May 21 Deadline for Southern Baptist Food Aid to Iraq

May 13, 2003 05:57 PM EDT

RICHMOND, Va. – The Southern Baptist Convention calls upon all SBC churches and individuals to send food boxes to hungry families in Iraq. Although 95,000 boxes have been gathered for the collection centers, churches across the country were challenged to send more by the collection point deadline, May 21.

Southern Baptist relief workers say hunger is one of the major needs in Iraq following the recent war. A sixty dollar box will contain almost 70 pounds of staple food items: beans, lentils, rice, flour, salt, sugar, loose tea and powdered milk; each box will feed a family of five for about a month.

"This is a great way to minister in a personal way to Iraqi people if you can't actually go yourself," said Jim Brown, director of world hunger and relief ministries for the International Mission Board. "This isn't relief that is going to be mass-distributed in a refugee camp either. It will be specifically delivered to hungry families in the towns and villages of Iraq once peace has been restored to the country."

Brown said the food aid will be delivered without regard to ethnic or religious identity, and will not contain any literature of any sort. Inclusion of evangelistic tracts could cause the aid shipment to be rejected by authorities.

A label on the outside of each box will quote John 1:17 in Arabic: "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." It also will identify it as "A gift with love from the Southern Baptist churches in America."

Disaster relief offices of Baptist state conventions will receive boxes and, in partnership with the IMB, will coordinate delivery to the shipping point, Brown said. Specific questions about the collection process should be directed to those offices. People with other questions may contact the International Mission Board.

By Pauline J.