“If only we could get people to read the Book for themselves it will surely lead them to Christ.” This was the motivation of Helen Cadbury, founder of the Pocket Testament League, in her passion for evangelism and the need she saw for evangelism tools.
Helen Cadbury of Birmingham, England, shy teenage daughter of the president of Cadbury Chocolates, became so excited about sharing her faith that in 1893 she organized a group of girls to sew pockets onto their dresses to carry a small New Testament. The girls called their group “The Pocket Testament League,” had membership cards, and pledged to read a portion of the Bible every day, pray, and share their faith when opportunity arose. Their catch cry was – read, carry, share.
In 1904 Helen married American evangelist Charles Alexander who officially organized the League with Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman in Philadelphia, PA in March 1908. Alexander had worked with famous evangelist Dwight L. Moody, and this worldwide evangelism experience gave a huge boost to the League. Alexander was a singer and hymn writer, and they did music and preaching tours together.
Throughout the following years, the League grew and was active within military camps throughout WW1 and WW2, in factories and offices in peacetime, and within government work schemes for jobless men throughout the Great Depression. They were affected by the war themselves, their headquarters in Birmingham, England being destroyed by bombs on 29 December 1941. In spite of this they continued distributing portions of Scripture wherever they could, and later branched into radio ministry as well.
Gradually the League became active worldwide. League members also shared at several Olympic Games. Whether to individuals or large gatherings, they saw opportunities to encourage people to read God’s Word. From humble beginnings, the League has brought the truth of God’s Word to millions of people for more than 100 years.
Transformed from the shy teenager who sought a way to share her faith, Helen Cadbury Alexander grew to a confident woman who motivated others to share. Her transformation is demonstrated in this verse of the well known hymn which she co-wrote:
Anywhere with Jesus, over land and sea,
Telling souls in darkness of salvation free;
Ready as He summons me to go or stay,
Anywhere with Jesus when He points the way.
PTL’s website includes personal stories of people impacted by the Scriptures, e.g.: ‘I was controlled by fear, anxiety, shame and depression, but Jesus changed all that. Now I have joined PTL because I want others to know Jesus too.’
Helen’s original vision still drives the ministry today - bringing the Word of God to people. The Pocket Testament League provides many helps to do this, giving away Testaments and providing free evangelism training and evangelism tools, plus apps for iPhones and similar devices. The website also has free daily devotionals to deepen us in the Word of God.