A Brief History of AMG International
In 1940, a photographer in New York City named George Georgakis came to know Jesus Christ as his personal Savior through the words of a street preacher. George immediately began sharing the Gospel with others, particularly his fellow Greeks. Together with his friend Nicholas Lambrides, he started the American Committee for the Evangelization of the Greek—later changed to American Mission to the Greeks, and now known as Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel (AMG) International—in 1942. The organization sent Gospel literature overseas and provided aid for undernourished and homeless children in Greece. In America, the organization sponsored Greek children in a nearby orphanage and produced a bilingual Gospel magazine in Greek and English.
Four years later, the organization was being run out of a one-room office in New York City when they invited Dr. Spiros Zodhiates to join their ministry. Dr. Zodhiates came on board as a field representative and editor of the magazine and became president in 1966 when Nicholas Lambrides died. In 1949, while distributing New Testaments on the island of Crete, Dr. Zodhiates had an experience that expanded the ministry of AMG International. A young, barefoot girl, clothed in rags, asked Dr. Zodhiates for bread to give to her dying mother and little brother. After that, AMG International changed its mission to include feeding the hungry, caring for destitute children and healing the sick, in addition to preaching the Gospel.
Over the years, the organization’s original mission of reaching the Greeks expanded to adopt a more global focus, hence the name change in 1974 to Advancing the Ministries of the Gospel International. By then, AMG International was ministering to people in India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, in addition to Greece. By 1999, AMG International’s ministry had extended to approximately 50 countries.
In 2005, Dr. Zodhiates retired, and Paul Jenks became president of AMG International after being CEO since 1996. In 2013, Paul and his wife, Lois, returned to the mission field, where Paul continues supporting AMG International in the role of Vice President of Asian Outreach.
Today, led by Anastasios (Tasos) Ioannidis, AMG International is looking for exciting new opportunities for Gospel-focused, life-changing ministry in the digital age. We seek to meet people at their point of greatest need, whether it be hunger, sickness or hopelessness. We desire to point them to Jesus as the only answer to life’s problems and the only hope for eternal life. To do so, we partner with Christians who share this passion and give them opportunities to share their treasure with those in physical and spiritual need.
Dr. Spiros Zodhiates
Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009) was born to Greek parents on the island of Cyprus, and spent time in Egypt and Sudan as his father moved the family around in search of work. Dr. Zodhiates first came to know Christ through his 11-year-old brother, Argos, who set out to stone evangelists preaching in the community. Instead, Argos received Christ as his personal Savior after hearing their message. When he went home, Argos’ mom refused to let him in the house because of his new religion. Argos knelt outside and prayed for his mother all night. The next morning, Argos’ mom became a Christian, and Dr. Zodhiates soon followed.
In 1946, he came to the United States at the invitation of the American Committee for the Evangelization of the Greeks, when the organization was just two part-time employees working out of a one-room office. Dr. Zodhiates became president of the organization in 1966. During his six decades of leadership, Dr. Zodhiates demonstrated a profound commitment to God’s Word and a singular focus on faithfully accomplishing his calling. His style was marked by wise financial stewardship, enthusiasm, entrepreneurial courage and unexpected generosity.
In addition to having a Greek education, Dr. Zodhiates attended the American University in Cairo, Egypt, The National Bible Institute and New York University, and earned his Doctor of Theology degree from Luther Rice Seminary. He also has received several honorary doctorates. He is a recognized authority on the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, authoring numerous exegetical books and booklets in both Greek and English. For many years, he was heard daily on the “New Testament Light” radio program.
Anastasios (Tasos) Ioannidis
Anastasios (Tasos) Ioannidis came to AMG International in 1989, serving as Information Technologies Director, Assistant to former President Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer before becoming president of the organization in 2013.
When Tasos was 14, his parents moved to Chattanooga, TN, from Thessaloniki, Greece, to head AMG International’s outreach to Greek-speaking people in the United States. Even today, his parents are still connected to the ministry.
Tasos has traveled extensively to various countries where AMG International ministers. In his previous role as part of AMG International’s leadership team, working closely with former president Paul Jenks and the organization’s Board of Trustees, he helped to shape AMG International’s strategies and direction.
Tasos holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University, a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He and his wife, Margarita, have two children, Anna and Alexander. Margarita serves as dean of academic administration at Silverdale Baptist Academy, and the family attends Silverdale Baptist Church.