The busy street corner was buzzing with the comings and goings of distracted people, and their feet moved with the rhythm of a steady drum beat. A surge of fear pattered up my spine. My hand gripped tight to a stack of tracts held together with a rubber band.
The chilly New York City air whipped through my jacket, but it was really my anxiety that made my teeth chatter. Would my back-pocket Gospel knowledge be enough? What if I was rejected by another businessman with a briefcase in hand and a cell phone pressed up to his face, or another mom shouldering a diaper bag and gripping tight to her toddler’s hand? I ran the words over and over again like a familiar tune in my head, finally mustering up enough courage to say something, but the words turned to sand in my mouth, and I backed away with nothing but a dry throat, too nervous to speak.
This is how many of us felt going into the first hours of Open Air Evangelism, especially those who had never really shared the Gospel before. With so many mixed feelings of excitement, fear, and worry, it was hard to navigate through it all. Yet, as the weekend continued, the sand in our mouths turned to floods of hope and joy that spilled out of us and onto others, as we learned to lean on Jesus and trust the leading of the Holy Spirit. Remembering Christ’s love for us and for all people is what motivated us to evangelize. We realized that we don’t need to share the Gospel because people expect us to, or to keep ourselves from feeling ashamed. The spread of the Gospel has to come from a personal place, a place of deep joy and appreciation for what Jesus did for us. And as that joy filled us up, we were able to pass it along to the men and women we met during OAE.
The mission was to take New York City by storm-to illuminate every shadowy corner with Christ’s light, and to share the hope of the Gospel like the cure that it is. There was no question of what needed to be done. Christ told His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Mark 9:37). Though we were only about 240 in number, we knew it was time to obey the call of Christ. We took five buses down to the city and spent two full days sharing our faith in Christ to anyone that we could. We delivered 237 sketch board messages and were able to give 2,990 Gospel presentations. As a result, 119 people professed faith in Christ as their Savior!
All we had to do is be obedient, and move our lips.