It was a sunny July afternoon, and the sweltering summer heat of Memphis, Tenn., beat down on the streets. Jamal Grant, just 15, was canvassing at the local Kroger parking lot when the exhausting heat began to take its toll. Seeking new canvassing opportunities and refreshing air condition, Grant decided to move from the Kroger space into the surrounding stores.
As he walked down the strip plaza, Grant came across the Better Life Training and Nutrition (BLT) Gym. Even though it looked closed at first, he decided to knock on the business door for a little longer.
“I heard a little voice in my head that was like, ‘stay there,’ because I was about to leave,” said Grant. “Sometimes when you just stay and listen, the Lord shows you His handiwork.”
After a bit of knocking, the door opened, and Grant met Mary Champion, BLT owner. Without hesitation, he did his canvassing sales pitch. Champion was intrigued by the books, particularly the health-focused ones. She saw an opportunity to bridge her Christian upbringing and her passion for a healthy lifestyle.
“I had been looking for ways to combine my faith and my commitment to well-being,” said Champion. “These books seem like the missing piece.”
She eagerly engaged in conversation with Grant, seeking to understand more about the literature he held in his hands. As Champion’s enthusiasm grew, Grant put her in touch with Ivan Martinez, Kentucky-Tennessee Conference outreach coordinator.
At first, Champion purchased 20 health books, including Ministry of Healing and Fighting Disease with Foods. Champion shared the books with her gym clientele, and she used some of the recipes to make meal plans for her customers. Later, she called Martinez again for another 20-book order. This time she also wanted spiritual books and specifically asked for Steps to Christ and Your Questions, God’s Answers.
Martinez was surprised to find that Champion was going to be using the books to conduct Bible studies in her gym.
“It’s just powerful when you think about it,” said Martinez. “The most impactful thing about canvassing is just being able to witness how people in the community are hungering and thirsting after the material that we have as Seventh-day Adventists. I mean, [Champion] is like the woman at the well who heard the words of Jesus and ran to tell everybody.”
Kentucky-Tennessee | October 2023