He took my hand excitedly and began writing on it. “1:15 tomorrow, Daniel. Don’t miss it!” I’d known Andrew Kochanski for all of a day at South Queensland Big Camp, but the excitement in his voice told me he had something important to share. During his presentation the following day, I found myself fascinated by his life journey. Andrew is a literature evangelist (LE) with Jump Start. Historically referred to as a “colporteur”, the job involves door knocking and selling evangelistic books and other print material. The work is often stereotyped as being accomplished by retirees or people “with too much time”. Andrew later reveals to me that he was the complete opposite, having forged a successful career in pharmacology, managing a pharmacy in Cooranbong (NSW) for seven years. But his life was unfulfilled.
“Gradually, the work lost its appeal because I was reading during my one-hour lunch breaks . . . I would take an Ellen White book, and I would devour two chapters in an hour. I was so keen; I read Desire of Ages as if for the first time,” he said.
Rather than experiencing a sudden “Eureka” moment, Andrew became compelled over time to devote his life completely to Jesus. He realised it was more than just words—it was a commitment.
“We say, ‘Lord, I give you my heart’, whatever that is. ‘I give you my life’, whatever that is. That’s nothing. These are words. But when you say ‘God, I give you my time, I give you my money, I give you my priorities’, we start being specific.”
With a stable income on the line, Andrew took a big leap of faith in 2011 and began working part-time for Jump Start. It didn’t take long for him to realise he had made the right decision; he eventually quit his job and completely devoted his time to literature evangelism. He has since become the Australian team leader for the program, encountering many soul-winning conversations with people on the street.
Sone Mariner, a fellow literature evangelist and area manager for the South Pacific Divison’s publication department, was also running seminars at South Queensland Big Camp. But expressing his passion for the LE work during these meetings wasn’t enough for Sone; his mind kept returning to the thousands of unreached people living in the suburbs surrounding the campground. By the time we spoke, he’d already been out there, knocking on doors.
“They have no idea what’s going on in here. So for me to go and knock. . . I touch on the things that are relevant to them. Some of them say, ‘Oh look, I would like to come around [to the camp]’.”
Andrew and his team have encountered all kinds of situations as literature evangelists. One experience in particular brought him face to face with the occult.
“This house was unremarkable except there was five cents balanced on the porch handrail. I went over to touch it to see whether it was glued down, because sometimes people play jokes, but it wasn’t stuck, it was loose.” This peculiar detail stuck with Andrew as he then attempted to sell both health and spiritual books to the lady, to no avail. After being told that she had no money, Andrew felt the Spirit move to leave a book with her regardless.
“The five cents flashed into my mind, and so I said, ‘I just saw five cents, maybe you can take [the book] and I’ll just take the five cents.’ And she went silent for a moment before she said, ‘No, my daughter has been seeing a clairvoyant. And she’s been told that my late husband will come to visit us, and he will leave five cents around the place to just let us know that he’s visited.’
“I showed her Great Controversy and said, ‘You need to get this book. It shows you the truth about what happens after death.’ Praise God she took it and I wrote her a receipt for five cents, and that day I thanked the Lord that the devil had left five cents for that book to go into that home.”
Another such story involved entering a neglected house that seemingly appeared empty. A voice in his head compelled him to enter, saying this would be his only chance. To his surprise, Andrew was greeted by an enthusiastic gentleman who willingly purchased spiritual and health books. Before leaving, Andrew enquired whether he or any of his housemates would appreciate prayer.
“I said ‘Is there anything that we can pray for?’ And one of the guys said ‘look, does God love homosexuals.’ I said ‘Yes, God does love homosexuals. Why do you ask?’ He said, ‘I’ve been having studies with an Adventist pastor, and he told me that God does not love homosexuals.’ And I quickly corrected that misconception, and I said, ‘Let’s pray.’ God blessed that house with joy, and there was peace,” Andrew said.
Andrew attempted to visit the man weeks later, only to find that he had already moved on to another city. A realisation hit Andrew. “My time to visit him was then and there,” he said.
In an age where e-books are quickly replacing their physical counterparts, there is still immense value in both the face-to-face interactions of a literature evangelist and the printed material they’re selling. “Books don’t need a download, they don’t need an update, they won’t get a virus. They will outlive any computer program that’s ever been produced. Books will be preserved for hundreds of years,” Andrew said.
Men on the frontlines of sharing Jesus with others, Andrew and Sone have only grown in their passion for Christ and the greater work. Their work continues to show how literature evangelism still brings results. Though not always a ministry that’s given the most publicity, it certainly remains an effective way to win souls.