It is beautiful springtime once again, but with the fear of COVID-19 gripping the country, it’s easy to miss the signs of new life. Across the nation, many inmates are on lockdown.
One inmate wrote to me the other day, refusing to mention the virus by name because he was so sick of hearing about it. Thousands of human beings in close proximity is a worst-case scenario for the spread of contagious diseases. The fear is real.
It was a joy to send out the 40th issue of Loaves & Fishes in March. A group of volunteers from Christian Light Fellowship in Bedford, PA helped us prepare the shipment for mailing.
Little did we know as the 125,000 magazines went out the door that major sectors of the world economy were just days from shutting down due to a deadly, invisible threat to human life. Our hope is that many inmates on lockdown were able to receive a copy to read while quarantined.
Thank you to all of our supporters. Your gifts are making a di?erence in the lives of the men and women who are reading Loaves & Fishes in their cells today.
We are pleased to announce that the 40th issue of Loaves
& Fishes is ordered from the printer! By the time you receive this
newsletter, we hope to have it in our warehouse.
Our circulation is up to 125,825 copies. We are printing
135,000 copies so that we have extra copies on hand for back issue orders and
new distributors who sign up between now and the next printing.
We are within $6,000 of reaching our funding goal to be
able to ship the magazine. We would like to thank everyone who has given
generously to make this issue possible.
The main way we gauge the effectiveness of our work is the
responses we receive from our readers and distributors. We receive far more
than we can share with you, so know that each of the notes of appreciation you
see in our newsletters represents the gratefulness of many other prison inmates
and chaplains who were blessed by the magazine.
When our staff processes mail from inmates, we often
include personal notes of encouragement in our responses. We have found that
this personal touch is surprising and very meaningful to inmates. Although we have limited ability to engage in
correspondence, it is a blessing to our readers.
As mentioned in prior newsletters, we receive frequent requests for pen pals. If you are interested in writing an inmate, please contact us and we can connect you with one. At this time we are in need of male pen pals.
Winter 2020 Board Meeting
The advisory board for Lighthouse Publishing met in
January for its second annual meeting. It was particularly enjoyable to have
Darold Gingerich, founder of Lighthouse Publishing and Loaves & Fishes
magazine, present from Iowa to share with the board how our ministry came to
We presented our 2019 reports to the board and discussed
various matters of business, including future plans and staff needs going
forward. Once again, we appreciate the willingness of these men to give their
time to help us steward this ministry.
The next issue of Loaves & Fishes will feature
the theme of self-control. We are working on compiling and editing material.
Would you pray for our work and for our readers to be blessed and changed by
reading the magazine? We so appreciate all of those who keep our ministry in
their thoughts, prayers, and giving.
On May 20, we processed the mailing of Loaves & Fishes issue #38. Our local staff, along with 23 energetic volunteers from St. Thomas Christian Fellowship in Chambersburg, PA, prepared 118,000 copies for pickup by the USPS in several hours’ time. We enjoyed a meal and fellowship afterward.
The larger orders are shipped out in the 150-count cases in which we receive them from the printer. Less than full case quantities are repackaged into smaller boxes or envelopes. This mailing, the Media Mail postage for a case of 150 magazines was $10.55. The approximate cost of printing and shipping this issue was $30,000, or about 25¢ per magazine. This cost included ordering an extra 10,000 magazines for inventory to fulfill new orders.
It is always a blessing to see the work and donations of so many people produce a tangible result. Watching the mail truck pull out loaded with tons of spiritual food for prison inmates across our country is our moment of “casting our bread upon the waters.” After “many days,” may we find that our investment has produced a precious return in many hearts. May God bless you for your support!
Issue 39 Preview
The theme of the upcoming issue of Loaves & Fishes is faithfulness, the next in the list of the fruits of the Spirit from Galatians 5. It will feature an editorial on faith and faithfulness and an article with practical ways to be faithful. The Bible study guide will highlight the book of Ecclesiastes.
We are reprinting an article titled “Facing Death in the Family” by John Coblentz, and several other inspirational pieces and stories. As always, there will be a selection of poems and testimonies submitted by readers in prison.
The printing of issue 38 has depleted our funds on hand. We hope to raise $20,000 for the printing followed by $10,000 for the shipping in order to meet our goal of shipping the next issue in August. Please pray for us as we finish up the production of this issue, and for funds to be provided.
2020 Calendar Project
In past years, Lighthouse Publishing has produced a small calendar card for some of our larger distributors to give to their inmates. These 3.5” x 8.5” glossy cards have a year-long calendar on the front, and a description of Loaves & Fishes magazine on the back with instructions on how to subscribe.
We receive a lot of positive feedback from our distributors and from the inmates about how much they love this seemingly insignificant gift. A calendar to check off the days is something a prison inmate truly appreciates.
Last year, we produced 40,000 calendar cards at a cost of $2,800, including printing, design, and shipping, an approximate cost of 7¢ each. Our funding goal for this year’s calendar project is $2,800. If you would like to help, please earmark your donation “calendars.”
If we do not meet the goal by September 30, we will forgo the calendar project this year and the funds will be used for Loaves & Fishes magazine.
In March, Lighthouse Publishing participated in REACH 2019, a two-day biennial event sponsored by Faith Builders Educational Programs. REACH helps conservative Anabaptist ministries connect with each other and with churches and individuals who are interested in supporting them. 52 ministries were represented and over 2,000 people attended.
We were impressed with the scale and variety of the work that is being done all over the world. The opportunities to support the Lord’s work are nearly unlimited, and many of these missions need staff and funding. It is truly inspiring to see how much is being accomplished through the generosity of Christian believers.
In the larger perspective, it is clear that our work at Lighthouse Publishing is a tiny segment in the great panorama of God’s work across the world today. This ministry to the prison population of our country is made possible by your heart of compassion.
We were blessed to hear firsthand comments about how Loaves & Fishes is being used in the prisons. We heard both from chaplains who are delivering the magazines into solitary confinement cells and from an ex-inmate who was blessed by seeing the magazine on a literature rack.
We also met several folks who were looking for material to use in prison ministry. A wide variety of workshops made the event more than worthwhile.
New Advisory Board
Since 2014, Lighthouse Publishing has operated as a ministry of Burning Bush Mennonite Church. Major decisions are made at our church’s business meetings and daily operations are overseen and routine decisions are made by our board chairman and treasurer.
We recently concluded that Lighthouse Publishing could benefit from additional oversight and accountability. Eleven men from six different churches have agreed to join an advisory board, which will meet annually and receive routine financial and operational updates during the year. The purpose of the board is to provide accountability, counsel, and non-binding recommendations for the ministry.
In March we had the first advisory board meeting at our facility, where we introduced the new board members to the ministry’s operations. We enjoyed getting acquainted and look forward to the encouragement, advice, and help that the board can bring us going forward. We are thankful for the men that have volunteered their time to bless us in this way.
Issue 38 Update
We are happy to announce that the content creation and design stages for our next magazine issue are complete. The order is at the printer, and we should have 128,000 magazines in our warehouse by April 29. We hope to process the mailing in the first week of May.
We have about $24,000 on hand which will cover the printing and part of the shipping cost. We will need to raise an additional $6,000-8000,000 by the beginning of May in order to fully fund the shipping expense.
Thanks to everyone who has given to make the upcoming issue possible. May God bless you for your kindness. We are excited about getting another issue of Loaves & Fishes into the hands of our readers.