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Close To Home pamphlets meet hidden needs

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More than 40,000 sold to churches in Canada and U.S.

With more than 40,000 copies sold to over 400 churches in Canada and the U.S., including 50 Mennonite Brethren churches, the Mennonite Publishing Network (MPN) Close to Home pamphlets about dealing with personal issues and problems are proving their usefulness.

“It’s gratifying to see the response,” says editor Byron Rempel-Burkholder of the series, which deals with personal problems that often remain hidden and undealt with – things like pornography, bullying, gambling, child abuse, debt, depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, and other issues.

“It shows there is a need for information about issues that are hard to talk about,” he adds.

Pastors who are using the materials agree.

“They have been good conversation starters with a theological twist,” says Vidya Narimalla, pastor of Kitchener (Ont.) MB Church. “They have been picked up by a number of our people, both members and visitors, and some have come to talk to me about them.”

Narimalla also finds them helpful in sermon preparation. “I have incorporated some of the thoughts contained in the pamphlets in my teaching and preaching,” he says, adding that “they are a good way of communicating on day-to-day life issues.”

Over at Willingdon Church in Burnaby, B.C., the most popular pamphlet in terms of use is about addiction to pornography. “At times it is hard to keep it stocked,” says Ray Dueck, pastor of care, prayer, and international language ministries.

“The Close to Home pamphlets are a good starting point in opening the door, or the first step to admitting and dealing with secret struggles that people have,” he says. “Hopefully this will result in a person seeking help and being restored.”

Other popular pamphlets at Willingdon Church include those on drug abuse, alcohol abuse, anxiety disorders, and depression, Dueck says.

At First Mennonite Church in Edmonton, Alta., the pamphlets are used both as a ministry to members and “as a form of outreach to others who pass through our doors,” says pastor Donita Wiebe-Neufeld.

The pamphlets are “one way we try to acknowledge our brokenness and encourage healing,” she says, noting that the church plans to install racks in washrooms “so people can pick up pamphlets on sensitive topics without worry of being noticed.”

—John Longhurst, MPN

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