Pastor Brian Kelly began several years ago with a simple table of Chick Tracts set up in a subway of New York City. There he learned that people do read Chick Tracts and, since New York is the crossroads of the world, they preferred them in their native languages. Because Chick tracts come in over 100 languages, it was a perfect fit.
Mix that with a lifelong passion for getting the gospel to those on their way to hell, Kelly was in a perfect spot. After handing out hundreds of thousands of tracts for several years to subway riders, a new opportunity opened up and he moved his display to the corner of 51st and Broadway in Manhattan and added more tables.
Every Sunday for the last seven years, numerous tables on that corner have displayed almost every major language of Chick tracts. After working with Chick tracts for so long, he knows the stories by heart and the focus of each tract.
If in conversation he learns that they are Muslim and speak Arabic, he will give them Greatest Story Ever Told in their language. If they are Mormon, he gives The Visitors, maybe even in their native tongue.
He says that he usually gets an expression of delight as they see their own language, plus the quality of the colorful booklet makes it hard to turn down. Once they open it and see the cartoons, they are hooked.
But Kelly’s reward and joy is when someone comes back to report a change of life. This happens often because Kelly is faithful to always be at the same place every Sunday and they know where to find him. Of course, this requires a complete set-up and tear-down every Sunday. He uses folding tables and lots of 21-pocket wire tract display racks obtainable from Chick Publications.
He also sets up a few folding chairs in front of a small podium where he conducts regular church for a dozen or so who wish to attend. It also provides a worship center for his half dozen helpers and his wife.
When people do come back for more, Kelly credits the ongoing power of the many scriptures in the tracts that goes beyond just initial salvation. He will then recommend an assortment of Bible tracts including This Was Your Life, Empty Tomb or Love Story. He also displays other discipleship and spiritual training literature for the taking. If he has time, he or his wife will provide some spiritual counseling on the side.
Kelly’s display is so broad that he usually has a tract on whatever topic he thinks the person would be interested in. If he detects homosexuality, he will offer whatever tracts that he has available such as Doom Town, Sin City, Home Alone, and Uninvited. If they are Roman Catholic, he prefers Are Roman Catholics Christians? and Why Is Mary Crying? He will also use the appropriate tract or tracts for Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Because he is able to hand out over 50,000 tracts a month, some of the donors to his ministry have purchased an entire 10,000-copy press run of out-of-stock titles such as Uninvited and Is There Another Christ?
Kelly’s humble, obvious concern for the spiritual destiny of the people who pass him every day, blunts some of the washback that will always come with such a bold witness.
Kelly says that New York City is a pressure place and most people passing by appear stressed. But he likes to watch when someone opens a Chick tract for the first time. He says that the story immediately engages their interest, but the scripture is what does the job. He says he sees their countenance sometimes soften as they continue reading.
He and his wife and team have a special compassion for the homeless. They will make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to go along with the tracts. In fact, sometimes someone will try to refuse the tracts until they see the sandwiches.
Some who visit his display share the same passion to get the gospel out and will take a handful to pass on and then return for more.
Others step up to help financially and/or finance his supply of Chick tracts. He welcomes either one. He maintains a website at www.kingjamesbiblebaptistchurch.com where donations are accepted or they can be sent to his mailing address: 47-29 38th street, Long Island City, NY 11101. Pastor Kelly can be reached at 646-267-1338 or email: email@example.com.