Words of Life for Less Than a Penny

This was not the future his parents had imagined for him. The scenery, all too familiar, rolled by as Jonathan rode the bus home from work. If he was honest, this probably wasn’t the future he’d dreamed of for himself, either. The 19-year-old had received medals and awards for athletics, he’d played in the school band, and when the time had come to take his final exams for 12th grade, he had passed with flying colors. He’d done so well, in fact, that he had received the coveted invitation to continue with higher studies.

Words of Life for Less Than a Penny
At 19 years old, Jonathan had stopped school and was working in a Sri Lankan hotel.

Anyone would rejoice at that news. Anyone’s heart would swell with pride, dreaming of the possibilities such an education would afford. Yet Jonathan had turned the opportunity down, taking a job in a hotel kitchen instead.

His parents weren’t happy about it—but it had been his decision, and they couldn’t argue with the logic. It was obvious to all of them that, without Jonathan’s help, there was no way his father would be able to pay off the 15-year loan he’d taken out for their home. And even if his father’s low-paying job as a cook could have paid off the family debt, there was no way there would be any money remaining to pay for their only son’s higher education.

So today, as every day, Jonathan went to work and came home again, forfeiting any chance to develop his potential.

The job helped provide for his family, but it couldn’t fix the purposelessness he faced daily. What use were talents and awards in a life like this?

The bus came to a stop, and Jonathan joined the press of people pushing for the door. When he finally made it down the steps, he turned toward home. But on his way, a man offered him a little folded piece of paper with the words “For You” printed across the front.

What Value Could Half a Penny Possibly Have?

Jonathan accepted the pamphlet, and as he left the bus stand, he scanned the words inside. The leaflet talked about Jesus, explaining how He cared so much for people that He died to offer forgiveness of sins. By the time Jonathan made it back to his house, he wanted to know more.

His reaction may seem strange to western minds, but in the areas of Africa and Asia where GFA World works, it is common to value a piece of paper like this. While Gospel tracts received in the West are often tossed aside or viewed with suspicion, many people in areas like Jonathan’s see such leaflets as a rare chance to possess a piece of literature. Printed in local languages, these pieces of paper are treasured by recipients, read aloud to illiterate family members and passed on to others, who will often pass them on again.

Produced at the cost of half a penny, each tract represents one of the simplest, easiest ways to get God’s Word into the hands of people in need of hope. The GFA pastor who gave Jonathan the little pamphlet that day didn’t know it, but the paper had stirred something up in the young man’s empty heart.

As Jonathan examined the leaflet, he found the address to the pastor’s church on the back. Right then, he decided that he would visit the church. Surely there he could learn more about this Jesus.

He’d never been to a church, but he didn’t really go to his traditional religion’s worship place, either. Still, he decided not to tell his parents about his planned visit. For all he knew, they might refuse to let him come home if they found out what he was doing.

As Jonathan entered the church building, joy washed over him. He was overwhelmed by the welcome he received from the believers. Pastor Sylas, who had given Jonathan the pamphlet that day at the bus station, listened as he shared his story. Then Jonathan asked about Jesus and the life of the church, and the pastor answered the young man’s questions.

When he finally headed home, the emptiness gnawing at Jonathan had quieted, overshadowed by a love stronger than any he’d ever experienced. That love drew him back the next Sunday, and the next and the next. He learned to pray and sing to the Lord. He started attending the youth meeting each week. The deeper Jonathan dug into the Bible and the more he attended church activities, the more certain he became that he wanted to commit his life to Jesus—the One whose love was filling his empty heart like nothing else could.

New Purpose

Words of Life for Less Than a Penny
Like this young man, Jonathan uses his talents to help lead worship at church.

As one of his first steps of faith, Jonathan decided to tell his parents about the new hope he’d found in Christ. Surely they would be pleased at the positive changes in his life—the new direction and purpose he’d discovered. But when he told his mother, she responded with stunned silence. His father took the news even harder, shunning Jonathan and refusing to talk to him.

Crushed, the young man held to the new Friend who had called to him from that little pamphlet. Jonathan threw himself into the prayer meetings, youth meetings and church services with all the vigor he used to apply to his studies. His parents had dreamed of a bright future for him, but this new life was something bigger than he or they could ever have imagined. This life was offered freely—to hotel workers as well as star students—and it gave Jonathan the chance to use his God-given talents for something far bigger than himself.

Soon, he started playing the harmonium to accompany the choir during worship services. His natural love and care for others grew, too. Jonathan created beautiful works of art from recycled materials, such as plastic and coconut shells, selling his handiwork to pay bus fares for poor children in his community to make it to school. He was all too familiar with the effects of poverty on education, but with his help, these kids were able to continue their studies.

I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for His saving grace, and I want to serve my God with all that I have,

No longer did Jonathan face incurable emptiness day after day. He had discovered purpose in life. “I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for His saving grace, and I want to serve my God with all that I have,” Jonathan shared. “I will continue to help in youth ministry and be involved in music ministry by using my talents for God’s glory.”

As he invested his talents in something bigger than himself, Jonathan didn’t forget the way God first reached out to him. Equipped with pamphlets like the one he had once received, he and other youth from his church decided to give literature away to people in their community. Jonathan especially focused on the area around the local beach, offering pamphlets to his peers.

He knew how life-changing a single gospel tract could be—the hope, peace and purpose it offered.

Millions of Gospel Opportunities

Words of Life for Less Than a Penny
For just half a penny, a Gospel tract can introduce someone to Jesus for the very first time.

There are millions of opportunities each day for empty souls, like Jonathan once was, to encounter the fulfilling love of Christ. Beaches, bus stands, train stations … the opportunities to bring people the Good News through sharing Gospel literature are endless.

Yet, more than 3 billion people still wait to hear that Good News. 1 Tens of thousands of these eternal souls perish daily without ever even hearing the name of Jesus. It’s a stark, tragic reality. Gospel tracts are crucial tools to meet this challenge and share hope in Christ while there is still time. Each dollar you give covers the cost of about 200 tracts—200 more Gospel opportunities. Together with believers like Jonathan, we can bring the Good News to those who need it most. As he put it, “I believe that in the same way God spoke to me, He will reach out to them, too.”

It only takes half a penny and a pair of willing feet to reach them with the hope and love of Christ.

Our brothers and sisters can supply the feet. Would you supply the pennies?

Give toward Gospel tracts today!

  1. “About Radical.” Radical. Accessed May 17, 2024. https://radical.net/about/ .

*Names of people and places may have been changed for privacy and security reasons. Images are GFA stock photos used for representation purposes and are not the actual person/location, unless otherwise noted.

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