The little red and white bag is only 9 inches by 6 inches, but the beans and rice that are packed inside are intended to help feed six people in the strife-torn countries of Haiti and Honduras, according to Pastor Bob Stevens of the Allensburg Church of Christ.
Partnering with Lifeline Christian Missions, Stevens said the church of 150 had the goal of packing 10,000 of the 14-ounce bags in the church’s multipurpose room Friday morning, a goal they reached shortly after noon.
Audra Norman is the representative for the missions organization and said the healthy and nutritious meals the organization sponsors were earmarked to feed the hungry around the world.
“Each station here at the church has children packing a bag of food,” she said. “It contains enough to serve six people and has four ingredients: vitamins, dried vegetables, beans and rice, and it’s a very simple meal to cook for people who don’t have electricity or have to cook outside.”
She said it takes about 20 minutes to cook one bag’s contents.
Citing the political and civil unrest in both countries, she said that most organizations that sponsor missionaries are recommending their teams do not travel into the region, but Norman is hopeful that by mid-summer they can resume shipping both food and personnel there again.
She said the focus of Friday morning’s efforts were two-fold: to meet the physical needs of the people first so that when they’ve had enough to eat, they can hear and receive the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Stevens said that Lifeline Christian Missions has been a part of the church’s Vacation Bible School for several years, and that youth pastor Nick Hatch will be taking a group of young people to Arizona in July to work with the Navajo Indians.
“I believe very firmly in Lifeline’s mission and what they’re doing with missionaries around the world,” Hatch said. “I’ve found the kids can do a lot of leadership things, and this is a practical way of not just talking about it, not just throwing money at it, but letting kids do hands-on missionary outreach so that they can feel they actually did something about it.”
Ten-year-old Caroline West of Abernathy Road near Lynchburg was one of those filling food bags in the assembly line operation. She said she wanted to spend her Friday morning at the church to help those in another country who didn’t have much money or any food, a feeling shared by 9-year-old Aiden Bene, who was standing across from where his mother was pouring rice into a funnel to fill the bags.
“We’re here because we love people and have a heart for missions,” Melissa Bene said. “What we’re doing here today makes a big difference because were not just talking about it or hearing about it, we’re actually doing something about it, and that allows us to live out our faith in the Lord.”
Norman said that Lifeline gives the boxes containing the food bags packed by churches like Allensburg to more than 50 different missionaries in the area, with 5,000 children receiving food in the organization’s school and nutrition programs.
She added that thousands of people receive the food packages on a daily basis, and that the organization couldn’t fulfill its calling were it not for volunteers in the U.S. and Canada.
The raw materials to build the food packages come from a private wholesaler who donates the rice, beans and dried vegetables, she said, and delivers it to their headquarters in the Columbus suburb of Westerville.
Interested churches and organizations can assist in the organization’s worldwide missionary outreach efforts by going to lifeline.org or emailing email@example.com.
“My goal as a youth pastor is to see kids realize that they can start as young as they are, and they can get involved in some way in helping other people not just here, but in other countries,” Hatch said. “We need a whole lot more of that in the world today.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.