The old photo that appears above is from another time in America, a time long gone. It was a time when men married women; when men and women used men's and women's restrooms; when abortion was illegal in every state; when a homosexual was considered a sick individual; when modesty was fashionable; when politicians actually had some integrity and occasionally told the truth; when the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment meant exactly what it says in plain English; when words like hell, sin, wicked, Holy Bible, and Lord Jesus Christ were commonly uttered from church pulpits; when Christians considered the distribution of the printed Word of God to be a necessary part of both foreign and domestic missions; when the American Bible Society actually cared about free distribution; and when there were a slough of faithful Christian COLPORTERS. The above photo captures a colporter sharing his ministry, and it is truly worth a thousand words. Look at the numbers of complete Bibles distributed by the American Bible Society in 1917-1918, nearly 11 million! There were 24 million copies of the Bible distributed in 100 different languages over a 4-year period. Wow, back then believers and churches and Bible societies actually valued the printed Word and labored to get it out. Today, so-called believers and churches say: "I believe in Jesus, but the Bible was just written by men." The Bible Societies now say: "Let's translate, translate, translate . . . copyright, copyright, copyright . . . profit, profit, profit . . . and the preaching and distribution of the Word, well, that is someone else's responsibility."
In studying this old photo, I was taken aback by two of the small signs. One reads, "The only cure for the unrest in the world today is the Bible." It was true then, and this is true now. America today is like cancer patient treating himself with medicine for epilepsy. Until we realize the truth of this little sign, there will only be more of Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Manhattan, Napa, Sonoma, Harvey, Irma, Jose, and tornadoes in late October. Another small sign in this old photo reads, "The Whole Bible to the Whole World is our Whole Duty." Can you imagine that being the rallying cry of American Missions today? It was at one time, and there was such a thing in that time as a colporter (one given to the ministry of distributing printed copies of the Bible).
If you were to ask me what I think the America needs on its streets more than anything else today, I wouldn't say more guns, less guns, more cars, less cars, more protests, less protests, more monuments, or less monuments. I'd say with unabashed conviction: hellfire & brimstone preaching and a whole mess of colportage. The printed Word of God, it's whole counsel, preached and distributed (not some little Bible app tucked away on your iPhone) is the only cure for the unrest in our nation today. And, THE WHOLE BIBLE TO THE WHOLE WORLD ought to be OUR WHOLE DUTY.
This past Sunday, I preached from Revelation 16:8-11 in my continuing Studies in Revelation series. This was message #107 in a series that began almost five years ago. For the first time in those five years, malfunction left me without a useable recording for the podcast. I therefore re-preached this message in the FPGM Office the next day and in light of the horrible massacre that took place in a Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. I urge you to listen to this as it expands upon what I have just written. Exercise Extreme Caution, hellfire & brimstone Gospel preaching:
As for the good old days of the Colportage Wagons in America, Solomon the Preacher warns in Ecclesiastes 7:10: "Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this." It's wise to learn from the "good old days" but not to linger upon them. Today is what it is, and we here at Full Proof Gospel Ministries (aka Zerayim Colportage Board) don't just say these things about the Bible, we do these things. Understanding the vital importance of three simple words in the Great Commission, "it is written" (Luke 24:46), we have, for more than a decade, remained fully committed to freely distributing the Bible, publicly preaching the Bible, and training believers and local churches in doing the same. What a blessing it has been to preach God's Word and give away God's Word in more than 40 countries spread out across 5 continents, on the streets of more than 250 cities and town spanning all 50 United States, and on more than 125 university campuses at home and abroad. And now, we've seen the Lord lead us to focus our colportage efforts "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). Hence, FPGM now labors as the Zerayim Colportage Board. "Zerayim" is the plural form of the Hebrew word for "seed." The SEED for the Great Commission is not earthquake relief, coffee shops, medical camps, raising awareness, music ministry, digging wells, parachurch programs, ecumenism, or holding hands with Muslims. "The seed is the word of God" (Luke 8:11). And, we are all about scattering these seeds to the Jewish people first and ALSO to the Gentiles.
When it comes to the Jewish people, there is no greater gift you can give a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob than a copy in their language of what their ancestors were long ago used by the Creator God to give to the world, His Word. The Holy Scriptures, all the books of the Old and New Testaments, were written down by Jews, first preached by Jews, and first distributed by Jews. The first New Testament churches were Jewish; the first pastors were Jewish; the first missionaries were Jewish; and the first colporters were Jewish (Acts 11:19-21). Had it not been for these, none of us Gentiles would know the true God, the God of Israel, and the Messiah. As the years have gone by, sadly, the Gentile churches have forgotten these things, and real and loving efforts to reach the Jewish people with God's Word are few and far between. Yet, there are Jewish people everywhere, even working at kiosks selling Dead Sea products at our local indoor malls.
For many secular Jews, the only Bible they have ever heard or read was from some liturgy in a synagogue or recited superstitiously on some holiday or following some family tradition. And, they think the New Testament is full of popes, statues, rosaries, a blue-eyed white guy named Jesus, and instructions for how to persecute Jewish people. Their rabbis have lied to them over and over and over again and have kept the Scriptures from them. These are stumbling in the dark concerning their own Bible just like the masses of Europe in the Dark Ages stumbled under the thumb of the hellish Roman Catholic Church. The light of the Reformation wasn't the 95 Theses or John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. It was printed copies of the Bible distributed into the hands of the common man. The spiritual darkness in which many Jewish people stumble today under the iron grip of Rabbinic Judaism (as opposed to BIBLICAL Judaism, the foundation of the New Testament Church) is akin only to the same darkness in which many stumbled during the Dark Ages under the iron grip of the pope. The light that pierced this darkness for the common man in Europe is the only light that can pierce the darkness of the veil concerning the True Messiah. Therefore, we labor to get pure, printed copies of the Hebrew Bible (the same as our Old Testament, the same Scriptures preached by Jesus and the Apostles) and the Hebrew New Testament into the hands of any Jewish person that we have the great pleasure of meeting. In doing so, we can say as I recently did to Chaim from Israel who was working a mall kiosk selling fidget spinners:
And, the great thing about Jewish Colportage Work is that it puts one in the path of a whole slough of Gentiles from unexpected places.
Recently, I returned from a 6-week colportage road trip that covered just under 10,000 miles. Thanks to all of you who prayed for us. We didn't lumber along in a large covered wagon stocked with Bibles like the colporters of old, but we did, in a manner of speaking, boast our own little colportage carriage.
I left North Carolina with Eric & Mindy Trent (our newly appointed colporters) back on September 10th and enjoyed their company for a week. Then, I was privileged by my wife's company for 10 days, and then my oldest daughter Bethany flew out to California by herself to meet and ride back across America with her daddy (I got to show her where she was born, where her daddy first started street preaching, where her mom and dad used to eat sushi in Marin County, and we got to do some peakbagging together in Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks) . I also enjoyed hooking up with brethren in different places along the way who aided in the work.
I rejoice to announce that after all was said and done, we combed 42 indoor shopping malls between North Carolina and California. In 23 of these malls, we found opportunity to share God's Word with Jewish people, most of them born and raised in Israel and having recently completed their compulsory military service in Tzahal (the IDF). That's a 54% success rate in terms of opportunity for Jewish Colportage, and these numbers fall in line with what I experienced last Fall along the 13,000-mile journey up to Alaska and back. These two journeys together involved 79 malls with opportunities for Jewish Colportage in 42 of them. That means a Gentile follower of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, has a slightly greater than 50% chance of encountering an Israeli or Jewish person working a kiosk when they stop to shop at an indoor shopping mall here in America. Christians often talk about their support for Israel or their love for the Jewish people, but what are they doing about it? The best way to love Israel and to love the Jewish people is to give them a copy of God's Word in the Hebrew language with no strings attached and while expressing gratitude for God's use of the Jewish people in history to give the world the Holy Scriptures. You will be surprised where a conversation can then go and what seeds can then be planted following this simple loving gesture. If anyone reading this post has a Jewish friend or knows of Israelis working kiosks in their local shopping mall, and if you are willing to offer them a copy of the Hebrew Scriptures, Zerayim Colportage Board (i.e. FPGM) will send you a Hebrew/English Tanakh and a Hebrew/English New Testament FREE OF COST. All we ask is your commitment to give it to a Jewish person. You can request below:
Praise God! On this journey, we were able to give away 30 copies of the Hebrew Tanakh and 23 Hebrew New Testaments!
In addition to this, we gave away 14 English Bibles to various Gentiles, and not just any Bible. At Zerayim, we offer to take old Bibles that are sitting on a bookshelf or no longer being used. We can then give these away while sharing the testimony of the Bible or the Christian who gave it to us. These testimonies are a powerful way to communicate love and genuine concern for someone without a copy of God's Word. At one point along the recent journey, my wife and I and Brother Ken Lightsey from Newman, California went combing the Capitola Mall, the only enclosed mall in Santa Cruz County. We were hoping to find some Israelis on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Unfortunately, there were none, but as I've said before, Jewish Missions inevitably leads to encounters with a lot of interesting Gentiles. Unexpectedly, we found a Muslim man from Bangladesh. I happened to have some Bangla-language versions of the Haven't You Heard? Gospel tract that I wrote. He took one along with an old English New Testament that once belonged to Jamie's grandmother. I shared the testimony of that Bible and where it came from. What followed was a lively discussion about the righteousness of God and the truth of Leviticus 17:11. Contrary to the teachings of Islam and the Quran, only the blood can make atonement for the soul. Our only hope is the Messiah, the Son of God, who is superior to the angels and superior to the prophets (Hebrews 1). The last thing this man said to us was "Thank you for the Bible."
At a mall in Topeka, Kansas I ran into Rajesh, an Indian young man is deaf but can read lips. He understood English well, so I offered him an old King James Bible that once belonged to Jamie's late grandmother, one she had given to one of her children. He was so grateful, nearly moved to tears. I prayed with him, and he later sent me this text: "Thank you for the Bible book. It is gifted by GOD. This book look gold and original."
In Kentucky, I gave one of my old street-preaching Bibles to a Hispanic family from Miami who was fleeing Hurricane Irma. In Wyoming, I gave one of my father-in-law's old Bibles to a Nepali-speaking woman from Darjeeling, India who had some good questions about the Bible. She spoke English very well though I preached the Gospel to her in Nepali. One morning, I went with some good brothers over to Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California to do a little open-air preaching. We prayed beforehand for peace and an open door. The Lord granted those requests, and we gave away 5 English Bibles. A young man named Emmanuel was so grateful and mentioned that he hadn't even planned to be on campus but could see how God had brought him there. Someone had recently shared the Gospel with him, and he had put away the drugs. I prayed with him. He was so thankful for the Bible. Another young man, Luke, was very polite but spiritually confused. He took a copy of the Word. That can clear things up. In Rapid City, South Dakota of all places, a small group of homeless Native Americans and blacks approached as I was getting into my car and randomly started ranting about racism and the white man. I told them America is the least racist country on the planet and that we have many things to be thankful for instead of always complaining. I then offered each of them a pair of fresh socks and asked if they had a Bible. None of them did, and all were excited and grateful to receive one. That was one encounter that went completely opposite of where I originally thought it was going to go. God is good, and His Word has great power to diffuse.
There were other encounters with Gentiles: a Coptic man from Egypt, a woman and her handicapped son from Sri Lanka, 5 students from Iran, a family from Beijing, China, a couple of Sikhs from India, a few Assyrians, some Mexicans, and several Nepalis. What a great privilege it was to give out the Nepali-language Scripture portions we have printed and continue to print in Kathmandu.
There was one podunk little mall in Colorado. I rolled into the parking lot with Eric & Mindy Trent about 20 minutes before closing. It had been a long Israeli drought and we had been praying for an encounter. By the time we walked out of there, I had spoken about things of the Lord in 5 different languages--English, Spanish, Hindi, Nepali, and Hebrew. The very first Colportage work I ever did involved Nepali Scriptures. Praise God, I was able to give a Nepali man working a kiosk a Gospel of John in his language. Then, against all odds, we met an Israeli lady named Noah (Noah can be a man's name or a woman's name in Hebrew). In the end, she received a Hebrew Tanakh and a New Testament with joy and listened with curiosity as we spoke in Hebrew and English the things concerning the God of Israel and Messiah. At one point, she said: "I'm jealous" just like it say in Romans. It was a glorious encounter.
I could go on and on and on. Earlier, I mentioned sharing with a young Israeli selling fidget spinners. This was at the last mall we stopped on this journey after facing some harsh rejection back in Lexington, Kentucky. By this time, I actually had my entire family with me. For some reason, we had opted for a scenic route down memory lane (long story in terms of old memories) that, unbeknownst to us at the time, saved us a huge standstill delay on I-40 west of Asheville. Anyway, we stumbled onto a mall in the mountains and wrestled with whether or not to even bother. It certainly didn't look promising in terms of Israeli kiosks, and the kids were real hungry. Well, why not? Jamie wanted to browse in a store anyway. Before getting out of the car, Josiah prayed that God would put someone from Israel into our path. So, I combed the mall with the kids. We saw nothing and choked it up another strikeout. I was saying to myself, "What an anticlimactic way to end this long colportage journey--harsh rejection and mall strikeouts." Then, as we made a beeline to go find Jamie and get out of there, someone called out to me from across the corridor. My Hebrew T-shirt caught a young man's attention. To make a long ensuing conversation short, it proved one of the best encounters on the entire 10,000-mile journey. Chaim gladly accepted a Tanakh and a Hebrew New Testament and listened intently as I spoke of biblical truth and Messiah. It was an incredible end to 6 weeks of colportage. I explained to him about how the God of Israel heard my son's prayer and answered it. "The God of Israel and Messiah are real," I exclaimed to him in Hebrew.
Again, thank you for your prayers. We continue to covet and implore them. Early Tuesday morning, Eric Trent and I will be heading to South Asia for three weeks. For security reasons, I cannot go into much detail. There will be opportunity for Jewish colportage, training other believers in the same, and fellowship with the persecuted church. Next year, Lord willing, Eric & Mindy Trent will be in South Asia for the Israeli tourist seasons. Eric will be getting his feet wet these next weeks in preparation for what the Lord is going to do. Putting the Trents on the field is a big step of faith for this minister, and this young couple needs your support.
Please pray about giving financially to this ministry so that we can continue to making the whole Bible for the whole world our whole duty, "to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
Click HERE for more information on how to do so. All contributions are tax-deductible.
Jesus the Messiah is King!
Jesse Boyd, nobody important, just a colporter