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Impossible Love

21 August 2014

Once upon a time, as a new Christian, I stood in front of shelves and shelves of bibles in a big, chain bookstore (remember those?) and in my ignorance, grabbed a King James Bible … because it was pink and that was the only variable on all of those shelves that I understood. (And it was wrapped in plastic, so I couldn’t flip through it to notice the archaic language.)

Several years later I had shelved my pink KJV for a New King James Version (a white one, because I couldn’t find a pink one), and the old spine was staring at me from an over-crowded shelf in our little studio apartment. I wondered if there was someone, somewhere who could get it to someone else who might really need it.

It’s funny how a simple Google query can be so life changing.

I don’t know what I typed into the search box, but I found Love Packages pretty quickly. I read the founder’s testimony. The organization’s story. A few dozen testimonies from around the world, and then I discovered that they were HQ-ed about four hours south of me.

I packed my Bible and a few other Christian books I hadn’t looked over in ages, planned a day trip with a friend, and when she fell through I went alone. (Back when there was no toddler. Wouldn’t trade him for the world, but breathe deep the faint memory of that kind of freedom.)

Love Packages is based in a small central Illinois town called Butler that I very literally drove right through the first time I tried to visit – even with a GPS on. After a u-turn, some very slow one-lane (but still two-way) roads, and a hand-painted sign, I pulled into a gravel parking lot at the intersection of three large warehouses.

Love PakagesLove Packages

I rang the bell and stepped inside with my one small box, and there was Steve – the founder and owner whose story I had read the week before – standing amidst a mountain of cardboard and tattered paper, diligently sorting through a much larger box of cardboard and tattered paper. He met me, introduced himself, and offered to give me the nickel tour.

With nothing on my calendar except a four hour drive back the way I’d just come, I stiffed him the nickel and took the tour.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. 

(That video is from 2010. Those numbers have gone up in the past few years.)

It wasn’t an operation of this scale in the middle of an invisible little Midwestern town. It wasn’t this volume of material piled around three employees, one intern, and a smattering of volunteers. Whatever I was expecting wasn’t this, because this was completely impossible.

After the receiving and shipping warehouses, the third building hosted a kitchen, classroom, and a huge dorm room. That was when I decided that the students we worked with back home needed to be here. We’ve taken four groups to spend a week of their summer vacations laboring in the Love Packages warehouses, and it’s the highlight of my summer every time.

Love PackagesLove Packages

Our students sort material, pack boxes, band classroom sets together, stack pallets, and pack shipping containers to be sent overseas. On lunch, the guys – Steve, Vern and Jason – tell some of the stories they get from their distributors overseas: suicides unknowingly intervened upon at the last minute, families and herds of cattle miraculously healed, teenagers planting churches on forgotten Philippine islands, pastors who have prayed for Bibles for years and years and years.

And I look at these three guys, and I laugh to myself every time. (And every time I think Holy Spirit laughs with me.) Because this is completely impossible.

It is completely impossible that three guys, in a town that probably doesn’t have its own zip code, can answer prayers and save lives on the other side of the world with bingo markers and discarded gospel tracks. It’s impossible to get one daily devotional booklet to a man across the globe, who will take it home and use it to plant a church in the mountains where no missionary will ever go. It’s impossible to save whole families in India with the cheesy illustrations from outdated children’s Sunday school packs.

But with God …

Three guys. Three big buildings. Not even three hundred people in that town. I think He does stuff like this sometimes because it amuses Him. Because He gets a kick out of the impossible.

Love Packages

If you have old Christian literature that is collecting dust, box it up and send it. Set up a collection spot in your church. They’ll get it to someone who is desperate for it.

I really want to ask you to consider two other ways you can help, though. No one put me up to it. I’ve received no compensation for this post or this request, in fact, the guys at Love Packages don’t even know we’re talking about them right now. They will take your otherwise wasted literature (and media), but in their current season they need two other things more urgently than books and CDs:

  1. Money. No one likes to ask for money, but I don’t mind asking for them. It costs thousands of dollars to ship those containers overseas, and then sometimes more to get them released into the hands of their distributors. They have bills to pay at home, and as unglamorous as it is – they need money to do it. It’s tax deductible and all that, and if you’ve ever worried about the integrity of the ministries to which you donate your hard-earned dollars, I guarantee you need not worry about that here. I’ve been to Steve’s house. I’ve seen how they operate. No one is pocketing a retirement fund here. These men are missionaries.
  2. Distributors. If you know someone (or someone who would know someone) overseas who could benefit from, and responsibly distribute a 20-foot cargo container of Christian literature, the guys would love to talk to him/her/them. You can contact them here.

Your prayers, of course, are also much appreciated. If you serve in a local church, and your youth/men’s/women’s/bikers/whatever group is looking for a way to send the gospel all over the world this autumn, you will be warmly welcomed and very blessed at Love Packages.

Just drive very slowly when your GPS tells you that you’re getting close, because – as with many of the amazing and impossible things God does on the earth – if you blink, you’ll miss it.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Raynna permalink
    21 August 2014 9:33 AM

    Great post! Thanks for sharing, I love it.

    • Lex permalink*
      22 August 2014 12:20 AM

      Thanks, Ray! They’re awesome.

  2. Jason Jenkins permalink
    21 August 2014 7:37 PM

    Thank you Lex for sharing. I really want God to bless you all so much!

    • Lex permalink*
      22 August 2014 12:21 AM

      My pleasure, Jason! The feeling is mutual. 🙂

  3. Vern everett permalink
    22 August 2014 5:44 PM

    Thanks Lex! That was awesome! Your group is amazing!!!

  4. steve schmidt permalink
    22 August 2014 8:27 PM

    You made me cry – thank you for your kind words.

    • Lex permalink*
      23 August 2014 12:38 PM

      You guys are awesome. So blessed to know you!

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