New York City is famous for its high numbers of internationals who have come to the Big Apple from other lands – more than 500 language-culture groups now live there.
Many of these newcomers speak English poorly or not at all. The language gap is a very real divide Baptists had to cross during the recent Coats for the City effort in New York City.
About 135 Baptist volunteers journeyed from North Carolina to New York Dec. 1-3 to help local Baptists distribute about 5,000 coats collected by N.C. Baptist churches. The coats helped win an audience, but then, how does one talk about Jesus with someone from Bangladesh or some other distant country?
Technology helped. Along with the coats, the volunteers were equipped with 200,000 copies of the famous Jesus film produced by Campus Crusade for Christ, which tells the life of Christ and presents the plan of salvation. Each DVD carries the film’s soundtrack in 24 languages.
These are the most common languages spoken in New York City, said Brad Wall, co-founder and strategy/leadership development director for the church-planting Global Gates Network in New York City. He also directs outreach to South Asians. The Jesus DVDs were a gift from Phil Cohn, with Christ for All Peoples (CFAP), based in Charlotte.
Cohn was a building contractor who gave mostly to help overseas missions work, but he said God called him to reach people from overseas nations who have flooded into America in recent years.
He has been raising funds to produce 1 million of the Jesus DVDs and enlist 20,000 volunteers to reach the homes of 10 million immigrants with the gospel over the next three years.