Everyone knows that Mexico is hurting, but few know how to help. Eric Brockhoff has ministered there for years but had "sort of run out of ideas." He had a friend who suggested Chick tracts. As he studied them, he could see a possibility beyond just randomly handing them out.
From his training as a sociologist, he could see a way to test the effectiveness of the tracts on a community. In Mexico, there are neighborhoods called "colonias," that have a defined area and culture. Eric knew that lawlessness was rampant in these areas often dominated by drug gangs. Even the police avoided getting involved in some of these neighborhoods.
Using his connections to surplus food sources, Eric designed some small "care packages" containing food treats and a sampling of tracts. Eric teamed up with Victory Outreach and some local pastors for his experiment. They located a small colony where results would be easy to see and prepared several thousand packages. Rather than just one tract per package, Eric inserted about five different titles in each package. Not every package was the same because Chick has about 100 different titles in Spanish and he included a variety in the packages.
His goal was to get many different tracts into the community knowing that they would be widely shared by the people.
"I knew that they would want to read all the different stories but each story leads to the same message: salvation through the blood of Jesus," says Eric. His first "experiment" was during Halloween. He picked a "colony" of about 15,000 people. He prepared about 8,000 packets and handed them all out on Halloween night.
In a few days, his team went back to circulate among the people. They asked one youngster if he had read the tracts in the packet he got. "Oh, yes! And we shared them and I have read about 15."
One leader working there said he could sense a spiritual change in the whole colony. "We are thinking differently, now." In making his evaluation, Eric concluded that there was a major change in the spirit and attitude of the colony. It was definitely a softening-up process that the local missionaries and pastors could build on.
Convinced that this technique was effective, he decided to test it on another type of "neighborhood" where he had had experience: prisons. Again he started with a small facility of about 800 prisoners, using the same "package" of treats and a wide variety of Spanish tracts. After that "neighborhood" had had a few days to absorb the messages, they held a service where about 225 inmates accepted Christ.
After a month, Eric returned and interviewed some of the prisoners and staff. "The whole prison has changed," he was told. Small Bible study groups were forming and some were creating drama teams, acting out the stories of the tracts. The tract, El Pistolero (Gunslinger), was a favorite.
Eric believes that his "experiment" has proven that the concentrated distribution of no-nonsense gospel tracts can change the atmosphere of a community. It does a softening-up of the entrenched evil so that the gospel can penetrate more deeply.
He is poised to expand to larger "colonias" and prisons when God provides the resources.