hat won’t happen!” one of the students exclaimed.
“It can’t be done!” another assented.
The students on my team of colporteurs continued to voice their skepticism. They couldn’t believe they could sell all seven books in their bags at one stop, what we called a “dump bag.” Their doubts started to weigh on me, even as I encouraged them to have faith. But inside, I was asking God to help me have faith too.
Just 11 days after graduating with a theology degree, I accepted a call from Adventist Volunteer Service to be the literature ministries coordinator for a college in the Middle East. I’d oversee a team of colporteurs, students who would be selling Adventist books on health and spiritual growth door-to-door in the city. I’d also get to work alongside my best friend, Karen,* who had also volunteered at the college. I couldn’t wait to begin!
I did my best the first few months, and I could see God’s hand guiding us as we made contacts in the city. But we weren’t selling nearly as many books as I’d hoped. I felt frustrated because I couldn’t speak Arabic with the locals and disappointed that there wasn’t more interest in our literature.
Little did I know that God was preparing a winter of miracles for our team.
The first day of the school’s winter break, I felt impressed that I needed to pray much more than I had been. I shared this with the team and invited them to join me in asking God to help us sell a two-volume set of spiritual books.
Later that day, two of my students knocked on the apartment door of a young woman. They began to introduce themselves, but she didn’t let them finish. “Oh, you’re from the Adventist college!” she exclaimed. “My mom bought a health book from one of the students who came through last time. Let me see what you have today.” She eagerly bought a two-volume set of spiritual books. We were thrilled!
The next day, we prayed that God would help us sell a three-volume set of spiritual books. Karen and one of my students, Helen, were selling books on a street lined with businesses. I happened to drive by when they entered a restaurant and sat down with a man who looked like he might be the owner.
They were still there 30 minutes later, so I couldn’t help but wonder whether the man was wasting their time. It was time for lunch, and while I was calling everyone to meet up to eat, I received a call on the radio: “Mobile One, this is Helen: three-book set!” We praised God for continuing to answer our prayers!
During our second week, Karen decided to train the students to get a “dump bag.” They responded with uncertainty, and even I was wondering whether we could pull it off.
Monday morning, sales were slow, but that afternoon, God started to pour out His blessings. We sold three-book sets, four-book sets, and even our first five-book set! But the dump bag hadn’t come yet. Still, I was praying for it.
About 15 minutes before quitting time, I heard one of the girls call on the radio: “Sarah, are you there? Sarah, I got a dump bag! I sold all the books in my bag!”
Grabbing my radio, I exploded with joy. “Awesome! Praise the Lord!”
As we drove back to the university, I reflected on the past few months. I was reminded of the experience of the people in Jesus’ hometown. Because of their lack of faith, they didn’t get to see Him perform many miracles (Matthew 13:53–58). I thought to myself, Have I been limiting God’s work in my life because of my unbelief? I asked Him to forgive my past doubt and help me trust Him to do great things.
I believe God is using the colporteur ministry in the Middle East to open people’s doors and hearts. Please pray that my students and I will faithfully serve Him and that the people here will experience an ever-deepening knowledge of His love.
* All names have been changed.
To see what’s happening in mission in the Middle East and North Africa Union Mission, visit m360.tv/middleeast.
If you’re interested in being a volunteer, please visit AdventistVolunteers.org.