Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Experiencing Tribulation Packets - The Reboot

This article is a supplement to my original article entitled, "Making a Rapture/Tribulation Packet." This is not a "how-to" article. It's just an update about the retooling being done to the packet. If you want to read about how to create your own Rapture/Tribulation packet, please click on the link provided to you above.

First, a bit of background information. Please bear with me.

On May 4, 2013, I became homeless.  I was unemployed and my benefits had completely run out. Since I had no option to store everything I had in my two bedroom apartment, I had to give away, throw away or sell most of what I had accumulated. Most went into the dumpster or was given away.  Some was placed in bins to be sold at my sister's next yard sale... hey, I just realized that I never received a penny from that stuff! I even had to sell my car because I couldn't afford the insurance and couldn't legally park it on the street.  What little I had that remained was placed in a few bins and stored in my sister's basement. Thankfully, God had given me enough wisdom to store away the basic items of my Experiencing Tribulation (ET) packets, including sample packets, paperback New Testaments, DVD envelopes, etc...  

Unfortunately, having been out on the streets for a couple of months, in a men's shelter for another six months, and in a transition house for another two months (for a total of 10 months), and because my sister gave me the ultimatum of taking everything or nothing, I wasn't able to retrieve the packet supplies, so work on the project was at a standstill. Thank God for His mercy upon my wretched life, because He blessed both my daughter and myself with jobs and a small apartment where we could rebuild our lives. 

It's taken me a while to get around to get the motivation to rebuild this ministry, but the work has begun and every day brings me closer to my goal of assembling these packets for distribution. I provide them free of charge and make absolutely no money off of this project. Any donations I may receive go directly back in to producing more packets. I have given them to unsaved family and friends and to those who hold to a false belief that their association with a particular religion or being a member of a particular church will bring them salvation. I've also mailed some out to born again believers I've met through social media who have expressed a desire to receive a copy so that they can leave it behind, in their home, for loved ones to find after they've been raptured.

The Reboot

After reviewing the information that I had placed in the original packets, I decided that it needed a reboot. The DVD was okay, but there were more videos that I wanted to add to it and I wanted to make the DVD itself look more pleasing to the eye, hence the desire to create DVD labels instead of using a Sharpie to write the title on the DVD.

When you look at finished project that someone has created, it's easy to overlook how much work went into developing some of the individual pieces of that project. Take the DVD for instance. A lot of time and effort went into finding the right content. It's difficult to find good content that won't be considered by the unsaved to be "too preachy" or "confusing." They need milk, not meat, and I had to consider that when deciding what videos to burn onto the DVD. Then there was the project of finding the right software to upload them into so that I could burn the DVD. I had purchased some DVD's and some DVD envelopes already, so they were on hand and I didn't have to purchase those when I started the reboot, but had I not had them in my possession, I would have had to go out and purchase them.

Everything I've done with the DVD's up to this point hasn't put a strain on my wallet, but things are about to change. I've reached the next stage in this project and a trip to the store in unavoidable.  I need to purchase a DVD label applicator (who knew there was such a thing... I certainly didn't), DVD labels and a color ink cartridge for my printer (which will be the most expensive thing I'll be purchasing for the entire packet).  I've already designed the DVD label, so I need to purchase the items I've just listed, print the labels, stick them to the DVD's and slip them back in their envelopes.  Fortunately, I put aside a little bit of money when I received my tax return in February, so I'll be using that to help finance this project. I specifically put that money aside to use to help support others in their ministry and to purchase things that I need to spread the word of God (tracts, t-shirts, etc...).

Once the DVD's are completed and tucked away, there are a few more projects that will need my attention.

Reboot Cover Coming Soon
Experiencing Tribulation Booklet
I created a booklet to bring the reader through the scriptures, from the moments just after the Rapture takes place, to the resulting chaos, to the rise of the Antichrist, and ending with the Lord's return. I quote scripture (mostly from Revelation) and then paraphrase what God is revealing to us through His word. At the end of the booklet is a message about repentance and salvation. I didn't add any artwork to my original version, except for what is found on the cover. My initial thought was that artwork wasn't necessary. It wasn't going to be an issue after the Rapture because whoever was reading the booklet wasn't going to be interested in pictures, but in the information provided. Besides, artwork takes up valuable space and raises the final cost of printing, so I opted to nix the artwork. This time around, I'm going to put in a few graphics. I thought, because this isn't just something that will be accessed after the Rapture, I'm sure many individuals receiving these packets will want to open them up to see what's inside, just out of curiosity. Graphics was suddenly seen as necessary to the project.

Because this is a reboot, I've already searched for and found some relevant graphics that I'm going to add, especially when it comes to the seven seals, trumpets, and bowl judgments. The number of pages will increase slightly, but I'm sure it will make for a more attractive booklet that will be more pleasing to the eye, which may help carry the reader on to each successive section of the booklet. I still need to review the body of the text to discern whether there are any rewrites to make. One thing about a project like this one, you can always find something that you feel can be rewritten. It gets to the point where you have to force yourself to stop and just complete the project or you'll never finish it.   

Tribulation Timeline
I've created something I like to call a Tribulation Timeline. It's an 8.5x11 double sided paper that breaks down what will happen during the Tribulation and when it will happen. It's a shorthand version of my ET booklet. It's not as complicated and as intricate as a lot of the timelines out there, but it works. The only copy of the timeline that I have is in pdf format, so I can't edit it.  It will need to be recreated, so there's another project to add to the list of things to be done before the packets can be assembled. 

I purchased some inexpensive paperback New Testament bibles a while back, so they were stored with the rest of the ET materials. I really found it useful to create some labels for the inside cover. They contain information that leads the reader through the salvation message from beginning to end. The labels provide scripture references and their corresponding page numbers to make it easier for the new believer to find. I've assume that new believers will be unfamiliar with the chapter/verse arrangement of the bible. To draw the reader's eye immediately to the scripture quoted, I've also underlined or highlighted those particular verses in the bible itself. 

If you're going to copy this idea, I would suggest that you choose one bible and stick with it so that you don't have to be concerned about the page numbers on the labels matching the pages in the bible. Purchasing bibles from different publishers each time you order them means that you'll have to update your label information, and that's just more work. A paperback KJV from publisher #1 won't have the same set up as a paperback KJV from publisher #2, so stick with the same version from the same publisher unless you don't mind updating your labels.

I opted to purchase only the paperback New Testaments for several reasons:
  • They're less expensive than purchasing a paperback bible that includes both the OT and NT, allowing me to be able to purchase and distribute more of them.
  • Since two thirds of the earth's population will expire before the Lord's return, most people will be living short lives. I felt it was better to leave them with information vital for their salvation.
  • Owning a bible will probably be outlawed, especially if someone identifies themselves as what the world, even now, calls a "fanatical" and "intolerant" individual. Remember, the Antichrist (after being possessed by the Devil himself) will demand to be worshiped. If preaching and sharing the word of God can be seen as hate speech in this day and age, imagine how it will be viewed under the authority of the Antichrist. A thin paperback New Testament will be less conspicuous hidden under clothing or stuffed in a bag if the need arises where born-again believers needs to carry it with them.
In order to complete this task, I will need to purchase the labels. The information to be printed on the labels will need to be double checked so that I can be sure that they reference the right pages in the right bible. Right now my stash contains two different paperback NT's. I'm not sure which version my labels reference. Then the labels will need to be affixed to the inside front cover in a specific order. I was using address labels to accomplish this, but I may switch over to one or two large labels. It would be less time consuming to attach them than it would be to attach all those small mailing labels. The scriptures printed on these labels will need to be underlined or highlighted in the bible. As I said above, a lot of expense and work goes in to preparing everything before the packets can be made.

Tracts are very useful. They provide a synopsis of what our sinful nature and spiritual condition is, what God has done to rectify this condition, and our need to repent of our sin... to be born again... so that Jesus can restore our relationship with our heavenly Father by transforming us through His Holy Spirit. Finding a tract without a "pray this prayer" section at the end can be difficult to find, but it's not impossible. Several have been included in previous ET packets, but I'll have to review them again to be sure they are appropriate for this reboot. The nice thing about tracts is that they're easy to obtain. They can be purchased at a local Christian book store or online, and they're relatively inexpensive. The ET packets usually contain anywhere from 3-6 tracts that all give the same message, but in different ways.  It's important to remember that we don't know what audience we'll be reaching, so an assortment of tracts is a way of giving the message of salvation to people who have various personalities and respond to the written word in different ways.  Some tracts have powerful artwork and don't hold back any punches, some are drawn like a cartoon and are lighthearted. The rest are somewhere in between.  

The DVD described in one of the sections above was created in the same manner. There are three videos that are diverse in their approach to the subject of the Rapture and Tribulation. One is like a teaching video, one is like a heart to heart, person to person video and the one that was created through this ministry is just text and music. Then there are the animated videos that were included. Individuals who get their hands on the materials in the packet may be young or old. You have to try to make accommodations for a range of ages.

Music is an important part of a born-again believer's relationship with God. It's though music that we praise and worship Him with our voice. It can be difficult to limit yourself to the the number of songs that can fit on to one CD, but my advice would be to make a burn list and whittle it down until the software you're using shows that you are within the storage capacity of that particular CD. 

Music transcends age, so it's not as difficult creating a music CD as it is in finding other things to fill the ET packet. You just have to be sure your list includes a lot of "middle of the road" songs.  You don't want to have hard rock on your CD because a lot of people won't listen to it. You also don't want to have too many old gospel songs either, because that tends to put people to sleep. One or two of each within your collection is okay and offers the listener the opportunity to just skip over that song if they choose. Many contemporary Christian praise and worship songs would be good additions to your list. 

Some may ask me why I don't have an issue with burning copies of these songs on to a DVD and distributing them. For one, I'm not making any money off of it. Secondly, I know that in most cases the CD's will end up staying in the packet until after the Rapture. The individuals receiving the ET packets won't actually access the music on the CD's until we're already gone. The unsaved are NOT going to be popping this CD in to their player and listening to it unless it's out of curiosity, and even then it will most likely be a one time thing. It will end up back in the packet with the rest of the, "You take this religion thing too seriously," Christian stuff. Remember, these are individuals who have rejected God outright or who are following the path of false religion.

Packaging Everything Up, Including The Little Extras
There are several ways you can package up this information.  Some people use small plastic containers or bins while others use boxes, manila envelopes, shrink wrap, etc...  At one point, I was using shrink wrap. I purchased the clear shrinkable envelopes and the electric sealer, but I realized there was a major problem with that. Although the sealed shrink wrap protected the contents, there was no way I could add to what I had already sealed in the package. If I found an item that would make a great addition to the packet (small business card sized scripture cards, book marks, home made cross necklace, etc...), I wouldn't be able to add it to the packet because the packet would have already been sealed and shrink wrapped. The solution, for me, was to find something resealable that was made in a material that would protect the contents from the elements. I opted to use zip-lock freezer bags. The plastic is pretty thick and it helps to protect the contents from dust, dirt and moisture. 

If you're giving a prepackaged packet to a family member or friend, you can unzip it and add a personal note or letter. You can also add personal photos and anything else that you think this particular individual would want to have after you're gone. You can even make your own DVD that personally addresses this individual... leaving a piece of yourself behind for them to watch and listen to once you're gone.

In Closing
As you can see, getting all the pieces of the puzzle in place can be pretty time consuming and will most likely involve some out of pocket expense, but the end result is worth it. Creating content is the toughest part of the entire process. Once you have the content, it's just a matter of copying that content over and over again, and that's easy.

Start by creating a generic resealable packet that can be given to anyone. If you wish, you can then take a few of those packets and update, upgrade and personalize them, tailoring them to the person or group you're passing it along to. 

How do I get them in the hands of my family and friends?  What I like to do is ask them if they would do me a personal favor and just take the packet and put it away somewhere safe. Then I say that if billions of people suddenly disappear (something they believe is just religious fanatic talk), then they have the information they need to understand exactly what has happened and what is coming next. They'll usually take the packet out of love, respect or courtesy for you.

I will try to remember to update this article as the reboot progresses, explaining further what has been done thus far. By the time this article is published and shared, I will have burned 22 copies of the DVD and slipped them into their paper envelopes. The next step will be to purchase what I need to create the labels for them. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Update: June 30, 2015 - Purchased the DVD labels and the label applicator. Created the label on the Avery web site today and the results can be seen here on the left. You can see the label applicator and a DVD that has not yet been labeled. Below the unlabeled DVD is one that is ready to go! All of the other DVD's have been slipped into their protective paper sleeves. The photo on the right shows the older version of the DVD label. I think you'll agree that the reboot is a great improvement.

Update: July 5, 2015 - I've reviewed and updated some of the information inside the Experiencing Tribulation booklet. I've also made a revision to the cover. Here are the old and new covers side by side.

Original Version
Rebooted Version
Almost finished editing the guts of the rebooted booklet. Just need to take my notes and make the changes in the document itself. Will be heading to the printer's next. There's not much time before Rosh Hashanah 2015 and you never know if this will be the year of our Bridegroom's return. I have to get this booklet completed ASAP. It's the last thing I need to complete before putting the packets together. I'll be making a video to show how I do that.

Repent and be forgiven!  Believe and be saved!

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