Jimmy Morrison is not a fictitious name for the hero of a story, for he actually was a tract distributor in one of our large cities. He sold papers, so would be found at an early hour on the main street; then, later in the day, he would appear again with the evening editions, tucked into which many of his customers would find good Gospel messages.
The important part of Jimmy’s time was between rush hours when he stood on busy corners handing out evangelical tracts. If there is such a thing as an expert in this work, he was that one. Jimmy was a happy Christian with a pleasant smile who, in an almost irresistible manner, with his broad Scotch accent requested that his tracts be read. Few refused; on the contrary, many enquired about his salvation and his Lord, subjects he talked about with joy. What a gift was his! How God used this humble servant to win souls to the Saviour!
Occasionally, certain persons offered Jimmy financial help for his tract work, but unless he knew that they were Christians, this he gracefully refused, taking the opportunity to explain the way of life. Others supplied him with packages of tracts, but he was particular, and would use only those having a clear Gospel message. Furthermore, he always insisted that the leaflets be well printed on good quality paper, this, of course, was most commendable. In one shop where he obtained many of his tracts, he spent time prayerfully selecting suitable material.
Today, Jimmy is missed on the streets. Not too many months ago this faithful servant who had distributed many thousands of tracts went home to be with the Lord. His works do follow him, and he rests from his labours. The name Jimmy Morrison is a fragrant memory to those who knew him. He was an excellent workman in this almost lost art. One wonders who will rise up to follow his splendid example.
Alas, it would appear that the important business of spreading the printed word is on the wane in English speaking lands. One consolation lies in the fact that large quanties are still being distributed in foreign countries. Some publishers state that the demand is greater than the supply.
The power of the printed message has not decreased, that is why Russia spends five billion dollars a year on books and literature in the countries they have won to Communism. From reliable sources we are informed that they distribute a billion tracts a year. These are not shoddy folders, but are printed in colours on fine quality paper. Samples of these were on display recently at a Chicago convention. This alone should arouse us to our responsibility.
Many tract bands which cover their districts either by door to door distribution or by mail have continued faithful, but the numbers appear to be decreasing. Many evangelists who formerly gave out tracts in visitation and at the close of Gospel services have stopped this practice. May we all renew our energy and return to the days when this work was considered of vital importance among the assemblies.
Prominent preachers of the past used tracts in abundance. They realized that many persons would not go into a Gospel meeting but would read a message in print, and through it be convicted by the Holy Spirit, and eventually be converted. This was the attitude and exercise of Mr. Spurgeon who was responsible for the printing and distribution of over two hundred million leaflets.
Many notable men were led to Christ through reading the Gospel in print; men like Bunyan, Wilberforce, Dodderidge, Richmond, Lorimer, and a host of others. All of these were used of God to bring many to know their sins forgiven. Are we thinking in smaller terms today?
Soon the doors may be closed to tract work. This has already happened in some countries. In some Canadian and American cities it is illegal to distribute leaflets on the public streets.
Let us learn from Jimmy Morrison to use every opportunity to pass out prayerfully the best story in the world: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; … He was buried, and … He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4). In writing to the Galatians the Apostle Paul stated: “Though we, or an angel from Heaven preach any other Gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed… I certify you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:9-12).
The Lord notices every message of the Gospel, and will reward every messenger. Let us also remember the divine assertion, “So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11). Moreover, the promise of the Word of God is, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psa. 126:5-6).