This article is written with a view to encouraging God’s people to take up the opportunities for spreading the written word of God. If it encourages even one brother or sister to do this it will have been an article worth writing.
When I was a sixth year pupil at High School I had no classes on a Friday afternoon so I spent those afternoons tracting with another brother. Those were formative days when we learned how to ‘cold call’ people with God’s word. We made many mistakes, and sometimes showed zeal without discernment, but we believe that God preserved us in this work, and taught us vital lessons.
Strangely, I never felt completely comfortable doing this work, though I knew how important it was. I found it much easier when I knew the person I was speaking to, or if the enquirer showed an interest in spiritual things and asked questions. Around this time I and a number of other brethren tried to write well-presented, attractively published tracts in plain English for distribution locally.
In 1990, Jack Hay spoke at a conference at High Parks, Hamilton, Scotland. He challenged the audience regarding their personal testimony. How many of us, he asked, regularly visited our own neighbours with God’s word? My father had done this regularly in the area we live in, but it was not something I had done as a matter of course. But I felt convicted that it was something I should do too. I started the next week. It was hard, but over these past twenty-two years this has proved to be a vital work. Many opportunities have been opened up, new contacts have been made, I have been asked to take local funerals, and many neighbours have attended gospel tent meetings held in our garden.
As I grew older, got married, and had a family, the opportunities to go tracting became less frequent. Meanwhile, I had an exercise about the fact that our ‘assembly parish’ in Ballingry was extending. Our sphere of responsibility now covered a number of villages that had previously been blessed with an assembly testimony but that had since, sadly, closed. I had less time but more money than I did as a student, and I could use it for spreading the word of God more widely. We began to put some money aside. The answer to this prayer was when an assembly nearby closed and the brethren who were making arrangement for disbursement of the assembly assets, knowing of my burden regarding gospel literature, gave me a substantial cheque. I was inspired by the fact that a brother (now with Christ) had tracted the whole town of Glenrothes, around 50,000 homes, nine times. This started the work of ‘Scotland Needs the Gospel’. All the homes in that town received a tract that year. We also had gospel meetings in the town around that time. A brother who lives in Glenrothes helped me to visit homes, and give booklets and Bibles to all who desired them.
Following this initial exercise I began, as the Lord gave help, to use Royal Mail to distribute tracts to homes across large areas of Scotland – especially those with no assembly testimony. Where possible we try to tie a distribution in with special gospel meetings in an area, although this is not always possible. My brother Ken runs an associated website www.scotlandneedsthegospel.org, which is a useful way for people to contact us electronically and to read more of God’s way of salvation in the privacy of their own homes.
The Lord has supported the work, allowing the printing and postage of many hundreds of thousands of tracts in Scotland. Large parts of rural Scotland have now been covered with the word of God, as well as some of the more densely populated areas of the central lowlands. A number of brethren across Scotland have volunteered to visit contacts and pass on Bibles in remote areas, for which we give God thanks. My exercise is still to tract every home in Scotland.
Where there is an assembly or assemblies in a postal district we endeavour to work in fellowship with them, particularly in the work of following up local contacts. The assembly at Ballingry has taken responsibility for regular mailings to a large area of the countryside around us, where there is no testimony, and for mounting a high-profile text by the side of the M90 Motorway (see attached). This sharing in our exercise has been a big encouragement. Is it perhaps a work that other assemblies could seriously consider, as God enables them?
In terms of outcomes the world would say there is precious little to show for these efforts, but God knows it all and the ‘day will declare it’. We have had thousands of hits on the web site, hundreds of people who have received visits, many malicious letters and returns have been sent to us, but also many hundreds of positive requests for Bibles and extra literature have been received. A number have attended gospel meetings as a direct result of the tracts and two that we know have been saved, one of whom is now in assembly fellowship. We are in no doubt that many who have not contacted us have been blessed eternally. We enjoy those scriptures: ‘it shall not return unto me void’, Isa. 55. 11; ‘the seed is the word of God’, Luke 8. 11; ‘he that goes forth … bearing precious seed … shall doubtless come again with rejoicing’, Ps. 126. 6; ‘cast thy bread … shalt find it after many days’, Eccles. 11. 1; ‘the gospel … is the power of God’, Rom. 1. 16.
We have subsequently come across believers and assemblies who put adverts in papers, buses, trains, and use other means to spread God’s word. We still believe that nothing is better than meeting people face to face to discuss eternal matters, but the masses need to hear God’s word and if the Lord’s people do not have the same opportunities, or the gift to do this personal work, then perhaps they can spread God’s word through other means. The Lord is coming!
To God be all the glory.
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