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The Great Experiment in the Big Apple  

by whit hazelton

On Thursday, March 7, a small group of Christians took on a “Joshua Faith Challenge” that would stretch their faith and inject new energy into their walk with Jesus. As part of The Great Experiment, a ten-day spiritual challenge to seek God for revival, participants were asked to pray and ask God to show them something they could do to put their faith into works. It was to be something specific, concrete, bold, and out of the ordinary—something that would require courageous faith in God (Joshua 1:8, 9). In response to the challenge, a number of the five thousand Great Experiment participants came up with creative evangelism plans for their faith challenge.


For his Joshua Faith Challenge, Christian Union Founder and CEO Matt Bennett met up with six friends to take the Gospel to the New York City subway! Asking for prayer in advance of the big day, Matt wrote: “I’ve never done such a thing and am a little nervous, but also excited to see what God will do!”


Before heading underground, the courage-filled crew met at a coffee shop, where they received guidance from experienced subway evangelist Dimas Salaberrios, author of the book Street God and co-pastor of Infinity Church in the Bronx River Community. Dimas knew which subway segments would give the right amount of time between stops to deliver the Gospel message in a meaningful, substantive way. Then, descending into the subway system, they spent time hopping on and off subway cars, taking turns preaching the good news of Jesus a number of times. While one person was preaching to the traveling public, the others in the group prayed and sought other ways to minister.

One of the friends joining in this courage-testing exercise was Chuck Hetzler, Senior Associate with Christian Union Day & Night and pastor of the newly birthed Bethesda Grace Church in Manhattan. He shared: “I never thought I would have preached to a crowded subway car, but I’m so glad I did. Click to Tweet We all did, at separate times, and it was thrilling...We sowed the seed; may God give the growth! And may God embolden all of us to be Spirit-empowered witnesses for Jesus in America.”

By the end of their time together, all who participated remarked that they were glad to have done it. Bennett called it an invigorating, faith-stretching experience. “All of us pledged to do it again sometime soon, and other friends in New York, after hearing about it, said they want to come next time,” he said.

Dr. Hetzler was inspired to think up other ways to bring the Gospel to the city. “It was a pleasant surprise,” he said, “to see positive reactions, ranging from applause, to nodding along in agreement, to sustained eye contact, to openness to receive prayer.” Encouraging signs in a city that’s in need of a Heaven-sent, wide-scale revival.  


Whit Hazelton is the marketing director of Day and Night, Christian Union’s online ministry promoting spiritual strengthening across America through prayer, fasting, repentance, evangelism, and dedication to seeking God.

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