On Sunday, October 13, 2013, During The General Conference (GC) Annual Council, A Thanksgiving Ceremony For The Great Controversy Project (GCP) Was Held In The GC Auditorium. Jonas Arrais, Editor Of Elder's Digest, Interviewed Wilmar Hirle, Associate Director Of The Published Ministries Department.
Wilmar Hirle was born and raised in Brazil, where he entered the literature
ministry. He served as director of the Publishing Ministries
Department in Brazil at the conference, union, and division levels. He also served as Publishing
Ministries director of the Euro-Asia Division. He is presently associate director of the Publishing
Ministries Department at the General Conference. In this role, he works directly with 63 Adventist
publishing houses and is in charge of developing new books for the world church. Hirle and his
wife Cleni have a daughter, a son, and a granddaughter.
From your point of view, how
effective was the Great Controversy
I’ve been working for the church for more
than 30 years, and I’ve never seen our church
members as enthusiastic about a project as
they were with this one. Everybody wanted to
be a part of it, to do something different. By
the grace of God, we far exceeded our goal to
distribute 140 million copies of The Great Controversy,
by Ellen G. White, which has been
published and distributed in more than 100
languages around the world. It was evident that
the Holy Spirit was leading this project.
What is the philosophy behind these big projects?
Why do you refer to the books as “silent
As a church, our mission is to reach every person with
the good news that Jesus is coming soon. There are different
ways of sharing this news. Ellen G. White said, “The silent
messengers that are placed in the homes of the people . . . will
strengthen the gospel ministry in every way; for the Holy Spirit
will impress minds as they read the books, just as He impresses
the minds of those who listen to the preaching of the word.
The same ministry of angels attends the books that contain the truth as attends the work of the minister.”1
Furthermore, if we only preach to those who
attend church, what percentage of the population
are we reaching? How many non-Adventists
visit Seventh-day Adventist churches
each year? An optimistic number is less than
one percent. Our goal is to reach not just one
percent; we are told to reach the entire world!
That’s why we have to go everywhere. Using
these “silent messengers” is one of the best
ways to spread God’s good news.
The total number of books distributed
under the banner of the
GCP was impressive. What do you think God’s ultimate
goal is for these kinds of projects?
Never before have we had a project that scattered such a
huge number of books—more than 140 million! But if our aim
is to reach everyone, we are far from our goal. Ellen G. White
wrote, “Publications must be multiplied, and scattered like the
leaves of autumn.”2
When my wife and I moved to the United States, the first
house we bought had a big yard with several trees. Without
thinking, I promised my wife that I would take care of the yard.
When autumn came, there were leaves everywhere, and every
Friday I spent several hours raking them up. That’s when I understood what God had in mind to accomplish His mission.
Never have our church members been as enthusiastic about
scattering missionary books as they have been with this project.
Praise the Lord for that! However, God wants us to do even
more than we are doing.
The GCP is coming to an end. What will the
next missionary project be?
God gave us the task of preaching the Three Angels’
messages. We have good doctrines that other churches also
preach. If we all preach the same messages, people will not
feel the need to change their lives. The Three Angels’ messages
speak about the conflict between Christ and Satan and
how Satan misleads people using God’s Word. The next missionary
book will feature the First Angel’s message as mentioned
in Revelation 14: “Saying with a loud voice, fear God,
and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come;
and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea,
and the fountains of waters” (Rev. 14:7).
The world church has designated 2014 as the year to
emphasize the Creation Project. The Publishing Ministries
Department was asked to prepare a missionary book about
Creation in the context of the First Angel’s message. The book
Beyond Imagination was prepared for that purpose.
The first part of this book describes the wonders of the
universe, including the number of stars and their sizes; the
wonders of the earth, including animals, birds, fish, and the
human body—wonders that evolutionists cannot explain.
Then a question is asked: If a loving Creator created so many
wonders, why do people suffer? Why does death exist? The
last part of the book talks about suffering and how God is
planning to recreate everything at Jesus’ soon return.
Why should a local church elder strategize
to involve members in the distribution of missionary
Most of our members attend church every Sabbath and
enjoy listening to good sermons and good music. But in places
where only these are offered, the church is not growing. To
have a vibrant, energetic church, we need to get members
more involved with the church. One of the challenges we face
as leaders is that many of our members are afraid to go out
and share the gospel. Most the time they’re afraid because
they don’t know how to do evangelism. When we teach members
how to use literature for missionary activities, they learn
very quickly and are eager to share.
Ellen G. White advised us, “Let the leaflets and tracts, the
papers and books, go in every direction. Carry with you, wherever
you go, a package of select tracts, which you can hand
out as you have opportunity. Sell what you can, and lend or
give them away as the case may seem to require. Important
results will follow.”3
When she wrote this, literature evangelists
as we know them didn’t exist; she was telling all church members
to take literature with them wherever they went.
I always challenge people to keep literature with them
at all times and ask God what He wants them to do with it.
When they do this, they never return home with books. The
Holy Spirit always shows them where the literature should go.
When church members are involved in the distribution of literature,
they are happier and more enthusiastic.
I recently preached at a church and challenged its members
to distribute literature. A few weeks later I received an
e-mail from one of the members. He told me that one Sabbath
afternoon, he and several other church members took 250
bottles of water and 250 missionary books to one of Miami’s
beaches; they distributed all the water and all the books. He
was so happy with the experience that he wanted to buy more
books! Many members become literature evangelists after
experiencing the power of distributing books. Ellen G. White
wrote that when a person goes out to sell literature, that person
becomes a living preacher. Pastors and elders, those who
preach in church, are living preachers, too. When a literature
evangelist presents a book and talks about it, his work is just
as important as the pastor’s. Being a literature evangelist is a
very important work; that’s why we as leaders should encourage
members to do this work.
Not all members have selling skills, but experience has
shown me that everyone can distribute literature.
A friend once said to me, “I cannot sell, or even approach
a person to give something. But before I leave a place, I always
‘forget’ a book somewhere. It can be in an airplane, in
a hotel room—anywhere! What happens after that is in God’s
f Ellen G. White, Colporteur Ministry, 100.
White, Christian Service, 151.