Our first public evangelistic outreach went well yesterday. We are so thankful for the initiative that Danilo took to organize this event in conjunction with a group of young adults from our church in Torino. It was their first experience as a group in putting on a puppet show. They did well, and have taken note on how to improve for the next time. For example, next time it would be good to have a mediator person between the puppets and the audience to help draw the kids more in to the program. The length could be shortened to about 25-30 minutes so as not to lose attention, not to mention sitting out in the direct sun even at 5:00 in the afternoon can still be pretty hot for more than a half hour. Overall, things went well and we were very pleased.
We left fliers about this event in shops around Caselle last week. We didn't know what kind of turnout to expect. We purchased 100 balloons to pass out and we left empty handed. So there was a huge crowd with lots and lots of kids! We also offered the opportunity to receive a free children's book (a Bible story -- Daniel and the Lions Den or the Parable of the Lost Sheep). We just asked for their name and address so we could get it to them at a later time. This was done so that we could have personal follow-up to the family and gain more contacts. As it turns out only 2 people took us up on the offer. It may sound incomprehensible to an American mentality--which rarely turns down any free handout. However, in this culture there is so much distrust and skepticism to anything attached to the word "free." We are thankful for these 2 new family contacts and we don't see the event in any way as a failure even if the numbers don't reveal that.
If anything, we are letting the community know who we are and what we are about. We have not received any feedback from our card distribution, but that's not to say that was a total failure or waste of time either. It will take a while to built the trust of the community and so we continue to be faithful and proactive in our initiatives to engage our community. We have at least gotten the attention of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Caselle, which have a very strong presence. Several encounters with them have brought out the comments of "we were wondering who else has been evangelizing around here."
A perfect park location including: amphitheater, bar, playground and a favorite local hangout on a Sunday afternoon. The owner of the bar was very excited about our presence and told us to come back again. She might have made a record in sales yesterday with all the Popsicle, ice cream and cold drinks sold.
Opening comments and introduction
Sorry if these pictures don't really serve the event justice. You have to be super cautious when taking pictures around children here. Again, this goes along with the distrust comment made earlier and that we might use the pictures inappropriately. Therefore, I was trying to be discreet.
Balloons had written "Jesus loves all the little children" or "Jesus loves me"
The "youth group" (i.e. 20's and 30's group)
And lots of play time for the kiddos...