Soldiers of the Cross is dedicated to preaching the Gospel to the lost and equipping and encouraging the church to the fulfil the Great Commission.
Often these two go together as we outreach to the community together with the local churches. One such event was our ANZAC Day outreach in Rockhampton, Qld, Australia where over 2000 Gospel tracts are given out prior to the ANZAC Day parade.
For those who don't know, ANZAC Day is the day that Australians remember those who have fought and sacrificed for this country in all wars. In honour of the first ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp) who landed at Gallipoli, Turkey on April 25, 1915, ANZAC Day is celebrated on this day each year, with services and parades in most cities and towns in Australia.
Each year our family attends the local ANZAC Day parade, along with thousands of others, and we saw the missed opportunity to share with those coming to see the parade and remember those who sacrificed, that there is One whose sacrifice brought freedom not just for this country, but for all men, everywhere for all time.
With that in mind, in 2013 we designed a tract, and in conjuction with One Million Tracts Australia, produced 5,000 tracts which were distributed around Australia. That year's event was a great success with over 1200 tracts being given out prior to the parade. The following year, we tweaked the tract a little and produced 15,000 tracts. Over 1600 were given out in Rockhampton. The rest quickly sold out on the One Million Tracts Australia website to other Christians around Australia who do a similar outreach in their own community. In 2015, 20,000 were produced with over half distributed throughout Australia and New Zealand, as well as around 2000 being given out in Rockhampton. Since those humble beginnings, over 100,000 of those tracts have been printed and distributed throughout Australia and New Zealand.
The first year we had Christians from three churches join together. The outreach continued to grow to 18 labourers for the Gospel, ranging in age from 6 years to 90 years old from, at times, five different churches to see the Gospel go forth on this day of remembrance for Australia. Starting early before the parade begins, we would station ourselves at the various entrances to the main parade thoroughfare, so everyone can receive a tract as they go passed.
Applying the Principle
Whilst I am using ANZAC Day as an example of Event Evangelism, the principle can just as effectively be applied to any other holiday or event, such as Australia Day, 4th of July, or whatever is your country's national holiday, as people flock to beaches and other events. Christmas and Easter parades are also extremely effective as people are already there expecting to hear about God.
In this type of event, four things are common.
Most people are focused on getting to a good spot and aren't really in the mood for chatting.
They are expecting to receive something. During the ANZAC Day parade, people walk around handing out Australian flags and 'Order of Service' for the Memorial Service after the parade, so a Gospel tract about a WW1 Army Chaplain was well received.
To get a 'good spot' for the parade or event, most people start arriving an hour before it starts, so being given a Gospel tract gives them something to read while they wait.
More Christians, walking throughout the crowd handing out tracts to those who were missed, are able to get into one-to-one witnessing encounters, as people are relaxed and waiting.
Open-Air Preaching is not always possible or effective at these types of events. For example, at this particular event, most Australians see ANZAC Day as almost a holy day and would view any kind of public preaching as 'sacriligious' and offensive. Tract evangelism and One-to-one witnessing on the other hand are very effective.
Great for first-timers
Event and Tract Evangelism are also great for young Christians or those who have never really been active in sharing their faith. It can be as non-confrontational as just handing a tract to someone, or as confrontational as engaging in conversations and sharing the Gospel with unbelievers. During our ANZAC Day events we had both experienced and first-time witnesses for Christ participating. Through their testimonies, it became clear that this form of evangelism is a great introduction to witnessing and can help overcome the fear of man and give a greater desire to see the lost saved.
"When I heard about the tracts to be given out on Anzac Day I was quite keen. The fact that it was about an Army Chaplain who had served during the war I thought people may be more interested in receiving it. This proved to be right as the majority of people accepted the tracts.
With the first few people I was a little nervous, but after that I was not and I even had one or two ask me for them! After the service I saw a man pick one off the ground, look at it and keep it. Giving them out early before the service was a great idea as it gave people something to do while they waited and hopefully made them think about their own lives." S.B.
"Handing out tracts to the crowds on Anzac day was an interesting experience, at first it was a little uncomfortable and somewhat embarrassing, but I quickly realized that I really had no good reason to be embarrassed, and that if I wanted to witness to people I would have to step outside my comfort zone. People seemed pretty happy to take the tracts, and while no one came back and asked any questions, I noticed that basically everyone there had one in their hands so I am hopeful that it impacted at least one life." A.C.
"At this year’s Anzac Parade in Rockhampton, I had the opportunity to hand out a tract that had been produced about an army Chaplain named Captain William McKenzie. He was a man that had shared the message of Jesus as he served his country during war time. As people gathered to remember those who had served their country and sacrificed even their lives, there was opportunity to share of the greatest sacrifice ever made for all mankind. I found that people were very receptive as they took hold of the tract with the picture of this war hero on the front.
As I walked through the crowd to prepare to watch the parade, I was greatly encouraged by the number of people reading the tracts as they waited for the March to begin. ‘Fighting McKenzie’ was dealing with men who could die at any time - this is true of us today. There are people we encounter every day of our lives that need to hear the message of hope and salvation." J.G.
"Over many years I've handed out tracts many times and been involved in many gospel and evangelistic events - this year's ANZAC day event was by far the easiest. In fact before I knew this I decided to involve the family. One of my boys was reluctant and the other keen. My wife supported it and came along with our 2 babies. So we all had a go at handing out tracts and greeting people.
"The kids found it simple and in fact enjoyed it. We had the two boys together on their own and they handed out nearly 100 tracts between them. My wife did well with the double pram and also handed out a large number. It's not very threatening taking literature from a Mum with 2 kids - it seems normal and that might have been part of making the day so comoftable.
"The tracts were well written and appropriate and everyone wanted them. I enjoyed the morning thoroughly, and more so knowing that I was serving Christ at the same time. As we did we prayed for the people receiving the literature that it would be thought provoking and life changing for them. Glad to have helped like this." D.A.
I was delighted to be part of Tim and Leah’s outreach to our city on Anzac Day. It was important to pray that the Lord would prepare hearts to receive the wonderful pamphlet they had prepared and He did. The pamphlet was very pertinent to Anzac Day with Fighting Mckenzie’s photo on the front and inside was the story of the remarkable, courageous Army chaplain as well as the Gospel message. It was simple to quickly share with people that they would read about Mackenzie’s ministry and the message he shared with the troops he served. People gladly took the pamphlet and I was very blessed to be able to sow the message of the Gospel into so many lives that morning." T.B.