"The greatest miracle of our generation is literacy," writes veteran missionary Milton Martin. "Over 3 million new people learn to read every 7 days. They will read something - anything! They will be reached, and it is simply a question of who will reach them first."
Many nations now have nationwide literacy campaigns. Indonesia has gone from six-percent literacy to 67 percent in 15 years. Some African nations have jumped from 15% to 52% literacy.
500 years after the invention of the printing press, much of the world is just catching up with its benefits. We are in the midst of a new World War. Not a war by tanks, guns and airplanes but a war of words, a conflict of religious ideas, a struggle for the hearts of men.
How tragic that the gospel has been preached for 2000 years yet over 50 percent of the world's population has never heard the gospel. And when it is estimated that the average foreign missionary reaches only 5000 people during his tenure, prospects of reaching them seem dim.
Dr. J. Oswald Smith once said, "For more than fifty years I have prayerfully considered the problem: How can we evangelize the world in the space of one generation? After travel and study in 53 countries, I have come to the conclusion: the only way we are going to be able to carry out the Great Commission, will be by means of the printed page."
"It is amazing to be a witness of the results of Gospel literature," writes Martin. "In Central America there is one response to every one hundred pieces of literature passed out. In Mexico there is an average of one letter for every two hundred pieces of literature distributed. There is nothing else that produces such results for the time and money expended, as Gospel literature.
"The way to reach the most people in the shortest period of time is with the printed page. Certainly this does not imply that we should neglect other means of evangelism, but the churches of America should awake to the importance of the printed page.
"Churches, like the proverbial ostrich, have hidden their heads in the sand of neglect, ignorant and indifferent to the value and potential of literature in the evangelization of the lost and growth of believers. It is time to take massive projects, systematically covering countries and metropolitan areas with the printed page. Do not send your missionary to the battlefield without ammunition."