A while back I read a study that said Canada is the world leader in waste production per capita.1 Canadians generate approximately 2.7 kilograms (6 pounds) of trash per person per day!2
Much of the Adventist literature that Giving Light to Our World (GLOW) distributes ends up as garbage. In 2021, more than 200,000 GLOW tracts were distributed across Canada. Certainly many of them ended up in landfills. In a country struggling to become greener, are we responsible citizens when we share tracts and books that are likely to be thrown away?
If we only look at the numbers, we may be reluctant to share literature, but let’s take a closer look at the true impact of literary evangelism.
Of course, there is the principle that we cannot overvalue an individual soul won to Christ. As I say this, I am thinking of a man who was baptized just a few weeks ago. His journey into the Seventh-day Adventist Church began when someone at Costco presented him with a GLOW tract.
I also think of hundreds of what I call “little divine appointments.” These are happening across the country and I’m hearing about them from church members. They tell me of the wonderful encounters they experience as they distribute literature to inspire faith and hope.
So many people are happy about these gifts. For example, there is the delivery man who told me that he reads his Bible every day, even if he doesn’t go to church. Or the woman I prayed with because she told me about her struggles with her husband’s mental health. Both were happy to receive something small that gave them hope and direction.
Ellen White wrote: “I have seen that the truth must go away, and that we must not be too afraid that tracts and papers had better go to three where they are not needed than be robbed of one who treasures them and by which they can benefit you.”3
So it’s okay to waste three so that one can receive light. But don’t be too quick to dismiss the power of these three! I’ve found that it doesn’t take much for the Holy Spirit to make an impression. Even if there is little reading, the Holy Spirit can take those few words and bring conviction—with hope. And when the time comes, we can be sure of that future harvest. Why? Because these other three tracts act as seeds. Thus, “soon more than a thousand will be converted in a day, most of whom will trace their first convictions to reading our publications.”4
The other three tracts offer an opportunity, an opportunity to know. This is part of God’s plan. That’s how love works. Love isn’t just for those who answer. Love reaches all – and gives all the opportunity to know Jesus and his saving grace.
So when you see literature being thrown away, think of Jesus and his sacrifice. The Bible makes it clear that the road to destruction is broad and the majority will be lost. But that fact never stopped Jesus from pouring out his life. To the universe, the plan of salvation may seem like a waste. But for Jesus it is definitely worth giving every soul a chance. So go ahead and share. Let God take care of the trash.
That original version This story appeared in the September 2022 issue of Canadian Adventist Messenger. Jonathan Zita is the Director of Literature Services for the Lifestyle Canada Education Service (LCES) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada.
1. “Canadians produce more garbage than anyone else” CBC NewsJanuary 17, 2013, http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/canadians-produce-more-garbage-than-anyone-else-1.1394020.
2. Royal Roads University, “Solutions Agenda: Waste”, Community Research Connections, https://www.crcresearch.org/solutions-agenda/waste#b. See also Government of Canada, “Solid Waste Diversion and Disposal”, 26 January 2022, https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/environmental-indicators/solid-waste-diversion-disposal .html.
3. Ellen G. White, early writings (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1882), 95.
4. Ellen G. White, “An Address to the Workers,” Advent Review and Sabbath HeraldNovember 10, 1885.