In light of social isolation restrictions and widespread concern surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19), the Hope Discovery Centre (Wahroonga, NSW) has produced “Coronavirus Versus Your Immune System” GLOW tracts—small brochures of information for church members to distribute to their communities.
South Pacific Division (SPD) president Pastor Glenn Townend and his wife Pamela have been daily distributing the tracts in their Central Coast neighbourhood—following government health advice and using sanitised hands and gloves.
“Glenn bought 10,000 of them, so we’ve managed to get other people from the SPD to help us distribute them,” Mrs Townend explained. “We go out most mornings and letterbox around 200-250 of them, and we’re up around 2000 now.”
Church members and literature evangelists across Australia have also been distributing the GLOW tracts, with one woman in Western Australia finding one in a public toilet and contacting the Hope Discovery Centre as a result. She was then put into contact with local literature evangelist Paul Bodor, and has since ordered 100 tracts to distribute to her local community.
“She read it and was so excited that we are talking about strengthening our immune systems,” explained Hope Channel administration assistant Linda Thomas. “She said, ‘No one is talking about this, everyone is buying junk food when the fresh veggie aisles have an abundance of food we need.'” [pullquote]
“One woman sent an email, telling us to leave sharing health information to health professionals,” explained Pastor Boehm. “I responded to the email and said this was part of our history as the Seventh-day Adventist Church—that we run hospitals, clinics, health departments—and she emailed back and apologised, saying, ‘If I’d known that it was the Adventists, I wouldn’t have been worried.”
“People want answers—a GLOW tract in a letterbox as people walk for exercise is something anybody can do and it has a huge impact,” added Pastor Townend. “I know the impact letterboxing has done in the 500 houses around my home. I had an Adventist health professional say that they need such a tract now to give to patients. Now is not the time to be conservative in such outreach. We have a message and this is a real and valued way to get it out.”
In addition to distributing thousands of GLOW tracts, the Townends have also letterboxed more than 400 “Here to Help” cards—produced by the Australian Union Conference—to offer practical help and emotional support to locals in their area.
“I’ve made note of everybody that contacted me, and have been in touch with 24 people on a regular basis as a result,” explained Mrs Townend. “Some of the seniors just want to chat, and a lot of people gave me their personal details and shared stories with me.”
Pastor and Mrs Townend sent two follow-up messages of blessing to their contacts—one at Easter and another on Anzac Day. Having received many positive responses and invitations to meet up, they are now planning to invite everyone to a “break-out” party at their home when restrictions are lifted.
“Glenn and I are always looking for opportunities to connect and create community in a better way,” she explained. “People really want to connect and letterboxing is a way of doing it that is non threatening. It gives someone the option to respond if they want to. I really encourage people to take a step out of their comfort zone, because God will reward in an amazing way.”
“The take-away for me is that if we show somebody we care, they will respond positively. It’s because there is a need. Sometimes we letterbox randomly, or push our agendas onto people rather than figuring out how we can meet the needs of our neighbours. I hope people will go and do it too,” encouraged Mrs Townend. “People are wanting support during this time.”
GLOW tracts are available from your local Conference office or Adventist Book Centre, while stocks last.