Washing Machine Evangelism

2 Dec

by: Penny Vinden

Washing your clothes is a big problem for university students in Macedonia. There aren’t any laundry machines in the student dormitories. Commercial laundry services are too expensive. Many students end up sending their dirty clothes in suitcases on buses to their remote hometowns and villages, so that their family can clean them.

Students in S.E.A.M. Exodus Macedonia saw this problem as a golden opportunity. This was a need for which they would offer practical help while at the same time getting to know non-Christians around them.

Maja, General Secretary of Exodus, told us what happened next. ‘In September we went to the dormitories that are closest to the Exodus office – only five minutes walking distance away. We asked some students how they cope with the issue of doing their laundry.

‘Two female students, Elena and Sandra (not their real names), said: “Oh, we were just wondering exactly what we will do this year regarding this issue.” We explained to them that as a student organization we are interested in helping them and asked if they would like to wash their clothes in our office. They were very surprised and happy.’

But the project didn’t go quite as planned. The office building was quite old and didn’t have the proper plumbing. And – they needed a washing machine and dryer! This last problem was solved when a former Exodus member came to encourage current students.

Maja writes, ‘I explained to her our idea of being able to witness to students by providing a laundry service and mentioned that the following day I was planning to go shopping for a washing machine. She said: “We just purchased a new washing machine, and the old one, which works fine, is just sitting there on the balcony. We will gladly donate it to you!”

‘Elena and Sandra were the first students to come for the laundry service. They were very cautious and reserved. The second time we had a chance to hang out with Elena and to talk about modesty versus glamor. We are going step by step.

‘We strongly believe that through providing laundry service we will build friendships and trust with students, and be able to invite them to our weekly Bible studies and other events. We believe these initial friendships will be our bridge to step inside the dormitories and connect with other students.’

‘We hope this will open the door for other ideas and activities, such as prayer groups in the dormitories. We’re not allowed to meet at the universities because they are secular, so we must find a way to approach people where they live.’

This project has recently received funding from the IFES Innovative Evangelism programme. Please pray for this project and others that have been funded, that they will be successful in providing opportunities for non-Christians to experience the love of God in fresh and attractive ways.

PS: There is now a second round of applications for funds for creative new evangelism projects! Details can be found on the Innovative Evangelism webpage: ifesworld.org/innovation.

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