OPEN AIR MINISTRIES
“The Kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.” Mark 4:26-27
On the fourth of July, I was preaching the gospel with a group five men along the Ben Franklin Parkway as people streamed into the area for the concert and fireworks. As I declared God’s word, I heard a man say, “Hi, Joe,” as I extended my hand, I replied with, “Hi, Vinny.” Two weeks later as David Braun and I were preaching at the Gallery Mall, Vinny showed up and handed us two ice teas. My first encounter with Vinny was over two years ago near the Hard Rock Café after he had recently been left out of prison. I shared the gospel with him and gave him a Bible. Vinny reminded me of this one day when He stated, “That Bible you gave me changed my life and I know the Lord now.” Vinny has been walking with Jesus for over three years now. We sow a lot of God’s word as we travel about and Vinny is a reminder to us that God is mighty to save.
High School Senior week in Ocean City, MD
In early June, ten of us arrived in Ocean City for 5 days of intense outreach. Each day, we handed out tracts and witnessed to folks in the afternoon and preached God’s word in the evening. During the week, we gave out over 10,000 gospel tracts and talked to hundreds of young people. Our evenings were spent preaching with the paint board or using the biblical sand sculptures as our backdrop. This year, I took my cross to the boardwalk and we used it in the afternoon as we gave out tracts. On the crosspiece, it says, “Are You Ready?” This question allowed us to engage many curious teens in conversation about death and Judgment Day. One afternoon, Evangelist Mark Yoho opened up the gospel to a young man who committed his life to Jesus.
Fourth of July in Philly
What better day to talk about freedom in Christ than on the fourth. This year we tracted the parade route and preached near the Liberty Bell. We had some great conversations with some of the occupy folks who were very open to the gospel. Although, a woman dressed like Lady Liberty had a number of choice words for us. There are always challenges in ministry as we had numerous problems with our amplification equipment, but we thank God for the foresight to bring back up units. As I was preaching later in the evening, a man from the Lehigh Valley area came up to me with tears in his eyes. He stated, “I have not been living right. I need to change. I know the way. I just walked away. Pray for me.” I challenged him to repent and ask God for His mercy. I can remember seeing a woman with tears streaming down her face as she left with a Bible clutched to her chest after speaking with Mike Stockwell. Each year, I always think, “This has to be the hottest Fourth of July ever.” Who knows, but we had a blast proclaiming Jesus.
Rehoboth Beach, DE
Usually, you never know what’s going to happen when you go witnessing, but in Rehoboth Beach, you can be sure that you will have a confrontation with the police. This confrontation was short lived as we explained the law to the part time summer policemen, which they confirmed with their superiors. After dealing with the police for six years, we are very familiar with their laws and our rights to be there, even if they would like us to leave. We had six evangelists working the boardwalk each night for about five hours. Many of the young people came back each night to talk to us. One young man named Nick remembered us from last summer and heard about Jesus again. He is blinded by his own self-righteousness, which stems from his religion. Two things stand out in my mind about our three days, the first is the willingness of a crowd of 10 people being willing to listen to me in the rain as it was thundering and lightening The second was our last night when the crowds were small and I considered calling it quits. Don Karns wanted to preach and it was our largest crowd of the evening. The boardwalks are a great place to sow God’s word. One pastor was so excited to see us that he came out each night and invited us to Ohio to train his church in evangelism.
Raymond Rosen and Spring Garden Homes
I was reminded of the joy of working with kids who are so excited to hear about Jesus. Georgene Ivy and Tony Rizzo both asked me to help them with some kid’s outreach here in Philly. We were warmly welcomed into each community by the parents and had groups of over 30 children at each location. One father asked me if I knew of Cornerstone Church, where he used to attend. To his amazement, I know two of the pastors on staff at this church. I told him, “The Lord brought me here to tell you to get back to church and not to walk away from Jesus.” He laughed and said, “I hear yah.”
It’s hard to believe that the summer is two-thirds over. Keep us in your prayers as we have at least two more beach outreaches planned. On the last week of August, we will be back on the college campuses. If you have school supplies for us, we will need them soon. Thanks for your prayers and gifts. God Bless You!
Joseph R. Toy, Jr.
Seaside Heights, NJ Outreach-July 30 to August 1
Rehoboth Beach, DE Outreach-August 6-8
School Supplies Outreaches-August 27-31