It’s hard to know sometimes how to connect your local community with the message of Jesus. I’m glad that I’ve discovered a way. For at least five years now I’ve been delivering Signs of the Times magazines on a monthly basis to around 40 people in my local area. It’s my Sabbath afternoon walk! (And my Sunday afternoon walk too—I go out for the first two weekends of every month.) [pullquote]
There are a huge number of lonely people in the community—they just want to have a chat. A lot of them are older or dealing with chronic health issues. They’re stuck at home, living on a pension and without many opportunities to mix regularly with other people. There are four men I can think of on my round who have all said to me at some stage that I’m the only other man they talk to regularly. Australian men are much more interested in spirituality than you might think. They don’t necessarily have much background in church life so some of their ideas can be a bit weird. But when I turn up on a Sunday afternoon after they’ve had a few beers, I’m really surprised at some of the questions they come up with—really profound ideas.
So I know that, when I knock on the door, I’m going to be there for half an hour. Usually it’s not a religious conversation; it’s more personal. Health is a big issue—I hear a lot about the ups and downs of medical appointments, diagnoses and health expenses. One couple said they were having difficulties and asked me if there was a marriage counsellor at my church. We did have someone and a marriage was saved.
I take the long-term view: God’s in charge; I’m just doing my little bit to spread His message. I let the magazine do the preaching. There have been no baptisms so far, but there was one fellow who, after reading Signs for a while, joined the Salvation Army, which was a good fit for him. One day I turned up at an earlier time than usual and he was so excited—he vaulted his fence and gave me a big hug in the middle of the street. He said he was struggling with some legal issues and had just been praying that God would show him a sign that He really cared. “And here you are!” he said, pointing to the magazine in my hand. “Look! A Sign!”
There are two ways I get to meet these people. The first is via a literature evangelist. While he’s door-knocking he asks people if they’d like to receive a free monthly Christian magazine. If they say yes, he passes the details along to me for follow-up. My other method is to letterbox a particular street with Signs once a month for three months. After that I go to the doors with the next month’s issue in my hand, introduce myself and ask if they’d like to continue to receive the magazine. Not everyone says yes, but some do. One man told me he didn’t want it, but his daughter called out from behind him, “No, get it Dad! It’s good. It’s free!”
To be honest, I’m sure some of them don’t read it, but it gives me contact with the person in the house. I have a strong sense that God has shown me my unique ministry. Not a month goes by when it doesn’t seem that I’ve arrived at exactly the right moment. I go home pumped every time.
To find out more about starting a Signs delivery round, download free information at www.hop.ec/SignsRound.
As told by Bruce Thompson to Adventist Record assistant editor Kent Kingston.