Open-Air Meetings in New York

In New York we are now seeing the salvation of God going forth "as a lamp that burneth."

By Samuel Kaplan

Last spring we came to New York City, at  the invitation of the Greater New York Con­ference, to labor among the nearly two million Jews of this great metropolis. After counseling with the brethren, we decided to conduct open, air meetings in the Jewish quarters. The City Temple church generously assisted us in the purchase of a used two-ton truck, which we re­modeled to suit our needs. On the truck we built a substantial platform seven feet wide by twelve feet long, which gave us space for a small upright piano, a blackboard, and an in­genious device for charts. A sign, in both Eng­lish and Hebrew, was placed on each side of the platform, stating that the meetings were being conducted by Seventh-day Adventists. The truck was tastefully draped with American flags, so that altogether it had a neat and dig­nified appearance, and was representative of the great message we are called upon to give to the world.

After prayer, and in eager anticipation, we held our first open-air meeting last May in the very heart of the Jewish Ghetto. While the chart on Daniel 2 was being put in place, as a piano solo was rendered, Jews—men, women, and children—crowded close to the truck. As the writer presented the prophecy of Daniel 2, the throng pressed still closer, endeavoring to catch every word of the speaker. Their curios­ity was great and their interest unaffected. At the close of the discourse a number of Jews and several Christian people signed cards requesting free literature. These had been passed around by our helpers. We were greatly encouraged by this first gathering. It was to us an auspicious omen. We felt profoundly grateful to the Lord for having opened before us a new door of op­portunity.

Since that first gathering we have gradually enlarged and expanded our efforts, so that at the present time we are carrying on open-air meetings three nights each week, and are hold­ing two meetings on each of these nights, mak­ing six gatherings weekly, and each of these six meetings is held in a different locality. In other words, we are holding six separate and distinct efforts at the same time, reaching on an average an audience of 1,200 to 1,500 weekly. We return to the same corner four or five times, and are happy to see quite a number of the same people who were in the audience the week before. After each meeting the cards for free literature are passed around, and we now have five hun­dred names of interested Jews, and about forty or fifty names of non-Jews. We plan to follow up this interest with literature and personal visits.

The main topic for the evening is presented in about half an hour, and is usually followed by a brief question and answer service. The subjects presented generally cluster around Daniel 2: the seventy weeks; the law and the Messiah*; eighteen prophecies about the Mes­siah; ten signs of the end, etc. The command­ments of God and faith in the Messiah are the center and inspiration of these gatherings.

Jewish prejudice is waning. The Lord is mov­ing upon their hearts to investigate the Mes­sianic prophecies and the claims of Jesus to the Messiahship. Everywhere we see evidence that the time has come when the Jews are to be given light. Through the blessing of God upon these gatherings we are making contacts with many Jews of the better class. Thus we are now in touch with the son of a prominent East Side rabbi, and with a lady who is a near rela­tive of another and still more celebrated Jewish religious leader.

Our exaltation of the decalogue commands the respect of the Jews, and our presentation of the theme of the Messiah from the Old as well as the New Testament inspires confidence and arouses inquiry. We believe the hour has ar­rived when the following instruction of the serv­ant of the Lord is to meet its glorious fulfill­ment:

"As the Old Testament Scriptures are blended with the New in an explanation of Jehovah's eternal purpose, this will be to many of the Jews as the dawn of a new creation, the resur­rection of the soul, . . . and they will recog­nize Christ as the Saviour of the world."—"The Acts of the Apostles," p. 381.

In New York we are now seeing the salvation of God going forth "as a lamp that burneth." Jews as well as Gentiles, hundreds of them, throng our meetings, startled by the evidence that the end of all things is at hand. The cities must be worked. We have been told they will be worked. I believe that if more and more of our ministers and evangelists would venture out for God, and address crowds on the street corners, using attractive and dignified equip­ment, hundreds and thousands of people, now like sheep without a shepherd, would unite with the remnant who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

New York, N. Y.

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By Samuel Kaplan

January 1934

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