July 3, 2020

Closing Down, or Opening Up?

During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, literature evangelists (LEs) face unusual challenges. But it is also a time of unusual opportunities. 

When it would seem that doors are closing, it has proven to be a time when many hearts are opening. Each literature evangelist in our region has been counseled to follow the local ordinances regarding COVID-19 protocol. As they have done so, they have found God is still able to work and open hearts while they keep up with social distancing practices. Here are recent experiences from several LEs in the Southern Union Conference.

The Right Timing

Many of Tad Stauffer’s presentations are made on the porch of the house to remain at a safe distance. Most of his literature interests were initiated by working at several county fairs and then visiting the 1,400 to 1,500 names obtained throughout the year. He recently followed up on one of these interests.

When Stauffer knocked on the door, a woman answered but did not open the door. Instead, she lowered the glass of the storm door and talked to him through the screen. She explained that she was self-isolated because her husband had the coronavirus and was getting treatment.

Tad Stauffer generates leads at a county fair. Stauffer, a literature evangelist, is now able to follow up on these leads. [Photo: North American Division News]

Offering to come back later, Stauffer went to his car to get a magabook (large-format paperback) titled Fighting Disease with Foods. He set it on the porch and offered to have a word of prayer for the woman and her husband. As he did, tears flowed down the woman’s face. When he was finished, she declared, “God sent you just at the right time.”

Photos, Videos, and Zoom

We have encouraged literature evangelists in our region to reconnect by phone with the thousands of people who purchased books in the past. Spiritual encouragement is the intent behind the phone call, and prayer is offered to families for their needs and protection. It is amazing how this opens the hearts of people when their doors are closed to other visits.

Yvonne Pondexter, a literature evangelist in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, recently took up this method. She said, “I felt impressed that even though in my area I did not feel I could go door to door, I still needed to reach people for Jesus.” In search of finding ways to reach her potential customers to view the books, Pondexter sent pictures or a short video she created. She has also presented the books via Zoom conference calls. Most important of all, Pondexter continued to pray fervently for her ministry. 

Pondexter said she was amazed at how God opened hearts and impressed people with the need for the printed page. “In just a day and a half, more than a thousand dollars of truth-filled literature was ordered, and relationships were redeveloped.”

Off the Book Shelf

In this period of time, when people cannot socialize in their regular ways, the printed page stands out as a witnessing tool. Many of the books that people have purchased in the past are now coming off the shelf as people seek to understand the times in which we live.

A woman who mailed in a card during the pandemic time asking for information about health books watched closely as literature evangelist Patti Morris showed her the materials. Suddenly, she interrupted with a question, “Are these Seventh-day Adventist books?”

“Yes, they are,” Morris replied.

“Well, about twenty years ago, a person came to my home, and I purchased a set of books called the Bible Reference Library by Ellen G. White.” The woman continued, “That woman was inspired. I loved the artwork, and the message was so beautiful. I found out those books were Seventh-day Adventist. And it is strange, but for the last few weeks, I have been thinking I need to find out more about Adventists because maybe I need to become one. So I prayed, ‘Lord, help me to find a Seventh-day Adventist.’”

“Today is your divine appointment,” Morris exclaimed. “I am an Adventist.”

God is still in control. Doors open and close, and God has His timing for reaching open hearts. And He is looking for people who want to be His messengers in these exciting last days.

The original version of this story was posted on the North American Division news site.