GONZALES—Baptist churches across South Central Texas joined to provide 128,000 meals for hungry children in Haiti.
An area-wide food-packing event began as an idea more than a year ago through the Gonzales and Gambrell Baptist associations’ annual meetings.
Several churches previously engaged in disaster relief and recovery trips to Haiti, which suffered a devastating earthquake three years ago.
Associational leaders agreed to collect special offerings in their churches throughout 2013, and they set a November date to prepare meal packets for Haitian children. Churches raised $34,000 to fund the project, including buying supplies to assemble and ship meal packets.
“I have never experienced the dynamics of what happened in Stockdale and Flatonia, when churches from each association came together for a common cause,” said Tommy Wilson, director of missions for South Central Texas Baptist Area.
The number of churches and volunteers involved, amount of money raised and overall success of the project far exceeded expectations, Wilson said.
“What happened at both churches during those few days could only be described as a well-oiled machine, with everybody working together, everybody helping each other, everybody focused on a common goal. What a beautiful picture of what the church ought to be,” he said.
Through partnership with Lifeline Christian Mission’s ABC food event, volunteers prepared nutritious food packets filled with rice, dehydrated soy flour, dried vegetables, and 21 essential vitamins and minerals.
We Care Haiti, an organization Texas Baptists have partnered with several years in disaster recovery efforts, will distribute the food packets.Volunteers packaged, weighed, sealed and boxed the packets for shipment to Haiti.
Ernie and Sharon Rice, members of First Baptist Church in Stockdale, serve as missionaries with We Care Haiti, which provided a direct connection to the project in the area.
Rice became connected with the ministry through Texas Baptist Men projects in Haiti. Each time he returned to Stockdale, Rice told others about the great needs in Haiti, particularly regarding children.
“We have heard stories from Ernie and Sharon about the malnutrition among children, and we wanted to do something,” said JoDea Lambeck, ministry assistant for First Baptist in Stockdale. “It was such an easy way to help. For $75, you can feed a child in Haiti for a year. To see all the people who came together from the association, doing it all for the Lord, it was just wonderful.”
The yearlong project allowed church members of all ages to participate in raising funds, said Pastor Tim Rowell of Flatonia Baptist Church. From children who collected money during Vacation Bible School to Sunday school classes that took offerings, members of multiple congregations took part in the project.
When they gathered prior to Thanksgiving to assemble the packets, it gave participants a new perspective on the holidays, some noted.
“In the world we live in today, so much of our focus is on what we are going to get at Christmas—we find ourselves becoming very ‘me-centered,’” Rowell said. “This was an opportunity to give back. The theme through this project has been ‘God has blessed us, so we can bless others.’ It really was a joy to do it.”
For more information about food packets for Haiti, contact Marla Bearden, Texas Baptist Disaster Recovery specialist, at (214) 828-5382 or email@example.com.