THE POWER OF THE PRINTED PAGE
VICTORY BAPTIST PRESS
Missionary Milton Martin
Central Baptist Church
TARRANT & SANDERS
P.O. BOX 430
BOWIE, TX 76230
THE POWER OF THE PRINTED PAGE
"The Lord gave the Word; great was the company
of those that published it." Psalm 68:11
After nearly two millenniums of evangelism, over 50% of the
world's population has never heard the Gospel. It is estimated that an
average foreign missionary has an outreach to only 5,000 people
during his tenure. At that rate, we would need to send a million more
missionaries to the field this year. This is probably humanly
God has a key - a means of giving the message to "every
creature" in a meaningful, relevant, heart-reaching manner. God
does not give commands that are impossible to fulfill. With every
command given, God also makes available everything necessary to
complete it. A key to many countries, languages and people groups is
the printed page.
In America, the printed page has become "cheap" and has
been taken for granted. This is not true in many foreign fields. In
Latin America, for example, one can walk through the villages and
towns and pass out literature wherever there are people and the
message will be read on the spot. It is not uncommon for people to
actually approach the missionary and ask for a piece of Gospel
literature. It is amazing to be a witness of the results of Gospel
literature. 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 to every two hundred pieces of literature distributed.
There is nothing that produces such results, in regards to time and
money expended, as Gospel literature.
Have you ever considered the impact of the printed page
upon your life? Our opinions are molded, our character is formed,
our very attitude toward life is determined largely by what we read.
You owe everything you are to the printed page. The typewriter is
mightier than the tank.
The greatest invention of all time is the printing press. How
fitting that the first thing printed on Gutenberg's first press 570 years
ago was the Bible. Gutenberg wrote in the 15th century, "God suffers
because of the great multitudes whom His sacred Word cannot reach.
Religious truth is captive in a small number of manuscript books
which guard the treasures. Let us break the seal which holds the holy
things; give wings to the truth that by a means no longer written at
great expense by the hand that wearies itself, but multiplied by an
unwearied machine, it may fly to every soul born in the world." The
God-given purpose and vision of the man who invented the first
printing press was world evangelism.
The greatest miracle of our generation is literacy. Over 3
million new people learn to read every 7 days - more than 150
million a year. 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 mass, nation-wide literacy
campaigns. Indonesia, with 838 languages, has a national language.
Almost all the schools of the country are now bilingual - classes in
Indonesian and the local tribal language. In 15 years, Indonesia went
from 6% literacy to 67% of the population who can read and write.
Some of the African nations have jumped from being 85% illiterate
to being 52% literate.
We are at war - not a war of tanks, and guns, and planes, but
a war of WORDS. The weapons are paper and ink; the victims are
the minds of men, and the struggle is ideological. This is a day when
conflicting forces are striving for world mastery and it is imperative
for them to win the allegiance of men's minds. The millions of
people who grope for guidance are an open prey. They search, not
knowing where a sure word of counsel is to be found. In their search
many are being deceived by the clever, lying propaganda of the devil
in the guise of isms, sects and cults.
Early missionaries blazed a trail for literature evangelism. In
recent years though, we have allowed the cults and the Communists
to use this weapon which was forged by many of God's pioneers. The
Father of modern missions, William Carey, founded a printing press
and devoted much of his life to literature work. Today in India 70%
of all literature in some areas is Communistic.
Charles Darwin wrote a book called Origin of the Species.
This one book changed the course for evolution. Evolution is now
taught, even though a theory, in every state university and college; as
well as in most public schools in the world. The belief in God has
been affected in one billion young people by one book.
Karl Marx wrote just one book - Das Kapital. Almost two
billion souls, in at least 20 countries, have lost their freedom and
have had to live under a totalitarian regime because of this one book.
It has been responsible for 100 million deaths.
The biggest propaganda machine of the Communists is the
printing press. They spend over three billion dollars annually on
printing: They print three pieces of literature for every man, woman,
boy, and girl upon the earth every year. In one large Latin America
country they have 22 daily Communist newspapers and 32 weekly
publications. In Mexico City alone, there are at least 28 communist
bookstores. Most state fairs in Latin America have a bookstand
operated by the Russian Embassy.
When Lenin took over Russia he said, "The people will never
believe or understand Communism unless they are indoctrinated with
Communism by the printed page." Every person was required to
become literate, and a nation-wide attack was made on illiteracy.
The result of this is that now the USSR is among the most literate
nations in the world; even more literate than the United States. It is
now doubtful if any other people on earth read more than the people
of Russia. They read three times more than the average American.
The Russian people have been molded by what they read, and by
controlling what has been given them to read, the communist party
has convinced them that they have the best form of government in the
world. One hundred forty million pieces of anti-religious, atheistic
propaganda is distributed to the Russian people every year. The
Communists proudly boast, "Let the missionaries teach the people to
read; we will provide them with literature."
From 1955 to 1980, the Jehovah's Witnesses increased their
membership by 2000%. They did it by the printed page. In 1959, on
one given day, they filled the old Yankee Stadium and the Polo
Grounds in New York City with 180,291 people. This was reputed to
be the largest religious service, up to that time, in the history of the
world. On that one day they baptized 7,136 converts. They testified
that the crowd of people and every convert was the result of the
printed page. They have an eight floor printshop in Brooklyn, NY,
housing the largest printing press in the world.
Seventh Day Adventists operate at least forty-three printing
plants around the world. In the last 130 years they have published
over three hundred fifty million dollars worth of literature in at least
220 different languages. Their annual literature budget is over thirty
million dollars. In 1966 they testified that they had sent their
correspondence follow-up literature to over twenty-two million
The editor of the Catholic Register not only runs the biggest
but the most successful chain of religious newspapers in the
world. Twenty years ago they had in operation a $650,000 press
capable of printing 52,000 32 page papers every hour. The Knights of
Columbus advertise a free Bible correspondence in English in
newspapers and magazines. They presently receive over 300,000
requests every year.
The words of Daniel Webster are as appropriate today as
they were over 100 years ago: "If religious books are not widely
circulated among the masses in this country I do not know what is to
become of us as a nation. And the thought is one to cause solemn
reflection on the part of every Christian and patriot. If truth is not
diffused, error will be. If God and His Word are not known and
received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy. If the
evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a
corrupt and licentious literature will. If the power of the Gospel is
not felt through the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and
misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign
without mitigation or end."
T. E. Floyd, former British Home Secretary of the African
Inland Mission said, "Christian literature is today's absolute number
one priority in all missionary planning." Dr. Harold Cook, the late
Missions Department Chairman of Moody Bible Institute said,
"Literature can be our most effective medium of mass communication
of the Gospel. In terms of the price paid for it, the number of people
reached, and the fact that the message can be read over and over
again until it is understood, there is no other method that can
compare with literature."
"For more than fifty years I have prayerfully considered the
problem: How can we evangelize the world in the space of one
generation? Long ago I was convinced that we could never send out
enough missionaries. But there must be a way. 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, 'Go ye into all
the world and preach the Gospel to every creature' will be by means
of the printed page. By the systematic use of the printed page we
shall be able to enter every home and thus reach every individual
with the Gospel message." (Dr. J. Oswald Smith [ok if KJV])
The message of salvation can be presented through means of
the printed page. It never flinches, it never grows tired, never grows
disheartened; it works while we sleep; it travels cheaply and requires
no rented building; it never loses its temper, and it works long after
we are dead. The printed page is a visitor which gets inside the home
and stays there. It always catches a man in the right mood, for it
speaks to him only when he is reading it. It always sticks to what it
has to say, and never answers back.
The printed page is deathless. You can destroy one but the
press can reproduce millions and as soon as it is martyred, it is raised.
It can enter doors locked to the evangelist. It preaches in the factory,
the train, and the kitchen. It visits the school and the jail and
whispers in the ear of the dying.
The printed message can reach those whose religions forbid
them to go to church. It can reach the student who, proud of his
intellectualism, refuses to listen to the Gospel or relate himself to it
for fear of his fellow students or professors. Away from searching
eyes, from the probing investigations of the state, away from
the demand of superstitious religion, away from the critical
intrusions of friends and family, the message of salvation can be read
Yes, literature is the link to life. Tomorrow, many
missionaries will have to leave their field, but their witness can
remain. A link - LITERATURE - can be left in the hands of national
Christians, sensitive to their responsibility and equipped to reach
those masses who long for hope beyond their darkness.
Remember, people everywhere are reading. Education has
become compulsory for school-age children in most countries. Just
since you began reading this, almost 200 new readers have entered
the world of the printed page. They are eagerly extending their hand
for reading material.
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 in the 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.
If God trusted the revelation of the Living Word to the
written Word, then so can we. We have one task. It is to evangelize
the human race with the only Gospel God ever gave. The size and
urgency of our task demands the use of the mass media of literature.
"He is not willing that any should perish." Neither am I! Are you?
Printed by Victory Baptist Press
P. O. Box 766
Milton, FL 32572
[Christian Helps Ministry (USA)] [Christian Home Bible Course]