BUTLER, Ill.—Love Packages is a small ministry here in a town of 200 people, but a Missouri Woman’s Missionary Union (MWMU) group helps them reach the world for Jesus.
Fifteen MWMU members and guests of the Mt. Salem/Wyaconda Southern Baptist Association made their sixth trip to Butler March 19 to sort and repack Bibles, Sunday School material, and Christian literature for spiritually needy people.
Love Packages (LP), a non-denominational para-church ministry, began in 1975. Director Steve Schmidt felt God say, “You are wasting that” – a pile of discarded Decision magazines. He “argued with God for three months,” then contacted five overseas friends in four countries, asking if they could use English, Christian literature.
The responses were: ‘We’ll take as much as we can get, as soon as we can.”
“There’s nowhere else in the world like this place (America),” Schmidt said. “We have so much and take it for granted. There are whole nations without Sunday School literature to teach people. We never get enough Bibles or literature.”
He contacted churches. People brought items to his house.
“I didn’t realize everyone had a lot of stuff,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt and his wife, Jeanie, stored these in their basement, mailing 60 11-pound boxes the first year.
“We thought we were doing something great for the Lord – and we were,” Schmidt said. Some of the original material is still in use.
Who knew God’s movement? Gradually they regularly sent tons of materials overseas. Now, weekly they send 20 tons of discarded Christian literature for re-use.
Love Packages – now in a warehouse and a dorm for overnight volunteers – doesn’t put its name on outgoing shipments. Testimonies sent by third-party distributors to Illinois confirm the Love Packages mission: “Keeping People out of Hell.”
Employee Jason Jenkins told of two women from India, kept from suicide by material routed through LP. Both became Christians and led others to Jesus.
Employee Vern Everett told the Northeast Missouri contingent, a Filipino pastor of seven churches had no Bible, only 1943 Sunday School curriculum.
“A lot of pastors all over the world don’t have Bibles,” Schmidt said, his eyes filling with tears. “A pastor doing well overseas may make $15 a month to live on. Bibles cost twice what they do in the United States, and some pastors can’t ever afford to buy one.”
Many congregations also lack Bibles.
Everett said a shipment of Bible School materials to Love Packages took up space. Schmidt told his team to “get it all out of here.” The Filipino recipient called it “gold on paper” and asked, “How did you know we had 187 churches? You sent 187 Bible School packs.”
As God blesses the literature redistribution ministry, there are no accidents. Two French books, mistaken in packing for Spanish, unknowingly met a specific Honduras prayer request. If a package spills before shipping, inadvertently packed cult materials spill out. A trash pile blowing may show a missed Bible.
“God protects his Word,” Everett said.
With only three employees, LP needs volunteers to sort the seven tons of weekly boxes from all 50 states, Canada, and other places arriving by mail or commercial shippers. This doesn’t count incoming boxes like the MWMU collection, or delivery from a closed Ohio bookstore.
Volunteers (454 so far this year) sort and repack similar materials. Schmidt orders helpers to pack boxes to look like they are “91/2 months pregnant.” Outgoing boxes are color-coded based on their contents.
Christian publishing houses, including LifeWay, regularly send materials.
Before shipments leave LP, hands are laid on them in prayer.
“People are praying for what you handle,” he said. “You guys are part of the answer.
God gets the right part to the right person to literally save their soul. We get it freely. We send it freely.”
Is there enough money to ship the loads?
“We always have enough, and we never have enough,” Schmidt said. “This has been a faith ministry since the beginning. “Many, many times, we’ve shipped a container and not had the money. It always comes in.”
What keeps him going?
“Jesus Christ saved me,” Schmidt said. “I owe him my life.”
An illiterate India couple got the Word of God in a magazine through Love Packages. Although they couldn’t read it, after Jesus was explained to them, they nailed the magazine to their front door, telling others the little they knew about Jesus. The couple told a military captain, demanding to know about the magazine, about the Word of God. He read the magazine, got saved, and witnessed to thousands of people before he was killed.
“Where will your packages end up? Schmidt asked the Missouri group. “I don’t know.”