To sum it up, our month-long summer witnessing campaign in New York City ended as the last of 281,151 pieces of gospel literature were handed out. One hundred seven Jewish seekers gave us their information to hear more about Jesus, and one of them prayed with us to receive the Lord. During the campaign, we had 14 visits with some of these Jewish seekers. One hundred twenty unbelievers of various other backgrounds also gave us their contact information, and eight prayed with us to receive the Lord.
Following are some of the stories behind those numbers, including an encounter that began with an angry Jewish woman, and ended with her asking for more information and giving a hug and a high five to our staff who had called after her!
Karol Joseph: “Josh Sofaer and I were planning on doing a sweep of Broadway from W. 96th to W 82nd, but we never got past W 90th because we were in almost constant conversations along the way. By far the most significant was with Jessica, who was quite angry when she saw us and yelled out something hostile as she crossed the street going north. Josh called after her, ‘Tradition isn’t enough!’ That stopped her in her tracks. She turned around and came back spewing venom.
“Josh succeeded in calming her down, and they were having a reasonable conversation, so I joined them. At one point I saw an opening to ask Jessica if she actually believed in God, and she couldn’t really say yes. So I began to share a bit of why I am convinced that God exists, mentioning my personal experience with God, who miraculously helped me with an addiction to food.
“That touched a nerve in Jessica, and her demeanor completely changed, since for years she has struggled with the same problem, but has never found a solution. We talked for a bit longer and discovered many similarities in our lives. So I asked her if she would be willing to give me her email address so I could send her my story to read, and she eagerly agreed. Before she left she said, ‘I just have to give you a hug!’ and she hugged me. Then she turned to Josh and said, ‘I don’t hug men, but I’ll give you a high five!’ And she did.
“I emailed her my story booklet, Nothing to Fear, as soon as I returned to the Center, and within a few hours she had sent me a very long email expressing her appreciation for our taking the time to talk with her (in 100 degree temperature!), and how much my story had helped her to understand more about how God might fit into recovery from compulsive eating. She added that she still has more questions. So now we are planning on getting together in person to talk further about these things!” (editor: it is no coincidence that of all people to encounter, Jessica was touched by Karol’s story, since Karol lives in New York and will be able to continue to have personal contact with her.)
Also from Karol: “On another day, some of us took a lunch break in the park, choosing benches by the road where people would see our T-shirts. Laura Barron had an amazing conversation with a woman there that actually lasted through our entire lunch break.
“Nancy is 71 years old and is a Broadway musical lyricist; she also got her master’s degree in literature at Smith and taught for a while. She really connected with Laura and before long confessed a story that she had never told anyone else in her life. Years ago she had two spiritual experiences. First, she asked God, ‘If you are there, give me a sign. I’m going into Barnes and Noble, and will pull a random book off the shelf; if you exist, let the book be about you.’
“She went to the literature section and opened a random book … and on that page was a poem about God! That so interested her that she corresponded with the author and he told her to keep searching for truth.
“Years went by, however, and she still didn’t believe. Eventually, she worked with a Christian and again, she asked for a sign to show if Jesus were true. Sure enough, she had another one (I forget what it was). And yet she still didn’t believe … but Laura encouraged her to keep searching and they exchanged email addresses. Laura emailed Nancy her story.
“Nancy responded with an extremely thoughtful email the following day. She calls herself an emotional atheist and intellectual agnostic, but we all felt that Nancy is still on her search and that this was most definitely a divine appointment!"
Stewart Weinisch: “As I was walking in the door of the NY Branch, I grabbed a cup of water from our “Juice for Jesus” stand. Another guy grabbed a cup at the same time. He lives right down the street. He said that he would welcome a phone call and that he’d be willing to get together and consider the Scripture. All of that happened within a minute!”
Laura Barron: “During a sortie I met a young man who was discouraged in his faith. He had moved to New York to serve the Lord, and he was finding it difficult. I was able to share a devotion with him that Shoshannah had taught the campaigners just the night before. Adam soaked up God’s Word as we stood on that corner and I was able to pray with him. He was amazed because he had just left a conversation with a friend who told him that he needed to rely more on the Scriptures–then he ran directly into me!
“During our next rush hour sortie, an Israeli man was drawn to our “Small Bang” card because he was a physicist. I told him that I would send him my husband Andrew’s story of how he was working as an aerospace engineer when his boss gave him a New Testament. Nil was open to talking more about the gospel and gave his full contact information for us to connect with him in Tel Aviv.”
Shmuel Abramson: “I was at Battery Park with Jeremy and offered a professor type of a guy my literature. He took it and didn’t say anything, but then looked up. He then saw that I was still in front of him and Jeremy was next to him. He took out his earphones and was willing to hear what we had to say. His name was Renaldo. He said, ‘My friend is a strong believer. She has been talking to me too, so maybe this isn’t a coincidence. I wasn’t even supposed to be here today!’ And right there on the bench, he prayed with us to receive Jesus as his Messiah. It was definitely a divine appointment!”
Susan Perlman: “It was over 100 degrees outside, and I needed to cool off for a couple of minutes. I passed Trader Joe’s and noticed a little air conditioned inset area with a bench. A woman was eating her lunch there, and she invited me to sit down next to her. Her name was Mary, and she turned out to be a believer.
“Before long, an older Jewish woman sat on the other side of Mary. She looked at me and my T-shirt. She started going. ‘Tch…tch…tch,‘ etc. (making a sound of disapproval). She continued doing this hard and heavy with venom in her eyes. Poor Mary. She didn’t know what was happening and asked, ‘What’s the matter?’ The lady responded, ‘You can’t be Jewish and believe in Jesus at the same time. Can’t you see what is on her shirt?’ By now another woman had sat down on the other side of me and she decided to get in on the action. She said, ‘I am Jewish. I don’t believe what she believes, but people are entitled to their own opinion.’
“Suddenly, the two ladies are going at it, with Mary in the middle. The first Jewish lady began spitting at me. Unfortunately, some of her spit stopped short and landed in Mary’s food. Mary protested, ‘You just ruined my lunch!’ At that point, the irate woman stormed off. I then turned to the other Jewish woman and said, ‘I appreciate that you believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion.’ Her name was Linda. She told me a little about her life, then said, ‘Enough about me … how did you come to believe in Jesus?’ She let me share my story with her. Linda is homeless. I invited her to Shabbat dinner and told her, ‘If you come, you will meet nice people who will welcome you and treat you with respect.’ She is considering coming. Please pray for Linda, Mary, and the irate Jewish woman."
Amy Moore: “I was at Hunter College and had a really good conversation with a Jewish guy who listened as I shared my story. I also mentioned some Messianic prophecies to him and asked him if he was interested in hearing more. He replied, ‘I am interested. Many of my friends have been talking to me about Jesus, and I’ve wondered if it was true.’ Henry gave me his contact information. He is really open. Please pray for him."
Amer Olson: “On the Fourth of July, I found one of our volunteers in the midst of four Hasidic men. In the end, we received all four of their email addresses. I sent emails to all of them and one responded, saying he was willing to meet. I was concerned that he might not show up. But he walked into the restaurant with one of his friends. I was thinking to myself, ‘What kind of friend is this going to be? It is an anti-missionary?’ It turned out that his young friend had studied at a Jewish school, but was no longer religious.
They told me that they have been looking at our website and checking us out on YouTube. As we sipped our iced coffee, I handed them a Brit Hadashah (New Testament) in Hebrew. But I took them to some prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as Isaiah 53, Deuteronomy 18 and 30. When I got to Jeremiah 31:31 ff., the younger man said, ‘Why didn’t you show us this one in the first place … a new covenant? That means everything is different now!’
Before they left, I prayed for them, and they prayed as well, that God would show them the truth. I am grateful this ended up being a real visit with two guys, and that there were no anti-missionaries in sight.”
Ofer Levy: “After a wonderful sortie [literature-passing expedition] at Penn Station, I needed to use the restroom and the closest was Macy’s. They’d closed the one on the first floor, so I had go all the way to the seventh! So as I’m washing my hands, an Orthodox man approaches the sink and I said, ‘Hey, how are you?’ So he says the blessings and washes his hands, and as we exited the restroom, I shared the gospel with him, and he was listening intently for five to seven minutes. Then I asked, ‘What do you think?’ He said, ‘You know what I think.’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t know. What do you think?’ And then I asked, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘I have to go.’ Please pray for him. Clearly he was affected by hearing the gospel.
“I was at Washington Square Park. At the same time that our music sortie was going on, Shmuel Abramson and I had a chance to meet a brave middle-aged Orthodox man. His name is David. He came and sat down right between us on the bench. He was a little argumentative in the sense that he jumped from topic to topic. But, we managed to dwell on the Scriptures and on the Messiahship of Jesus. The conversation went on for about 45 minutes. Pray for David.”
Sam Rood: “I’ve been going every Friday to King’s Highway, a very Orthodox section of Brooklyn. It is typically a difficult place to share the gospel, and I’ve met with a lot of hostility. So when I returned, as usual, on Friday, I was amazed at the many opportunities to share with Orthodox people who were either open or curious. All were friendly, and a few even stopped and smiled and took tracts and thanked us. It was a breakthrough.
“I saw one man who I’d had a fifteen-minute discussion with a few weeks back. He’d come to one of our lecture nights a few weeks ago when Bob Mendelsohn spoke. I think he is open, though he wouldn’t describe himself that way. He told me, ‘I don’t believe … yet – because of the Trinity.’ His name is Gene.
“I was at Atlantic Avenue passing out tracts. A Hasidic [ultra-Orthodox] woman stopped right in front of me. She asked, ‘What is this Jews for Jesus? Are you Jewish?’ I said, ‘Yes, I am Jewish.’ She responded, ‘I didn’t think there were any Jewish people who believed in Jesus.’ I asked, ‘What do you know about Him?’ She said, ‘All I know is that we aren’t supposed to believe in Him.’ I could tell that she was pretty nervous [about being seen with me] because she kept looking around. I asked, ‘Do you want to know for yourself who Jesus is?’ She said, ‘How would I do that?’ I said, ‘You can read about Him.’ I gave her the Gospel of John. She said, ‘Can you slip it in my bag?’ While I did that, she was looking around. I said, ‘If you want to talk to us again, you can contact us.’ She said, ‘Thank you,’ and she left. Please pray for her.”
Eli Marks: “I was outside the Atlantic Avenue subway station at the top of the stairs. Three guys were playing the drums. It was very loud, and I thought it would not be a great sortie. But after five minutes, the drummers got some good beats going on and I started handing out tracts at lightning-fast speed [editor: Eli is a drummer!]. Then I decided to pray that someone would stop and talk. Immediately, I was able to share the gospel in Hebrew with an Orthodox man, and soon after, with another. Please pray for them.”
Heather Drake: “We did a hot chocolate sortie on 31st and 3rd. We decided that this might be a ‘cool’ thing to do in the cool weather (in between heat waves, temperatures dropped down to the 60s!). So I found a winter hat, a scarf and a pair of ski gloves. We took the sun umbrella and hot chocolate and headed down to 3rd Avenue. We handed out about 50 cups of hot chocolate. I talked to lots of people. One, Luis, was Spanish. His father is a rabbi. We were talking about the differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews and how they feel about Jesus. Luis said that it was okay to talk about Jesus in his culture in Spain. He said he was confused as to why Ashkenazi Jews don’t want to talk about Jesus at all. He was very open. Pray that he comes to faith in Jesus as his Messiah.”
Sarah Ascher: “We had a tweet: ‘Today is Jews for Jesus Day in Washington Square‘ … who knew?”
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