Several months ago, Mary Tesmer began attending Abundant Life Church in Putnamville, near Indianapolis, Indiana.
There she met Dale Detro and learned of the tract rack ministry he was using to saturate their community with the gospel. About five years ago, Detro, who was retired, had a burden of reaching everyone in his small town with the gospel. Finally, he hit on the idea of planting "FREE—TAKE ONE" displays of the tracts in local businesses.
He bought some small card racks at Walmart and loaded them with tracts. He found half a dozen businesses who let him set them near their checkout counter. When he returned every week to refill them, they were usually empty. Store owners commented how popular they were with the customers.
Mary immediately caught the vision on a ride-along with Dale and his wife, Sue, to reload the racks: "During that time, God spoke to my heart and I had a burning desire to work in the ministry. That very day God gave me four businesses. Every week I went into new towns, setting up several tract racks in stores and restaurants," she says.
Almost Everyone in Town has Read a Chick Tract
Today, they service over 50 racks every week. Detro says that he seldom meets anyone in the community who does not know about the tracts, and thus the gospel. He has largely succeeded in fulfilling his vision, but the tracts keep disappearing from the racks.
Mary was not satisfied to just service the racks. "The Lord gave me a burden for the men and women in the local jails and prisons," she says. So, she contacted the chaplains and all expressed an interest. After the necessary paperwork, she was approved to place two racks in the first prison. The inmates devoured them. Soon the chaplain was asking for more. Mary contacted other chaplains, who welcomed her idea. Now, they are supplying thousands of tracts to four local facilities. Learning that many of the inmates were black or Hispanic, they began ordering tracts drawn with black characters and others in Spanish.
Chick Tracts Bring Joy to Inmates
One chaplain wrote Mary: "The tracts have really been a joy for our offenders. They are colorful and inviting and carry an amazingly big message. It's fun to watch them when the new ones are put out and to listen to them as they discuss some of the issues presented."
Mary's excitement began to spill over to other churches. Other pastors have asked her about the tract ministry and some began to devote part of their evangelism budgets to support the ministry.
Mary is not sure just how far this is going to go. She is now being asked to share her vision at local pastor's conferences. Some have caught the vision and are either supporting her by supplying more tracts or starting to set up the racks in their communities.
300,000 Tracts Distributed
In the five years that Detro, and now, Tesmer have been sowing the seed, they have distributed over 300,000 tracts. From the local outreach, their vision expanded and many thousands have been purchased for missionaries overseas. Spanish churches in the area have also been supplied.
Their pastor, Jerry Campbell, is thrilled to know that the gospel has been "preached" to almost everyone in the community by reading at least one of the tracts.
If you would like to know more about establishing such a ministry in your community, you can contact Dale Detro at 765-630-8269 or Mary Tesmer at 765-720-9585. The counter-top racks are now available from Chick Publications and hold 60 to 120 tracts. More information and a sample can be seen by clicking here.