CENTRAL IRAQ –"Where are the Muslims?" asked an Iraqi man as he received one of the 45,000 boxes of food prepared by the Southern Baptist Convention, early November. After months of delay from terrorist threats, the short-term missionaries and volunteers to the International Missions Board delivered the long since prepared “boxes of love” for the Iraqi families.
As the volunteer teams moved through the impoverished and war torn neighborhoods, the families humbly and happily accepted the gifts; all anti-American feelings, if it did exist among the people, were put aside at least during that one day of charity.
"It struck me that the people realize we're trying to help them. And we're trying to show them the love of Christ,” said volunteer Doug Wells.
According to the Southern Baptist News site, “Iraqis cheered as a volunteer team moved through their neighborhood to give out cartons of food, and children ran up to the five Southern Baptist men from Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., like they were long-lost uncles, giggling and jostling to get close. Mothers handed over their babies to be held, and the few men around extended greetings.”
"It reminded me of kids coming up to Jesus," marveled Jim Walker, a digital press artist from East Bend, N.C.
Through the 10-day project, which stretched from late October to early November, half of the collected boxes were handed out to the Iraqi people. Each of the cartons, stuffed with 70 pounds of flour, sugar and other basic foodstuffs, was enough to feed a family of four for several weeks.
Other missions groups also worked throughout the country, assisting those who have lost their homes and all means of providing food for their family.
"The Iraqi people suffered under Saddam Hussein and they are still suffering," said a local leader, adding that people need medicine as well as food.
After giving out the gifts, the volunteers prayed with several of the families who received the boxes.
"I was able to put a hand on his shoulder, and we prayed for him before we left," said Calvary member Hal Newell.
Though attacks on foreign groups continue throughout the nation, the volunteers plan to carry on their initial plan to give out all of the 45,000 boxes to the Iraqis by the end of 2003.