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Passing the Word Along

Posted by Don Johnson on

<p>When I paid for my meal at the local fast-food restaurant, I thanked the teenaged employee, handed him a gospel tract and turned away with my purchase. Suddenly I was aware of a struggle behind me, and I whirled around to witness an incredible sight.</p>
<p>Two young employees jostled one another behind the counter. One tightly clutched the tract I had given him, while the other wrestled to see it for himself. Within moments, other workers moved in, all vying for a look at the tract. Amazed, I sprinted to my car, dumped my hamburger onto the seat and brought back similar pamphlets for the rest of the employees.</p>
<p>Unusual? Yes! They "fought over" gospel literature. However, it is not uncommon for tracts to be eagerly received. Surprising as it may seem, I have found a new openness for these small "messengers" everywhere I go.</p>
<p>In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands us to preach the Good News of his death and resurrection to the whole world. It is only by hearing and believing this gospel that people can have the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life. Yet we do not have to be gifted evangelists, nor are we to be fearful, in spreading the Good News. I have learned that Christians who are less experienced in evangelism can begin to tell others about Christ. Tract distribution is a method of personal evangelism that can be noncon-frontational and yet rewarding.</p>
<p>To be successful at tract evangelism, it is essential that you develop a habit of distribution, or eventually you will find reasons not to do it. A proverb says, "Habits are at first cobwebs, at last cables." I automatically send a tract with each of my bank deposits. Once, after mailing a tract with my deposit, I received this reply on my return receipt: "Thanks for your little message." While we may never meet many of the people to whom we mail tracts, we do have an opportunity to touch their lives if we develop the habit of tract distribution.</p>
<p>You can begin by including tracts with your checks when you pay bills or conduct personal business by mail. You can leave tracts anywhere that they can be found and read&mdash;on bus seats, in magazine racks, in waiting rooms, on tables in restaurants, and in motel rooms when you travel.</p>
<p>In addition to leaving tracts for people to find, you may eventually want to try the more direct approach of actually handing someone a tract. This is not so difficult as it seems. I find that the best method is to give tracts to people with whom I come into contact each day. This has become natural for me, and it is easy, because the recipients already have a rapport with me. Most people smile or thank me when I hand them a tract.</p>
<p>When you make a purchase in a store or pay for a service, offer a tract. In general, people will not be rude when you have just done business with them. For example, when I left my dentist's office one day, I gave a tract to the receptionist. Not only did she receive it gladly, but that evening she phoned our home to say that her marriage had been breaking up and the tract had just the right message for her!</p>
<p>Here are some suggestions on how to get started in literature evangelism:</p>
<p>&mdash;Purchase interesting, good-quality tracts. Use literature that you will be comfortable with and that you can be excited about sharing.</p>
<p>&mdash;Don't give out ragged-looking tracts. Be careful to keep the tracts looking fresh.</p>
<p>&mdash;Store tracts where you pay your bills and write your correspondence. Also, keep tracts near the front door of your home for an appropriate opportunity.</p>
<p>&mdash;If you own a business, hang a tract rack where customers will see it. If you work in an office, place an eye-catching tract on your desk. A friend of mine did that, and while he made a phone call, his secretary picked it up and read it.</p>
<p>&mdash;Carry a variety of tracts for the different types of people you will meet.</p>
<p>&mdash;Don't become discouraged by rejection. Recognize that there will be times when you are turned down. At one of our garage sales I offered a tract to a man; he shrugged it off without saying a word. I try never to take rejection personally or to feel that it is an affront to God. People are not rejecting the giver; they are most likely rejecting the piece of paper and what they think it represents. They may have unpleasant feelings associated with "religion" as a result of negative experiences in the past.</p>
<p>If someone doesn't want to take the tract you offer, simply smile and say, "That's OK." Since that person is not going to read the tract, you have a chance to reach him through your friendly tone and body language. You may prove to be more convincing than the tract would have been, and this may prepare him for the next time he is offered the Good News.</p>
<p>&mdash;If you have a relative or a close friend who needs to learn about the Lord, there are several ways you can approach this person with literature. You may want to speak to him alone at the close of a visit. Make eye contact and say something like, "Uncle John, there is something that you need to know. I wish that I could say it as well as this pamphlet does, but since I can't, I hope that this will not seem too impersonal. The message in this pamphlet changed my life. I would like to know what you think of the message." Give him the tract and say good-bye. Next time you see him, ask what he thought about it. You can do the same thing by mail and enclose the tract in a letter or an appropriate greeting card.</p>
<p>Can someone receive too many tracts? Recently in a busy garden shop, I handed the young clerk a tract at the close of my purchase. She smiled and said, "Oh, yeah, last time you gave me a different one." She looked serious for a moment and then said of the new tract, "This one is just what I need right now." I also gave her a Gospel of John and our phone number if she wanted to talk.</p>
<p>What do you tell a person when you give him a tract? I usually say, "Here is something you may enjoy reading. It's interesting!" I might also add, "This message changed my life." Like the choice of tract, your choice of words should be what is comfortable to you. Relax, be yourself, look directly at the person and smile.</p>
<p>Just before Christmas a few years ago, I met a dejected-looking woman leaving the courthouse. My heart went out to her, and since I had a special tract for the Christmas season, I smiled and said, "Hi! This is about the Christmas story." She looked up, lost her care-burdened look and exclaimed with new-found cheer, "Thanks, I need that!"</p>
<p><em>&mdash;Kenneth Cetton</em></p>

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