This past week, a colleague and I went on an outreach to a village market. We loaded up our backpacks with Scriptures and other literature and drove approximately two hours into the Guinean countryside. There we came to a village where they were having a weekly market.
We prayed, got out of the car, and headed toward the market. As we approached we saw some women dressed in the telltale head-to-toe covering of the most fundamental sect of Islam. Fortunately, most women were not dressed this way.
We began calling out in Pular, “God’s Books, God’s Books! Buy God’s Books!” A crowd quickly gathered around us, and the people began looking to see what we had for sale. We were carrying translations of Genesis and Matthew. We also had Scripture calendars and some health books.
Almost immediately, people began buying Scriptures. My colleague and I split up to cover more ground. In places, a crowd gathered around me, a few people would buy some literature, and the crowd would gradually disperse. Then, I moved on to another spot, and the same thing happened again. It seems that people attract more people. The people also seemed vaguely amused to see white people, dressed in African clothes, selling Holy Books and speaking Pular. Some even asked if I was Arab.
As the day wore on, we sold more and more literature. Eventually, it was time for us to head back home. We had a quick meal of rice and peanut sauce at a lunch counter and headed back to the truck.
Some people ask why we sell Scripture in markets here instead of giving it away. Quite simply, by asking a price for the books, we show that we are selling something valuable. We know God’s Word is more valuable than anything else in the market. Of course, we sell it for less than we paid for it. We are not trying to make a profit, only to keep the books from ending up crumpled on the ground. If people pay for something, however little, they are more likely to value it and read it.