Many said the area was dead. That evangelism was a lost cause; no one would come to a series or be interested in learning about God or a different religion. However, Pastor Darry Campbell wasn’t convinced. “My members in South Boston, Chase City and Galax didn’t feel like they had a lot of opportunity to share the gospel,” he said. “Successful evangelism comes from creating relationships, which can be difficult in a rural area like this. I wanted to find a way that would be encouraging and help us find people who were interested.”
After hearing about the successes previous pastor of South Boston, Daniel Royo, had in a mass mailing for Bible studies, Campbell suggested they try that in the three communities within the church district. “I think most of us anticipated about 20 to 30 responses,” admitted Campbell, “but the cards kept coming in. Soon, we were up to 70, then 80 and now, our final number, though it slowly keeps increasing, is 179.”
This number was a shock to many members and the results have created a contagious situation. “When I originally asked for volunteers, only two or three hands went up, but as the cards came in, people started to get more excited and the number quickly grew,” said Campbell. “And since we started to personally deliver the materials, we’ve been hearing wonderful stories each week. With people now sharing the blessing, many more are looking for other opportunities to spread the gospel, like sharing information with co-workers.”
Initially, the cards were sent from Hamblins Hope, an outreach publishing enterprise based in Michigan. Each time a new request came in, the churches would be notified. After the first 10 lessons, churches began to mail the materials from their local addresses and included a letter explaining the transition and that they could expect the studies from lesson 13 on to be hand-delivered. As relationships are growing due to this one-on-one contact, more than 18 sit-down Bible studies are now taking place.
To follow up with these successes, members are planning seminars to address community needs. A health seminar is already being planned and other ideas, like a stop-smoking seminar, are being considered.