“I. Want. To. Go. Home,” the pastor exclaimed to the auditorium. He wasn’t talking about returning to his bungalow in the suburbs. He was preaching about Jesus taking us to heaven. He used his pauses dramatically, trying to rouse people to give their lives to Jesus and take the gospel to the whole world. It was a rah-rah sermon and his big left-hook seemed to be volume.
You might have heard a message like that before. They can be inspiring for a bit, but sometimes, if we’re honest, spreading the gospel to the whole world sounds like…old news and kind of impossible. Maybe you’ve worked in ministry for years and feel like you’ve seen too much suffering to keep trying. Or maybe you’ve tried to empower your church to help the community, but no one showed up. Changing the world doesn’t feel as amazing as it sounds.
But there is another way. We can learn how to share the gospel with joyful perseverance if we examine the approaches of the Christians who came before us. For example, let’s talk about how one woman’s choice impacted an entire country.
In the mid-1870s, Abbie Hutchins found a magazine called Signs of the Times. Perhaps she picked it up at her local general store in Columbia, California, where she and her family moved in the 1850s. In it, she read about the Sabbath, which she started to keep. However, it wasn’t until ten years later that she and her family met some Seventh-day Adventists and visited a church. In 1886, the Hutchins family attended a meeting by William Healey, an evangelist, and, as a result, nearly the entire family was baptized, including one of Abbie’s sons, 17-year-old Frank.
Part of what defines a disciple is that they make other disciples…
Soon after, Frank decided he wanted to train for the ministry and, in 1891, he was ordained. Later that year, Frank and his wife, Cora Ella, both in their early twenties, traveled to the Bay Islands, off the coast of Honduras, to work as missionaries. Some say Frank and Cora were the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries in Central America.
One day, Frank and Cora, in an effort to expand their work, loaded a boat with medical supplies and literature and took off for Panama and Costa Rica. On their way, they were caught in a tropical storm, which forced them to make an emergency landing in the town of Prinzapolka in Nicaragua.
The interruption turned out to be providential. While docked, Frank provided medical services and literature to the locals, possibly the same types of magazines that his mother came across. Eventually, a small group of believers formed, who would become the first Adventists in Nicaragua. Today, there are about 37,000 Seventh-day Adventists in Nicaragua.
When we think of the gospel commission, we sometimes assume God is asking us personally to carry the responsibility of changing the world, but He never did. Instead, God told us to “go and make disciples”(Matthew 28:19, NIV). Part of what defines a disciple is that they make other disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples, who…well, you get it.
Someone read Signs of the Times and passed it on to Abbie Hutchins. Abbie then shared what she learned with her son Frank. Frank and Cora moved to Central America so they could share this same message with the Hondurans and, as a result, tens of thousands of people in Nicaragua, a completely different country, joined the Adventist movement.
Abbie Hutchins likely didn’t realize the chain of events that would start as a result of her reading that one magazine. She wasn’t trying to change the world. She was just taking the next step in her journey with God.
At Light Bearers, we’re all about empowering people to take their next steps with God. That’s why, this summer, we’re sending 100,000 Bibles and 80,000 Truth Link study guides to Nicaragua, Colombia, Malawi, Zambia, and Cape Verde. However, we can’t do it without your help. Before we explain how, let’s talk about why we think publishing is a great next step in sharing the gospel.
Among them are high class people who would never have attended public evangelism events.
Literature allows you to multiply yourself. A person can’t be everywhere at once, but thousands of Bible study guides can be. Literature also has the advantage of privacy. Someone may not feel comfortable attending a public evangelistic event, but they might choose to read a magazine in the privacy of their own home. This is exactly what we’ve found to be the case. A worker in the Northeast Tanzania Conference, where we sent a container of publications, recently wrote to us and said: “You’ll be shocked to know that we have baptized a good number of those that received the books you gave. Among them are high class people who would never have attended public evangelism events.”
Another advantage of literature is that someone can easily be exposed to the gospel multiple times, which is what happened to Margret, a woman who worked as a prostitute in Tanzania and threw away the many study guides she was given. Eventually, her heart softened, she began to study, gave her life to Christ, and now serves as a clerk at her church.
Like you, we want the gospel to be spread throughout the world. In order to make this happen, we believe that “publications must be multiplied, and scattered like the leaves of autumn. These silent messengers are enlightening and molding the minds of thousands in every country and in every clime” (The Review and Herald, November 21, 1878).
So, where do you come in?
You Are a Light Bearer
You can’t change the world, but you can change someone’s world. For less than $0.05 per tract, you can share the gospel with someone across the globe. When you give to Light Bearers, you have the ability to speak Swahili, Spanish, French, and Russian. You’re able to be in multiple places at once. You can provide literature to bushmen in Zambia, social elites in Tanzania, or farmers in Nicaragua. To date, you’ve helped us distribute over 750,000,000 pieces of literature to churches around the world, in local languages, free of charge. For that, thank you! Light Bearers exists because of you.
If you’re not already a donor and you’re searching for a way to take your next steps with God, consider becoming a partner with us as we spread light in a dark world.
Allie is a 2012 ARISE graduate and on-staff writer and communications assistant for Light Bearers. She is fascinated by the intersection of faith and the creative process and enjoys poetry. When she’s not watching a good movie with her friends, she enjoys narrating life with mediocre accents.