I trusted Christ as my Savior at the age of 29 after reading the Bible for nearly two years. Now, as I approach the age of 53, I look back and sadly reflect that in my whole lifetime I received only one gospel tract, and that from a 16-year-old boy only three years ago. That means I went an incredible 50 years without receiving a single gospel tract.
I was reared in the Roman Catholic Church, baptized as an infant, and sent to parochial schools. In my mid-twenties, the Lord started to draw me to Himself. I got a Bible and just began to read. My search was uncertain; I only knew that I wanted to know God. I was persistent, and the Holy Spirit was gracious in directing me through the Scriptures. It would have been so helpful if I had been given a tract with even the Romans Road to direct me, but no gospel tract crossed my path.
God tells us that He works all things together for good. The “good” I see coming out of this situation is that I have a burden to give out tracts—ones that clearly explain the gospel. Some believers doubtfully protest, “How can anyone get saved that easily, just by reading a short tract?” They do not allow for the Holy Spirit’s preparation of the heart. I know that my heart was prepared, and I would have devoured any tract if I had known there was such a thing.
The Bible tells us, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12). I thank the Lord for withholding a gospel presentation from me for as long as He did so I would have a clear understanding of just how important a good tract can be in the hands of someone whose heart has been prepared by the Holy Spirit. The following incidents are some of the ways I have personally seen the Lord work. I know that only eternity will show the effectiveness of my obedience in giving out His Word in this special way.
The Lord brought about an unusual divine appointment in the winter of 1999. I left a grocery store, just having tried to give a tract to someone and finding that I didn’t have one. I was a bit irritated with myself and made a mental note to put some more tracts in my purse when I got home.
I went to my car, but instead of starting the car and going home, I sat there and thought about what had just happened. All at once I was overwhelmed by the fact that God had given me the ability to give out gospel tracts easily. I know I have been given much boldness in this area.
Just recently I had been considering a number of limitations in my life, wanting to do things in the Lord’s work that I wasn’t free to do. The Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart to praise the Lord for my boldness and ability to give out tracts and to offer myself to be used further in that way. So I sat there praising God for His gift of boldness and offering myself to be used in whatever way He would choose. It was one of those times when God’s presence was very real to me.
When I got home, I went to get a few tracts to keep in my purse. As I was going through the drawer where I kept them, the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart to take a few foreign language tracts, one of which was Lithuanian.
That afternoon I went shopping, and as I walked to one of the stores I noticed a lady trying to help an elderly lady in a wheelchair to get into a car. I went over and asked if I could help. When she said yes, I noticed that she had an accent. When I had finished helping her, I asked her from what country she came. You guessed it—Lithuania! The older lady spoke very little English; she too was Lithuanian. I told them that I had something for them, and I pulled out the tract that the Holy Spirit had impressed upon my heart to put in my purse. Of course, because it was in their native tongue, they gladly accepted it.
This experience seems unbelievable, yet it’s true—our God is sovereign! He is not only sovereign, but He is all wise and His timing is perfect, as the following incident shows. One day my husband asked me to go for a walk. I agreed, and as we were leaving the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart to take a tract with me, and not just any tract, but specifically a fairly lengthy booklet. I thought, To whom would I give a tract on a walk with my husband?, and I ignored the Spirit’s prompting.
Then my husband went inside to get a hat, and I stood outside waiting. The Holy Spirit again prompted me to get that tract to put in my pocket; I finally obeyed and went inside and got it.
Finally we started on our walk. As we got to the end of our lane, we heard a car stop behind us. Aman got out of the car and yelled toward my husband, “Sir! Sir! Can you help me? I’m lost!” We turned around and he ran towards us waving a map, saying again, “I’m lost!” The man was from out of town and needed directions to a local business and to a hotel at which he was registered. When I was finished giving directions, I pulled out that tract and said, “Sir, would you take the time we saved you to read this booklet tonight?”
He said, “I sure will!” He was really appreciative and thanked us.
My husband observed all of this. After the man left and we continued on our walk, I shared with my husband how the Holy Spirit had impressed upon on my heart to take that tract. I also shared with him how I believed our walk was delayed to time it perfectly for that divine appointment.
I’m nobody special—just one of those ordinary people in a good Bible-believing, fundamental church. My talents aren’t great, but my God is. His Word tells us that “God hath chosen the weak things of the world . . . That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Cor. 1:27, 29). Whether your talents are big or small, use what you have to sow the seed of His Word when you can. “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).
There are people around you every day whose hearts the Holy Spirit has prepared, and they are waiting for the seed of His Word. Will you give it to them?
At the time of original publication, Ruth Bumgardner was a freelance writer living in Cherry Valley, Illinois.
(Originally published in FrontLine • September/October 2001. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)
Some fine Gospel tracts:
God’s Simple Plan of Salvation by Ford Porter. This is available in many languages (also in Braille) and extra-extra-large print (good for nursing home visitation). It gives a VERY clear presentation of the gospel. (Lifegate, P.O. Box 5, Monrovia, IN 46157)
New Birth by Paul J. Levin. I often give this out along with a Lifegate tract. It is set up in a question- answer format. This is the one I gave out to the Lithuanian ladies, and is available in several languages. (Bible Tracts, Inc., P.O. Box 188, Bloomington, IL 61702, bibletractsinc@juno. com)
Hidden Treasure by Becky Vaughn. Becky’s picture on the front of this tract causes people to want to read it. I find this especially good to give out in a hospital or to anyone in the medical profession. (Hidden Treasure, (864) 322-0700)
The Bridge by Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. This is a clear pictorial tract in small booklet form. You could easily use this tract to “walk” someone through the plan of salvation. The visual is very helpful. (Majestic Media, (810) 598-1919
Truth (also in another format entitled “The Data Explosion”) by John Van Gelderen. An excellent tract that takes the reader through a clear presentation of the gospel. It’s the one I gave to the “I’m lost” man. (Preach the Word Ministries, (800) 656-7896)