Saturday, July 05, 2008

English DVD at gas station. Sat, Jul 5, 2008.

07/05/2008. 1038. I went to the gas station down the street. I paid at the pump, pumped the gas, went inside, bought the Sunday paper, came out and got in my car. Before I closed the car door, a man on a bicycle came up to me and started with a story of his broken down car, and three other people needing a ride home. He wasn't very consistent, and I could tell pretty quickly he was just telling a story to get some money.

But I've previously decided to give money to beggars and use the opportunity to give them gospel material. After all, I eat out a lot, spending money that I normally wouldn't spend in order to create an opportunity to give out gospel material. And here was this man handing me an opportunity on a silver plate, and it was going to cost me less than a meal at a restaurant.

I told him it was a good "story", and said I'd give him a buck, and a DVD to watch. I got out and walked around to the back passenger side door to get the video out, and he followed me. I gave him "Together Forever." When I got my wallet out to give him a dollar, he could see I had three ones, and then he plaintively asked for $3 and said "please" in a pitifully persistent way.

Yeah, I could tell he was playing me, and when he got close, I could smell alcohol on him. But I decided that this wasn't about money or alcohol. I sincerely wanted him to have a gospel message, and $3 was cheap compared to what I've spent to create other opportunities. So I gave him $3. He smiled as if he had "won the game."

Labels: , ,


At 7/07/2008 12:55:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Are you sure this guy would own a DVD player?

At 7/07/2008 05:59:00 PM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

He said he did. If he has a DVD player, he might watch it. You never know.

But look at it this way:

If he doesn't have a DVD player, he might watch it on someone else's.

He might give it to someone who has a DVD player. He might watch it, and then give it way.

He might sell it to someone who has a DVD player. I don't care. That just means someone is even more likely to watch it if they pay him $1.00 for it. It's his property now, and he can dispose of it as he sees fit.

He said his brother just got married, too. So he might give it or loan it to his brother. That was his implication at least.

He might just throw it away too. You never know.

But overall, there's still a good chance that someone somewhere will watch it. And that's the whole point.

Also, inside the DVD case was an "info flyer" that has:

1. one of the church's toll free missionary department numbers.

2. the local mission office number.

3. the URL

4. A list of the local chapels with addresses and meeting times.


Just for yucks, let's do a comparative cost analysis:

The cost (to me) of the DVD: $1.18.
Cost of the flyer: $.10.
Cost of the "donation" to get his attention: $3.00.
Cost of my time: negligible.
Total cost: $4.28.

Now, let's compare that to the cost of two full-time missionaries.

A companionship "costs" $800/month (2 times what each missionary or his/her family pays to the church for expenses).

$800/month divided by $4.28 per contact would equal 186 contacts/month. To make 186 contacts/month, a companionship would have to contact about 6 people per day. Do most US-based missionaries make that many contacts in a month? Probably not.

So, technically, what I did would be cost-effective compared to having full-time missionaries make the placement.


Now let's analyze how giving the actual DVD might compare to a pass-along card.

If I had given a pass-along card instead of the DVD, how does the probability that he'd actually call in for a free DVD compare to the probability that someone (anyone) will watch the actual DVD I gave him?

I'd say the probability of calling in is much lower, so by actually giving a DVD, there's a much better chance of the message getting to someone.

What's the probability of someone throwing away a pass-along card in the trash versus throwing away a DVD in the trash? Probability of throwing away a card is much higher. The DVD has some value. He might be able to sell it or trade it for something.

What if he even sells the DVD for just $.25 or $.10 ? Good! That means that the DVD goes through another set of hands of someone who might watch it.

What's the relative probability that he'd pass along a pass-along card versus passing along (or selling) the DVD? Again, with the actual DVD, chances are better.


What if he does throw the DVD in the trash and no one sees it, and he never joins the church in mortality?

Well, some day, he's going to be on the "other side" in the spirit world (unless he gets "twinkled" that is).

When he gets there, he's going to ask the people in charge "Uh, so there is a God, huh?" And they'll say "Yup."

And then he'll probably ask "So what is God's religion? What religion was the right one, or the best one?"

And the people/angels/spirits/whoever will say "Christianity."

And then he might ask "Ok, so out of all the churches, was one of them God's official church, or the best church?"

And the people/angels/spirits/whoever will say "Ummm. Let's see. During your lifetime it was the Mormons."

And then he might ask "The Mormons? How was I supposed to know that? How could you tell? Why didn't God have people going around telling people about it?"

And the people/angels/spirits/whoever will look on their computer/PDA/whatever, and say "Remember that night at the gas station at such-and-such street, when you hit up a guy for money, and he gave you $3 and a DVD with a list of churches inside?"

"Uh, yeah."

"That was your clue. That DVD was from God's official church. That was the list of God's official churches in Indianapolis. That was the guy that God sent or inspired to make the connection."

And if nothing else, that man will then realize that God loved him enough to send at least someone to provide him a clue or an avenue to find the truth in mortality. That, if nothing else, makes the $4.28 worthwhile, even if for no other reason than to let people know, even if it's in the spirit world, that God loves them.

And, just to keep this light-hearted, assume that the guy might ask "That jerk? Didn't God have anyone better to send than just some idiot with DVDs in his car?"

And, back to a serious note, then the people/angels/spirits/whoever might say someting like "Well, not enough young Mormon men went on missions back then, and God had to make due with what was available. But we'll teach you the gospel here, if you're willing to listen to us."

Eh..... It could happen. :-)

At 7/11/2008 04:08:00 AM, Blogger kittywaymo said...

Rock on!! I like your style.. I can promise you'll receive blessings from heaven.

For many years now as I travel etc I have tried to do a similar approach and I know you'll find much happiness as you continue in the service of the Lord~

Love, Kittywaymo (i'm a jewish/LDS convert from NY:)

At 7/13/2008 06:33:00 AM, Blogger Loren said...

Hey how's it going? Awesome work! This blog really gets me thinking about how I can share the gospel more effectively. Are you the blogger that M. Russell Ballard was talking about in the July Ensign's main article?

At 7/13/2008 11:21:00 PM, Blogger Bookslinger said...

Kitty: thanks for the kind words. I like your blogs.

Loren: I could be the person he's referring to, but I don't match up exactly. When he gave that talk (upon which the article is based) at BYU-Hawaii, he quoted one of my blog entries, along with that paragraph in the Ensign. So he probably did mean me.

Perhaps the reasons they cut out the blog quote from the article are 1) I put a copyright notice on the footer of my blog pages, and 2) they didn't know how, or didn't have time to contact me to get permission to reprint.

And I'm actually glad they didn't print the blog entry in the Ensign.

So the lesson is: be careful what you write the on the web. The General Authorities might read it!

At 7/14/2008 12:36:00 AM, Blogger Evgenii said...

I am an occasional visitor and like your posts. Your idea is fascinating and an example of what Elder Ballard asked us to do.

I'll try to overlook the fact you are from Indianapolis (sorry, I'm a Pats fan). I may try to follow your example and see if I have any success here. Keep up the great posts!


Post a Comment

<< Home