NEW YORK - Often called the city that never sleeps, New York and its busy streets and subways are seeing more of a group of missionaries with backs adorned with "Jews for Jesus" this month.
Clothed in colorful shirts with large writing identifying their Christian group, Jews for Jesus has been keeping up with the 24-hour-running city, handing out tens of thousands of literature and promoting their evangelistic campaign Behold Your God through media outlets. This is their largest campaign ever and the finale to their 5-1/2 year effort of reaching cities worldwide with large Jewish populations.
On Independence Day alone, 60 Jews for Jesus staff and volunteers distributed over 74,500 tracts throughout Manhattan where street fairs, holiday festivities and fireworks shows drew large crowds to the city. A "Happy Fourth of July" was written on the front of the tract with a holiday-specific Christian cartoon.
When asked if the Jewish Christian staff were met with any opposition to their month-long campaign, Dan Sered, campaign leader for the Manhattan borough, said he saw no counter-leafleting or hostile responses from the public. Nevertheless, Sered doesn't expect it to be an easy ride.
"We'll probably get them (counter responses) later on but usually on the fourth they have the day off," said Sered. "They do it more when it's convenient to them. They'll have people on the way to work stop and start to counter."
Jewish opponents to the Jews for Jesus campaign are placing ads in a large media outlet of more than 60 newspapers, according to the New York Times, to counter the evangelistic efforts.
On the other end, Jews for Jesus has invested $1.4 million in a multi-pronged effort including evangelistic ads in newspapers, magazines, subways and the radio.
Despite any opposition, Sered commented, "We're just out there to preach the Gospel, to lift up the name of Jesus Y'shua and we're just going to do what we're going to do."
Jews for Jesus comes to New York, which has the largest Jewish population in the nation, for a month-long summer campaign after hitting 53 other cities around the world.