Just one Bible

Steve Schmidt wants your Bible. Not the one that you use every day, or the one that you take to church. He wants the one gathering dust on a shelf. He wants the one that your child once carried or the one your late mom or dad carried to church. Schmidt wants Bibles to give to folks who do not have one. Schmidt of Love Packages in Butler, Illinois has recycled Bibles, Sunday School literature, magazines and reference materials since the 1970s. 

During spring break we went to Love Packages to help pack Bibles and books. While there, our group packed boxes all day, every day. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday the staff and volunteers spent a couple hours filling shipping containers with 20 tons of literature each. The 60 tons were sent to Uganda, Tanzania and South Africa. 

Lunch and work breaks included testimonies of Christians walking 15 days in hopes of receiving a Bible, waiting decades for a Bible or breaking down in tears when they received a long prayed-for Bible. Just one Bible makes a huge difference. While publishers provide deeply discounted Bibles, the individual gifts matter immensely.

Steve said one faithful supporter struggled with the idea of donating his late mother’s Bible. The man cherished the memory of her carrying that Bible. No matter how much God nudged him to donate it to Love Packages, the son clung to his tangible memory of his mom. 

“You know what happens when God tells you to do something and you resist,” Steve shook his head. Finally, after resisting and rationalizing keeping the Bible, the supporter carried the Bible to Steve and said, “This was my mother’s Bible. I have resisted God’s nudging me to donate it for a long time.” He handed the Bible to Steve.

Steve, who was sorting books and Bibles into bins at the time, thanked him and tossed it on the pile with other Bibles ready for packing and shipping.

That casual toss, after his long struggle to let go of this solid reminder of his mother, did not sit well with the donor. It felt disrespectful.

“But he did not tell me,” Steve said. “He went home and told all his friends and neighbors over and over about how I had not respected his mother’s Bible.”

He quit complaining the day he received mail with a foreign stamp.  He read it and went to Steve. “I owe you an apology.”

“You do?”

“Yes. I have been angry with you. I did not like the way you tossed my mom’s Bible the day I gave it to you. I told everyone you had not respected the Bible. At least I did until I received this letter from the pastor who received her Bible.”

The pastor wrote, “This is my first Bible. I read and study every day. I really enjoy reading the personal notes. I used the Bible when preaching at the churches in the villages. To date 72 have professed their belief and decision to be followers of Christ. Thank you for the Bible.”

His mom’s Bible no longer laid unused on a shelf. It was just one Bible, but it made a huge difference to the pastor and all the folks who he met. 

Publishers have sold thousands of Bibles to Love Packages. Individuals and church groups have held Bible drives and gathered thousands more. For nearly 50 years, Love Packages has received pallets of brand new Bibles and New Testaments from publishers. Still, Steve continues to ask for any Bibles left unused on a shelf, He knows the impact just one piece of literature can have.