Indiana University Bloomington doctoral students Dorothea and Christiane Gallos gathering sharing books. The twins used Halloween as an opportunity to interact with parents and children. "We realized what a productive mission field our local communities can be and how cultural events, even those that we as Seventh-day Adventists do not endorse celebrating, provide an opportunity to advance the mission of the church."
In prior years, this realization inspired us to engage in mission on Halloween, and it again prompted us to undertake an outreach project this October. It consisted of distributing dramatized Bible stories to children and copies of Steps to Christ to adults on Halloween.
Actually, the idea was not our own. About ten years ago, a group of theology students at Andrews University suggested distributing Adventist literature door to door on Halloween. Their thought was to pass out books to people already expecting a knock on their door. In doing this, they would surprise people in an unexpected way – by giving instead of receiving. We did not join the group of theology students that time, but decided to undertake a similar project after hearing their experience. In subsequent years, we passed out Your Story Hour CD’s to children in our community on Halloween. Unfortunately, we had not continued this project since starting graduate studies. This year, however, we again decided to initiate this form of outreach.
In preparation, we procured fifty children’s activity books from Your Story Hour titled “The Lions and the Villains.” Inside these booklets is a QR code to the dramatized story of Daniel in the lion’s den. Our church also provided us with some copies of Steps to Christ from their collection of sharing materials. We then chose a residential neighborhood that attracted many children on Halloween. Together with a fellow graduate student, we walked the streets of the neighborhood. On meeting a group of children, we asked them, “Do you like stories?” “Yes!” most children replied. After dropping an activity book into their bag, we turned to their parents and asked, “Do you like to read?” If they answered affirmatively, we offered them a copy of Steps to Christ. There were also many people sitting in their driveways waiting to pass out candy; some of them were positively surprised to be offered a gift in turn. However, we never tried to persuade anyone to accept the books; we just happily gave to those who accepted the offer, and respected the preference of those who declined. By 6:00 pm, within half an hour of starting, we finished passing out all materials: all fifty activity books and nineteen copies of Steps to Christ. In fact, we had run out of copies of Steps to Christ before the half hour had ended.
Reflecting on this experience, we realized what a productive mission field our local communities can be and how cultural events, even those that we as Seventh-day Adventists do not endorse celebrating, provide an opportunity to advance the mission of the church. It was surprising to see how many people were open to Christianity since most of the adults read the title Steps to Christ before accepting the book. This experience reminds us of Jesus’ words in John 4:35: “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
We would encourage everyone, including those like us who do not have evangelistic training, to engage in the church’s mission. This form of outreach is an easy way, even for those who are timid, to share Jesus with others because extensive conversations are not needed. Then as we gain experience through simple forms of outreach, God grows our abilities for further service. It is our hope that as the experience of others has inspired us, so our story would encourage you to discover ways to share Jesus with your communities.
Christiane and Dorothea Gallos are PhD students at Indiana University Bloomington.