[This is an impressive story of how one of our mission field administrators resigned his position, returned to the', homeland, and engaged in literature evangelism in order to see his children established in their educational programs.]
HARRY DOEHLA, brilliant young student planning for an engineering career, was stricken with paralysis at the age of seventeen. Since that time he has spent his days in a wheel chair. For seven years after his affliction he lived with defeat. Day after day he was alone because his parents had to leave him that they might earn enough to keep him. In his loneliness he tried one thing after another to make some money. All failed. Deeper and deeper he sank into despair.
Then one day came a suggestion that he try the seemingly impossible—paint Christmas cards and sell them! For months his fingers refused to be controlled. It was six months before he sold his first card for five cents. Today he is the biggest Christmas card producer in the world.
Ask him when the turning point came and he will tell you that one day there suddenly came to his mind a sentence spoken at his high school graduation: "What you dare to dream, dare to do." Believe in your own powers. Dare to act on that belief. Action is the key to setting our inner powers in motion. Jesus said the same thing but in a different way in response to the centurion's request to heal his servant, "As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee" (Matt. 8:13).
For several years I had been dreaming too, looking forward to the time when my sons and I could visit our home community in northern Minnesota and bring the three angels' messages to our relatives and friends through the literature ministry. This dream was translated into reality a year ago after the close of school. We went off the pay roll and set out for Minnesota, the State with 10,000 lakes, to work out our plans.
We made our headquarters in a town of 8,000 population, strongly Scandinavian and Lutheran in faith and known for their prejudices toward Seventh-day Adventist teachings. Few Seventh-day Adventist believers live in the community, and although there is a church in the town, the membership has remained small through the years. Two Seventh-day Adventist doctors with their families established a clinic a year ago in this town and have been favorably received by the people. These young and enthusiastic doctors welcomed us with open arms and gave us every form of help and encouragement. Their kindness will always be remembered. However, we were under no illusions as to possible difficulties, but we had faith in God's promise: "As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee." "What you dare to dream, dare to do."
The first week proved a difficult one, for all of us had much to learn in handling the large sets of books, and my three sons lacked training and experience. Thus only one sale was made, but things looked brighter for the coming week as new leads were received. However, on Monday evening of the second week LeRoy and Tommy were arrested by the chief of police and taken in his car to headquarters for questioning. He said they had been going from door to door canvassing, which was a violation of one of the city ordinances. After proper explanation and identifying themselves, they were released for the night, but told they must appear in the morning for registration with the police, and in the future work only by appointment and not from door to door. Consequently, the next morning we all drove to the police station and registered, promising to abide by the rules. So far, the outlook didn't look too encouraging, but we were not disheartened, as we remembered the promise that "those who accept the one principle of making the service of God supreme, will find perplexities vanish and a plain path before their feet."—The Ministry of Healing, p. 481.
Soon our prospects began to change. On Wednesday of the second week, the chairman of the Rotarians invited us to put on a program during the luncheon hour. We accepted the invitation, and our program, consisting of music and pictures and a short talk on conditions in Southeast Asia, was very well received. The Lions Club invited us the following week. We also received a list of all the officers and members of the clubs and their addresses. Canvassing now became much easier, for these businessmen could hardly refuse us admittance to their homes when we visited them during the long evening hours. The mayor purchased a set of The Bible Story, and encouraged us greatly. Also the editor of the local paper invited us to his office for an interview. He wrote a good article about our program and mission work overseas and illustrated it with pictures of my sons and me. Canvassing now became a pleasure. Soon Service Clubs, and Farmers' Union, Parent-Teachers' Association, and church groups were inviting us to put on programs in various towns and churches. Freewill offerings were taken up and given to us to help us meet expenses. These totaled more than $250 for the summer. At the conclusion of one Rotarian dinner program, the chairman, a Roman Catholic, appealed to the large number of men present to give liberally to our mission program during our Ingathering campaign.
We also tried another approach by visiting the ministers of other churches, telling them of our plans to canvass in their communities and asking their cooperation. We are told that "tact and good judgment increase the usefulness of the laborer a hundred-fold."—Gospel Workers, p. 119. Twenty-seven preachers of other church denominations were visited during the summer. All but three received us courteously. Four bought our books, three wrote excellent recommendations for our prospectuses, and one invited us to spend the night with him and asked us to make our headquarters at his home while we were canvassing in his community. Speaking appointments and programs were put on in four Lutheran churches, one Congregational, and one Presbyterian. These were all by invitation. One pastor even gave us his church membership list, marking the names of families with children and telling us something of their financial standing. The Lord richly blessed our humble efforts and opened the hearts of the people who welcomed us to their homes. During a sixty-hour Big Week, sales totaled $1,000 in one day, the best day of the week. All in all, the summer's work proved a wonderful experience and a delight. Approximately $11,000 worth of Christian literature was sold and delivered by LeRoy, Lowell, Tommy, and myself. This meant scholarships for the current college and academy year, a blessing indeed. Prayer had been offered in hundreds of homes, and many had enrolled in the Bible correspondence courses. We met many fine people and we are looking forward to meeting them again.
With its many lakes, Minnesota provides unusual opportunities for recreation, boating, water skiing, and swimming. Hence, the summer wasn't all work and no play. A proper balance was worked out, which greatly added to the enjoyment of the summer's canvassing program.
Truly the "canvassing work, properly conducted, is missionary work of the highest order."—Colporteur Ministry, p. 6. It involves "the performance of the highest moral duties" (ibid., p. 12), and is the best preparation for success in life. God's servant has given this pointed testimony concerning the colporteur ministry as a divine plan for students. "I have had special light in regard to the canvassing work, and the impression and burden does not leave me. This work is a means of education. It is an excellent school for those who are qualifying themselves to enter the ministry."—Ibid., pp. 31, 32.
Whatever vocation we may choose, the literature ministry serves as a basis for development of practical lessons needful to success in our future lifework. In this day with the spirit of nationalism and excitement sweeping the world, people must be approached courteously and in a tactful manner. "Many souls have been turned in the wrong direction, and thus lost to the cause of God, by a lack of skill and wisdom on the part of the worker."—Gospel Workers, p. 119. Therefore, I can highly recommend the colporteur ministry as the best preparation for development of the sterling characters so necessary in a frustrated world needing light and guidance. "The education obtained in this practical way may properly be termed higher education."—Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 331.