New York City Summer Witnessing Campaign
From Campaign leader Sarah Ascher: We had an action packed first week of campaign! Here are a few highlights:
The campaign began with a heat wave. Every afternoon a pair of campaigners sat in front of the branch at a free literature table offering cold, fancy-flavored water. It was an opportunity to refresh and interact with our neighborhood. We met a Christian neighbor who offered to let us use a theater he owns to host events!
A Jewish woman who stopped for water a couple of days during the week came to our Shabbat dinner. She lives close by. Three other Jewish people we met during the week also joined us. Amer gave an exceptional drash (commentary on the weekly Torah reading) and lots of conversation followed—until after 10 pm. Karol was able to introduce Alex (a Russian-speaking Jewish attender) to Irina (a Russian-speaking campaigner) and Stewart.
We kicked off the first lecture of our series on the second day of campaign. Stan Meyer spoke on “Afterlife According to the Jewish Scriptures.” Most remarkable was a Jewish guest named Mark, a campaign contact from 2006. According to our records, multiple attempts have been made to connect with him over the years, but were all unsuccessful until he received the lecture invite by email.
I really enjoyed the 4th of July this year! We had a new postcard to hand out and it was well received. Several volunteers and all of our stewards joined the campaigners for the fireworks sortie. The team I sent to Boston had a great day of evangelism with Karl.
On Saturday afternoon most of the campaigners and all of the stewards went to the Upper West Side to bike through Central Park. Can you imagine twenty Jews for Jesus on bicycles? We were quite a sight. We were all in colors (Jews for Jesus T-shirts), singing songs like Hinei Ma Tov and calling out “Shabbat shalom!” we biked along. Occasionally we called out “We are Jews for Jesus—check us out online!” as we rode through the park. The bikes enabled us to reach people that we typically don’t talk to because it’s too far to walk. Two teams of campaigners stayed to chat with people afterwards. During the lunch break many people approached the team and said, “We saw you biking through the park!”
We closed the week with a jam session at the Highline Park on Saturday night. All of the stewards came too! It wasn’t a formal concert and we didn’t use amplification; we had a guitar and cajon and simply played Hebrew folk music and worship songs. A few campaigners handed out literature while the rest hung out by the music to talk to people. The whole team enjoyed it. We will definitely do it again and maybe even have a few “plain clothed” campaigners to engage people in conversation.
Thanks for your prayers!
Stories from campaigners
Jeremy: A girl passed by me and then came back to talk to me. She told me to be encouraged because she came to believe in the Messiah through our ministry back in the ’70s. Hallelujah!!
Shoshannah: A woman named Diane* came Tuesday night and has been a believer for a year. She was afraid to tell her husband about her faith. Last night she told him and it went well—her husband agreed to meet with my husband Stewart and me (missionaries at our branch). Please pray for this to happen.
Bob: I was at Washington Square Park at noon and a youngish Jewish guy said to me, “I used to do what you are doing. I used to work with Chabad.” [Chabad is a zealous ultra-Orthodox Jewish organization.] Zalman is working on his master’s degree in Jewish studies at NYU and is currently an atheist. He gave his contact information and said he may come to one of our events. Please pray.
Robyn (leader of our South Florida work): Last week during a sortie, Laura met a Jewish man from South Florida named Stuart. I phoned him but he was on another call. So, I called him again several days later. I said, “Hi, this is Robyn. You met my friend Laura from Jews for Jesus the other day. I think she told you about me.”
He quickly responded, “Sorry, but I am back in Florida now.” “No problem” I said. I live in Florida! I will be back in a few weeks and was wondering if you’d like to get together, perhaps over a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and I can share my story with you . . . unless you don’t like Starbucks.
“No, I don’t like Starbucks coffee at all, even though their founder is Jewish… (he is?).” “That’s fine. We can meet wherever you like. And perhaps I can answer any questions you might have.” “Oh, I don’t have any questions, but I’ll listen to your story.” Laura says that he does have questions. Please keep our future visit and this man in your prayers
Rob: I met an 18-year-old Orthodox woman at Times Square. When I explained that I believe in Jesus because he fulfilled the Messianic prophecies, she responded, “I looked at prophecies on Internet, but he didn’t fulfill any of them.” I said, “Jesus fulfilled all the ones pertaining to the suffering servant. The other ones pertain to the reigning King. He will fulfill the rest of them in the future.” She said, “I am afraid of what my parents might think.” I asked her, “Can I send you my parent’s story? They are Holocaust survivors who believe in Jesus.” She was interested in that and gave me her contact information. Her name is Elisheva.
Stewart: Zvi is a campaign contact from last year. He’s an Israeli and we sent him an email in English. He responded back in Hebrew: “If you respond in Hebrew, I’ll look at it.” Shmuel (a campaigner who is also an Israeli) answered his email in Hebrew. Please pray for Zvi.
Shmuel: I was in a subway and feeling tired (surprise surprise). A guy came by and asked me for directions. I gave him a tract. He was not Jewish. I began with the proposal statement. After I asked him who he thought Jesus was, he said, “It’s a myth.” I said, “It’s all about faith. If you seek God, you will find Him. God wants our hearts.” All of a sudden, the guy began to cry right there in front of me. “I am going through a rough time” he said. I said, “Let me pray for you.” So, we prayed together. His name is Michael. Please pray that God reaches him.
I met a woman named Shoshana in Central Park. She said, “It’s funny that you are doing this. I’ve been searching for Jesus. I’ve been looking into Him and what He has to say. When I went to a Conservative synagogue in DC, the rabbi said, “You should look into Buddhism.” But, something whispered to me, “Why not Jesus?” So, I thought, “Yeah, Jesus was a Jew, why not?” I invited her to our lecture. She said she would come to that and our Shabbat dinner. Pray for her!
One of our guests at Shabbat dinner was Simon* an Asian man in the process of converting to Judaism. Jeremiah talked with him and opened Isaiah 53. Simon responded, “Oh yeah, the Christians told me about this, but I don’t want to discuss it because I am not studying this with my rabbi.” Please pray for him.
Amer: I met a student named Trevor* who was brought up as a Muslim. I gave him a good news tract, and walked him through a prayer of salvation. He prayed with me to receive Jesus as his Messiah and gave me his contact information. I know a pastor at Calvary Baptist church who ministers to Muslims. He is now in touch with Trevor.
Shelley: I have been outside the NY center every day at noon, giving people “juice from Jesus” which includes cucumber water, strawberry water, etc. I met Joan* on the first day I was out there and invited her to our Tuesday night lecture. A few days later, I saw Jill pass by again. I said, “Joan, I missed you at the lecture.” She said, “Well, I wasn’t going to go to that.” I asked, “What about Shabbat?” She replied, “I am thinking about it. But, I don’t want to be sold. I am not going to buy.” Joan did end up coming to Shabbat and talked to some of the missionary staff. Please pray that she will not “buy,” but simply receive the free gift of eternal life.
Karl adds: Joan talked with me when she came for Shabbat. She insisted that she’s not seeking, yet keeps asking questions. She met teenagers on the street and asked them what they thought about Jesus. They gave her a “Living Water” gospel of John. She had met Shelley when we were giving out water in the exact same location! Do you think God is trying to get through to her?
Laura: I was on a rush hour sortie and met a man named Isaac who was wearing a yarmulke. He gave me his full contact information. He said, “Years ago, Larry Stamm [former staff member] used to meet with me and discuss the Yom Kippur sacrifices. Larry told me that my “sacrifices” weren’t good enough and that I needed Jesus.” Please pray that Isaac will understand the once and for all sacrifice that Jesus made.
I was feeling a little grumpy about handing out Zombie tracts one afternoon. I walked up to a lady playing chess. I thought to myself, “This woman is not going to be into Zombies. And, she was pretty busy, but I decided to engage her nonetheless. As I offered her one, I said, “You probably aren’t interested in Zombies.” Her response floored me. She said, “I am actually editing a book from Ingersoll books on Zombies right here at the table. I am working on the third edit on the book, and it is pulling me in.” The Lord convicted me right there about the Zombie tract. You just never know.
I met a guy who had a tattoo that said, “SIN” which were his initials. I said, “I notice that you have the letters SIN on your tattoo. Do you believe you are a sinner? Do you know what sin is?”
The guy responded “Yes, I know what it is, and I know I am one. But, I lay tefillin (an Orthodox Jewish practice). I do my best.” Please pray for Stanley* He gave us his contact info.
I was in the Panic Room (a room in a subway station with a number of entrances where people rush through to get from one train to another) and we saw woman was genuinely panicked in the panic room. She asked, “How do I get out of here?” She was stressed and her eyeballs were wide. I showed her where to go. She thanked me. Later on, I was at Grand Central Station in a random place. And, who should come up the stairs but this woman! She was talking to her friend, and she said, “There she is! That is the woman that helped me, the one I was telling you about.” Please pray that the help she received from a Jew for Jesus will cause her to consider Jesus Himself.
Karl: I was at Union Square handing out broadsides to people on benches. Lindsay, a 21-year-old Jewish woman, saw me coming and before I even got to her she said, “I support Judaism. I don’t believe in Jews for Jesus.” She is not religious. I spent ten minutes talking to her. She said, “I want to be part of authentic Judaism.” After further conversation, she agreed to take invitations to both the lecture and Shabbat. Please pray for Lindsay.
An Orthodox man named Eric stopped to talk with Amy and I at 51st and Lexington. At first I wondered if the guy was sincere, but we did have a meaningful conversation. While we were talking to him, another Orthodox man came and ripped up a broadside. Eric said, “I know that guy! He’s from my community!” Please pray for Eric . . . and for the man who tore the broadside.
I was at Coney Island handing out gospel literature at the hotdog eating contest. It was a mob scene and I was having difficulty finding the other members of my team. I was looking for Laura when I heard two young women say, “Look! Jews for Jesus.” I asked with urgency, “Where?” Seriously, I thought they had spotted Laura. But, it was me they saw! They accepted a gospel postcard from me.
Rob: I was at Borough Park at noon. Irina was talking to Jack who is 80 years old. He had a walker, and was sitting on a bench with his wife, Mildred. We talked but he was not very open. He told me that his parents were survivors of the Holocaust and I was able to tell him, “My parents are also survivors of the Holocaust.” (Rob’s parents are also believers in Jesus.) They agreed for me to email them my parents’ story. Please pray they read it and consider the truth.
*Not their real names