I’m a Literature Evangelist and youth leader in my church. I’m on fire for the Lord so I leave tracts on buses, trains, taxis, the waiting rooms of doctors, dentists, on sidewalks, streets–yes, I drop them as I walk. Sometimes I would stand on the sidewalk and hand them out to people as they walk by.
Just recently, I left a couple of tracts in the changing rooms of a few department stores. I’ve left tracts on the table before leaving a restaurant and in public washrooms, believe it or not. Every opportunity I get, I make sure I leave or hand out a tract. I take being a Literature Evangelist very seriously because eight years ago, someone left a tract on the a park bench which turned my life around. You see, I was heading in the wrong direction.
Eight years ago I was 17 and living with my mother. My father was a deadbeat who abandoned us when I was seven. I haven’t seen or heard from him since he left. My older brother, Jacquan was arrested and convicted of dealing drugs. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. My mother was an alcoholic. She had fallen on and off the wagon since she first started drinking after my father left. I was going to school and working at the same time. It was tough. I had no life. I couldn’t hang out with my friends because after school, I had to show up for my job at the grocery store close to school. I did different things such as bagging groceries, stocking shelves and working the cash register. I worked for six hours and by the time I got home it was almost nine-thirty.
I was tired but I had either had to do my homework, work on a paper or study for an exam. I had to fix myself something to eat because my mother was passed out on the couch. An empty bottle of Vodka lay on the carpet. The room reeked of alcohol so I opened the windows to let some fresh air in. I took up the bottle and cleaned up the room before I had something to eat. Then, I took a quick shower, went to my room and spent two hours doing my school work. After I was done, I went back to the living-room to check on my mother. She was still passed out. So, I got a blanket and spread it over her, turned out the light and went to bed.
That was my life. I was tired of my mother being drunk and having to clean up after her. It was like I was the parent and she was the child. I was the one who cleaned the house on the weekend, went to pick up groceries, did the laundry and the cooking. By the time I was done, I was too wiped out to go anywhere. And when I did, my buddies complained because I didn’t want to do much. If we went bowling, I would sit it out or if we went to the mall, I would find a place to chill because I was too beat to walk aimlessly about the place. I dated a few times but whenever the girl found out that my brother was in prison they would act all weird and I wouldn’t hear from them again. So, my social and love lives were suffering because of my dysfunctional family. I started to get angry and resentful. Sometimes, I found myself wishing I could just get up and leave but I couldn’t do that to my mother. She needed me. So, I stuck it out.
My mother was sober on the day I graduated from high-school. She threw a party and invited family and friends over to celebrate. Later that night, she got wasted and while she was passed out on the couch, I cleaned up the place. After I was done, I went for a long walk, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I wanted so badly to run away. I was tired of dealing with my mother and her drinking problem. I had tried many times to get her to go for help but she always promised that she would stop.
I walked and walked until I got tired of walking. I went to the park which was nearby and found a bench under the light post and sat down. I sat there for a while, my mind spinning. The resentment for my mother and the bitterness toward my father filled my throat like bile. Dark thoughts filled my mind. I wanted to lash out at them because they had ruined my life with their selfishness and self-destructive ways. At that moment, I wanted run away and leave my mother to drink herself to death. Yes, I thought, why should I continue taking care of a drunk? I was young. I had my own life to live. Why shouldn’t I go somewhere else and start a new life. I decided right then and there that I would pack up and leave this wretched place.
I started to get up when my eyes fell on something beside me. It looked like a pamphlet. I picked it up and looked at it. It was titled, Talking With God. I was interested in reading it. I knew about God but I didn’t know Him. My parents were never religious. I was always curious about religion but never pursued it. I got up from the bench and went home. I went straight to my room and lay down on my bed to read the tract. I just ate it up and I wanted more. I got down on my knees that night and prayed to a God I didn’t know but wanted desperately to know more about.
The next day, I showed my Christian friend, Gidea the tract and he recognized it. “That’s one of the GLOW tracts,” he told me. “I can get you the rest of the tracts if you want.”
My eyes brightened. “Please get them for me.”
He smiled and promised that he would. A few days later, before we went to our classes, he gave the tracts to me. I put them in my knapsack, anxious to read them that night after I got home from work. “Thanks, Man. I really appreciate this.”
He clapped me on the back. “No problem, Bro.”
I finished reading the tracts in a few days. When I saw Gidea again I asked him if I could go to his church. He was delighted and I went on Saturday. The people from his church were so warm and welcoming. I couldn’t wait to go back the following Saturday. I met the pastor and his wife and I was given Bible Study guides which I devoured. I got baptized a couple months later. Unfortunately, my mother was too drunk to be there.
I first learned about Literature Evangelism from Amiri, another church member and I told him that I was interested in handing out literature. And he helped to make that possible and I’m indebted to him. When my mother was sober, I gave her the Breaking Addictions and Steps to Health tracts to read. I invited her to come to church when the guest speaker was a former alcoholic. She came and afterwards she spoke to the speaker who prayed for her and gave her the name of a social worker at a Drug and Alcohol Rehab center in Cape Town. After some persuasion, I convinced my mother to check it out. I went with her and a week later, she moved into the guest house. I visited her every weekend and she’s doing well. She looked so much better. It was strange and good seeing her sober all the time.
I know she has been reading the tracts I left with her and the Bible. I can see the changes. I encouraged her to pray and I prayed with her. I can see God working in her life and transforming her. And she started going to church every week and it was the greatest moment in my life when she was baptized.
I’m still living at home. I got rid of all the alcohol. In my spare time, I do things around the house such as repainting the walls, polishing the furniture and making repairs. I want my mother to come back to a nicely fixed up home.
The last time I visited her she asked me if I had visited Jacquan in prison as yet. When I said no, she urged me to, saying, “God loves him too.” That got me. I needed to humble myself, swallow my pride and go see my brother. The following Sunday morning, I went to see him. He looked terrible and he hardly said much. I told him about Mama. “That’s good she got help,” he said. A pause then, “No word from Dad yet?”
I shook my head. “I don’t expect to hear from him again. How are you doing?”
He shrugged. “Surviving. How come you’re here?”
“Mama encouraged me to visit you. She reminded me that God loves you too.”
He looked surprised. “God? Don’t tell me that Mama has gone all religious. How did that happen?”
I told him and showed him the tracts. “I will leave these with you. It’s up to you if you want to read them. I hope that you do. Do you mind if I prayed for you?”
H shrugged. “Suit yourself.”
I prayed with him and promised that I would visit again soon. I saw him take up the tracts before he got up and left. I left the prison hoping and praying that he would read them.
I was standing on the sidewalk one day handing out tracts when I saw Nata, a girl who attended the same high-school I did. She was in grade 8 when I was in grade 12. Just recently, I found out that after she graduated, she run away from home. Gidea told me that he saw her on the streets.
She saw me and smiled. I watched as she approached me. “Hi,” she said when she reached me. “What’s that you’re handing out?”
“Gospel tracts. Would you like one?”
She shrugged. “Sure.”
I handed her the one about Connecting With God. She took it. I hope she reads it. “How are you doing, Nata?” I asked.
“Surviving,” she replied. “I hate to ask you this but could you give me some money? Someone the money in my bag while I was sleeping.”
“When and where did this happen?”
She hesitated. “Last night on the street.”
“Are you living on the streets?”
She nodded. “I have been since I left home. Things got so bad at home that I had to leave.”
“Nata, do you know how dangerous it is for a girl to be living on the streets? So far you’ve only been robbed but something worse can happen. You can’t stay on the streets. Isn’t there a relative you can stay with?”
She shook her head. “No. My relatives have their own problems. They wouldn’t want me around. What about you? Can I stay with you until I can find a job?”
“I’m sorry but that wouldn’t be possible. I’m a Christian and it wouldn’t look good for me to have a girl I’m not married to living with me.”
“All right. Do you have money you can lend me? When I get a job I will pay you back.”
“I have a better idea. There’s this house for street children. I know the woman who runs it. She goes to my church. I can take you there and she will help you. You can stay there until you decide to return home or find a place. While there you can continue going to school.”
She considered it for a moment. “My parents wouldn’t find out that I’m there?”
I shook my head. “No. Not unless you want them to.”
“All right. I will go to this place but if I don’t like it, I’ll leave.”
“Fair enough. I will take you there right now.” I stuffed the tracts in my satchel bag and we headed for the bus stop. In half-hour we were walking into the shelter. I introduced her to Amahle, the church member I told her about and waited until everything was sorted out. “Thanks, Amahle. Take care, Nata.”
She stared up at me. “You will check up on me, right?”
“I will. And don’t worry, you will be well taken care of here.”
The anxious expression on her face faded. “Thanks for the tract. I promise I will read it.”
“Good. The next time I come, I will bring more. I’ll see you soon.”
She didn’t answer. I could feel her eyes on me as I turned and walked away. I knew I had done the right thing bringing her here.