Alexei [ah-LEX-ee] eased himself into his favorite chair to relax after a day of hard work. Just then the phone rang. Alexei pushed himself out of the chair and hurried to the telephone. He hoped someone was calling about work. Or maybe someone is calling about my other ad, he thought.
Alexei repairs and maintains people’s homes and apartments in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk [KRAS-noh-yarsk]. He advertises in the city newspaper, so he reads ads for similar work to make sure that his ad is attractive and his prices competitive.
One day his eyes wandered to the religious section of the classified ads. The page was filled with offers to tell people’s fortune, or predict the future. So many ads for Satan, and not one for Christ, Alexei thought. An idea grew in his mind: I can be Christ’s voice in the newspaper. He picked up a pencil and wrote: “I will tell you about Christ.” He added his telephone number. The next day he placed two advertisements in the paper—one for his work and one for Christ.
The day the ads appeared, Alexei received several calls. Most of the callers were those who had advertisements in the religious section of the paper. “What are you going to tell about Christ?” people wanted to know. Some of the advertisers used Christ’s name in their ads, hoping to attract the people who didn’t know Christ personally. Others were scoffers who argued theology or tried to make Alexei doubt his faith. Alexei began to wonder whether his advertisement would even reach someone who was truly searching for God.
Then the phone rang again. Alexei reached the telephone on the third ring and spoke a cheerful “Hello.”
“I’m calling about your ad,” the weathered voice began. “I want to know about Christ.” The man’s voice held no hint of sarcasm. Alexei spoke with the man for several minutes, and then the man invited Alexei to come to his apartment to talk more.
An elderly man answered Alexei’s knock and invited him into his apartment. The man admitted his surprise that such a young man would be interested in telling others about Christ. Then his voice grew serious. “I’m 93 years old, and I’m not well. I want to know about God while I have time,” he said.
Alexei opened his Bible and read several verses about God. The two watched an evangelistic video together, and then the man invited Alexei to return the next day.
For 10 days the old man and Alexei studied God’s Word and watched the evangelistic videos. Alexei’s new friend has accepted what he is learning and is eager to know more.
On Sabbath Alexei’s phone rang several times. He hesitated to answer the phone, but when the phone rang again, Alexei thought, Maybe it’s an emergency. He answered the phone.
“Are you a Christian?” a young man’s voice asked. “What church do you attend?” Alexei answered the caller’s questions. “I’m Vitaly [vee-TAH-lee],” the caller said. “I just got out of prison, and I need to talk to you.”
Alexei and Vitaly worked different hours, and it was difficult to arrange a meeting. Finally Alexei offered to pick Vitaly up and take him to church on Sabbath. Vitaly agreed. As they rode together, Vitaly told Alexei his story. While he was in prison, an Adventist woman had sent him The Great Controversy. He had read it and wanted to know more about God. When he was released he found Alexei’s newspaper advertisement. It was an answer to prayer.
Vitaly is ill, but he attends the Adventist church when he can and is eager to know God personally. “I can see that Adventists base their beliefs in the Bible,” he says.
“I’ve discovered an accidental ministry,” Alexei says, smiling.
“When I saw the newspaper advertisements for fortune tellers and palm readers but no ads that spoke for Jesus, I realized that God was calling me to fill this gap. People who read these ads are searching for spiritual insight. I want to give them an opportunity to meet Jesus.”
God can use something as simple as a newspaper ad to lead others to Jesus. God delights in using small things to bring people to Himself. Our prayers and our offerings strengthen God’s work around the world. Our own ministry strengthens God’s work at home. What ministry has God given you?