One of the oldest faith-based organizations still operating today celebrated its 180th anniversary yesterday after years of producing evangelism tools, preparing and encouraging believers to present the gospel, and pointing them to discipleship in local churches.
"Throughout our history, we've helped Christians spread the gospel on the battlefields and in the business place," stated Dan Southern, who has served as President of the American Tract Society for the past decade.
"Today, we present Bibles to members of the Senate, Congress and West Point cadets, Southern added in a statement released earlier this year. Our palm-sized pamphlets Christians know as gospel tracts equip rescue groups at Tsunami relief sites across the sea, comfort US troops in the Middle East, and inform movie-goers about faith in mid-America."
According to the Garland, TX-based organization, ATS entered the twentieth century recording a cumulative publishing history of 10 billion pages of tracts, books and Bibles printed in more than 188 languages, used by almost every denomination of Christianity, and circulated in almost every country on the globe.
Although ATS first sent gospel tracts to relief workers on the battlegrounds of the Civil War in the 1960s, Southern, a former Crusade Director for the Rev. Billy Graham, said ATS tracts are now displayed in churches across the nation, airport chapels and on racks throughout the massive Pentagon complex in Washington, D.C.
Todays ATS materials include tracts such as its Quick-Response-Program tracts on current events of the day that paint a vivid portrait of contemporary society. "Remembering September 11," "Attack on America," "Honoring The Columbia Shuttle Crew," "War with Evil," "Remembering Ronald Reagan" and others provide scriptural answers to society's most pressing questions, and are being distributed within days of the topic event, ATS reported.
According to ATS Vice President Mark A. Brown, the Rev. Billy Graham's "Steps to Peace With God" has been the all-time ATS best-selling gospel tract with estimates in the tens of millions of tract sales. The most popular ATS movie tract has been the "Passion of the Christ" tracts, with a print run of more than four million.
In addition to its published material, ATS maintains an interactive website (www.atstracts.org) on which tracts can be viewed, sent via email and ordered online, and produces Radio Trax, a CD of 60-second daily radio programs available to broadcast media across the country.
Although it was instituted in 1825, ATS traces its lineage back through the New York Tract Society (1812) and the New England Tract Society (1814) to the Religious Tract Society of London, begun in 1799.