In April 2014 and 2015, the Bogotá Urantia Association had a booth at the International Book Fair of Bogotá. This annual event is for 15 days and typically has around 500,000 visitors. The Bogotá Association had the support of the Urantia Association International, which provided 167 Urantia Books in 2014 and 100 copies in 2015. This article describes our experience and lessons learned that may be useful for other associations around the globe wishing to engage in these types of events.
This was not the first time that we have participated in the International Book Fair of Bogotá; in past years we rented a small space from a bookstore that owned the booth and who set the selling price of the books. While this arrangement was not ideal, we were able to meet many people and made useful contacts. An added benefit is that our volunteers learned how to talk about The Urantia Book with strangers, and gained experience that prepared us for the 2014 and 2015 events. Our ultimate goal was to have our own booth; and that was made possible in 2014 thanks to a combined effort between the Bogotá Association and the International Association.
Our booth was 3×4 meters in size and displayed a poster of the Master Universe and one of The Urantia Book, a TV with video introductions playing, a showcase, a table with chairs and many copies of The Urantia Book in hard and soft cover editions. Plenty of flyers were available with the description of the book and with selected quotes and our contact info. Most importantly, 30 volunteers worked throughout the 15 days of the book fair.
Talking and interacting with so many different people about The Urantia Book is an indescribable experience. Taking the fifth revelation to so many avid minds and hearts was amazing for us. Very often there were many of us talking with people at the same time, and occasionally we became short of volunteers because of the amount of interest. During the times when an honest truth seeker was captivated by our description of The Urantia Book and decided to buy their own copy, there was pure happiness in the heart of our volunteers. In 2014 we made 90 personal sales and approximately 100 to wholesalers. We expect to sell many more copies in the near future as a result of the contacts we made and the information that we shared. There is much that could be said about the amazing stories involving the people who approached the booth. They were amazed, touched in their hearts, grateful, and many other feelings were expressed. We discovered that the world is more ready than we thought for The Urantia Book teachings, and young people, in particular, are very interested.
Many of us had some experience talking to people about The Urantia Book, mostly from past book fairs; others were first timers. In any case, we all gained a lot of new experience. Words began to flow more easily and we learned to know people better and how to gain their attention and touch their souls. We know for a fact now that you really need this kind of intensive experience to improve your “speech” when approaching someone to talk to him about The Urantia Book. It takes that training in order to learn to avoid common mistakes many of us make when talking about The Urantia Book. For example; how not to seem a fanatic; how to give the best message in two or less minutes; what are the central points you should focus on; what is the best answer for many common questions. One of the results of this great experience is that a couple of us created a 7-minute introductory video, entitled “El asombroso Libro de Urantia” (“The Amazing Urantia Book”).
The people we met at the fair were very diverse; some had already read the book; others had not heard of it at all. Of course, there were people who were not interested in the subject. Many people are afraid to get involved with some sect of religion, so it is good to make it clear as soon as possible that The Urantia Book is of a spiritual nature, but not a sect or a religion. Let people know that it is about developing a personal relationship with God. Many of our volunteers learned about our Association at a book fair. During the fair, we announced a free introductory talk that we organized to occur about two weeks afterward.
We are planning to come back every year for the International Book Fair of Bogotá again with our own booth.
The results derived from the 2015 Book Fair are:
- We interacted with around 1500 people; the time of the conversation varying between 20 seconds with some people to 30 minutes for others. We had around 30 volunteers involved.
- We distributed 8500 flyers and encouraged people to download the book from our webpage.
- We collected 240 emails from people interested in receiving news from the Association.
- As participants we had the opportunity to give three talks to a total of around 100 people, most of whom did not know about The Urantia Book.
- We met many devoted readers who were feeling isolated and so were very excited about our Association and who could be potential future members or leaders.
- We made new contacts with bookstores willing to buy boxes of books.
- We sold 140 books distributed as follows: 60 books on a person-to-person basis (unfortunately we didn’t have a credit card reader and lost around 40 sales) and 80 copies to bookstores.
- We gained experience in talking with people, in organization and in service.
We strongly recommend national and local Urantia Associations to participate in events and to enjoy the amazing experience of talking to people about a personal God within them; an organized creation; a new and unknown history of the planet and about an unknown and astonishing Jesus. We are very grateful to the International Urantia Association for their support and we are ready to share more of our experience with readers willing to start those projects. Feel free to contact us at email@example.com if you have any questions.