If the name Spiros Zodhiates does not roll trippingly off the evangelical tongue, neither does the man nor his ministry fit the classic evangelical mold. This year the Greek immigrant marks his fiftieth year at the helm of amg International, but Zodhiates has yet to become a household name.

Even evangelical insiders who know him well are at a loss to characterize him. "The American Wild West gone missions," one missiologist observes finally.

It is an apt description for this 74-year-old Cyprus-born missions maverick who across five decades built the fledgling American Mission to the Greeks into AMG International, which today undertakes publishing (Pulpit Helps and The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible), health services (with hospitals in Greece and India), "newspaper evangelism" (in 20 countries), and church planting (200 congregations in Muslim Indonesia alone).

A study in contrasts
Moments after inviting me into his modestly furnished home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Zodhiates the scholar delves into the significance of an important Greek word in the New Testament, then, in the same breath, Zodhiates the evangelist declares a desire "to raise enough money to place a gospel message in Playboy."

With an earned doctor of theology degree, Zodhiates has devoted his life to studying the Greek language and the Greek New Testament, authoring about 50 books and reference works. Working off his kitchen table, Zodhiates is focusing on his latest project, a word-by-word commentary on the Greek New Testament. He expects to labor on it for the next ten years. "This will be my biggest contribution to the Christian world," he says, "if the Lord allows me to live that long."

Another of Zodhiates's proud achievements is his collection of 50,000 religious ...

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