During the war years our regular eight- page tracts in Brazil were reduced to four pages each. The quality of the paper was also lowered to a point where tract distribution became almost embarrassing. It was an unavoidable consequence of the war. Instead of relaxing our literature evangelism for these reasons, we merely adopted a new approach. We wrapped a complete series of tracts in a bright pink manila paper, and tied it gift fashion with a green ribbonlike string. These packets were subsidized by the first Sabbath offering each month, and we were enabled to sell them to our people for only five cents a set.
Like the shewbread of old, these pretty pack ages were on display on a table before our people the year around. The tract work became habit forming with many of the members, and especially so when they saw the fruitage begin to appear. The recommendation was to lend, give, or sell the packets to people who were known to be interested in Bible topics, to neighbors and friends who were susceptible, to people met on trains, ships, or elsewhere who manifested a desire to learn the truth.
One young man gave a packet to a rough stevedore who didn't know how many times he had been in jail. Not only did this man experience a genuine conversion, but he brought his wife and boy with him too. The stevedore in turn, still in his first love and fervor, gave a packet to a neighbor whose family consisted of a wife and nine children. The whole family accepted the truth. All for a nickel.
When we returned from furlough in late 1947, I met a distinguished-looking man in our tract society stocking up on our good literature. After introductions and a bit of visiting I dis covered that the man was a judge in a large district up in the Amazon country. I also learned that the man with the nine children had gone there to work in the gardens for four months. On Sabbaths he worked with tracts. He had given a packet to the judge, and the seed fell on good ground. All for a nickel, brethren!
Another young man, a shoemaker, won his comrade the same way. The former has since been called to head up our Indian work in a large area a thousand miles up the Amazon. The other had a fair education, and after a little more study, married one of our finest church school teachers. Today he is the secretary-treasurer of our far-flung Central Amazon Mission.
To encourage our people to do systematic house-to-house work from week to week I use the illustration of a woodsman. He does not strike into a tree trunk with a single stroke, then leave the axhead embedded to finish the work by itself. He continues striking until the tree falls. The larger the tree, the more strokes are needed, and in compensation there is also more wood.
To encourage our people in this packet work, I liken it to giving bread to the hungry. To give one single tract to a hungry soul is like giving a crumb of bread to a starved person. It may be fresh, of high quality, and tasty, but it is still only a crumb. The new package of fifty eight-page tracts we now have are a full and balanced ration. On the outside of the wrapper is attached the "menu" printed on green card board, announcing the contents of the package.
One of our teachers recently gave a package to a man who has lived within five miles of our academy for years, but who had never been approached before. Two weeks later the professor returned to see whether the seed was sprouting. The man had read twenty-seven of the tracts, but he was in trouble. The neighbors had borrowed some of his tracts and refused to return them. He ordered another package of tracts, a Bible, and an Adventist hymnal,
One of our young district pastors was supposed to go to a far corner of his district and hold some meetings for two weeks. But the other day I received a letter of apology from him for not going on the date planned. He closed by saying, "Those twenty packages of tracts you left with me have stirred up such an interest here that I couldn't have gone any way."
When people ask us for bread, let us not give them a crumb!