Off Tract

Someone recently asked about religious tracts for the homeless. For those who don’t know, tracts are small pamphlets some Christians use as a way to promote the faith. Personally, I’ve never known tracts to be an effective means of ministry, especially to non-Christians. And they often have the opposite effect – instead of bringing people closer to god, they often turn people away from Him.

Faith is a personal thing, and can only be properly dealt with on a person to person basis. Personal interaction is needed, and tracts are not personal. If anything, tracts are about as impersonal as you can get – and are often used so to avoid personal contact with people. Handing a person a piece of paper and then walking away from them is not how Jesus teaches how to minister to people.

Throw those tracts into the trash, and go out and meet people, and talk to people, and get to know them, and their needs, and help those people you encounter to meet their needs because that’s what God wants you to do. Then these people, so effected by your act of kindness, will be converted and they will begin doing as you do – going out and meeting people and meeting their needs, with the help of God.

And that brings up another subject.

What a weak and selfish people Christians have become. Even the well intentioned Christians get it wrong and make mess of things. When a Christian encounters a person with a problem, they will introduce Jesus, and tell the person with the problem that Jesus will help. And then the Christian leaves the person with the problem alone with Jesus, for them to work out the problem between themselves.

As Christians we are called to help people, and to be the problem solvers. We are supposed to be involved in the solutions. It is not our calling to point people in the direction of help, we are supposed to be the help. Passing out Bibles, or tracts, or inviting people to Church, is a way of avoiding our calling. We serve no one when we pass the buck, not our fellow citizens, not our God.

About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless

11 comments

  1. Pingback: Off Tract

  2. Hey Kevin,

    I just found your blogspot and have read a few blogs…can I (or what do you think?) about me reposting a few of your thoughts on my blog as long as I give you and this site credit? I will not use a feed…I just like some of your info that relates to maybe some of my christian readers and maybe some of my non-christian readers.

    Years ago I had the pleasure of living in the Salvation Army (but they usually kick you out after a day or two) and then spending almost three months in the Downtown Recue Mission in Huntsville Alabama…then grew up in the project. (I was a kid then, my whole family stayed there)

    It has definitely instilled a different mindset in me…that is a bit quirky for other people…to this day.

    tyrone

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  3. Patty

    I think traks are an OK method. You never know who will pick it up and read it. I believe they can and do make a difference in peoples lives. I’ve often been very down and just happened to pick up one of these that someone left laying around. I’ve read them and often been uplifted by their words. I think they can sometimes give hope when their is no one around to help you.

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  4. Save trees, eliminate tracts! A large portion of Long Beach’s homeless are Christians. They know the word, they have accepted Christ as their savior. By handing out tracts, we are being told, indirectly that we are hopeless sinners. Jesus said, “judge not lest ye be judged” and to spread “the good news”. You can not eat a piece of paper. A quarter would show people living Christ’s words by charitible actions. A quater is useful to get into a rest room, buy a newspaper or at very few phone booths make a call. You give good advice, Kevin.

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  5. Those little New Testaments make great cigaratte paper.

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  6. jody

    i agreee with you, man! as Christians we need to be handing out more than hope. we need to be more then just Jesus’ mouth…we need to be his hands and feet. thanks for helping to point us all in that direction. i admit that i fail at this horrible many times…..but i am working on it.

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  7. Alyzza M.

    I’m a writer by training, but these will be the first tracts I’ve produced. In preparation, I’ve looked at literally hundreds of Bible tracts, almost none of which impress me. Some are amateurish in their design and content, while others are merely slick presentations of the same message repeated over and over again: repent or burn.

    I’m not interested in reiterating that message, as I believe the matter of salvation is between each individual and God. Instead, I hope ‘my’ tracts will provide useful information to people in various situations, along with relevant verses.

    One of my titles concerns the purification of water, which is important information for some homeless people; while another is geared towards parents (women especially) who have recently learned their unborn babies are affected by Down’s Syndrome. 85% of such fetuses are killed before birth, sometimes because parents don’t have accurate information on how people with this condition learn and live.

    I doubt a woman contemplating abortion wants me in her face telling her how the information she heard about DS from her trusted sources is probably based on misconception. She has a right to her privacy, and I would intrude on that only for so long as necessary to deliver a list of facts and neutral resources.

    This has nothing to do with wishing to avoid personal service, and everything to do with sharing information in a non-threatening manner. People can choose to pick up a tract or leave it; read the thing or trash it. If I’m standing in front of a homeless person, however, telling him about a way he can store food longer without spoilage, he’s pretty much “a captive audience” – especially when I deliver the dénouement about God. I don’t see how that’s any different from his having to sit through a service at the Rescue Mission in order to obtain food and shelter.

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  8. Robert

    This guy is right.. I”m new to this site and just read it. Great site. You are lucky to have a place to stay at. God’s people are the homeless, the people who have abandoned everything and have nothing because they are not interested infilth greed and corruption that pollutes our societiy. There are angels everywhere and they can guide u through other people if u put trust and have faith in God. U might call it schitophrenia but it’s not. I’m not homeless but i will be following in Jesus footsteps soon. Cya

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  9. thehomelessguy

    Anne, that is so not true, and actually runs counter to Jesus’ message. It reeks of selfishness.

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  10. Amen, Kevin! I am a Christian, but I hesitate to label myself that anymore. I feel like my views are so radically different from the mainstream that I should have a different title. Having Jesus in your life doesn’t fix every problem you have. In many cases, it compounds your problems. Shoot, the first Christians were living all right under Rome, but when they started preaching that Caesar had no power over anyone, that got them in a little hot water.

    I live just off shelby in East Nashville. If you ever need somewhere to come by and cool off, maybe have a sandwich. I’m typically home in the afternoon. You’ve got my email.

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  11. Anne

    God helps those who help themselves…learn it and live by it!

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