Kelley’s follow the ‘tracts’ of God
By Minda Campbell, Community News Writer
In 1975 Tom Porter wrote his first gospel tract. Little did he know that this would soon lead to a family pursuit that would continue for 30 years. With 16 designs for all occasions and a few in Spanish, the Porter family ministry is laying out tracts to Heaven in many different ways.
Now run by Mr. Porter’s daughter, Teri Kelley and her family, this ministry is their favorite method of evangelism. “You have the ability to reach, with the same methods, many people,” Mrs. Kelley said.
She and her husband, Philip, and daughter April all have the same convictions about the impact a simple gospel tract can make on one’s life. “It’s amazing where these end up,” Mrs. Kelley said, explaining that when they started putting their e-mail address on the tracts, they began getting responses from people who picked them up.
The Kelleys have tracts that cover a variety of topics, including holidays like Valentine’s, Halloween, Christmas and Easter, as well as birthdays and children. Some of the tracts are even like greeting cards. Mrs. Kelley explained that when handing out tracts, they have to be tactful and not force them on anyone, hence the greeting card tracts. On one side the tract may say “Happy Birthday” and when flipped over it gives a respectful message from the Bible. These tracts are used by churches and organizations all over Chattanooga. The Spanish tracts, translated by Florivaldo Pereira, are even taken on mission trips.
Tom Porter’s wife Shirley also got into religious tracts by writing two specifically for children. One portrays the importance of children learning God’s word and the other explains how colors can be used to represent ideas from the Bible. After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the Kelleys printed bookmarks that were placed in Bibles and given to the victims of the storm. The Kelleys also hand out their tracts to anyone who performs a service for them as a way to pass on the message of God.
Mrs. Kelley explained that although tracts are short and seem simple, they are not so easy to write. It takes the Kelleys three to six months to put one together. Being constrained by space often makes it difficult to come up with the right thing to say. The Kelleys are also hindered by their desire not to offend anyone and to get across the most important message.