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Sharing Hope and Wholeness
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By Keith Reid
 
New member Aumri Esdaille distributes sharing books and GLOW tracts in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. He is part of a growing number of members participating in the Union-wide BLAST initiative to reach 10 million people with literature in 2017.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come,” Matthew 24:14.

Expanding Your Definition
When you hear the words literature evangelism, do you picture a dedicated full-time missionary going door-to-door selling The Bible Story, family Bibles, medical encyclopedias, and large message books? In the Southern Union and other parts of the world, this effective model continues to work well; however, we challenge you to expand your vision. Far from being a new concept, Total Member Involvement (TMI), more frequently heard than ever before, embraces literature evangelism. More than a century ago, the Lord’s messenger to the Seventh-day Adventist Church wrote this: “Let every believer ask himself, ‘What can I do to proclaim the third angel’s message? Christ came to this world to give this message to his servant to give to the churches. It is to be proclaimed to every nation and kindred and tongue and people. How are we to give it? The distribution of our literature is one means by which the message is to be proclaimed. Let every believer scatter broadcast tracts and leaflets and books containing the message for this time,” The Review and Herald, November 12, 1903.
The Southern Union Publishing Ministries Department is here to support you, your local church, the publishing departments, and the Adventist Book Centers in the eight conferences, in reaching souls with the everlasting Gospel. In 2016, the Lord blessed members to place 4.4 million gospel tracts, books, magazines, DVDs, and CDs throughout the southeastern United States. We praise the Lord for your sacrifice and dedication! An estimated 62 million people living in the Southern Union desperately need a new or deeper understanding of truth for this time. The new goal is to more than double the amount of gospel media already distributed, without delay!
Why the urgency? The loss of human lives increases, and as we approach the end of universal probation, it will become much more difficult to do the distinctive work assigned by God: “The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity she will have to do in a terrible crisis under most discouraging, forbidding circumstances,” Testimonies, volume 5, page 463.

Student Literature Evangelists
Throughout the 2016 school year, 590 recruits from elementary school through university level institutions knocked on tens of thousands of doors; shared books, tracts, and DVDs on health and the Gospel; and generated hundreds of Bible study interests. In the process, students deepened their spiritual experience and earned more than $750,000 in scholarships and worthy student funds.

Full-time Literature Evangelists
Although every Seventh-day Adventist is to distribute truth-filled literature, some feel especially called to minister full-time. “The canvassing work is more important than many have regarded it, and as much care and wisdom must be used in selecting the workers as in selecting men for the ministry... Some are better adapted than others for doing a certain work; therefore, it is not correct to think that everyone can be a canvasser,” Colporteur Ministry, page 27.
The past year was fruitful and exciting for the currently 21 full-time and 95 part-time literature evangelists (LEs) serving in the Southern Union territory. More and more young adults are sensing the need to join experienced workers in helping to make life-changing differences in the lives of those around them. New products, designed exclusively for LEs to market, were introduced, and more titles are being developed.
After meeting the challenging requirements for sales of the new Children’s Century Classics Bible story set, several LEs earned an incentive trip with their families to Michigan for the Adventist Heritage Tour. Tammy Mapes, LE and mother of three, and member of the Kingsport, Tennessee, Church, was blessed to sell 236 sets before the deadline — more than four times the requirement — and led the Southern Union in sales for the year 2016. How does she approach her prospective customers? With a look of expectancy in her eyes, she asks, “Have you seen the new Bible story set?”

Total Member Involvement
Never before has it been easier to share the Seventh-day Adventist message. A huge selection of attractive sharing resources, including tracts, small books, DVDs, CDs, and Bible lessons, are available at a low cost from Adventist Book Centers and publishing departments. Many members have made the distribution of this material a lifestyle, calling it “evangeliving.” We praise God for Navy Seals-type individuals who distribute literature by the hundreds and thousands. Just think: If each of the 290,016* members in the Southern Union distributed only five pieces of literature each week — while shopping, purchasing gas, or eating out — close to 1.5 million pieces would be distributed each week, with 75 million pieces of literature distributed in one year, scattered like the leaves of autumn! Would the Lord be pleased? Would there be more people converted to Jesus? Would the sojourn here come to a speedier end? The answers are a resounding “Yes!”
“When church members realize the importance of the circulation of our literature, they will devote more time to this work. Papers, tracts, and books will be placed in the homes of the people, to preach the gospel in their several lines,” Colporteur Ministry, 7.2.
Will you simply dedicate a pocket or purse compartment for truth-filled literature, fill it and prayerfully commit to sharing it, piece by piece, with a hurting world? The Lord will help you, and lead you to honest, thirsty souls daily.
One excited member, Roxanne McGraw, dedicates 10 minutes a day to share at least 25 gospel tracts to people entering and exiting a local Walmart.
Hundreds of members love getting out and distributing thousands of sharing books and tracts at large sports events, concerts, city festivals, parades, walk-a-thons, conventions, state fairs, and tourist centers.
The Loganville, Georgia, Church sacrificed and raised $26,772.90 to mail The Great Controversy to 23,485 Loganville homes in the 30052 zip code.
Attendees at the 2016 Publishing Ministries Department BLAST Conference learned about the full spectrum of literature ministry available in Southern Union, and were inspired to promote Total Member Involvement.

Conclusion
What a privilege it is to serve the Lord during this time in Earth’s history! Why are we here? Jesus said, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth,” John 18:37. Is your mission to be any different? Are you not weary of this world with its sin, sorrow, and suffering? Do you long to meet your Redeemer face to face, and spend eternity with Him? You can. Rededicate your life to Him, now, and begin inviting others to become a part of God’s family. Sharing literature is one of the most effective ways to do this. The Holy Spirit works through the literature — informing, inspiring, comforting, encouraging, and matching argument with argument in the process of convicting souls of their need to understand and implement truth in their lives.
“God will soon do great things for us if we lie humble and believing at His feet.... More than one thousand will soon be converted in one day, most of whom will trace their first convictions to the reading of our publications,” The Review and Herald, November 10, 1885 (Colporteur Ministry, 151).
As God’s people work earnestly in faith, they may joyfully anticipate, now and during the crisis to come, the fulfillment of the following prophetic assurance: “The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God. The arguments have been presented. The seed has been sown, and now it will spring up and bear fruit. The publications distributed by missionary workers have exerted their influence, yet many whose minds were impressed have been prevented from fully comprehending the truth or from yielding obedience. Now the rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. Family connections, church relations, are powerless to stay them now. Truth is more precious than all besides. Notwithstanding the agencies combined against the truth, a large number take their stand upon the Lord’s side,” Great Controversy, page 612.
Simply pause now and contact your local publishing directors or go to www.Blastofhope.com to learn how you can share literature in creative ways, and read more inspiring stories of others who embraced the vision of a finished work.

*290,016 was the official membership in the Southern Union at the end of the fourth quarter of 2016.

Keith Reid is the associate publishing director for the Southern Union Conference in Norcross, Georgia.



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