COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- The war in Iraq may be over, but the relief effort is just beginning. One of the major needs is hunger and Southern Baptist churches are assembling food boxes to help.
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church of Colonial Heights, Va., volunteered to be one of seven collection points for food boxes prepared by churches in the state.
The congregation has been busy receiving and filling a semi-trailer with boxes donated from around the area. Once the trailer is full, it will be taken to another location, its contents loaded into a shipping container with boxes from other states, and shipped to Iraq.
Volunteers gathered to load boxes onto the trailer May 10. Project organizers at the International Mission Board expect as many as 95,000 boxes will be received from churches around the country by the May 21 deadline.
Baptist state conventions and the IMB will work together to coordinate shipment and distribution of the boxes.
Providing food aid to hungry Iraqi families is a privilege because it helps Iraqis understand how much God loves them, said one Mt. Pleasant church member.
"We have the privilege of helping these people," said Anita Clark, the congregation's missions chairperson. "The Bible says God loves the people of Iraq just as much as He loves us. That's what we're doing, showing God's love to the people of Iraq."
Southern Baptists' unified budget, the Cooperative Program, makes ministry efforts like this possible, said Mount Pleasant pastor Jeff Ginn.
"If you don't have workers in place who can do the administration and the distribution, then this really bogs down," he said. "Giving to the Cooperative Program is another link to see this is effective."
The food boxes contain 70 pounds of staple foods such as rice, flour, sugar, lentils, salt, tea and powdered milk, and can feed a family of five for about a month.
A label on the box quotes John 1:17 in Arabic: "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ."
The label also will identify the box as "A gift with love from the Southern Baptist churches in America."
Instructions for purchasing the food and packing the boxes can be found at http://www.imb.org/missionspartner/foodbox.asp. Contact information for collection centers in each state can be found at http://www.namb.net/dr/pages/state_phones.asp.
By Albert H. Lee