"Prayer and Evangelism"
In the following excerpts taken
from the June and July Newsletter of the Jews For Jesus you
will see the connection between prevailing prayer and successful
evangelism, no matter what the method of evangelism is. The
Jews for Jesus are an evangelical Christian fellowship composed
mainly of ethnic Jews. They evangelize back into their own
race, although their evangelistic efforts have brought numerous
Gentiles to Jesus as well. While some Christian churches take
exception to their calling themselves Jews for Jesus, citing
Paul who said their is neither Jew nor Greek, but all are
one in Christ--the blessing of Jesus and the Holy Spirit upon
their efforts show Jesus doesn't object to this name at all.
These sections titled "What is Evangelism" and "What is Pre-evangelism?"
highlight some of the most successful methods and tools of
evangelism that Jesus has provided us with. The effectiveness
of this tool is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the
Jews for Jesus had a little over 30 congregations within the
United States thirty years ago, and now have 150 congregations
within the United States alone! These two excerpts shed some
light into their astounding success story.
"I was a student in Boston when I handed out my first broadside
(gospel tract) in 1976. I was scared. Standing there, clearly
labeled as a Jew for Jesus, I was an easy mark for anyone
who wanted to ridicule Jews or ridicule Jesus. You'd think
that 24 years and countless thousands of broadsides later,
handing out tracts would be easy; old hat. Maybe it is for
one or two on our staff, but it surely isn't for me. I still
get that little tightening in my stomach before my hand goes
out to offer the very first tract of a sortie (tract passing
expedition). Afterwards, I'm always glad I went and, very
often, I have tremendous joy during the sortie as well. Still,
it is always a battle to get past the part of me that does
not want to be vulnerable. Many of our staff feel that way.
And yet, handing out broadsides is a hallmark of our ministry.
For the next three and a half months, Jews for Jesus will
engage in a series of sorties around the globe. Staff and
volunteers will hand out gospel tracts four times a day in
two hour stints on the streets of New York City, Toronto,
London, Paris, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sydney. They will
also take every opportunity to speak personally about the
gospel with individual passerby. We call this intensive street
ministry, "Campaign." We write and print new literature and
design new Jews for Jesus T-shirts for Campaigners
to wear. We also brainstorm evangelistic slogans for billboards
and gospel ads in the secular media.
It would be tempting to dress in less conspicuous clothing
so that people don't realize until after they've taken a broadside
that it was from Jews for Jesus. It would be tempting to shorten
our sorties to an hour and a half or to send people out on
the streets once or twice a day and call it a Campaign. But
a Campaign is an all-out effort, a concentrated time of making
the Messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue for the people
of a particular city. We have conducted these Witnessing Campaigns
every year (except one) since 1974. They, too, have become
a hallmark of our ministry.
If every single sortie is a battle, you can imagine the battle
a Campaign must be. The battle doesn't stop with our own desires
to remain comfortable, to avoid rejection or to avoid the
tedium of standing on a street corner. It's a spiritual battle.
The enemy has an arsenal of weapons to discourage us from
this kind of witness. Sometimes that arsenal even includes
Some critics say that Campaigns are ineffective. I honestly
don't know what standard they use to measure effectiveness
or what they know of those whose lives have been changed through
Campaigns. More common is the assessment that this type of
outreach is so "in your face" so confrontational, that it
needlessly offends unbelievers.
The book of Proverbs provides a powerful image that seems
to apply here: "Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her
voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses,
at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words..."
Many world religions portray wisdom as "secret knowledge"
that people must strive to attain through meditation, contemplation
or some mystical experience. Godly wisdom isn't like that.
The Bible pictures godly wisdom shouting to people from public
places so they know where to find her. Talk about "in your
face"! When we put on our Jews for Jesus T-shirts and stand
on street corners or in subway stations handing out gospel
tracts we are declaring aloud the wisdom of God, "...foolishness
to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved
it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Every summer, we see the power of God save hundreds of Jews
and Gentiles right on those busy streets. Last year, on our
New York City Campaign alone, 1,784 non-Christian people stopped
to talk with our Campaigners and gave their names and addresses
for follow-up; 392 Jews and Gentiles prayed with us right
on the streets to receive Christ. No doubt, some who prayed
were simply curious or caught up in the moment, but many lives
have been truly and radically changed forever.
Some critics think tract-passing is a waste of time and paper
because so many are discarded. But Jews for Jesus will continue
to hand out lots of literature because we see it as biblical
and effective. One of Y'shua's parables demonstrates a principle
that is foundational to our Campaigns: "Listen! Behold a sower
went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed that some seed
fell by the wayside....But other seed fell on good ground
and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced:
some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred." (Mark 4:3,
4a, 8). Later, Jesus explains to His disciples that the seed
represents the Word of God. There are four types of soil,
but only one yields fruit.
We sow our broadsides as seed, for each tract contains the
Word of God. We know much of the seed will fall along the
wayside--probably 25% of the people who take our broadsides
discard them without a glance. Others read them with little
interest. But oh, those tracts that fall on good soil! Several
of our own staff first heard the gospel through broadsides
received from Jews for Jesus many years ago. They know and
can bear testimony to the value of seed sowing. So they have
become the sowers as well as soil that bears fruit thirty,
sixty and hundred fold.
This summer, we expect to hand deliver some four to five million
seeds. How much fruit will be borne only God knows, but what
a privilege it is for us to be sowers of God's life-giving
I wish I could take you to the streets of New York or Toronto,
St. Petersburg or Sydney so you could see how God touches
lives through these Campaigns. We've got a few stories and
photos from last year on pages four and five, and I hope they
will bless you and encourage you to pray. But if you want
a closer look at the sights and sounds of Campaign, we can
send you a 15-minute video that will take you with our Campaigners
right out onto the streets and into the subways of New York
City. Actual Campaign footage brings you into the field to
experience the intensity of the opposition and the joy of
the harvest as you hear testimonies of those who have come
to Christ on past Campaigns. It's something to show your prayer
partners, even your Sunday school class. You can use the enclosed
response card to request a copy. (The video is not exactly
for sale, but we do need to ask that you enclose $5.00 to
cover the cost of the tape and the postage.) [You can write
JEWS FOR JESUS, 69 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94102-5895.]
If you find yourself in any cities we are reaching and you
come across our Campaigners, please let them know you are
upholding them in prayer.
There are times we might like to agree with the critics because
if Campaigns were not effective, we'd be off the hook. It's
a battle to stand and hand out tracts. It's a battle to face
rejection, to be joyful when feet ache from standing on concrete
and shoulders are sore from heavy tract bags. We believe with
all our hearts that it's a battle in which the Lord wants
us to engage. Like all battles, this one belongs to Him. [And
here is the key to successful evangelism, no matter what tool
you're using] Much of the battle is won in prayer.
[Emphasis mine] Would you pray for us? The enclosed
Three-In-One Prayer Guide will help you do that. Your prayers
truly make a difference as we stand on the street corners
and in the subway stations sowing and reaping for the glory
of God. [They then include a quarterly Prayer Guide,
this one listing all their planned Campaigns from July through
September of 2000. This newsletter goes out to multiple thousands
of co-workers and supporters, who then invest their prayers
in the evangelistic efforts of the Jews for Jesus.] [This
excerpt was titled "Why We Campaign". The next one was titled
"Evangelism and Prayer."]
Evangelism and Prayer
"I can't exactly prove it. However, I
believe that July remains one of our most fruitful months
for evangelism because of the increased prayers on our behalf
during this time. If you read last month's newsletter
you know we are holding our annual witnessing campaigns in
New York City, London, Paris, and several other cities around
the globe. True, Jews for Jesus campaigns are an all-out effort,
but no amount of energy can explain the successes we experience
at this time. We can't change people's hearts by our efforts
any more than we can arrange to be in the right place at the
right time to meet those whose hearts are receptive.
It is a great mystery how the Lord of the universe volunteers
to intervene in people's lives by linking His direct action
with the specific prayers of His people, but this is what
the Bible tells us. James 5:16 says, "The effective fervent
prayer of a righteous man avails much." This particular verse
refers to healing, which is a priestly ministry of intercession,
but James bases his confidence in prayer upon the historical
account of Elijah's prophetic ministry (verse 17).
True biblical evangelism joins the prophetic ministry with
the priestly. The prophetic aspect is proclamation, whereby
we make the gospel know to men and women. The priestly aspect
is the work of intercessory prayer, enjoining the Holy Spirit
to apply our good news proclamation to the hearts of men and
women who need to hear. These are two sides of the same coin,
and we err if we emphasize one aspect of ministry to the neglect
of the other. In fact, we have sometimes made this mistake
in Jew for Jesus.
The world's result-oriented society sometimes affects our
own thinking, even creeping into ministry. Proclamation is
more easily measured and linked to results, and we tend to
expend more time and energy on what can be seen. But we do
this at our own peril.
Evangelism is like building a house. We can see the walls
and roof of the house: that is proclamation. But what we don't
see is the foundation. Have you ever tried to build a house
without a foundation? Prayer is the foundation of
every effective evangelistic endeavor. Whereas prophetic
ministry can be limited by lack of response, priestly ministry
cannot be hindered and in fact it can help change the hearts
of the unresponsive. I first heard the phrase from Moishe
Rosen, "When you can't talk to your friends about God you
can always talk to God about your friends."
Many of us expend a great deal of energy learning the "how-to's"
of sharing the gospel and answering objections, and this is
good. But just imagine if we spent as much time praying for
people as we do preparing to talk to them about the Lord.
How much more pointed and poignant and powerful our conversations
would be! I have never met a person who was argued into God's
kingdom, but I know plenty of people who were prayed there.
Scoop and Dot Jackson prayed for my father and his family
every day for seven years and with no apparent effect. But
after seven years my father and his entire immediate family
came to Christ, all within two weeks!
The power of prayer breaks the chains of unbelief, unstops
deaf ears, opens blind eyes and softens even the hardest hearts.
So why is it sometimes more difficult to be faithful in praying
for people's salvation than in witnessing to them about the
Lord? Perhaps part of the problem is our tendency to protect
our hearts. Persistent and prevailing prayer flows from real
care and concern for people, and in fact prayer cultivates
a deep vulnerability, not only to the people for whom we pray,
but to God and His desires for those people. When we allow
ourselves to care like that we open ourselves to intense and
often uncomfortable longings, and anguish. We also open ourselves
up to the risks God may ask us to take in reaching those people
in ways we may not have bargained for. We may have our methods
of witnessing, and we must not neglect the practical aspects
of proclamation. Even so, as we pray, God will humble us by
showing us where we need to bring His Spirit into the process.
The more we pray, the more obvious it becomes that the most
important exertion of any given day is the effort spent in
prayer and the time interceding before the throne of grace.
Truly caring for the lost certainly includes the mandate to
proclaim the gospel, but it also requires us to pray passionately
for the salvation of others. Paul expressed this passion in
Romans 10:1: "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God
for Israel is that they may be saved."
Paul's heart's desire goes hand-in-glove with his prayer.
When there is distance between our prayers and our heart's
desire, our prayers remain formulaic and pedestrian. But neither
is praying for our heart's desire meant to be selfish and
self-centered begging. Real prayer occurs when we link our
hearts to God and invite Him to govern our desires and guide
our petitions. We do not necessarily lose those desires that
are a part of our personality, but we allow God to sanctify
them. Such was Paul's desire; his passion for the lost was
so great that he was able to declare, "...I have great sorrow
and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself
were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according
to the flesh" (Romans 9:2-3).
I wonder how Paul could carry such intense commitment and
emotion concerning the lost. I don't know if I could ever
care to the extent that he did, but I know that God has put
it in my heart and the hearts of our staff to care deeply.
More and more I am convicted that as passionately as we believe
and proclaim that the gospel is the answer for the world,
so must we practice passionate intercessory prayer as part
of our priestly ministry of evangelism. We must start
where we are and ask the Lord to move us, to give us the ability
to care and to pray ever more deeply for the salvation of
I am always grateful for the many friends who write to thank
us for the regular Prayer Prompters columns in this newsletter,
and for the campaign prayer guides. Beginning last September
we also instituted a quarterly prayer guide, and you see one
of this month's inserts completes that cycle. Our staff knows
that we are carried by your prayers. We are grateful and want
to encourage you to continue to lift us up. We need you to
care and pray. And we need to care and pray more ourselves.
Society teaches us to anesthetize ourselves from feeling much
pain. It is easy to become too busy or too saturated by the
quest for entertainment to pay attention to those in need.
But when we commit to praying for the salvation of others
we are breaking out of that mold the world wants to squeeze
us into. We are making ourselves alive to God and what He-who-is-willing-that-none-should-perish
is doing in this world. Yes, we risk the pain of caring, the
sorrow that comes when so many reject the truth. But ultimately
we will find our lives much more joyful because we are entering
into a battle that belongs to the Lord, and we are participating
in His victory. We are molding our desires to become all that
He delights in...and we know that the Lord delights in the
salvation of souls."
What follows is the September portion of the Jews
for Jesus quarterly Prayer Guide for the year 2000 as an example
of how they muster support from the Lord for their evangelistic
Sunday, September 3-Saturday, September 9 Pray for our staff
to be faithful in our personal walk with God, that we might
love Him more each day and that our ministry would flow from
our gratitude and appreciation for Him.
Sunday, September 10-Saturday, September 16 Pray as our Sydney
branch begins training volunteers for the Olympic outreach
that starts on the 15th. Pray for the right personnel, as
well as suitable housing and food. Pray that trainees will
learn quickly and joyfully. Also please pray for our School
of the Messengers training session in Germany from September
11-24, followed by a "Days of Awe" evangelistic outreach.
Sunday, September 10-Saturday, September 23 Pray for our outreaches
on campuses around the world and especially for the Abramsons
and the Olsons in New York, as they focus on developing music
as part of their campus ministry. Pray for creativity and
for a good ear to hear God's direction. (Also please remember
the Olympics in Sydney, Sept. 15-Oct. 1.)
Sunday, September 24-Saturday, September 30 Pray for preparations
for our High Holiday services all around the world. (Rosh
Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, beings at sundown, September
29, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins at sundown,
October 8.) Pray that our unbelieving Jewish people will realize
their spiritual need, and that our staff might reflect on
this as a time of renewal." [Note: Even though this branch
of evangelical Christianity is fully in the new covenant,
under grace, they maintain the observance of the Holy Days
commanded by God to Israel in Leviticus 23--but not out of
any sense of obligation to the old covenant law, but out of
a deep love for the traditions they grew up with. This is
fully allowed for by the Apostle Paul in Romans 14. This also
makes evangelizing back into their own people far easier.
They maintain their Jewish identity, yet are full-bodied evangelical
Christians whose number is multiplying rapidly. If the Lord
thought something was wrong with their desire to maintain
their High Holyday identity, I honestly do not believe you
would be witnessing their astounding growth on the Christian
scene. So, Christian, if the Lord isn't criticizing, but blessing
instead, you have no room for criticism. These two articles
were written by David Brickner, Executive Director, the Jews
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