Meet the People "at the Well"

JESUS reached the people of Sychar by sitting down at the city well, a place where people commonly came. He didn't begin with a series of meetings in the local synagogue or a rented public hall. His public lectures resulted from a contact made at the well. . .

-an instructor in health evangelism in the School of Health, Loma Linda University at the time this article was written

JESUS reached the people of Sychar by sitting down at the city well, a place where people commonly came. He didn't begin with a series of meetings in the local synagogue or a rented public hall. His public lectures resulted from a contact made at the well.

Ten years ago in Pocatello, Idaho, we experimented with an approach we called the Seventh-day Adventist Health Education Services. It consisted of a series of illustrated lectures offered to clubs, schools, churches, luncheon groups, and other organizations in the city. A letter and two color brochures detailing the programs offered were mailed to such groups, explaining that they could schedule one or more presentations, based on their interests and needs. The mailing was followed up with a telephone call a week or so later.

The results were gratifying. A local Kiwanis program chairman told me, "We'll take any program you have to offer. I have to find fifty-two speakers during the year and if you can provide us with a program that's worth while, we'll use it! Let us know when you can come,"

Some of the topics offered were drug abuse, heart attack, weight control, fitness for children, emergency first aid, proper nutrition, arthritis, smoking, cancer, and mental health. These topics have good appeal both to a general audience and to specific groups.

For instance, a weight-control group would choose weight control or proper nutrition, while the Parent Teachers Association would be more likely to select fitness for children or drug abuse. Older citizens' clubs were interested in arthritis, while heart attack struck a response from Kiwanis, Rotary, and other men's service clubs.

In the Northern California Conference, where I served as conference evangelist, we were constantly flooded with requests for programs. Our public series attracted many fine business men, who first heard one of our presentations at their service-club luncheon.

When I requested a leave of absence from Northern California to attend Loma Linda University, the conference agreed to pay my tuition expense, but left it to me to meet my own living costs. In order to do this, I contacted a mortuary in the vicinity (we were living in Hemet) and offered to present the programs in their name as advertising, for thirty-five dollars per program. Working ten hours a week, I made more than $700 per month. The mortuary was so pleased with the results that they hired another student from the School of Health when I left.

My audiences included mobile home park residents, nursing home patients, various church groups, and service clubs. An evangelistic series held in this locality attracted fewer than fifty non-Adventists nightly to a local public-school auditorium. Less than 150 non-Adventists attended during the entire series. At the same time, our presentations reached groups of 80 to 450. More than five thousand people were reached during the course of this series of meetings.

This kind of response helped me realize the potential of "going to the well" to meet the people. We need to study the possibilities of reaching the people where they are rather than inviting them to come to us. By going to their church, club, mobile home park, or school organization, we can make contacts that will enhance the effectiveness of our follow-up public meetings.

Materials are now available for your use in this type of ministry. Laymen and ministers who are interested in this kind of greater community outreach are invited to write to the author at the School of Health for additional information.


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-an instructor in health evangelism in the School of Health, Loma Linda University at the time this article was written

October 1975

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