As the New Year began, leaders in the Tucson, Arizona, area challenged Church members to more actively find ways to share the gospel with their friends and neighbors.
The question we faced as a family was not whether to accept the challenge, but how to meet it effectively. Our past attempts had not produced the results we had expected. We had tried to be congenial. I had made it a practice to welcome new neighbors with a loaf of fresh, homemade bread. In several instances we had invited neighbors to dinner or family home evening. We had made some good friends, but we had yet to see any of them show any interest in the gospel.
One day as I pondered the matter, a telephone call interrupted my thoughts. It was the pest-control man calling to say that he would be coming that afternoon to spray our house and yard. Creepy-crawly things proliferate rapidly in Tucson’s warm climate. As I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that perhaps he would provide the opportunity I was seeking.
I wondered how to approach him about the Church. I went into my bedroom and knelt to pray and ask for guidance. As I prayed, the distinct impression came into my mind that I should give him a copy of the Book of Mormon. I arose from my knees and took one from the shelf.
From then until the pest-control man rang the doorbell, I thought about what I should say and when to say it. I decided to wait until he was ready to leave before giving him the Book of Mormon. Then, if his reaction was negative, the situation would be less awkward.
Finally, the moment arrived. After handing him his check, I nervously told him that during the time he had been coming to our house, I had observed that he seemed to be a kindly person who cared deeply about his family. Now I wanted to share something of great value with him that I felt could be a source of joy to him and his loved ones.
By this time, he was curious. I handed him the copy of the Book of Mormon and told him that it was a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of this land, just as the Bible is a record of God’s dealings with the people of the Old World. I added that if he would read it and pray about it, he could know for himself of its truthfulness.
When I finished, I was practically breathless. He casually looked at the outside of the Book of Mormon and thanked me, commenting that he wasn’t much for reading, but that he would take it home with him and maybe he might look it over sometime. Then he left.
That wasn’t too bad, I thought. True, he didn’t turn somersaults of delight at receiving the Book of Mormon, but at least he didn’t reject it. Who knew what might come of it?
Months passed. The pest-control man came regularly but never mentioned the Book of Mormon. I thought to myself, “Well, so much for that attempt at missionary work.” Obviously, he hadn’t bothered to read the Book of Mormon. More than likely, he had forgotten all about it.
Then one day as I handed him his check, he said, “Mrs. Stott, do you remember that book you gave me several months ago?” (Did I remember? Was he kidding?)
“Yes,” I told him.
“Well,” he said, “I told you I’m not much for reading, but I took it home anyway. At dinner I told my family about it. My daughter was curious about it, so she asked if she could have the book.” He paused briefly, then added, “You know, she actually read it, and last Saturday night she was baptized.”
What an easy way to participate in a conversion! There’s no doubt about it—the Book of Mormon is a tremendous missionary tool. All we have to do is see that it gets into the right hands, including our own.