Recycled Bible Study Material Gets a Second Life


Two Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) churches have found new uses for their old Sunday school and other Bible study materials, while supporting international missionary activities.

New Florence Baptist in eastern Missouri sends volunteers to Love Packages each year.

“We’ve been going there for 8 years,” says Pastor Brian Larkin, “and I’ve never heard an adult or a young person say they’re never going back. Even though the work can be physically demanding (our people)…are always up for the challenge and greatly blessed by the experience.

Love Packages—a nondenominational evangelistic ministry in Butler, Illinois—accepts Sunday School materials, Bibles, tracts, Christian CDs and DVDs, and scripture teaching resources from churches, individuals, and editors. Lifeway, the Southern Baptist publishing arm, sends some of its surplus literature and Bible study books to Love Packages.

Materials are sent overseas to mission organizations that often cannot afford new materials. One of the greatest needs is for new or used Bibles.

Love Packages also welcomes groups of volunteers for one-day or multi-day mission projects. Groups sort, pack, and prepare Bible materials for shipment.

New Florence took a group of adults and young people to Love Packages last summer for a multi-day trip. There “are upstairs and downstairs bedrooms with multiple bunk beds,” Larkin says. “They have a kitchen on site that you can use to cook and prepare meals.”

Larkin says working with Love Packages has been a great way to directly involve his youth in international missions.

Over lunch, he says, staff “share stories of how God has used ministry and materials around the world to impact and change not just individual lives, but the lives of entire villages. . These stories give meaning to the hard work you do.

Lee Sanders, minister for older adults at First Baptist Church of O’Fallon (FBCO) took a working group to Love Packages in October. The trip was “a one-day mission opportunity for seniors,” he says.

“Our team of seniors served a few hours in the morning, shared lunch with the Love Packages staff, then served a few more hours in the afternoon.”

Opal Hoss, a senior on the FBCO trip, says that after the trip, “I was exhausted and slept the next morning,” Ms Hoss says. “But, I would do it again. I’ve learned so much” (on the course of missions abroad).

Steve Schmidt founded Love Packages in 1975 after coming to Christ. He says that when he used Bible study materials sitting on a kitchen counter, the Lord convinced him that the materials would not be used and would eventually be thrown away. He sent them to an acquaintance abroad. When friends found out, they asked him to send some materials for them.

“My poor wife. We had stuff everywhere. We’re still married,” Schmidt laughs.

Love Packages has grown steadily from its kitchen and now has a full-time staff of four working out of its Butler, Illinois warehouse, with a second warehouse and similar sized staff in Decatur, Ala. In 2020, the organization shipped 1,780 tons of materials. abroad.

Schmidt says the importance of reusing evangelistic materials is underscored by statistics that indicate each article will be read, on average, by 20 people.

Visiting volunteers take a quick tour of ministry facilities and then are assigned to stations to sort through boxes of donated materials. Volunteers can be of any age, ability or skill level.

Volunteers band materials for shipment, pack them, mark cartons for easy identification of materials upon receipt, and fill shipping containers for transportation.

Anything that can be used for evangelism or teaching—Bibles, study materials, maps, flannel storyboards, pamphlets, devotions, tracts, recorded media—is kept and sorted into appropriate categories. Schmidt says Love Packages will reuse anything that can lead a person to Christ or disciple them.

At the end of each day, Love Packages staff and volunteers come together to pray over the work done, praying that the materials will lead people to closer relationships with Christ.

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