My friends and I were headed to the parking lot after an enjoyable day at the park when suddenly a woman emerged from her car and made a beeline toward us. Before I knew it, The Great Controversy was being pushed wordlessly into my face.
“No thanks,” I said as I gently pushed the book back toward the stranger. “I already have this book.”
She turned to my non-Christian friend and repeated her push-the-book-in-your-face method.
“I have the book too,” he said.
My heart sank as I realized my example had prevented him from receiving a potentially life-changing gift.
I’ve repeatedly replayed that scene in my mind throughout the years, wondering what could have led to a more positive outcome. The thing I keep coming back to is conversation. If the woman had shown interest in us, chances are that one or both of us would have walked away with a book.
But therein lies the problem that this column is intended to address. Not everyone has the gift of gab. Whether it’s because we’re introverts, shy, or socially awkward, many of us become terrified when we think of verbally witnessing to strangers.
Sharing literature makes sense for introverts. We can let the books do the talking. But how can we get books into hands without socially awkward confrontations?
Here are a few ideas:
Drop-off points—The organization Little Free Library is popular right now. Anybody can take or leave a book at any of its 90,000 locations. Leaving one or, at the most, two books in a Little Free Library is a wonderful way to share literature with people looking for something to read.
Geocaches are another place where people trade items. Some geocaches are large enough to leave tracts in. Again, leave only a few. Literature dumps don’t make good impressions.
Holidays—For Christmas, birthdays, and other special occasions you can wrap a book in bright paper, include a personal note, and leave the book on a neighbor’s front porch or a coworker’s
At Halloween you can give children’s literature along with candy to trick-or-treaters. Kids love receiving a bonus treat when they come to your door!
Amazing tips—You can leave a tract along with your tip when eating out or in your hotel room. If you’re going to do this, be sure to leave a good—or even great—tip. Showing this kindness will make the recipient more likely to be interested in what you share.
It’s in the mail—Sending books through the postal system is a nice way to share literature without putting anyone on the spot.
One of my favorite ideas is to go through the obituaries and send an appropriate book with a thoughtful note to surviving family members.
For more ideas on how to share literature, check out the book Spread the Word,* available at your Adventist Book Center or Amazon.com. With a little creativity, even introverts can help scatter our literature “like the leaves of autumn.”
* General Conference Sabbath School and Personal Ministries Department, Spread the Word (Silver Spring, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2018).
Lori Futcher is an editor for the new Alive in Jesus Sabbath School curriculum that will be released in the next few years.
God, I really don’t want to pray for him. I looked at the name on my Facebook friends list. He had publicly admitted to doing something awful, in the process hurting one of our mutual friends. Certainly it would be OK if I just skipped him?
My resolution for 2020 had been to pray my way through my Facebook friends. Each day I looked at my list of friends and prayed for two individuals, spending some time looking at their Face- book walls to see what I might be able to petition on their behalf. Then I would send them a message letting them know they were in my prayers.
Everybody deserves prayer. The response to my pleadings was forceful. I couldn’t argue. Jesus had interceded for those who crucified Him. I could pray for my friend who had fallen to temptation.
I looked at his Facebook wall. There was a joke about money. Remembering that there’s a bit of truth behind every joke, I wondered if he needed financial blessings. God, I can’t pray for that. That’s way too personal! It’s awkward enough to be praying for him at all, but to be praying about his financial situation? Does he even deserve financial blessings?
God wasn’t giving me a pass. And so I drafted a message to my friend.
“May God give you grace as you rebuild your life. May you stay healthy through the pandemic,” I typed. Then forcing myself to pray for the one thing I didn’t want to pray for, I finished, “and may God take care of your financial needs.” I hit send, wondering if I would regret my message.
But when I got his response, all I felt was relief that I hadn’t neglected my duty. He told me that he had just been put on unpaid leave because of the pandemic. He really didn’t know how he was going to get by financially.
I let out a gasp, realizing how close I’d come to not praying for someone facing a crisis; and moreover, how close I’d come to not praying for the very thing he was desperately needing. I told him that I felt God had directed my prayer for him.
“Perhaps so,” he responded.
What I didn’t know was that there was another crisis he was facing. One that he didn’t speak of at the time, but that would come out later: a crisis of faith.
I wish I could say my intercession put him back on the straight and narrow, but that would be untrue. He still struggles with the big questions and no longer identifies as a Christian.
But this makes me even more glad that I prayed for him. Had I skipped over him, I would secretly have wondered if praying for him would have made a difference in his decision.
And I still hold on to hope, hope that one day, as he looks back at the ways God has reached out to him, maybe this experience will play a small role in bringing him back into Jesus’ arms.
No matter what happens, I’ll always be glad I prayed the prayer I didn’t want to pray.
Lori Futcher is the editor of the new junior, earli-teen, and youth “Alive in Jesus” Sabbath School curriculum that will become available in 2025.