Feeding Hungry Children Around the World
Service lies at the heart of Pathway Community Church, which has grown from four families to more than 3,000 regular attendees since its founding in 2002. “When we started the church, it was with the understanding that this wasn’t about us,” says Ron Williams, senior pastor. “We were going to look for ways that we could serve our community.”
A Worthy Cause
Several years ago, Williams learned about Feed My Starving Children, a Christian charity that sends meals to malnourished children around the world. Reports indicate that about 842 million people worldwide suffer from chronic hunger,* and 2.3 million children die each year from hunger-related illness. **
As he was preparing for a sermon series called “Bring the Love,” Williams proposed that the church host a volunteer event that would produce 100,000 meals for Feed My Starving Children. That amount would feed 275 children one meal daily for an entire year.
Not only could churchgoers make an impact on world hunger, but they also could play a part in sharing the gospel with people they’d never meet. Meals from the program are shipped to Christian mission partners in nearly 50 countries, including Haiti, Nicaragua, and the Philippines.
In addition, everyone could participate: small groups, staff teams, youth groups – even children as young as 5. It offered a great opportunity for families to serve together.
“It’s a win-win across the board,” Williams says. “We win, because we get to do it and celebrate what we’re doing. Then, we get to hand it to Feed My Starving Children and have them take it around the world. You have this sense of kingdom accomplishment.”
How it Works
To host a MobilePack event, a church gathers at least 500 volunteers, creates at least 2,300 square feet of working space, and gains access to a forklift. It also makes a donation that will pay for at least 100,000 meals. On the first day of the event, large containers of rice, dehydrated vegetables, soy protein nuggets, and vitamin-rich flavoring arrive in a large semi-trailer truck.
Once the supplies are unloaded, volunteers measure each ingredient into small, plastic pouches, creating a food blend scientifically designed to save the lives of malnourished children. The pouches are called MannaPacks, after the food miraculously provided for the Israelites during their journey in the wilderness.
After all of the MannaPacks are filled, volunteers place the packs into sturdy cardboard boxes, pray over them, and load the boxes into a semi-trailer that will carry the food to a distribution center.
A Success Story
Volunteers at Pathway Community Church packed more than 200,000 meals the first year, and the church decided to make it an annual event. In 2011, the church once again doubled its goal and packed 404,568 meals--enough to feed 1,108 children for a year. To date, the church has packed more than 1.6 million meals for Feed My Starving Children and inspired other ministries in the region to do the same.
“It’s healthy in the life of a church to provide opportunities through the course of the year for people to be generous,” Williams says. “You’re looking for ways to bring the whole body together, not only to be generous, but also to be obedient.”
Not only did hosting a MobilePack event create an awareness of world hunger, Williams says, but it also provided an avenue for church members to make a difference.
It’s just one of the ways Pathway Community Church takes ministry beyond its walls. Others include sending shoes to orphans in Africa, helping families adopt children, sending Christmas gifts around the world through Operation Christmas Child, supporting a citywide homeless ministry, and feeding hungry people through local food banks.
All of these activities work together in fulfilling the church’s mission, Williams says. “Each of these is an opportunity for us to say: ‘God has richly blessed us; we’re going to bless others.’”
* “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2013,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, accessed January 20, 2014, http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3458e/i3458e.pdf
** “2012-2013 Annual Report,” Feed My Starving Children, accessed January 20, 2014, http://www.fmsc.org/document.doc?id=608.
Pathway Community Church Gallery