SULLIVAN, Ill (BNC) by Ron Thomas — Some years ago, Anne and I were directly involved in the Illinois State Fair work known as Exhibit Evangelism, under the oversight of the Highway congregation in Sullivan, Ill. The congregation is served by two elders (Wayne Miller and Ron Adams) and one preacher (Seth Myers). This is a long-term work, but for Seth, it is his first year. J. E. Miller is the actual director of the work and he and others in the congregation do a great job to make sure this cooperative effort comes to a start and finish.
The work is focused on enrolling people in free Bible study correspondence by mail, offering three studies. They are the John Hurt eight-lesson introduction to the Bible, a local four-lesson Bible study course, also introducing the Bible to people who have little to no understanding of it and a ten-lesson on Christian evidence by Apologetics Press.
On the first Friday of the state fair, which runs Aug. 10-20, 32 people enrolled in one of the courses. At the end of the first four days of the fair, there were 240 Bible study enrollments.
In addition to enrolling interested people in Bible studies, there is also the blessing of interacting with people “in the marketplaces” as they meander through the Exposition Building where other vendors are there to offer and profit from the products they sell.
We, on the other hand, offer everything free of charge, have pleasant conversation with those who stop by to chat about things pertaining to the Bible. There are additional times when some will come into the exhibit in an aggressive manner, seeking to tell us how wrong we are. No concern is evidenced by those of us who have worked the exhibit for years, for the preachers and elders and serious Bible students, both male and female, who serve, are very schooled in the Scriptures.
I remember one occasion when a man with a broken heart came into the exhibit and needed to talk. He was there at least an hour.
On another occasion, a little child came into the exhibit because he was lost, and his mother told him that if he does get lost, just go to the “churches of Christ” exhibit, and he will be safe.
One blessing of this work deserves special attention. The people who work it are special people. The young and old are there, in many cases for 10 to 11 days. It can be exhausting, but they are there. Others come and go as schedule allows, but present they are when they can be—and what a difference they make! The young people (high school and college age) are changed for life. Some even find their mate for life, and make sure their own children are involved in the work as they get older.
Sometimes, one does not know the good they do, but in life, when one lives and preaches the gospel of Christ, much good is done.
Ron Thomas works as an evangelist with the Sunrush congregation in Chillicothe, Oh.
Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three married children and five grandchildren. He enjoys his new home office. http://randal.us