Pictures and cutlines:
love.Today’s mail: Love Packages director Steven Schmidt stands beside the day’s mailed packages of used and unused Christian literature and Bibles. With the help of volunteers Love Packages sends 20 tons of literature weekly to 70 countries on six continents.
love.Bible bin: A bin of Bibles waits to be packaged and shipped to Christian ministries around the world. “We never get enough Bibles or Study Bibles for pastors,” said Love Packages director Steven Schmidt.
love.5 year lessons: Love Packages secretary, Debra Wright, one of three employees at Love Packages, stands beside the racks of most popular Sunday School lessons. A enough materials arrive and are sorted for a class, lessons are sorted and sent to churches and missions in 70 countries.
Love Packages in Butler, Ill.
By Joan Hershberger
BUTLER, Ill. — “Waste not, want not.” That proverb is practiced by the tons at Love Packages in Butler, Ill. Even the facility exemplifies it. The facility stands behind a grove of trees off a country lane at the end of the drive. The plain white building with a small shed in front is identified simply as “Love Packages.” Carry-in package hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Those who come at other hours can leave packages inside the shed with “after hours drop-off” written on the door.
Love Packages receives unwanted, unused or over-runs of Christian literature that it sorts into categories to send to 70 countries on six continents around the world.
Inside, director Steven Schmidt runs an efficient, well-orchestrated organization that prepares and ships 20 tons of literature every week. By June of this year, the three paid employees and volunteers had received, sorted and shipped 523 tons in nearly 42,000 packages.
The Bibles, Christian magazines, books, devotionals, Sunday School supplies and study Bibles donated by individuals and organizations provide the only Christian literature some churches and pastors possess in those 70 countries.
Pointing to a huge square bin filled with hundreds of Bibles, Schmidt said, “And we take Bibles. We never can get enough Bibles. People around the world are always asking for Bibles. And pastors want study Bibles. We never have enough study Bibles to send.”
In a Love Packages Youtube video Schmidt tells of people walking 15 days to ask for Bibles because they had none. They had heard this pastor would have some for them. The pastor asked every member of his congregation to give their Bibles to the guests and believe that God would provide them with more Bibles later through Love Packages.
“This is today’s mail. We received 1.7 tons of books today,” Schmidt said. Love Packages averages seven tons of books and literature from across the country. The additional tons of literature come from eight major publishers’ over-runs and out-dated books. The Billy Graham organization alone delivers a truck load of literature two or three times a year. Two huge bins hold last quarter’s adult Sunday School lessons waiting to be rebundled for shipping. Display racks track the last five years of popular Sunday School materials. Donated lessons from churches are sorted by quarters. When enough lessons arrive for a class, these are packaged for shipping.
Color codes mark each package to indicate the contents ready to be shipped: Magazines, devotionals, reference books, Bibles, lessons, Christian books, tracts, music, hymnals, tapes or videos. Over-runs from publishers remain packed and stacked by categories and lessons and are pulled out by boxes to add to shipments. All flannelgraph supplies are accepted as are new and used Bibles, New Testaments and Bible portions. A rolling conveyor carries the sorted and packaged boxes to the shipping room. The boxes are hand packed into the 20-ton shipping container to ensure every available space is used. The Love Packages website says they can ship a pound of literature for less than 10 cents – far less than individuals would pay for sending books overseas. Extra corners and spaces are filled with daily devotionals saving Love Packages the cost of fillers and ensuring that every corner of the boxes is filled with Christian literature. Additional devotionals are bundled and sent in other packages.
Love Packages sends room-sized ocean-going containers to port cities around the world. From these distribution points the materials are distributed to receiving churches. The goal of Love Packages is simple. “We want to see all of our excess, the materials that are being wasted, placed on the mission fields of the world.”
Love Packages began in 1975 when Schmidt realized the abundance of literature he had at his disposal and the tremendous lack of literature of so many others in the world. The ministry collects primarily English literature to send to countries where English is the second language and is taught in the schools around the world.
Spanish literature is also collected and shipped out to Spanish-speaking countries, when enough comes to fill a container, Schmidt said.
Besides the warehouse and office, the facility at Love Packages includes a dormitory for visiting 42 volunteers, showers and a kitchen.
Love Packages is located at 220 Union Street in Butler, Ill. Deliveries can be accepted at the door, but if distance prohibits delivery, the two cheapest rates via the U.S. mail are 4th class library rate and 4th class media mail.
Love Packages also accepts a few miscellaneous items that are shipped as needed. The most recent newsletter included a thank you from the Philippines for four wheelchairs, 16 canes and five walkers that the receiving ministry would use to minister to older members who could hardly walk. “These will be a great blessing to them,” the pastor wrote.
Another ministry noted that teenage magazines provided a talking point to reach the younger generation in Thailand,
In South Africa a number of people helped offload 1,486 boxes of Christian literature, an organ and a pulpit.
Love Packages is one place that provides an answer to the question, “What can I do with all these books now that we have finished the class?” Any individual or church can collect and deliver books to Love Packages – please check their website for the list of materials. Recently Marrable Hill Chapel in El Dorado set aside one room for collecting literature and anticipates delivering books later this summer or early in the fall.
For more information check their website at www.lovpackages.org, or visit them at 220 Union Street in Butler, Ill.