I’m sure we all recall our first experience with attempts to share the book with family and friends. If your experience was anything like mine, you might have been left with a feeling of profound disappointment and perhaps even surprise that not everyone was as enthusiastic about the book as you were. Why wouldn’t they see the light and embrace this marvellous book? Why am I unable to convince people that this is the best book ever written?
The Publication Mandate advises us that the Revelation is intended for a future generation when the hearts and minds of mankind will be ripe for the book and its wonderful message; that the book was given to us in advance of this age to prepare teachers and leaders.
When I was elected as Urantia Association International’s Dissemination Committee Chairman last year one of the first things I did was review our Charter and Bylaws for guidance on the role of this committee. Basically, it is the function of the committee to “…coordinate the UAI international efforts to disseminate the teachings of The Urantia Book and to provide information about The Urantia Book and UAI to people who are not familiar therewith.”
With the Publication Mandate in mind and the Association’s governing documents as a guide it seems to me that one way to prepare for the age to come is to make the book available to as many people as possible, to ensure the book is distributed to every continent on the planet. The next question was, “OK, how does one go about it?”
What I learned was that there were several seeding projects underway across the globe. The Association was leading the effort to get the book distributed in the Ukraine, the Philippines and Africa, with great success. Seeds that were planted in South Korea, South America and Europe just a few short years ago have sprouted and grown with new associations and study groups being the fruit. New teachers and leaders have emerged and energized our budding organization. The growth in Mexico, Columbia and Brazil is astounding.
This was fantastic news! I decided my job was to explore the components of those efforts and see how best to replicate them and expand the process to other countries. What I found was that the Association and Urantia Foundation have been consistently working in harmony to seed The Urantia Book around the globe. In many cases I found that the best results came when working with very dedicated people who were driven to bring the book to their home country.
For instance, the gentleman leading the effort in the Philippines, Eugene Asaido, had approached Urantia Foundation with his desire to disseminate the book to the islands that make up the Philippines. The Foundation and the Association worked in harmony to provide the books and, to his credit, Eugene funded the travel, food, lodging and other expenses out of his own pocket. Eugene, along with three to four friends, spent six months in the Philippines distributing books to seminaries, universities, public libraries, an institute of technology, a science high school, new age, esoteric and theosophic groups as well as to various individuals and study groups that emerged out of their efforts. In the course of his travels Eugene and his crew were able to start three study groups. The Baguio City study group had 23 attendees at their first meeting. The Philippines is fertile ground for the Revelation; Eugene and his friends have been planting many seeds.
In the Ukraine the Association has been working with Anton Miroshnichenko, President of the Ukraine National Association. Anton had already completed the distribution of the first pallet (270 Russian language books) to arrive in the Ukraine when I came on board and was requesting a second pallet. Anton has been successful in locating a book distributor that has agreed to place The Urantia Book in several bookstores throughout the country. This is a very fortuitous development as it facilitates the widespread distribution of the book throughout the country. Anton also does the basic footwork of distributing the book to libraries, universities, individuals and study groups. All of these efforts combined will reap much fruit in the years to come.
In Africa it was Grevet Moyo, President of the Malawi Local Association, and his Vice-President, Brian Mtambo who were handling the dissemination of a pallet of 120 books in their city of 1.2 million. Brian has since graduated from this life (February 4, 2016); some of you may remember him from the Association’s Study Group Symposium which he attended. With no funds, but much heart, Grevet and Brian set out to disseminate the books throughout the country, on foot, walking to villages up to 21 kilometers away, all while carrying heavy boxes of books. They left books with universities, hospitals, libraries, the forestry service, two prisons, and were able to get books to their Local Association and study group members who needed one. Several people Grevet and Brian met have since joined one of the 12 study groups they organized and have added new members to Malawi’s Local Association, which has grown from 7 to 115. You can read about Grevet and Brian’s efforts in the recent edition of Tidings http://urantia-association.org/publications/tidings-newsletter. Grevet is in the process of gaining National Association status for Malawi. While Brian will be sorely missed, we have in Malawi a very strong leader who is overcoming many difficulties.
*As an aside, it may interest some of you to learn that during his travels Grevet visited the Malawi College of Medicine. One of the professors was so impressed with Grevet that she offered him admittance to the college and the opportunity to attain his medical degree. The price was right. A two-year program cost just $10,500 but it might as well be $10 million. Grevet and his family live in abject poverty, depending on a monthly allotment of rice to feed his wife and two young sons. I was so impressed with Grevet and his “can do” attitude that I offered to assist him with a private fundraising effort. A GoFundMe site was created and has resulted in the receipt of around $3,500, enough to get Grevet enrolled in his first semester, as well as a little extra for food and necessities for his family just before Christmas. The college tuition covers Grevet’s room, board and meals but nothing for his family. If you would like to assist Grevet with attaining his goal of achieving his medical degree, please visit the GoFundMe site at: https://www.youcaring.com/grevet-moyo-458222. In order to continue his education the goal is to raise an additional $8,000 which will cover all of his tuition requirements and allow for a little extra to care for his family’s needs. Grevet is a proven leader in his country and personally I feel he deserves our support and the chance at a better life. *(See footnote)
I’m very impressed with Eugene, Antonio, Grevet, his former colleague, Brian Mtambo and all those who assisted them with their selfless efforts to spread the book to the far corners of the globe. Who says one person can’t make a difference in this world? We have individuals going quietly about doing big things and small, each adding to the successes of the other, in their quest to get the teachings out to hungry souls.
Another avenue for seeding The Urantia Book is by signing up for bookfairs. My first experience working a booth was in Salt Lake City, Utah this past summer at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. It was an eye-opening experience for me as I had never talked to so many people about the book in the span of a few short days. It was a little scary to tell the truth. I sort of stumbled around with the first couple of folks to visit the booth until I found my comfort zone. I noticed some of the volunteers working the booth answered questions by stating, “The book says…”
That approach wasn’t working for me so I decided that I’d just tell them about my experience, the questions it answered for me, how I came to read it and how it changed my life. In arriving at this approach I recalled a suggestion Chris Wood put forth at a past conference, basically that it was important not to sound weird. His suggestion was to talk about the book without using Urantia Book terminology or information that is unique to the Revelation, stuff most people don’t know and would only find confusing. I found that telling my story and explaining why I read the book was a way for me to connect person-to-person. The questions I had about God, Jesus, religion, the cosmos, etc. are the same questions many others have as well.
The Parliament booth was a huge success; there were no books left at the end. I am hopeful that the seeds we planted during that time will bear fruit in the future. If history is any gauge, it most certainly will. On a personal level, I came away better for the experience. There were opportunities for growth and development that I had not anticipated. National and Local Associations should encourage their members to participate at bookfairs.
Besides the obvious benefits of getting the book out to the public it is also an excellent opportunity to get our members involved in an endeavor that fosters teamwork and cooperation. People want to be involved and are looking for avenues to be of service. The Association will assist those who wish to host a booth by donating 50% of the booth fee and Urantia Foundation often assists with providing the books. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in hosting a booth at a local bookfair, expo, etc.
There are other things we can do individually. Bookstores only stock books that sell and libraries will only hold them on their shelf if they are checked out regularly. If you need a book consider utilizing a brick and mortar bookstore; many people still prefer to go to a bookstore to browse the shelves. If they don’t have The Urantia Book in stock, ask them to order a couple, if they sit on the shelf, buy one for your study group or for a friend. Go to the library and check out the book, if they have it. We have a library placement program if they don’t. This is something Local Associations and study groups can tackle in their home towns.
I would be interested to hear from you any ideas you may have for avenues to spread the teachings of the book. There is no one right way to go about it and I’m open to hearing your thoughts as to how we can better pursue our goals, together.
Dissemination Committee Chair
Urantia Association International
*Footnote: Urantia Association International supports the efforts of individuals and groups to serve, announce, and discuss worthy service projects in our publications, website, social media, and email systems but the Association does not necessarily endorse or approve of such service projects or opinions which have not received the full due diligence and official approval for Association funding or sponsorship. All opinions expressed herein are personal to the author and do not represent the Association’s leadership or its membership regarding policy.