Hilario Smanoitto, 76, was born in the interior of Farroupilha, Rio Grande do Sul. At the age of 20, he moved to the city of Caxias do Sul, where he became acquainted with the Seventh-day Adventist Church through a friend. At the time, he worked as a driver at his local City Hall. He earned well and had the recognition of his superiors. However, he felt God calling him to work as an effective, accredited colporteur, who is a professional who promotes health and well-being through the sale of books and materials.
Smanoitto was worried because he wanted so much to make the right choice. Often, in his work, he would enter a room to cry, as he felt unable to work as a canvasser. “I said, 'God, I'm going to have to face people who have various talents, and I don't even have an education; I only did it until sixth grade. Show me a sign.'”
When Smanoitto arrived at his house, right at the gate was his friend Airton Gimenes, who had already worked in canvassing for some time. Seeing him, Gimenes said, "Today, I came here to make you a canvasser."
Smanoitto was very moved by that and saw it was a sign from heaven to start working with book sales. His friend trained him for two weeks, until he started making his first visits on his own.
Some time later, while visiting a church in Canguçu, the Gaucho met a young Adventist woman named Marlli, whom he later married, and they have two children: Jonas (33) and Joezer (28). Marlli worked as a teacher, but at the end of 2007, she decided to accompany her husband on his visits and help him with the accounting.
“I took care of the finances. I was like his cashier, who did the bureaucratic part. I said to my husband, 'I want to help you with this service so that we have a little time to go out with our son for a walk.' I started helping him and never stopped,” shared Marlli.
After 40 years, Hilario and his wife continue to work in this ministry, which brought many experiences and fostered dependence on God. “Everything we have today was thanks to God and also to the colportage. Our house, car, school, and college for our children all come from publishing work,” he shared.
The wheel of discipleship began to turn. Hilario’s work goes beyond the prevention and treatment of disease; it gives people the hope of spiritual and emotional restoration. From house to house, he leaves seeds of Bible truth and the promises they contain.
Over time, Hilario trained several people to carry out this work, including his brother-in-law and some friends. “Our church was known as the colporteur's church, as many there were also working exclusively with that,” said Marlli.
For Tiago Procópio, colportering director of the Associação Sul Rio-grandense (ASR), one of the regional headquarters of the Adventist Church in Rio Grande do Sul, the work of these men and women is crucial for the preaching of the gospel in the end time. “The work of the effective colporteur is similar to the work of the Vaudois, sowing seeds and preparing people for the return of Jesus”, he points out.
But After All, What Is Canvassing?
Colportage is an opportunity offered by the Adventist Church, linked to the Ministry of Publications, for young people to acquire resources to complete their studies or other needs through the sale of books. Usually, activities take place during the vacation period, twice a year. However, for those who want to dedicate themselves exclusively to this, there is the possibility for the young adult to work full-time as an effective colporteur, as did Hilario and his wife.