By the Written Word
What has happened to the distribution of the word of God in written form? Is it a lost art? Has it been phased out of existence? Is God no longer using gospel tracts to win the lost?
My Experiences with Gospel Tracts
Back in the fifties and sixties when I came to a saving knowledge in Jesus Christ, gospel tracts were very popular and widely used.
My first experience in using gospel tracts was on lower Georgia Street in Vallejo, California. Lower Georgia Street was the party place for the sailors at Mare Island Naval shipyard, and the airmen from Travis Air Force base in Sacramento. It is said that forty bars and numerous houses of ill repute lined the two and a half block area of lower Georgia Street. It was one of Satan’s strongholds and a den of iniquity. Its reputation was so widespread that I heard about it even before I left basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in North Chicago.
Right in the middle of this vile scene was a Christian Servicemen’s Center located two flights up over one of the bars. It was a “Home Away from Home” for servicemen. Every Friday evening we would set up a loudspeaker down on the street in front of the entrance. Pastor Bill Graves or one of the elders or deacons would present the gospel message. I can still remember Pastor Bill getting right down in the gutter with the Bible in one hand and shouting out the message of redemption. While the preaching was going on, the rest of us would stand on the street corners and pass out gospel tracts and try to engage passersby in conversation. My favorite gospel tract was: “Four Things God Wants You to Know”. I would ask the person, “Do you know what the four things are that God wants you to know?” If they said, “No,” then I’d open the tract and go through each step with them. At the end, I would ask them if they wanted to believe in Christ as Savior.
Another outreach activity involved putting gospel tracts in a bottle. We rolled up a tract in colored cellophane with John 3:16 in several languages along with a post-paid decision card (with a return address) into a sealed bottle. When a sailor was shipped overseas he took a case of bottles with him and once well at sea he’d put them overboard and let the currents take them wherever God wanted them to go. One such bottle was found on a beach in Hawaii and a man sent in the decision card asking for our Bible correspondence course. He accepted Christ by reading John 3:16 in his language. Space does not permit me to relate other stories of similar decisions.
Another activity involved passing out tracts on Sunday morning to military men we met on the street and inviting them to our JAVA club at the YMCA. We offered them donuts and coffee and several of us would give our testimonies. Afterwards we invited them to go with us to the Vallejo Bible Church for services. I can still visualize servicemen walking down the aisles during the invitation to receive Christ as Savior.
There are many ways to use gospel tracts. I used to put them in envelopes when I paid my bills. They can be used at restaurants when you give tips, or give to a clerk at the sales counter in the stores. I would always put a tract in a letter that I sent to my mom. When I was discharged I took my wife, Elaine, and went back to Pennsylvania to determine what God’s will was for our lives. While there, I had the privilege of leading my own mother to a saving knowledge in Jesus Christ. She is enjoying heaven today.
Years ago I laid a gospel tract on the coffee table in Bert Scagg’s home in Maryland Heights. His wife, Delores, was a dedicated Christian, but Bert was resistant to the gospel. Sometime after we left, he picked up the tract and read it, and the Holy Spirit got a hold of his heart and he knelt down and received Christ as Savior.
Do not underestimate the power of the gospel in written form.