OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–It’s Oct. 31, and porch lights on virtually every other house on your street are shining. Nearby trees are decorated with strings of lighted jack-o-lanterns and ghosts made of old sheets swaying in the breeze. Many of those other houses’ doors are decorated with either a green-faced witch bearing a snaggle tooth grin or a hissing black cat with its back arched and muscles tensed in a pouncing posture.
As a Christian, however, you don’t have your porch light on. Even the lights inside your home are dimmed in hopes that the kids in the neighborhood won’t realize you’re home.
“No trick-or-treating here,” you mutter as you peer out through the shuttered windows.
The scenario above may be an exaggeration, but every year, Christians do face the dilemma of how to deal with the onslaught of images produced in conjunction with the public’s fascination with Halloween. What seems like harmless fun to many people — especially the children who don often-ghoulish costumes and walk their neighborhood to collect as much candy as possible — actually is an opportunity for many to release their “dark side.” Popular entertainment, such as television programs “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” and “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” make occult themes and witchcraft seem fun and acceptable. As a result, Halloween has become strongly associated with the occult and a preoccupation with the dead, two influences that Scripture and the church have always warned against.
The Bible instructs believers to be in the world, but not of the world. Halloween provides a perfect chance for them to do just that — not just to hide behind a shuttered window in their darkened home, waiting for the “evil” to pass.
Jimmy Kinnaird, head of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s church outreach team, said Halloween is a prime opportunity for Christians to do some personal evangelistic outreach.
“Most churches have a carnival or fall festival that kids can wear costumes to, and they usually let the kids dress up as Bible characters or something not evil or wicked,” he said.
But individual Christians can take an active role at home on Halloween, tapping in to the flow of children who knock on their door — perhaps only this one time during the year.
Kinnaird said alternatives to just handing out candy to trick-or-treaters include gospel tracts. In fact, his three children are looking forward this year to sharing the gospel with the families in their neighborhood — at the same time they are filling their own sacks with goodies.
“The idea of giving out tracts at Halloween isn’t a new one, and this is something that individual families can do from their own homes,” Kinnaird said. “Halloween is Oct. 31, so the goal is to give out 31 tracts to 31 kids on Oct. 31. When a kid comes to your door and rings the doorbell, you give them a piece of candy and a tract when you answer.
“The tract says it all. You don’t have to say anything, because they’re not going to look at anything you give them while they’re getting it anyway. First of all, it’s dark, and second, they’re ready to move on to the next house and continue to fill their sack up.”
Letting the kids come to you works well, but Kinnaird’s 13-year-old daughter, Jenna, put her own twist on the idea last year.
“She said, ‘Will you let me go trick or treating if I give out a tract at each house I go to?’ Well, I had to say yes,” Kinnaird said.
It worked so well for Jenna that her 11-year-old brother, Daniel, and 5-year-old sister, Rachel, are joining in on the fun this year.
“All three of them are going to do it this year,” Kinnaird said, but either my wife, Karen, or I will accompany them on their rounds. Meanwhile, the other of us will pass out tracts at home as we greet trick-or-treaters at our door.”
The Kinnairds use a specially designed package of 31 colorful Halloween tracts designed by the American Tract Society. ATS has been producing evangelistic resources for 177 years, introducing its “31 Halloween Pack” last year.
“The kids will look at the tract when they get home and dump the contents of their sack on the table or floor to check out what they got,” Kinnaird said. “The tracts are very colorful and attractive, and they have a great message and lead in to the gospel and message of Christ.”
The ATS package includes three different designs, one featuring “Masks!” — a common element of the Halloween observance — and the other two, “Bag of Jokes” and “Here’s A Treat,” which contain several “corny” jokes.
“Kids love corny jokes,” Kinnaird said, “and these tracts are funny. But, at the end of each tract, readers learn that sin is no laughing matter.
“The kids see that Jesus is the only answer to their sin and is the way to forgiveness and eternal life in heaven.”
The 31st tract in the ATS package is an informational piece, giving the history of Halloween, pointing out that evil is real and that Satan has a certain amount of power, yet also revealing that God loves mankind so much that he sent his only Son to die for their sins.
The ATS tract packs generally are available at local Christian bookstores, including LifeWay Christian Stores.
Those retail outlets also have various other things that are good to hand out to trick-or-treaters, including non-edible items such as pencils, erasers, stickers, bookmarks, pocket cards and note pads, each carrying a Christian message.
Sweets are included, too, such as Scripture candy in six fruit flavors, bubble gum, “Testamints,” Scripture pops, Bible Quiz pops and Faith pops.
Another treat, EvangeCandy, tells the complete gospel story through a series of colored stripes, much in the same way the popular bracelets with yellow, black, red, white and green beads do.
Kinnaird encouraged Christians to take an active part in Halloween to help offset its evil influence.
“Halloween is not a time for Christians to hide behind a closed door,” he said. “And it’s fine to give your kids tracts and other gospel-sharing items to hand out, but never let them go out on their own. Go with them, and make them stick to their own neighborhood, an area they are familiar with.”