Lately our church has been in contact with the Jews for Jesus organization and has been discussing the possibility of having one of their speaker/missionaries visit our community to open the scriptures to us from a different perspective than we ordinarily do (more about that in a future post) An outgrowth of our contact was an invitation to preview a new movie that they are releasing. I took them up on their offer today and watched “Awakening” (you can see the trailer here). I’m not sure what I expected when, as a blogger (admittedly with a small following), I was asked to watch this new movie. I had no idea what sort of movies that Jews for Jesus might produce or, although I suspected that it would be about Jesus, what direction it might take.
What I saw, was a well-constructed account of the month-long outreach event that Jews for Jesus holds in the streets of New York City each year. Narrated by Stephen Baldwin, this documentary explains the history of Jews for Jesus and takes you along with the young people who hit the streets, subway stations and parks of New York (which has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel). While I could fault the film for being longer than I would have liked and for the pacing being, at times, a little slow, I found it to be both interesting and informative. Many locations in the film were familiar to me because I once visited clients in NYC several times each year, but even if you are not a veteran traveler, you will recognize many places that you have seen on television and in the movies.
The message of Jesus, to many Jews, is offensive and can cause a strong emotional response. Once I realized what the film was about I wondered what I might expect as these young followers of Jesus went out and told others the Good News. The conversations that are captured in the film show a range of responses but do not show any strongly negative reactions though I am not certain whether that is because of the goodwill and self-control of New Yorkers or because of judicious editing (I suspect the latter).
In sum, this is a good film though not a great one. It may well be worth a half an hour of your time for two reasons. First, after watching this film you will have a greater understanding of Jews for Jesus and their mission to tell others (especially Jews) about the Messiah Jesus. Second, and more importantly, you will be inspired by the passion that these young people have for evangelism. I wish that my church (local and denominational) had even a quarter to their passion to reach out for lost souls. Street evangelism is intimidating and I am not certain that I have the courage to do what they do, but each day (and each night) they go out and despite the rejection that they often experience, they just keep telling people about Jesus. Though many turn away, others express an interest, ask to hear more, and eventually put their faith in Jesus Christ.
My hope is that Christians will watch this film (despite its shortcomings), be inspired by it, and have a new passion for evangelism ignited within them.