by Bob Gerow
AMG International President Emeritus (and Pulpit Helps Publisher Emeritus), Spiros Zodhiates, recounts the origin of an AMG holiday ministry project that has gone on for over sixty years.
"I remember walking to school without any assurance that somebody loved me. Our family was poor and the school I attended was giving shoes to the students. Those shoes had to last me a whole year. They were a meaningful gift.
"The first Bundle of Love I know of was that gift of a pair of shoes for a needy child-me!
"When I started an outreach to children, especially in Greece in the early days, I remembered what a blessing it was to receive those shoes each year. I decided I would reciprocate, and give to others in the same way that others had given for me."
In 2009, seven decades after that first gift, AMG will give a Bundle of Love to thousands of individuals in many countries where AMG ministers.
In India, several thousand leprosy sufferers will receive clothing items, cooking utensils, mosquito nets, and a Bible, if they do not yet have one. In over 70 childcare centers, children will get a pair of shoes, a backpack, a toy, and some other item to help them and their impoverished families understand the love of God.
In many nations where AMG works, sponsored national workers will be given food provisions, clothing items or a blanket for their children, and other items to address their needs.
Bundle of Love gifts for church planters and national pastors will also include ministry tools such as reference works, commentaries, study Bibles or other helps suitable to their training and ministry needs.
Far more than a holiday event, the distribution of Bundles of Love presents AMG a terrific opportunity for declaring the Good News, and demonstrating the love of God.
Prior to his return to the home office, AMG's president Paul Jenks and his family served as missionaries in Thailand for 15 years. Christmas is not commonly celebrated among Buddhists. However, during the season Paul reports that the event at which Bundles of Love were distributed quickly became an outreach event for the whole village. Everyone would come to see the story of Jesus' birth, to hear the children singing, and to listen to testimonies of the good things that God does in their lives.
For others-like the young Spiros Zodhiates-it is a welcome and often necessary contribution to the livelihood and wellbeing of a child, or perhaps the whole family.
This year you can turn your change into a Bundle of Love as a ministry project for your church, a Sunday school class, small group, or an individual.
Christ told us it is "more blessed to give than receive" (Acts 20:35). By participating this year, you can experience the joy of showing and share the love of Christ at Christmas with a child, child care worker, a family, or leprosy sufferer.
To help you make Bundles of Love available for others this year, AMG International has a small ceramic coin bank (pictured) to send to you for such a purpose. AMG will send it to you at no cost on the understanding that you will fill it-more than once if you wish or can-and send what is collected to AMG as a gift designated for "Bundles of Love".
To get started right away, request your coin bank when you contact AMG International at (800) 256-7201, ext. 219, or e-mail your request or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
AMG International invites you to be a part of this wonderful holiday gift program this year. Your own participation, and the participation of individuals and groups in your church or fellowship will be a welcome blessing to AMG staff and missionaries, and a great blessing to each participant.
Bob Gerow is development administrator for AMG International in Chattanooga, Tenn.