Jesus DVDs bridge language gap in Coats for the City

by Mike Creswell, BSCNC
  • BSCNC staff member Zac Lyons (center) and Brad Wall (right), a NYC church planter, begin to load some of the thousands of Jesus DVDs that were distributed along with coats in New York City on Dec. 3. (Photo by Mike Creswell)

  • Jim Morgan, a volunteer from First Baptist Church, Summerfield, loads up some of the thousands of Jesus film DVDs that were distributed in New York City on Dec. 3 as part of Coats for the City. (Photo by Mike Creswell)

  • Thousands of Jesus DVDs, each with 24 different language soundtracks, were distributed along with coats in New York City on Dec. 3. The DVDs were a gift from Christ for All Peoples, a Christian outreach group based in Charlotte. (Photo by Mike Creswell)

Monday, December 19, 2016 | 125 days old

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 that 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.

Wall said the DVD “gives local churches and Christians a valuable tool to give to neighbors and friends to start a conversation with them about Jesus.”

Wall ministers in the Jackson Heights area of Queens, now home to people from a bewildering number of other lands, but especially from the South Asian nations of Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

“From my own coat distribution, we have 18 people we are following up with who expressed interest in having someone come to their home and study the Bible with them,” Wall said, adding that his distribution was one of 12 places where coats were distributed. “But, we put around 125 Jesus films into the hands and homes of people through our coat distribution.”

A second interesting point about the Jesus DVDs is that they came from North Carolina. They 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.

N.C. Baptists are becoming more aware of the need to share Christ with the nations who have come to the United States and especially to North Carolina. The annual Coats for the City outreach has become a way to impact New York City.

Giving a coat to help keep a poor New Yorker warm this winter is a wonderful thing, all agree. Give that New Yorker a coat and tell them about Jesus? That’s going to make a difference for a lifetime and an eternity.