“Reader’s Digest Inserts Spark Interest,” Ensign, Feb. 1979, 74
They are perhaps the Church’s smallest missionaries measuring just seven and a half inches high. But when a series of Church-sponsored inserts published in the Reader’s Digest went into homes of Digest readers in 1978, they proved that impact can’t be measured by size.
The four inserts were published in the English and German editions of the April, June, September, and December issues of the Digest. The inserts, labeled clearly as advertisements, explained the family, the roles of men and women, self-reliance, and the relations of parents and children. Since the inserts were published, stories of their effect on individual lives have been accumulating.
Two missionaries serving in the Massachusetts Boston Mission reported that while four elders were at a meetinghouse, a woman called to ask if she could learn more about the Church. She said she and her husband had read the insert in the Digest.
One month after their first appointment with the missionaries, the couple were baptized.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, a woman read the insert and went to a public library to study about the Church. The next Sunday she and her two children attended meetings. They were baptized a few weeks later, followed in two weeks by the woman’s mother.
Two elders tracting in the Oregon Portland Mission met a nonmember woman who told them she had just read the insert. She requested that they come in and tell her more about their church. They subsequently taught her the gospel, and she prepared for baptism.
In the Texas San Antonio Mission, a ten-year-old girl read the insert, and called two missionaries to tell them that she wanted to belong to that kind of family. She asked if they would teach her.
Any conversion to the gospel can have far-reaching effects on the family and friends of the convert. In Howard, Kansas, those effects are quickly becoming obvious.
Michael Land of Howard had been dissatisfied with churches he attended; he began holding services in his home, for his family. He saw Donny and Marie Osmond on television and was impressed with them. Then he read the first insert published by the Church in the Digest. He and his wife wrote Church headquarters for more information. The same day they received information in the mail, they were telephoned by two missionaries. They were taught by the missionaries, and they attended the Missouri, Mormons, and Miracles pageant at Independence, Missouri. Within a week of the pageant, they were baptized, on 26 June 1978.
Brother Land says that before finding the gospel, he was lost in a forest. Now that he is out of that wilderness, he goes back in to help others find their way out. First he introduced his wife’s sister and her husband to the Church. In December, another family he approached were baptized.
The converts in Howard are looking toward a time when they can have a branch of the Church and full-time missionaries in their town.
The Church’s Public Communications Department reports receiving an average of 575 letters a day from Digest readers requesting more information. Those responding to the December insert are sent a recently published brochure What Keeps the Osmonds Together and Happy? It is the same size as the Digest inserts.
Missionaries have used the insert in tracting, and members have given copies of the insert to nonmembers.