Saturday, December 6, 2008

Getting into the mathematics of it all

I remember once hearing someone speak about the ratio of output to success with just getting people along to outreach/preaching initiatives held by ecclesias when using leafleting (a traditional method). It was 1000:1. In other words, for every 1000 leaflets distributed, 1 person would come along to whatever event they were being invited to.

Two weeks ago, we held a graduation for the students who had completed one or more of the four correspondence courses offered at the Durban Bible Education Centre. We had 55 visitors to Durban hall – that’s right, 55! Just over half of these were students and the others were family or friends who had come to see them graduate. There were about another 20 students who couldn’t make the graduation that day, but will come by the BEC to pick up their certificate.

The graduation started at 1pm with four of the Mariannhill youth (in the last picture) who had come along to help out leading some enthusiastic singing! After an introduction from Sister Mary (who works in the BEC most days) in Zulu, Brother Barry van Heerden did a short talk on the theme of “well done”. We all said “well done Madiba” to Nelson Mandela for reaching age 90 earlier this year, we were saying “well done” for graduating for their course…..but how much more important is it that we hear the words “well done” from Jesus when he comes back to earth to set up his kingdom?! The students were so engaged in the talk – I have rarely seen a group just so involved and interested in what they were listening to – you could tell that the message was really reaching them!

Then there was the certificate presentation, and we had the usual couple of students completely decked out in black gowns! When the last student was called up and they all stood together, they barely fitted on Durban hall’s stage at one time – incredible!!

Then it was time for afternoon tea and judging by the “locust” consumption style, it appeared the snacks were enjoyed by one and all. The students were all very happy and there were many promises of returning to Durban for Sunday mornings or Sunday afternoon first principle classes, now they knew how to get to the hall (and assuming also because it had been a non-confrontational and pleasant afternoon for them).

As we left later that afternoon, our spirits were soaring - the day just couldn’t have gone any better! How many leaflets would it have taken to result in 55 people, interested people, coming to an ecclesial hall had we used more traditional methods? 55,000! But that Saturday, we had 55 people willingly participating in the worship, singing, bible talk and fellowship over afternoon tea.

Why? Not because they simply received an invitation to come. It is because over varying lengths of time of contact with us through the Bible Education Centre, they have come to love and respect Mary who they see all the time and who has such care for their lives and their growth. They have also come to know and trust the other volunteers they see in at the BEC on a regular basis and they appreciate the courses and other services offered by the BEC. So what happens when we send out invitations to these people to come to an ecclesial hall for an activity? An instant audience of 55 listening ears – what a blessing!!

And the story does not stop at the end of that day. There were six new faces who had never visited Durban ecclesia present at the memorial meeting the very next morning and there were 18 students that Sunday afternoon at the first principle class. Absolute proof that God is continuing to call many people to Him in amazing ways , reaching out to people through the “touch and teach” principle shown to us so clearly by Jesus himself.

Leah Egginton, Australia

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