by Jay Wintermeyer
Goldendale, Wash., - Kris Atkenberger, the outreach coordinator for the Goldendale, Wash. Adventist Church uses a simple survey tool to find people who want to study the Bible. Not long ago, he was knocking on doors and found an earnest seeker.
“I was knocking on doors in a residential area,” says Kris. “A man answered the door of one home and quickly told me I had called on a business, an elder-care facility he and his wife operate.”
Kris introduced himself to the man who said his name was Robert. “Even though I had called on their business, Robert made time for me and the short survey,” says Kris. Upon completing the survey, Robert requested Bible studies.
Kris and Robert study the Bible together every week and Robert never misses. “I enjoy spending time with Robert and his family very much,” says Kris. “His wife, Ladonna, is always laughing and it is wonderful to be in their home.”
Studying with Robert is a unique experience. He is dyslexic and reading is nearly impossible. Without a friend to help, Robert could never have picked up the Bible and read it for himself.
“It has been one of the great privileges of my life to open the truths of Scripture to a man hungering and thirsting for righteousness,” says Kris.
The three angels’ messages have had a powerful impact on Roberts’s life. When they studied the 2,300-day prophecy together, Robert saw how the Bible predicted the future. He was eager to learn all the details in the life of Christ; predicted hundreds of years before they happened. The major events in history also predicted right down to the beginning of the end of time further validated the Bible for Robert.
Kris says, “During that study the Holy Spirit was there in a powerful way. Robert reached out and grabbed my arm demanding I pray for him.”
One of the joys of studying with people is that you really get to know them. Kris says, “Robert is one of the smartest men I know. If it’s broken, Robert can fix it; if it is lost, he can find it; if it runs, he can hunt it and if it swims, he can catch it.”
One day, Kris’s Jeep broke down and the shop in town wanted more to fix it than he could afford to pay. Robert found out and loaned Kris his truck so he would not miss any studies. Robert then spent an entire Sunday in his backyard with Kris helping him fix the Jeep so Kris would have a vehicle to drive to his other Bible studies.
“Friends like that are very rare in this world,” says Kris.
Late this summer, the Goldendale Adventist Church held their annual church campout and Robert attended. The interesting thing, says Kris, was that Robert did not just come to have a good time. He came to have a spiritual experience.
Robert struggles with tobacco and he came to the campout specifically because he wanted to put an end to his addiction. Three days with God in the mountains; never to smoke again.
Sabbath morning, as Kris and Robert were eating breakfast at the foot of Mount Adams, Robert seemed upset. “I asked him what was wrong,” says Kris. He discovered Robert was worried about his tattoos. Kris told him if people judged him for those tattoos it was their problem and not his. That wasn’t good enough for Robert. He got out his Band-Aids and covered them so no one would be offended.
“It’s rare to see a man with such an earnest desire for holiness and purity,” says Kris. “I thank God for him.”
The church campout weekend was packed with activities exploring God’s creation. The campers visited ice caves, waterfalls and high mountain prairies. On Sunday, Robert and Kris caught their limit of brook trout.
Every Sabbath, Robert attends church and has been asking about baptism. Ladonna, Robert’s wife, told Kris not long ago that they are Seventh-day Adventist already.
“You never know who you will find when you knock on doors,” says Kris. “Jesus is knocking on hearts’ doors and so should we.”
If you’d like to learn how to use a simple door survey to reach people for Jesus, call the Upper Columbia Conference Personal Evangelism Department, (509) 242-0623.