Bundles of Love Part One: Blessing the National Church

And the New Testaments we’re providing are valuable to these people

Bundles of Love — Blessing the National Church: Part One

Welcome to Asked and Answered,” the podcast series that answers all of your missions related questions. With me in the studio today are Ron and Charis Pearce. Welcome, guys!

Ron, Charis- Hello, Joy!

Joy- Okay, so I’m really excited this time, I know I’m excited a lot but we are doing a Christmas special. My question for you today is all about your Bundles of Love. I know you guys have been doing it for a while so we would all like to know how that came about.

Ron- Charis, you start.

Charis- Well, it started back in 2005 I believe but it has grown and changed over the years and basically it is a time for us to bless our national church partners in tangible ways at Christmas time. It gives an opportunity, we get a lot of families who look at the Bundles and they are excited and waiting for them every year because kids get a chance to go through and look at the projects and decide what they want to help with. It is an exciting time throughout the year and people look forward to it.

Ron- I think part of it is all of these projects that we pick out throughout the year are legitimate needs from the world, we are not just adding on something. These are things that they have asked for in the national churches of the world as to what we can do to show encouragement to these folks in a tangible way with items. I’m just looking at the list here, we’ve got jackets and boots for Serbia, you’ve got Israel hot meals, the Nile River widows and orphans getting a gift basket. All of those things are tangible items that we would be able to give away.

Joy- That is actually interesting because I think some people might think you just kind of run down a list of Oh, let’s do this and let’As choose this.”

Ron- No, these are items that we just don’t get much support for sometimes throughout the year and they are items that people can identify with. Therefore, we are putting together a list here, a variety. But these are requests.

Joy- These are what the partners are asking for.

Ron- Yes, exactly.

Joy- Over the years is there one that has stood out as more special than others?

Charis- That is like picking a child that is your favorite!

Joy- I know that when I looked back you guys used to do something with Ethiopia camel schools! Do you remember that?

Charis- Oh, we have had a variety of projects over the years. So many different ones.

Ron- Oh yeah, motorcycles and transportation and I think we did an elephant one year.

Joy- Did you actually? That was way before my time.

Ron- It was in Burma, Myanmar.

Joy- And do you find that families have their favorites or is it kind of just a balance?

Ron- Oh, they liked the elephant!

Joy- I would like the elephants, can we bring that back?

Ron- No, no, but we always try to get a bit of variety. For instance, one of the staples is Bibles or New Testaments, the word of God.

Joy- For Empower.

Ron- For Empower and for the world. It is always on the hit list for the world, they need that. But people here also appreciate the word of God so much and they want to give that away and when they realize that we can give it away at very low cost, our printing costs are low, and we provide it free of charge to the recipient they like that. And so that would probably be one category that we would center on.

Joy- I think that has always been one of your Bundles.

Ron- It is because people request that over here. How can we give a Bible at Christmas?

Charis- And there is usually always a country that needs food baskets. There is always a country that is going through something, and it is our way of helping. Either the pastors and their families or the church to be able to share. So that is another one that is always on there is some form of food.

Joy- And that is a very Christmassy thing too, to share food. So when it comes to 2022 Empower’s Bundles of Love campaign, can you maybe talk about a couple of our projects?

Ron- Sure, Charis you go ahead. You start with one and I’ll take up another one.

Charis- Well, one of the ones that is exciting is the Israel hot meals for the Jewish families. It is a huge need! They get to share the love of God with people that can’t get out, can’t afford hot meals, and they develop a friendship over time. So it’s not like an Uber Eats driver where you drop off the package outside the door and leave. Over time they develop friendships and it’s a great opportunity to share the Gospel with them.

Joy- Can you paint a little picture of how the meals are made? Is it a big production? Is it in a kitchen? Is it a small environment?

Ron- We bought a Wendy’s! {laughter} No, what it is is this; the messianic congregations usually have a place where they have a kitchen and that is for doing their church meals and various things like that. We are tied together in the Haifa region with this one Messianic congregation that’s got a beautiful industrial-like kitchen. We have helped them put it together over the years. They buy these plastic serving…

Charis- Kind of like to-go containers.

Ron- To-go containers, okay, with three compartments or four compartments, and in the Bundles package this year you can see that there is meat in one, potatoes in another or rice, there are vegetables.

Joy- So that is the actual picture I see.

Ron- Yeah, right there. And they have got this huge counter and they are making this stuff up and they put it in these containers, they seal the containers and then they go out with 300, 400, or 500 at a time in various directions. People from the congregation will do the delivery and as Charis said, making a relationship over a period of time. At the beginning when the program began the people in the tenement apartments, very poor situation, were scared to open the door. A lot of this happened over Covid and they didn’t want to take anything. They were scared! They were scared of getting Covid, they were scared of who these people were. Now they open the doors, Oh, the Messianics are here! Come on in, have a glass of wine,” and all that sort of stuff. It’s gotten to be more of an event of love and this is going to the poorest of the poor, Holocaust survivors, their families, new people making Aliyah, refugees that came in from the Ukraine and Russia. I heard a number recently, 200 per day are coming back into Israel right now making Aliyah. I heard that number and I’m not going to publish it as far as factual but I heard it because they are really ramping up the housing in the country right now, when I was in there recently and I know very well there is a surge coming from the Russia situation and the Ukraine.

Joy- Are these families getting more than one meal? Do you know?

Ron- It started out at one a week and I think right now we are at two or three but that depends on the circumstance and the situation and the poverty level. So I don’t think this is a program that you can put a structure on.

Joy- So it’s constantly evolving.

Ron- It is, but the meals are going out by the thousands I would say every week.

Joy- Sounds like a well-oiled machine they have going on down there!

Ron- They have it down to a science. So again, it’s Wendy’s.

Joy- Okay, and what is another Bundle this year that we are doing?

Ron- Well, the Ukraine situation with the New Testaments, they are begging for more and more and more New Testaments in country. We were just able to supply an extra 15 or 20,000 to the military because they got in touch with us and they wanted the camouflage version of the Ukrainian New Testament. The people in the villages are really trying to put their lives back together. While they are noticing that when the evangelists and pastors go in and preach the Gospel, because this was a very cold area spiritually, now they are warming up and the New Testaments that we are providing are valuable to these people to put their lives together. This is going to be the book of hope. That is sort of the nickname that I heard being thrown around in Ukraine right now. The book of hope.

Charis- And they are desperate for hope.

Ron- Oh yes.

Joy- And this is a unique Bundle this year because we have never done this before in one of our Bundles of Love because of course the situation in the Ukraine. Now if people were to ask why not send the Ukrainian people a basket of food instead of a Bible…

Ron- Well, we could do that too but there is a lot of humanitarian aid that has gone into the Ukraine, like 99%, but there has been very little from what we have been told in the way of scripture or secondly, of any sort of spiritual message going in. So we want to see some balance on this. It’s fine and that basket will be eaten and appreciated and loved and it will go away within days whereas, eternal life lasts forever and that message of eternal life in the word of God is for all time. So we are trying to put balance into the situation.

Joy- And more importantly they are asking for it. This is a need, something they are longing for.

Ron- Yes! The country of Ukraine will not be rebuilt with bricks and mortar, it’s going to be built on revival and a turning to God. [JB1] That is the only long-term way and that is the only hope that they have. So why not give them the book of hope?

Joy- Okay, what is another one? That is two down. I think we are doing something in Vietnam and when I talk to people I know they are always curious about Vietnam because a lot of times we do a Bundle of Love for Vietnam and we change it up sometimes but this year we are doing suits for pastors and I have had some people ask me, Why do they need a suit?”

Charis- Well, I think because quite often the only time you see somebody wearing a suit nowadays is at a funeral.

Joy- At least here, unless you are a lawyer or something.

Charis- In Vietnam though it is part of their culture to have a suit for weddings, for funerals, for all the events that a pastor needs to be involved in. And our Bundle this year is not just a suit for the pastor but also a dress for the wife and the kids get candy and a T‑shirt so it is a whole outfitting of the family basically.

Joy- And so maybe these children are not ordinarily receiving these treats so it is special for them.

Charis- No, not at all.

Joy- So hundreds of dollars for a full suit?

Ron- Like $23?

Charis- Exactly, it’s $40 for the whole gift package.

Ron- Yes and that is for the wife’s dress because the wives of the pastors feel a little bit left out at times because everything goes towards the pastor. We heard this, this year, and the wife is supposed to look good to go with the pastor to visitation, at a funeral situation, at a wedding etcetera, so she needed a dress that was culturally appropriate, and the husband needed a suit and they were really in some desperate situations with this. So we thought for $23 for a suit and the remainder for the wife and the kids to be blessed, this is a good investment.

Charis- And our partners go right to the manufacturers to get them so that is why they are so cheap.

Ron- And they have people that go around to measure up the pastor for the suit, so it is a custom suit.

Joy- Wow! Again, another well-oiled machine!

Ron- And we are not talking about a few we are talking about hundreds of these that are used and necessary and this will last that pastor for quite a few years.

Joy- I know in the past we have never done the wives or the family before and it has just been suits for the pastors so that’s really a nice thing.

Ron- I know and the pastors’ wives are overlooked many times in many situations but their responsibilities are heavy and, therefore, they are a team. I always like to look at a pastor situation, as it is the husband and wife, and the kids are even involved. 

Joy- As it should be.

Ron- As it should be, the two shall become one flesh and be in partnership in marriage and in life. And in the ministry, there is no difference.

So we thought for $23 for a suit and the remainder for the wife and the kids to be blessed, this is a good investment.

Joy- Especially in communist countries when prison or persecution is involved and the wife suffers further. Okay, so we are going to talk about one more Bundle. This is going to be a two-part series today so we are going to touch on one more Bundle before we end this segment.

Charis- I think we can squeeze two in for our last one. It’s for Serbia but we are actually doing two different Bundles. So the first Bundle we have is for winter coats and boots and the second Bundle we have is for food baskets and firewood. Dad, do you want to talk a bit about that?

Ron- Okay, the food basket with the firewood is basically for the widows and the very, very poor. This is going to be a tough winter for that part of the world, eastern Europe, Serbia, and Albanian-speaking countries. The reason for this is the war in Ukraine. Fuel prices are up, food prices are through the roof. The people are cold there right now and getting colder. Therefore, when you can, go and get a year’s worth of firewood.

Joy- A year’s worth of firewood?

Ron- A year’s worth which would be for the winter months and food baskets for one widow to stay alive for $50, that is a good buy. And I’ve driven by these homes and here is this firewood all stacked up and I can just see the little widow who has no assistance from anyone else being approached by Christians, by the church saying we will take care of you. And that is what that is all about. We will take care of you, and that is for $50 for the winter.

Joy- And that compassionate love has got to be going a long way to really building the Kingdom of God in Serbia. Because we have been in Serbia for a few years now and it is just continuing to grow and expand.

Ron- They say, Nobody loves us like the Christians.” That is the byword amongst the Serbian gypsy population, Roma population, Nobody in the world loves us like the Christians do.” And therefore, when you turn up and you are not only preaching but you are loving in a physical way of providing firewood and food and stuff like that, that really goes a long way. And then if you get to the young people. This is going to be a cold winter because you are turning down the thermostat because you don’t have enough either firewood or electricity or anything like that and when you do that, people get cold inside of houses and young people, they don’t have jackets, they don’t have boots. That is the other part.

Charis- That is the second bundle.

Ron- The second Bundle is giving these kids who are discovering who Jesus is in a poor situation and you are giving them the gift of warmth and you are showing them that we love you. Nobody else loves them. Nobody. They are discriminated against, the gypsy population.

Joy- For hundreds of years.

Ron- Oh yeah, and these Christians are coming along and saying I love you and giving us a jacket or some boots?! I have been there recently in the fall and driving around and looking at some of these situations, they are desperately poor and many times I would see the kids walking around with bare feet. It’s normal.

Joy- You know it reminds me of that story that we told where our workers saw a young boy and he was shoeless and they approached him and said let us buy you a pair of shoes and he paused and hesitated and he said come with me and he showed them this trailer.

Ron- It was a 20-foot cargo trailer.

Joy- Yeah, like a C‑Can, and it was filled with his siblings, children, and they needed more than him, he would forgo the shoes.

Ron- Right, so they could have food and whatever else. Well, we took care of that situation by the way, and we are still taking care of that situation. Those kids are all being taken care of. They are getting food, they are getting clothes, they are getting housing, everything like that. So that is all being done. But they were a perfect example of what this does, it finds opportunities to love these people.

Charis- And it gets cold there!

Ron- Oh, yeah. You might get a dusting of snow, but it goes sub-zero.

Joy- Well, this is definitely an important Bundle of Love. I know they all are; I wouldn’t be able to choose a favorite and every year I know that I hand it to my children and ask which one they want to do and it is always a difficult choice.

Okay, so that is the end of part one of our Bundles of Love. Thanks, guys!

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