Letter Writing
     If you only have ten minutes on your lunch hour at work, you are too young or too old to drive a car or  just don't
have access to one; if you are confined to your home due to illness or children; or if for any other reason you may not
be able to leave your work or home to do your Christian works, you can still write.  

       Whole nations have been influenced by what is written.  The whole world has been influenced by what was written
by the hand of God in his holy writings, the Bible.  Not one word ever written by one and read by another has ever
missed influencing the thinking of the reader.  The reader may agree or disagree or be unimpressed, but it still
influences their thinking.  You can and will influence others for Christ by what you write.  

       Begin, first, by writing to a Christian supply store at a Christian college if you do not know of any nearby.  If you do
not know the address of the college, most post offices know where public institutions are anyway and will see that your
letter is delivered.  Ask them to mail you a supply of get-well cards, sympathy cards, thinking-of-you cards, birthday
cards, wedding cards, and baby cards.  Try to get cards that have a scripture quotation in them.  You can still get a box
of 20 cards for about 25c per card.  So buying by the box is always more economical.  Get-well, birthday, and
thinking-of-you cards you will probably use the most.  A box of assorted cards will give you a few each of the others.  

       Now, while you're waiting for your cards, read your newspaper.  There are articles in it about mostly bad things -
crimes and death.  Instead of dreading to read your newspaper because it depressed you, turn it around and view it as
a plea for help from a multitude of people.  

      Were there any people involved in robberies, or drugs, or murders?  Makes you shudder to think of it close to
home, doesn't it?  How do you think the families of these people feel when it hits their homes?  You've got a telephone
book and a telephone.  Use them to get their home address if you need to.  Then write the family a note.  Tell them how
sorry you are.  Tell them that you are praying for them.  (Be sure it is the truth before you say it though.)  Copy some
scriptures of encouragement for them (most people don't look up scriptures on their own).  Find some way to mention
the church in your letter.  Say something like, "Our minister or elders will be happy to come to your home and pray with
you; they are _____________.  Or I could come."  Or you may just sign your name, and under it write the congregation
of which you are a member.  

       You may also want to write a note to those who are in jail because of what they are accused of, perhaps awaiting
trial.  They may not act interested in your note, and just say you are some kind of weird religious fanatic.  But so what?  
That's just what they may say.  What they really think deep down is often something much different -fear, questionings,
resentment, confusion, irrelevance of religion, feelings of hate and lack of love.    

      If you copy a few scriptures on the love and encouragement they need and encouragement, always remember God
said his word would not return to him void.  Isaiah 55:11 tells us this.  So shall my word be that goes forth out of my
mouth:  It shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing
whereto I sent it.  

      Do not expect a reply to most of these letters you write.  Just remember, God's word will not return to him void, and
your sending them his word will not return to God void either.  If they do reply, write them again and ask them if there is
anything they need.  Again, they are likely not to tell you even if there is, but they will probably indeed be in need,
especially families whose bread winner is in trouble.  Contact one of your elders or minister or benevolent committee,
show them their reply, and perhaps they will want to visit these people to see if they need anything.  (More on this in the
chapter on benevolence.)  This is the time they will most need true friends, and probably find themselves without them,
for such families often find themselves bitter during such a time.  

       Read on in the newspaper.  There is the obituary column.  When your cards arrive, send a sympathy card to the
family and write a little message on it or enclose a letter.  Have you been through similar deaths in your family?  Tell
them so.  Tell them you understand.  Copy word for word some scriptures to help comfort them.   

       You may think they would not be interested in a card from a stranger.  Sometimes a card from a stranger who
cares, even though they do not know you personally, is one of the most touching things a person can receive.  "They
don't even know me," they will tell someone.  "But they wrote anyway.  They actually care, and don't know me from
Adam!  I wonder what makes them like that?"  You have introduced the real Christ to them.  You care because Jesus
cares.  They will want what you have, and when you begin showing them the scriptures on Christianity (if your
correspondence continues) they will want those too.  Jesus did it the same way.  He demonstrated his love, and then he
explained it and showed them how they could be the same way.  

       Next you come to the wedding page.  What a surprise to receive a wedding greeting from someone they don't even
know.  You may be able to enclose a new dollar bill in it as a token gift.  If you desire, write a little message on the back
of your card.  Copy some scriptures about marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:2-33.  Say
something to them about having a Christian home, and their love for God as their most precious gift they can give each
other.  Enclose a printed invitation to worship services with times listed if your congregation has this, or just write the
times of worship and classes yourself.  If enough newlyweds become interested, perhaps your congregation will want to
have a special class for newlyweds and how to apply the Bible to their new lives together.  

       Then there are the baby announcements.  They are usually in a little column in a corner of your newspaper
somewhere, often the bottom of the page.  Send a card to baby and proud parents.  They may even put your card in
their baby book as the first letter ever received by their child.  Tell them how happy you are for them, and what your
hopes are for their little one.  Tell them that now is the time for them to become a Christian family if they are not yet, so
they can be good examples and raise good godly children.  If there is a class for new parents on child rearing the Bible
way in your congregation, tell them about it.  If there is a class for babies, tell them about this too.  Their prospective
teacher may wish to follow up your letter with a visit and a little gift such as a bib, a rattle, a picture for baby's room, etc.  

      You can write to newcomers to your community.  This is discussed fully in a separate chapter.  But you could have a
vital part in this good work.  It is so neglected.  You could provide the groundwork for this, even while staying home.  See
how important you are to God's work?  

       Try to get the birthdays of everyone in your congregation (or divide them up with some other ladies) and send them
birthday cards.  Your card will in some cases be the only card some people receive on their birthday.  This may be a
little more expensive if you have a fairly large congregation, and you may wish to ask the church or a career woman in
the church to help you with postage.  

      How far away is the nearest boarding home for the elderly?  How many are in your area?  How many lonely people
does that add up to?  You could stay busy just with this one Christian work.  It has been years since many people in
these homes have received a letter.  You know how exciting it is to receive a letter, how you can hardly wait to open the
envelope and see what is inside.  You feel just a little more loved and wanted after you have received a letter, don't
you?  Kind of makes you feel warm inside.  You can give this same feeling of love to people in senior housing and
nursing homes.  Use your thinking-of-you cards to begin with, and perhaps you'll want to continue later with some
stationery with a scripture verse printed at the top.  

      What types of things could you write them?  You could tell them a little bit about yourself.  Perhaps you could select
one thing about yourself each time you write, such as the place where you were raised, your occupation or previous
occupation, your children, etc.  Always try to include God in these letters, such as "That is when I learned from the Bible
itself what I must do to be saved," or "I found it very hard/easy to be a Christian when I was in that line of work," or "I
have a child who teaches the Bible now," etc.  Then ask them about themselves, with specific questions about where
they were born, how many in their family, etc.  

       Talk about the weather, talk about a book you read, talk about your feelings toward God.  You could even make
one whole letter entirely a prayer for that person.  Copy scriptures in your letter that will encourage them.  Encourage
them in turn to pass on little acts of kindness to those around them.  This is especially possible if a person is in senior
housing and can get around.  

      Enclose some stationery and a stamped self-addressed envelope.  It is doubtful they have much money.  If they
cannot answer your letter, perhaps some in the church will visit there and help them with their letter writing, not only to
you but also to members of their own family.    

       On their birthday, perhaps you could send them a Bible game.  Everyone loves games.  Really.  There are quite a
few inexpensive ones available.  Or you could send them a large-print Bible, or a subscription to a devotional magazine.  
(More on this in another chapter.)  

       Do you know of an orphan home or children's home that interests you?  Write the administrator and ask for the
names of any children who never receive mail, and have no family to take an interest in them.  You'll have to change
your mood with them, naturally, to a bubbly, happy type letter.  They may not answer you as they may not be "letter
writers," but you can be guaranteed they will look forward to your cheery letters.  Tell them about different children and
teenagers in the Bible.  They probably don't realize how many teenagers there are in the Bible.  

       Some of the teenagers listed there were Shem, Ham, and Japhath (born after Noah their father began building the
ark); Ishmael (14 when Isaac was born, 17 when sent away from home); Ussiah (16 when became king of Judah); Josiah
(19 when led a religious reformation in Judah); Mary, Jesus' mother (most Jewish women married while teenagers);
Jesus (12 when went to temple and taught).  With further study, you could probably find other teenagers in the Bible.  

       Very important it is for you to keep yourself available as a listening ear in case the one you are writing to ever
needs anyone to confide in.  Do not be overly critical of them; there are counselors and personnel there to take care of
discipline.  Help them from the positive side, with suggestions for good things and good ways to do things.  

       Do you have any friends with a service man or woman stationed away from home?  They are lonely - most of them -
beyond our understanding.  Most have a few fair-weather friends.  The principles of Christianity are often absent.  
These service personnel need a haven of escape, someone to be really interested in them and to understand their daily
temptations which are usually many.  How hard it is to be a Christian in the military!  Write them monthly at least, weekly
if possible.  Send them some cookies or a good book if you like.  Find out when their birthday is for sure.  Send them a
card, and get all your friends to send them cards too.  They may be the only ones they receive.  

      People who have experienced the death of a parent, child, or mate in the past year, or people who have lost a mate
through divorce are in need of friendship and encouragement.  The death of a mate is like losing an arm or leg by
amputation because of a terrible accident.  It was once a beloved part of that person, and will forever be painfully
missed.  The loss of a mate through divorce is like losing an arm or leg by amputation because of a cancer that is
threatening the rest of the body.  Although the amputation of that diseased part may have been necessary, the person
was once a beloved active part of them; and the double loss of a mate and that mate's love can be just as devastating.  

      Those who lose a parent because of death or divorce experience similar pain as the mate left behind, whether they
are five or fifty years old.  The younger ones especially no longer have someone to ask advice of, to whom they can go
to learn how to mature and handle life's difficulties.  There seems to be no one out there willing to fill in for these needs,
even though the Bible urges at numerous times to take care of the fatherless.    

       Those who have lost children feel a sense of confused justice:  Why did the child have to die before the parent?  
Thoughts center around "I'd give anything to have died in their place ~ it was my turn and somehow it seems they took
my place," and "They were so young and had so much living yet to do."  Such painful perplexity leaves feelings of
helplessness and possibly guilt over something that cannot be changed.  

      Write to these people with such terrible losses.  Talk to them about God's providence and care; however, do not tell
them it was God's will, for God does not desire bad things to happen to anyone, Satan (not God) is the cause of death.  
Romans 8:28 usually is helpful in that it explains that God can take all things, whether good or bad, and make them work
out for good (not necessarily the best, but good) if a person loves God and depends on him in faith for strength.   

      Mostly offer consolation, knowing that no matter what anyone says, even God, they are going to hurt.  Offer love to
them.  Quote some psalms to them.  Tell them about people in the Bible who experienced similar things.  Tell them about
your having experienced similar things if this is the case.  You cannot erase the pain, but you can apply soothing
ointment of gentle words.  

       Do you know someone with a long-term illness, perhaps accompanied with terrible pain, and/or with eminent
death?  How is this persons' faith?  During such times, people sometimes begin to question how God could allow bad to
happen to them if he loves them.  Reassure them that sometimes just the presence of physical pain makes people
depressed and think in ways they ordinarily would not.  Tell them (if their faith indeed has become weak) that you know
their faith will return some day as strong or stronger than ever, and that until then you hope they will cling to your faith to
see them through.  

      Don't forget, in the midst of all this letter writing, to write to your own family members ~ children, parents, nieces,
nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents.  Are any of the young ones in college?  If you went to college or even
away to camp, share with them your experiences ~ the laughter, the tears, the excitement.  

      If you are now living alone, write others who are also.  Share with them how you have learned to handle it.  It takes a
special kind of person to live alone and be happy and remain a part of society.  Tell them how you do it.  

       Do you know anyone who became a Christian lately?  Write to that person and tell them how you rejoice with God
and the angels for them.  Copy scriptures on how to stay a Christian.  You know, becoming a Christian is one thing, and
is probably the easy part.  Remaining a Christian from that moment on for years and years is quite another thing, and is
full of temptations.  Give them ideas on how to be full of Christian works, so they will begin their works immediately.  
There is no use waiting for them to be older Christians before they start to work.  They mature as Christians BY THEIR
WORKS.  Hebrews 5:13,14 explains this.  For every one who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of
righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food is for the mature, who BECAUSE OF PRACTICE have their senses
trained to discern good and evil.  Help them train their spiritual senses by giving them ideas of ways they can put their
Christianity to work.  

       When people become Christians, they expect their lives to become different.  If they don't become different, they
often lose interest and fall away.  Older Christians must teach them.  As the Ethiopian eunuch said when Philip asked
him if he understood what he read, "How can I, unless someone explains it to me?" (Acts 8:31).  Help these new
Christians grow - show them and teach them -and you too will grow.  Write them weekly if you like, showing them
scriptures about different phases of the Christian life, just like a weekly lesson at home; and you will be surprised how
much you learn yourself in the process.  

       How many backsliding or backslidden Christians do you know of?  When was the last time they attended a Christian
assembly?  They need you, even though they may not know it yet.  Write to them and talk to them about Jesus' sacrifice
for them.  Talk to them about Hebrews 10:23-27 and our need for each other.  Talk to them about eternity.  Enclose a
tract about The Day a Church Member Died, by Thomas Warren, or some similar tract, which your congregation could
probably provide for you if needed.  Ask why they left.  Perhaps no one has done that yet.  

    Maybe there was some point of doctrine they did not understand.  Maybe they were never used in Christian service
and did not know what to do on their own.  Maybe they got too interested in their favorite sport.  Maybe there was
someone who said something they took wrong.  Be a peacemaker.  One of the beatitudes states, Blessed are the
peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9).  Help them make peace between God and themselves.  
Help them make peace between themselves and their Christian brothers and sisters.  Tell them you miss them.  

       You may wish to follow up with a telephone call.  Encourage them to tell you why they left.  It very often will be just
an excuse, but at least it is a beginning point.  And if, by some chance (most will not respond this way) they say they are
not interested in the church any more and wish you'd leave them alone, reassure them that you will continue praying for
them and if they ever need anyone, to please contact you.  then try to keep some kind of communication going so you
know how their life is going in general.  If you ever heard that they are ill, or have come upon bad times, or anything
negative occurs in their life, re-establish your correspondence with them; perhaps this time their hearts will be softer.  
Remember, Romans 8:28 says that God can take anything, whether good or bad, and make it turn into something good
for a person who loves him.  Perhaps you could help them look to God in their time of adversity, possibly the only time
they would even consider thinking about God, and help them return to him.  But never give up on them.  

      There is one other group of people who discontinue attending worship services for a reason most would never think
about.  People going through a great deal of trauma in their lives have their emotions right next to the surface all the
time.  They can keep their emotions under control at work and other such gatherings.  But they cannot keep them under
control during a worship service, especially during the singing.  So, remember, just because someone has quit
attending, it does not necessarily mean they do not wish to attend.  They may be at a breaking point and believe they
would reach it if they attended and bared their souls in worship.  Write these people gentle letters, and tell them you
would like to sit with them in church if they'll come back.  

       Have you ever thought of encouraging your own elders, deacons, teachers, and ministers?  The elders, especially,
are holding a great burden, for they are ever watching over your souls, as those who will give an account.  Let them do
this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:17).  

      It is not easy being an elder.  It is not easy being in a position to have to give account of all the souls he is put over,
as an elder is.  He is responsible for you and the others within your congregation.  Sometimes he tries to talk to
someone to help them learn to stay away from unwise company or unwise deeds, and that person may turn on him
instead of realizing he is trying to help and guide him as a father.  Then there are the decisions about personal work
programs, missionary work, benevolent work.  Trying to keep any kind of organization functioning properly (remember,
the church is an organization too - a spiritual one) takes time and stamina.  

       Elders have feelings, and they get discouraged sometimes.  They may never show it in front of you, but it
happens.  Write to them occasionally and tell them how much you appreciate them.  This may be exactly what your
elders need right now.  Don't overlook them by thinking they are superhuman.  They are not.  They need
encouragement the same way that you do at times, and we all do.  All of the leaders of the church can be given a boost
by a special "thank you" letter or note from you.  

      You could even do personal work from your home to bring people to Christ.  Often a local congregation advertises
Bible correspondence courses in the newspaper along with its listing of services.  Help with this work.  

      Many foreign missionaries advertise Bible correspondence courses in their local newspapers.  Many hundreds of
thousands of people have written in for such courses.  Do you know the language of the people where such courses are
being offered?  Write the missionary there and offer to assist in grading them.  

      But you do not have to know foreign languages to help with foreign missionary work.  Some American congregations
have run correspondence courses in English-language newspapers overseas very successfully.  Help with this.  Write a
letter.  Save a soul.  

       What about the destiny of these nations and of our own nation?  1 Timothy 2:1-4 exhorts us specifically in this
regard:  I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayer, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings
and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and
pleases God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  

       Send a brief message to our president, our senators, our government officials whatever their position - even those
of other nations.  They have the destiny of our nation, indeed our whole world, in their hands.  They need God's
guidance.  Write them a note and tell them you are praying for them.  They will appreciate this.  You may or may not
agree with everything they stand for, but the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16b).  

      You can even write a letter to the world.  You can write a book.  If you feel you have found the "secret" to applying a
certain part of Christianity to your life, write about it.  Write it in the form of a story or documentary or lesson.  If you
haven't enough material for a book, write an article and send it to a Christian magazine.  They may be interested in what
you have to say.  Write a poem, if that is your gift.  Put it to music if you like; we need more Christian poetry and songs.  

       There is so much you can do for your Lord with pen and paper.  You do not ever have to say, "There is nothing for
me to do, because I can't get out and go anywhere."  There is something for you - a great deal more than you alone
could ever handle.  Your possibilities of Christian service are limitless with just this one tool ~ a pen.  When you finish
this chapter, sit down and write a letter to someone right then.  If you do not have money for postage and envelopes, tell
the church.  They may help you.  Or an individual class may, or a career woman in your congregation.  Write as many
letters as you can, and feel the warmth of having served swell up within you.  You will be so blessed for it.  And most of
all, Christ and his church will be glorified.
H  O  M  E