Friday, October 5, 2012

Summer Canvassing Program in Dayton, Ohio

This summer I got to canvass in Dayton, Ohio. Below I want to share an experience which taught me a lesson in faith. I wrote it for class when we had to write an descriptive essay about canvassing:

What a privilege it is to be a canvasser! Oftentimes we may not see it as such; but when we allow God to open our eyes so we see how He esteems the work, we will come to have a different opinion of it.  Canvassing is a work of cooperation with the divine; a work which brings us to the forefront of the great controversy. It affects not only the lives of the people we meet, but also our own. In canvassing we choose to believe the promises of God not the deceptions of Satan.  We learn to lean, not on circumstances and emotions, but on the mighty arm of God. In short, it is a very faith and character building experience!
            It was a hot and sunny day out in the streets of Miamisburg, Ohio. I turned onto a side street and saw an office complex to my left. From the outside I could see the darkened windows, reflecting the brilliant midday sun. “What will happen next?” I asked myself. So with courageous steps I braced myself to enter the building through the back doors. The cool air felt refreshing as I walked to the elevator. A few moments later I found myself on the fourth floor.
            As I approached the lady at the front desk, I was welcomed with large eyes and a confused look.  Her piercing gaze gave me the impression that she was thinking, “What does this guy want here?”  I, however, determined not to be intimidated.  With a friendly smile, I started to show her my books, but very soon she interrupted me and told me that solicitation was prohibited in the building. I quickly thanked her and dejectedly went on my way.
            The thought went through my mind. “Lord, how can I reach these people?” At the same time Satan whispered to me “What are you doing here? Don’t you know they don’t allow soliciting, and that no one is going to be interested?” With a silvery, flute-like chime, the elevator stopped, and I found myself on floor three. I humbly prayed, “Lord help me. How can I approach the people without coming across as a typical pushy and annoying sales person? How can I show them that I am really here for their good, and not just to take their money?”
            Feeling rather out of place, I slowly walked toward the front desk on that floor of the building. I tried to introduce myself as a missionary, but the receptionist’s reaction was the same. I thought, “Why am I canvassing this building? Down on the main business street, there are many people at gas stations, mechanic shops and other businesses who would likely be more receptive.”  I recollected downtown Dayton, Ohio and how difficult it was to canvass in those skyscrapers. The busy people in those buildings were sometimes quite upset that I was doing this kind of work. They could not really understand my true purpose nor could they know the true value of the books I carried in my hands. They have so little time left to prepare before the great crisis breaks upon this world. The books I carried hold solid answers to their deepest questions. If only they could see it! If they could just recognize that these books might be the means for their conversion and their eternal life! How could I help them to see it?
            In the canvassing work we often say, “If you skip a house, you skip a blessing,” so I decided that I would continue faithfully even though I would rather be canvassing somewhere else. I entered the next business which was on the second floor. The lady behind the front desk examined me carefully, and I approached her with a friendly smile. I knew the Lord wanted her heart. I knew I had to give my best effort to reach her. I told her that I am a student and a missionary and that I wanted to show her a book. I thrust the book Peace Above the Storm into her hands knowing that I only had a few moments to capture her interest. I told her I would like to be able to leave it with her but she kindly refused to take anything.  I determined not to be discouraged.  I expressed that I was on her side, and that I completely respected the business policies. Then, in a split-second, the Lord brought to my mind a little It Is Written Bible study card, and I placed it in her hands.
“Before I leave,” I told her, while pointing to a picture in a cookbook, “Just in case you wondered, we are with the Blue Bible Story Company.” She beamed as she expressed her familiarity with this set of children’s books, but she still could not allow me to solicit in the building. I left the office and headed for the elevator. The hallway was dark and almost depressing, but in my heart I was joyful. I knew I was doing God’s work, and I would not be discouraged. The chime once again sounded, and the doors of the elevator opened.
At that moment I heard someone calling for me. I turned around and saw the lady with whom I had just spoken hurrying towards me exclaiming “Could I take a look at your books again!” I could hardly believe my ears. Did she really want to see the books? Almost sheepishly she told me that she wanted to know what books I had—after all, she was technically outside of her office now and it would be okay. Joy and excitement welled up in me as we sat down on the marble sidewall. I confidently showed her several of the books. I told her of the powerful message in the book Peace Above the Storm and shared how the book has proved to be a blessing in my own life. I felt amazing freedom in sharing with her because I realized that she was intensely interested. It was evident that the Holy Spirit was working on her heart. I showed her the book The Ministry of Healing explaining that it was written especially for families, and that it presents a holistic approach to health and happiness. It shows how the mind is closely related to the body, how to use natural remedies, how to fight addictions, and simply how to find help for daily living.
            As she looked at the books I still could not believe what was happening. Just moments before she had told me I could not solicit in the building, but now she was looking through my books with intense interest. My thoughts were interrupted as she said, “Hold on” and walked back to her office. I immediately I sent up a fervent prayer, “Please Lord, help her to get these books! May your will be done.” She came back with $19.95 in her hands explaining that that was all she could find in her purse. I told her that she could have both of the books, and her face lighted up like a candle in a dark room. I thanked her again and told her goodbye, hoping to one day see her in heaven.
            My heart thrilled with gratitude for the miracle I had just witnessed. “Lord, you are so good to me! This one experience has made all the disappointing moments so worthwhile!” As I exited the imposing main doors of the building, I saw the following words inscribed in glaring letters: “NO SOLICITING, VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED”
            I was thankful I hadn’t seen those words before I entered the building! One thing I know for sure, God has searching people everywhere. If I would have neglected my duty and skipped the business, God would not have been able to give me this experience. Our God can be trusted. He can change circumstances. I should not act according to circumstances and human reasoning, but instead, according to faith in what He will do. This is not an easy lesson to learn, but I thank God for the faith-building experiences that have taught me unyielding reliance upon Him.