An employee of Safeliz Publishing House in Spain and his family were vacationing in Greece a few years ago. As the days went by, they became good friends with the landlady of the place where they were staying. They enjoyed their experience so much that, a year later, they decided to go back and stay in the same place.
Wishing to witness to their kind landlady, he wrote to the leaders of the Greek Mission requesting a copy of Ellen G. White’s Steps to Christ in Greek. When he got the copy in the mail, however, he felt disappointed. It was a bulky edition printed 50 years before. Its pages were yellowish and looked old-fashioned. There was no way he would feel comfortable giving away such an unappealing volume.
An Idea Is Born
Back at his desk at the Adventist-managed publishing house near Madrid, he had an idea. What if Safeliz contacted the Greek Mission and made them an offer to print multi-color illustrated copies of Steps to Christ in Greek?
The employee contacted his superiors, who got in touch with the Greek Mission field. Eventually, a partnership was born that has now shipped thousands of copies of Steps to Christ to Greece.
The partnership with the Greek Mission, however, is not the only one Safeliz is involved in. In the last few years, Safeliz has published that same edition of Steps to Christ in at least 14 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, and Thai.
“By using the same basic design and similar illustrations, we can provide top-quality Adventist literature at a very affordable cost,” Safeliz financial manager Sergio Mato says. “Also, we can decide where in the world to print, and send the books directly from the printing house to the church field that has requested them.”
Workers at Safeliz warehouse in Spain regularly prepare pallets that will be sent all around the world. “Recipient not available on Saturdays. Please do not deliver,” the label instructions say on a pallet ready to be loaded and sent to Chad. Other pallets wait nearby, ready to be shipped to other countries in Europe, Asia, and beyond.
Healthy Living Books and Bibles
But it is not only Ellen G. White’s volumes that are printed and shared with the world church. With decades-old classics such as Medicina Natural [Natural Medicine] and Niños sanos y fuertes [Healthy and Strong Children], Safeliz has become known for books on natural remedies and healthy living. Contemporary multi-color volumes share healthy recipes and discuss ways to prevent diabetes, boost the immune system, and use the power of plants to enjoy better overall health.
Safeliz has also become known for the publication of Bibles that cater to specific age groups, professions, and interests. In the last few years, Safeliz has published the Pathfinders Bible, the Couple’s Bible, the Colporteur’s Bible, and the Archaeology and Cultural Background Study Bible, among others. Recently, it added the Creative Woman’s Bible in two formats. Most of these editions are also offered in other major languages, including Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
“We are now working on a Back to the Altar Bible edition,” Safeliz president Mario Martinelli shares in late May. He is referencing a General Conference initiative that seeks to call “all people into a daily personal worship time with God.” With the presence of Adventist church leaders, Safeliz hopes to introduce the new edition by mid-2024.
Walking the Walk
Safeliz is not content with just promoting and selling books about the Bible and healthy living. Its leaders have also implemented practices to live what they preach.
For years, the publishing house has supported evangelistic initiatives across Spain and beyond. In its most recent multi-year effort, Safeliz leaders were the driving force behind the recently-inaugurated Colmenar Viejo Seventh-day Adventist Church, the first Adventist congregation in the Madrid satellite town where the publishing house is located. In connection with the work of the church, in the last couple of years, Safeliz has supported annual evangelistic meetings with international speakers and church leaders, including Robert Costa, associate ministerial secretary for the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and Erton Köhler, executive secretary for the General Conference.
Safeliz leaders have also acknowledged that if they spend part of their working lives promoting and selling books on healthy living, their own lives should be consistent with that ideal. Accordingly, they voted to use half of the grounds where Safeliz is located to plant and grow fruit trees and other plants. Besides the ubiquitous olive trees, employees can harvest apricots, grapes, and figs, among other fruits. Employees can also grow their own vegetable gardens on site.
A massive water storage unit ensures a regular water supply that helps keep plants and grass green and healthy. Safeliz has also incorporated solar power to reduce electricity costs. Inside the building, power inverters take solar energy and direct it to the publishing house power grid. Since its implementation, the cost savings have been substantial.
Safeliz has also opened a small but well-equipped gym for employees who want to give more attention to their physical fitness. The facilities include state-of-the-art machines, changing rooms, and shower stalls for both sexes.
Recently, Safeliz, which is a fully self-supporting church institution, has set up a recording studio where they will shoot ads and promotions for their products.
“We try to keep our employees happy and cared for,” Mato says. “If they are happy, we know we’ll be able to count on them when a specific need arises, or when we ask them to go a second mile. And they know it.”
An Unfinished Job
It’s midday, and back in the warehouse, Safeliz employees are getting another shipment ready. They attach the shipping labels to the pallet, which, mercifully for the uninitiated, have transcribed the Greek characters into the Latin alphabet. “Christianikis Ekklesias Adventiston Evdomis Imeras,” it reads. One doesn’t need to know the language to understand that it is yet another shipment for the Greek Mission. More books. More contacts for the kingdom.
“In the last twelve months, we have probably published and printed more books than in the previous five years,” Mato says. “We keep adding languages and church territories. Still, there are many more who need to know this message. And our mission is to facilitate it.”