Novel Approach to Evangelism
By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission
Discouraged about people slamming the door in your face?
Worried that the book sent in a mass mailing will end up in the trash?
University student Samuel Naumann has a unique way of sharing Seventh-day Adventist literature in Germany — and it appears to be winning hearts.
Samuel, together with his father and grandfather, sets up a mobile book booth in city centers and at annual festivals. Then a family member stands a short distance away and hands out gift cards to passersby. Those who accept a gift card are directed to the booth to choose a free book. The result: the family can provide a personal touch, and the book-taker may be more likely to read the book.
“We have received reactions from people who attend festivals”, said Samuel, a 25-year-old Slavonian studies student at the University of Leipzig. “Some come back and say, ‘I took a book last year. It was good, and I want another one’.”
The gift card idea took a circular route to Germany, where the Adventist Church’s 35,000 members have struggled to make inroads in a highly secularized country of 83 million people. Samuel’s older brother saw a similar book project at an Adventist summer camp in Poland. The Poles, in turn, borrowed the idea from Ukraine. In any case, the Naumann family loved the idea and started making the rounds after securing a trailer to serve as the book booth.
Visitors to the booth are asked about their interests as they scan dozens of titles such as Ellen White’s “The Desire of Ages” and “The Great Controversy”, and health books like “Health and Wellness: Secrets That Will Change Your Life” by Mark Finley and Peter Landless.
The conversations provide a witnessing opportunity, especially when visitor choose a book and inevitably ask whether it really is free, Samuel said.
Samuel likes to reply, “You can take the book. It’s already been paid for”.
“Why?” the visitor often asks.
“It’s like the cross”, Samuel says. “Jesus paid the price. You just have to accept. The only thing it will cost is your time to read. That’s price you have to pay”.
Reaction to the books has been largely positive, he said.
His father, Steffen, recalled a high school teacher who liked The Great Controversy so much that he asked for nine extra copies to share with students in his history class. Another time, a European Union politician took a copy of The Great Controversy and read the thick volume in a single night. He returned the next day to ask for a copy for his son, a reporter.
Samuel, pictured, was unaware of any baptisms, but he wasn’t worried. “I consider this ministry to be the sowing of seeds, and someone else will harvest”, he said.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. Find more mission stories at adventistmission[dot]org
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