In Pope Francis’ first visit to the USA Sept. 22, thousands of fans will greet him in Washington D.C. and even a 180-foot-tall painted image of himself will pay homage in New York City, but when he arrives in Philadelphia on Sept. 26 to visit the Festival of Families and conduct mass for the World Meeting of Families, he will be greeted by a city inundated with 1 million GLOW (Giving Light to Our World) tracts distributed by Seventh-day Adventists.
“We were not planning on doing anything in regard to this event,” GLOW Director Nelson Ernst said. “It was seriously because God got our attention and told us clearly this is what He wanted.”
Originating in California as an outreach to encourage church members to distribute free pocket-sized tracts, GLOW is now printed in 45 languages. Its emphasis of getting everyday Adventists to carry literature with them wherever they go is key to their 10-day mission trip to Philadelphia this month.
“Literature has served as one of the primary tools of God’s church for ages and will play a role until the end,” Ernst said. “We hope to excite interest in searching the scriptures in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people in September.”
GLOW is looking for lay volunteers to help on their mission trip, which is slated for Sept. 18 to 28, 2015.
“It is time for rational, thinking, non-conspiracy-theory Adventists to begin doing something,” Ernst said. “There is sufficient evidence now to see the Papacy is gaining momentum in linking itself with the U.S. and the evangelical-protestant world.”
GLOW has developed a tract on Jesus’ second coming specifically for the World Meeting of Families event the Pope will attend, but they will also be distributing tracts such as “Why I Go to Church on Saturday,” “Is There Hope After Death,” and “Where is God When I’m Hurting?” Versions of these tracts can be read at glowonline.org.
The mixture of eight titles they have chosen for their mission represent a spread of doctrines, including the Sabbath, state of the dead and Daniel 2. The 1 million tracts all advertise “Great Controversy” books, and there are 125,000 tracts of each of the eight titles.
Their mission trip can only accommodate 50 volunteers, but they still have space. If people can’t come all 10 days or participate in the entire program, they must provide their own transportation upon arrival. If anyone has special circumstances or are locals who want to help, they can email Ernst directly at [email protected].
GLOW has cabins for their missionaries 50 minutes outside Philadelphia. The facilities, tracts, and breakfasts are provided free, but they will be responsible for travel arrangements to and from Philadelphia, lunches and miscellaneous items ranging from $115 to $170. An anonymous donor has already purchased all the tracts for the mission project, which totaled tens of thousands of dollars.
After the basic plans had come together for the mission trip, the GLOW team stumbled on an Ellen White quote from letter 296, 1904, which Ernst said validated they were doing the right thing.
It read: “I was given instruction that as we approach the end, there will be large gatherings in our cities…and that preparations must be made to present the truth at these gatherings. When Christ was upon this earth, He took advantage of such opportunities. Wherever a large number of people was gathered for any purpose, His voice was heard, clear and distinct, giving His message. And as a result, after His crucifixion and ascension, thousands were converted in a day…Leaflets containing the light of present truth should be scattered among the people like the leaves of autumn. To many who attend these gatherings these leaflets would be as the leaves of the tree of life, which are for the healing of the nations… The time has come when, as never before, Seventh-day Adventists are to arise and shine, because their light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon them.”
So this won’t be the only large event GLOW will be working. They will likely be adding large organized outreaches on their regular to-do list, such as spreading another 1 million tracts at the next Super Bowl.
“If anyone is impressed to come, they have to sign up immediately and cooperate with us to get through the necessary preparations,” Ernst said. “The more the hands, the lighter the labor. Distributing 1 million tracts will be a challenge, but it is one we want to rise to meet!”