January 12, 2018

GYC Convention Emphasizes Practical Outreach

It’s an unusually hot December day when Janelle Glass walks by the row of yellow school buses lined up outside of the Phoenix Convention Center, the scourging heat tanning her Tennessean winter skin. It’s Friday at the annual GYC convention, to veteran “GYC’ers” also known as outreach day.

A bus stops at the valet section, and Janelle hops on, finding a spot on the front seat. “The first time I went door to door I was in Washington state for the Youth Rush [literature evangelism] program,” she says. One of the books she sold was The Great Controversy, which is the same book she has with her today, one copy for a divine appointment. “It’s so historically accurate. I feel like I can share it with Catholics, atheists, and Protestants, and it has something beneficial for each and every one of them.”

Janelle is suddenly interrupted by the sound of Ben’s voice, one of the two bus leaders. “One more, we need one more!”, he shouts at the massive crowd outside. Cheering and clapping fills the bus as a young man joins the group, taking the last empty seat.

As soon as the bus reaches her designated street, Janelle jumps off and takes out her map. She has been assigned a wealthy residential area. The brown plaster houses are surrounded by heavy metal gates, some with barking dogs guarding them as if their daily ration of dog food were in danger.

But Janelle is determined.

She knocks on a door. The man looks at her skeptically and quickly ends the conversation. “This really brings back memories from canvassing days,” she says. “The feeling of rejection, knowing that there will be plenty more houses at which people will slam the door in your face. But you’ll just have to let it roll off your back, and keep searching, knowing that there are people who are interested.”

With the air almost crackling from static heat, the young woman works her way through the street. Some people laugh at the idea of needing to answer questions about their health on Janelle’s survey. Others close the door as soon as they realize that they have a Christian in front of them.

By the time the canvasser has almost reached the end of the street, she still hasn’t had any luck. She’s been able to place some GLOW tracts in the hands of a few people, but no one was willing to go through the entire survey yet.

She knocks on another door. No answer.

But then the sound of someone putting out the trash breaks the silence. It’s an older man who agrees to chat for a moment. The look on her face becomes more and more determined as the senior answers all the survey questions. “I wanted to be a priest when I was about your age,” says the resident, who tell Janelle of his Greek-Orthodox background. “But somebody encouraged me to get my doctorate in comparative literature instead, which is the reason why I’m such a reader.” The man smiles, revealing the dimples in his cheeks that have come with age.

The Catholic Church apostatized, he says, sharing his historical opinion. They should never have stepped away from the Orthodox mother church. Sounds like he may enjoy the book. At the end of the conversation Janelle hands the man The Great Controversy book that’s she hasn’t been able to give away all afternoon. God knew that this book would be best received by this Christian with an interest in church history and doubts about its unfolding.

As Janelle walks off, her face radiant from her recent success, she says joyfully: “It’s so thrilling to see that God works in the least likely of circumstances.” After a long day of toiling in the sun, Janelle managed to get one book out, but this one book may make all the difference in the world for this one man. “It’s always worth it.”