Long Island Campaign . . . Jewish Dentist Meets the Great Physician
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Campaign leaders Susan Mendelson and Bob Mendelsohn (no relation except in the Lord)
“Nachas” is a Yiddish word that denotes a joy that is somewhat parental in nature . . . as in describing one’s “pride and joy” in a loved one. Bob Mendelsohn must have been feeling plenty of nachas over Jeff Burkes, the chief forensic dentist of NY County, whom Bob led to Christ in 1982. Burkes (who was called to help identify victims after the 9/11 terrorist attack) was one of the doctors who gave his story for a series of events titled, “Jewish Doctors Meet the Great Physician.”
A man named Carl brought his Jewish dentist (to whom he’d been witnessing for 15 years) to one of these events, hosted by Beth Emanuel Messianic Congregation. The Doctor of Dental Surgery, whose name was also Carl, found Jeff’s story utterly convincing and the two of them, along with three others from the congregation, prayed as Carl received his Messiah.
The Long Island campaign conducted several Jewish doctor events, but their mainstay in terms of day-to-day evangelism was beach evangelism. That was the number one activity for conversations and contacts, especially on those hot, sticky days when everyone wants to escape to the sand and surf. It was on one of those days at Jones Beach that campaigner Ester, from Brazil, led a 70-year-old Jewish man named Marvin to Christ. Marvin was with a Christian friend who had been talking to him about Jesus for years. What a blessing for that friend to see the fruit of his prayers and faithful witnessing. One plants, another waters, God gives the increase . . . and we all rejoice together.
Weather did not always permit outdoor evangelism. On some of the rainy days, the teams stayed in to make phone calls. But that ministry turned out to be “a little thin” according to Bob Mendelsohn, “and we realized that while it had seemed like a good rainy-day activity, we needed to be more intentional about calling in the evenings when people were more likely to be available to talk.”
The team also spent time “doorknocking” in various neighborhoods including Great Neck, where 10,000 Iranian Jews reside. There Bob met Ellen, a Jewish woman in her midtwenties who described herself as someone who was raised as a religious Jew, but is no longer practicing. Ellen had never heard of Jews for Jesus, and was very happy to receive the Jesus for Jews book. She gave her phone number so that one of our New York staff could arrange a follow-up visit.
That same day, Bob knocked on a door and met Gretta, a Czech woman who, when she was ten, moved to Ecuador. Bob said, “We told her about the Jewish doctor event, and I said, ‘Everyone has a right to tell their story don’t they?’ Gretta agreed and invited my partner and me to come in and hear her story. This was the first time going door-to-door that anyone had invited me into his or her home. Once I knew she was from Ecuador, our conversation quickly broke out into Spanish. After taking a few minutes to tell her story, Gretta invited me to tell mine. When it was time to go, she was keen to have another visit. Please pray for our follow up with her.”
This was the first time that Jews for Jesus has made sustained and concentrated efforts to reach Long Island. There was much to learn along the way. Originally, the Long Island campaign leaders had split the group in two, because the Jewish population is dispersed over such a wide area. However, by the end of the second week, they united the team in Nassau County, where the Jewish population is most concentrated.
One of the high notes of the campaign was the participation of many other Jewish ministries. For example, the joy of seeing Carl come to faith was deepened due to the fact that it was a joint effort with a local Messianic congregation. Bob says, “The level of cooperation with other Jewish ministries on this campaign is unprecedented in my experience. We have congregations and other agencies to whom we are funneling contacts and with whom we are praying. The spirit of cooperation is huge and we are grateful. That’s been a hallmark of the Long Island campaign.”