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Issue 2015 #1
Table of Contents:
What George W. Elliott Started
George, a smallish man, was a Ford dealer in Langham, a small town in Saskatchewan. It was a farming area, so George sold mostly tractors to the farmers who came into town.
In 1932 two young evangelists, Ed Erickson and Herb Peeler, came to Langham to hold open-air meetings, then church meetings, and as they grew in attendance, they continued in tent meetings. Christians were revived, and many souls were saved. George Elliott said he was one of those revived.
That same summer, Helen Peters, later a missionary in Africa, came to the town, and in her passion for souls began a weekly prayer meeting. She encouraged the attenders to share their faith and to hand out tracts. George became an enthusiastic witness and tract worker.
With his love for the Lord, George began to search for better tracts and to encourage the young people to come with him on trips into Saskatoon to hand out tracts on the downtown street corners. He would also make trips to the small towns and areas to the north, to speak in churches. God blessed this work, with many souls being saved, and Christians becoming eager witnesses. George was happy to share his methods of distributing tracts, and even his ever growing stash. Some said that the shelves for Ford parts in his business became crowded with tracts.
As he showed people how to collect mailing lists, and systematically send out tracts, and keep track of decisions for Christ, George's friends urged him to organize them into a group. So in 1941, Western Tract Mission was started at Langham, with 57 members.
By 1942 those members had increased to 263, and the following year there were 700. The next year that number had doubled to 1,400! By 1946, there were about 3000 Tract Distributors and helpers. If you counted all those gettting George's little mimeographed monthly bulletin, the Western Tract News, they were about 5,000. Twenty years later, in 1966, the active membership was almost 4,000, with about 7,000 on the mailing list.
George's daughter, Doris Elliott, was his right hand, helping keep all this organized, and dealing with the ever growing correspondence with these thousands of their "friends."
He asked members to contribute lists of names and addresses of people who needed salvation, and then distributed them to other members to send selected tracts to - for a certain number of months. Soon tracts were circulating throughout Canada and the United Sates, but it continued to grow! Letters came from Africa, European countries, India, and Australia.
Tracts were sent out in faith when asked for, as George trusted God to supply the funds to meet those requests. Miraculously, donations for the tracts and extra postage came in just as needed.
In fact, similar tract missions were begun in India, Greece, Nigeria, and perhaps other countries we have not found mention of yet.
George, himself, wrote countless letters, making onion-skin carbon copies to keep as a record, and putting them into scrapbooks, along with the letters and photos he received from distributors and those who became believers through the tract mailings.
By 1966, after George had retired, the mission office was in Saskatoon. The staff consisted of a General Director, Russell W. Rice, a Deputation Secretary and Evangelist, Jake Hoeppner, who travelled and spoke on behalf of the mission, recruiting more members and supporters, a printer to run the presses, and four full-time office girls, each with areas of responsibilities.
Margaret Bergen corresponded with members in Ontario, Eastern Canada and the United States. She also did the typing related to the printing of tracts. Betty Dyck looked after mail from Alberta, B.C., and other countries - which was a heavy load. Lillian Friesen looked after the strong concentration of members in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Ruth Magnus was the office secretary, with duties including bookkeeping, composition work for the tract-printing, overseeing tract supplies and correspondence courses.
They started every day with prayer for the requests sent in by members. Members were encouraged to set aside the last Monday of each month to join them in prayer from their homes, as many requests were shared in the Western Tract News.
We are working on a new history book of our mission, and will feature the main eras in each issue of Reflections this year. This is in preparation for our 75th anniversary in 2016. Already, this closer look at our past is cause for awe-filled praise to God!
- Ruth Marlene Friesen