Securing Readers — No. 1

Advice from a bible worker on securing readers.

By Agnes E. Webber

My experience as a Bible worker began by taking a list of names supplied by the faithful colporteur, and calling on the people to talk with them about the contents of the book they had purchased, and endeavoring to make estab­lished appointments for Bible studies. A lady colporteur accompanied me to the homes of a few people especially interested, and introduced me as the " long-promised teacher to assist them in their investigation of Bible truth." By this means I had no difficulty in se­curing a few appointments for Bible readings, as a starting point, and I have kept busy ever since.

In connection with my Bible work I sold a few magazines from house to house, thus coming in contact with other individuals who were glad of an opportunity to study the Bible. Soma times appointments for Bible studies were made at the time of the first call with the magazine, and at other times the appointment did not develop until subsequent calls and literature had established a friendly acquaintance. I found that divine wisdom and tact are needed to enable the worker to know when to proceed slowly and cautiously, and when to press the opportunity for immediate personal investigation.

Another means of securing readers has been through contact at the Sab­bath services in the church. By being observant of strangers and making their acquaintance, the results have been twofold: If they are members of some other Seventh-day Adventist church, and are visiting in the city, they may have friends in whose behalf the services of the Bible worker are needed; if they are strangers, they especially appreciate the interest shown in them, and often respond to the suggestion that Bible studies be held in their homes.

I have found that my readers are the best advertisers of my work. As they see how clearly the Bible reveals truths concerning the history of the world and the plan of salvation, there is awakened in their hearts a keen desire to have their friends become informed, and they invite them to at­tend the studies at their homes, or by personal solicitation make definite ap­pointments for Bible studies in the homes of their friends.

A very fruitful field for appoint­ments is found in the missionary en­deavor put forth by the members of the church. As they distribute liter­ature, and come in contact with people in other ways, many openings for the Bible worker are obtained. This chan­nel of contact with individuals is sub­ject to discrimination by the Bible worker, as it is often the case that courtesy on the part of the one visited is mistaken for interest, the results of which are quite different. The same caution maintains in regard to letters received from zealous people, request­ing that friends or relatives be visited by the Bible worker. In visiting all such referred cases, it is wise not to state the definite purpose of the visit, until a personal acquaintance can be established and a real interest created in Bible study. Sometimes the Bible worker is requested not to tell who has sent her. The plan of distributing lit­erature in the street or in the block, and thus casually meet the people specified and observe their attitude toward Bible study, oftentimes brings desired results. And I may say, just here, that of all the various methods used in securing readers, none are so effective or so frequently used as the distribution of our attractive truth-filled literature. This is the basic means of stimulating desire for Bible study.

Neighborliness, involving methods too numerous to specify, is effective in establishing confidence and friendship which places the Bible worker on van­tage ground in securing definite appointments for Bible study. Christian ministry to the sick, and sympathetic interest and help in time of sorrow or bereavement, are far-reaching in effect.

Then there are young people among us who have not received a training in our schools, and often lack sufficient knowledge of the truths which we hold to warrant their being baptized and becoming members of the church. While the Standard of Attainment would in time supply this lack, yet with some only a few points need be covered; and if the Bible workers will ascertain the need and give the in­struction and encouragement neces­sary, many young men and women will become settled in the faith, and may decide to dedicate their lives to preach­ing or teaching God's word. The Bible worker carries responsibilities within the church as well as outside of it.

The reclaiming of the backslider of­fers a distinct line of endeavor by the Bible worker, and requires special adaptation of teaching methods, in which are blended much love and pa­tience. It may be that the condition is due to failure to understand or ap­preciate fully the importance of some tenet of our faith. At one time in my experience I came in contact with a woman physician who attended our tent meetings, became convinced of the truth, and took her stand, but the in­fluence of friends in her professional life placed her in the frigid atmos­phere of indifference and ridicule, and she dropped out of the church. I en­deavored to keep in touch with her during the several years that followed, sending patients to her for attention, and in every way possible maintaining cordial friendship. I was absent from the city for a time, and when I re­turned I was happy to find this doctor attending our Sabbath services quite frequently. One day I invited her to come to my home for a spiritual visit. She accepted the invitation, and as we talked and prayed together she unbur­dened her heavy heart and revealed her earnest desire to be true to God. For a time she could not believe that God would accept her, after all the years of rejecting Him, but she finally accepted the promises of healing for backsliding, and very soon after was rebaptized. Then she began to exert an influence to win others to the truth, and to secure openings for Bible stud­ies. Two ladies accepted the truth and were baptized, as the result of the doc­tor's interest, and both of these women have had some very fruitful experi­ences in bringing others to a knowl­edge and acceptance of the truth through the Bible studies which they themselves have given. It was the reclaimed backslider who started this chain of good results, and to me this is one of the-brightest memories in my experience as a Bible worker.

Port Huron, Mich,

(To be concluded)

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By Agnes E. Webber

January 1930

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