An amazing thing happens every summer in New York City: Outdoor events such as movies and street fairs begin popping up all over the city, and tourists flock in to see the sights – from Central Park to the Apple Store and more. Vacation season has started, and it is the perfect time to STEP out in faith and share the Gospel with Jewish people in the most Jewish city in the world!
Chosen People Ministries has been doing outreach in New York City for over a hundred years. Ministry is year-round, but what we do in the summer is really something special. S.T.E.P. (Summer Training and Evangelism Program) brings together believers from all over the world for training on how to share the Gospel with Jewish people. After the training, we hit the streets to put it into practice, sharing the love of our Messiah.
This summer, we had STEPpers come in from as far as Hong Kong and Argentina and as close as New Jersey. You might be wondering why someone would want to take a week or two of their vacation time or their summer break to talk with New Yorkers about Jesus? The answer is simple and two-fold: a passion for the Jewish people and divine appointments.
“There is no place to do street ministry to Jewish people like New York,” said one STEPper. Two million Jewish people live in New York City, and if you have a heart for reaching God’s chosen people, why not come here to do ministry?
The second reason we love doing this is because of divine appointments. This year, a Chosen People Ministries worker named Jon Lieberman shared with the team from the Word and from his own personal experiences, saying that God had divine appointments for us, but we had to STEP out in faith. He explained that this divine appointment may not be actually praying with someone to receive Jesus, but rather helping a person movie one step closer to placing their trust in Messiah. This truly motivated our group of about 30 people, and we were also encouraged by the prayers of Chosen People Ministries’ supporters, who had received a prayer calendar with daily requests specific to the STEP outreach. We were confident that God would go before us to prepare the way.
The stories that came in from this year’s STEP were numerous and incredible! One of our volunteers who had been on STEP before was led by the Lord to pray with three young people to accept Jesus. Another of our team members simply walked up to a younger woman in Central Park. They began to speak about spiritual things, and this woman explained that she was depressed but realized that God sent our volunteer to comfort her. She prayed to receive the Lord right there on a park bench.
We learned one practical insight into sharing with people in New York and elsewhere that may help you as well: Many people in this world are lonely, and they simply want to talk and to be heard. Once you realize that, it is easy to understand how to approach someone on the street, on a park bench, or anywhere else – knowing that God is with you as you are STEPping out in faith.
One group set up an evangelistic literature table at Coney Island that seemed unfruitful at first. As the team was preparing to relocate the table, a Jewish woman walked up and began talking with a STEPper. She had never really read the Bible and did not believe in Jesus, but was incredibly intrigued by the possibility of Jesus being the Messiah. She then asked if there was a Bible study she could attend. This was definitely a divine appointment! Because we were present on the boardwalk at Coney Island, this woman had the opportunity to learn more about Jesus.
We also held an event for Russian speakers at our Messianic Center in Brooklyn, called “Art and Music Fest.” The STEP team helped to publicize the art show and concert in the neighborhood, and more than 50 people came and enjoyed the music and refreshments. We then mingled with the people to initiate friendships and to inform them of other events and Bible studies held in this center.
There are simply too many stories of God-ordained encounters that happened all over the city for me to tell you about here! For Jewish people, coming to faith almost always involves a personal relationship or encounter with a warm-hearted believer – and that is what happens during STEP in New York City. We employ various methods of outreach, but the central theme is talking one-on-one with individuals and being a picture of God’s love in that person’s life.
If God is leading you to share the Gospel with Jewish people, STEP out in confidence to follow God’s direction – and He will reward your STEP of faith.