Reprinted from AgapePress
March 2006 – After 50 years in ministry, Edwin Hodges still charges full-steam ahead, fully armored and armed with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. When he goes to his modest, no-frills offices each morning, Hodges has one goal: to spread the Gospel and make disciples around the world.
In 11 years, he has shipped 6.5 million pounds of books, tapes, magazines and study materials to help Christian leaders teach, preach and disciple believers. That’s 155.7 million pieces of Christian literature sent into 143 countries on 6 continents.
Even on a Saturday morning, Hodges greets guests at his Decatur, Alabama, office/warehouse with enthusiasm, eager to give a tour and talk about his work. His eyes sparkle with spirit and his prayers resound with passion. He founded Edwin L. Hodges Ministries (ELHM) in 1994 to help provide Bibles and literature to Bible schools, churches and seminaries around the world.
“The Lord just led me into the third great adventure of my life,” Hodges said. “I had considered taking an early retirement in order to do some writing and produce Bible study materials for use in missions.”
But God had other plans for the “retiring” soldier of the cross. Hodges had pastored Southern Baptist churches for 22 years and worked 18 years on staff with Bibles for the World. Over a six-week period in 1994, the Lord planted in his heart the vision for this current ministry.
“I called all over the country to pastors, publishers, translators, businessmen and others to see if they would work with me,” Hodges said. “As a result, I saw more cooperation between Christian groups, more spiritual unity than I had seen in my entire life.”
No small miracles
At present, close to one million pounds of literature are in the process of being unpacked, sorted, matched with needs, packed and shipped. Walking through the warehouse and sorting rooms, Hodges recounts story after story of God’s miracles to provide for the ministry – someone giving a truck, someone donating commercial scales and a forklift, others paying rent for desperately needed additional space.
Forty-foot containers are the most common mode of shipping, and the ministry prepares and fills the huge containers economically and efficiently, like a well-oiled machine. ELHM receives requests from ministries worldwide, then tries to meet the specific needs.
“Research indicates that 80% of believers outside the U.S. have no Christian literature,” Hodges said. “Not even a Bible.” He is committed to lowering that startling statistic, but he said the ministry needs help on several fronts.
ELHM employs a staff of six, including Hodges and one part-timer. The ministry counts about 3,000 regular gatherers (people who collect and ship literature to ELHM) from all 50 states. Last year about 1,000 volunteers came from far and wide to give their time sorting and packing. A local church assists ELHM by offering lodging for volunteers when possible.
Bibles, tracts, videos, cassettes, magazines and hymnals are all needed. Hodges said there is a critical need for study Bibles, Bible dictionaries, commentaries and concordances. Multiple copies, even of magazines, are welcome because they might be used for Sunday school or Bible study groups. The ELHM Web site (www.elhm.org) gives pointers on how to “weed out” some literature before shipping and how to sort and pack material in a way that helps the small staff with processing.
From the financial aspect, ELHM is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Contributions from churches and individuals are the lifeblood of the work; without that financial support, there would be no ministry.
In 1997 Hodges initiated the 50,000 Club. “It happened shortly after I learned that there are 50,000 Hindu businessmen in America giving $1,000 a year to build Hindu temples all over this country,” he said. “Today, the largest Hindu temple in the world is not in India, but in Washington, D.C.”
Hodges thought if 50,000 Hindus give $1,000 a year to build temples to a god who can’t answer prayer, can’t forgive sin and can’t give hope of eternal life, then surely there are 50,000 Christians who can give to help send the Gospel around the world.
Fifty years a minister, and Hodges’ fire and passion show no signs of dimming. God continues to use ELHM for His own glory and for the good of His people. At a season in life when many senior citizens retire and turn their focus inward, Edwin Hodges counts it a privilege to go to battle each day – for the sake of the Gospel.