effect of the BYG grand finale. But Manhattan made the greatest series of impressions simply because so many people in the greater New York metro area commute there . . . and because Manhattan is the media capital of the world. People who saw members of the Manhattan team on the news (see p. 1, 2) were also more likely to interact with our people when they saw them in Long Island or Rockland County.
So there was a tremendous buzz of excitement and energy in the Manhattan campaign. Each night at dinner we would have “story time” and campaigners would tell about various divine appointments.
For example, Sara prayed that God would bring someone whom she could pray with to receive the Lord. She noticed a man standing on the corner, so she approached him. Sara shared the gospel with him and told him that to be saved, he needed to repent and ask for God’s forgiveness through Jesus. The man asked if he could do so right away. Afterwards, Sara explained that she had prayed to meet someone who was ready to receive Jesus. He replied that he had “a strange feeling” that he needed to be standing right where he was.
Sometimes it was a matter of being in the “wrong place” at the right time. For example, campaigners Ryan, MontT and Jeff were on their way to Battery Park, but got on the wrong train. During their detour, they met a Jewish woman—an Israeli named Dinah—and her Catholic boyfriend, Kevin. She and Kevin were sincerely curious and our campaigners were able to have an extended conversation with them about the gospel. The couple was excited about the chance to continue the discussion in the future. Talk about God’s strength being made perfect in our weakness!
As always, Manhattan offered us an immense variety of witnessing opportunities, but this year our gospel proclamation was uniquely amplified through the media. Whereas the life cycle of a news story is normally three days, we continued to have coverage in Manhattan from the beginning (New York Times) to the end (the final day of campaign we had an interview with a Polish TV station).
But even without the news reporters and TV cameras, whether we were in Bryant Park or “the Panic Room,” on the “right corner” or the “wrong train” . . . or even conducting an all-campaign parade through Times Square on the very last day of BYG, God showed Himself faithful. We saw Him at work to make the Messiahship of His Son an unavoidable issue in Manhattan . . . and beyond.