Pack a Meal. Change a Life.

If you were asked to design a perfect service opportunity for our church family, what would it be? It would need to appeal to both young and old, and to those muscular and not so muscular. It would have to overflow with the joy of serving, the fun of new friendships, the call to impact lives, and, of course, be infused with an overwhelming sense that God is there.

Friends, I introduce you to the Meal Packing Marathon.

Last January, you may have been one of the lucky 300 people who joined us for the first Meal Packing Marathon at BelPres. In two hours, this hearty group of volunteers packed 70,000 dried meals for vulnerable children in Sierra Leone, West Africa. By investing a morning of energy, our BelPres community made a lasting impression in God’s rescue operation to the world, feeding children who would otherwise go hungry.

Wearing aprons and hairnets, these 300 joyful servants put chicken, rice, lentils, and spice into bags, which were then weighed and sealed, and later boxed. Children who participated were happily running food bags to the sealing stations, coloring boxes,

working the scales, or dumping dried food into funnels. The room held dozens of tables, each acting as a packing station where people were laughing, singing, and bonding over the fun of this easy yet life-changing work. When the event concluded and we stared in awe at the wall of packed boxes, many commented how special it was to partake in this remarkable service event. And yes, the overwhelming sense of God’s presence throughout the whole morning was palpable.

With that as the backdrop, pull out your cell phone and put the next Meal Packing Marathon into your handy online calendar. On Saturday, January 30, we will have two sessions to pack meals, one from 10am to noon, and a second from 1-3pm; both take place right in our own Community Center. Our goal is to double our impact from last year by offering room for 600 total volunteers… and of course, we want YOU to be one of them! Each packaged meal at our 2016 Meal Marathon will cost 25 cents to create and ship, a total of $30,000 for 120,000 dried meals. Participants in the Meal Packing Marathon have the opportunity to consider a Simplicity Challenge, finding ways to simplify spending and make a donation to support the cost of the food and shipping for the meals we will pack.      

Children of the Nations (COTN) is the Christian non-profit organization that is partnering with BelPres to host this food-packing event. This organization provides holistic care to thousands of vulnerable and destitute children around the world, with a focus primarily on Africa. Children of the Nations will ship our packed meals to Africa and then distribute them into the partner villages where they run daily feeding programs.

In May of this year, I had the delightful God-ordained privilege to travel to Africa. As part of that trip, I visited these villages served by COTN and actually dished up these dried meals to a line of hungry, needy kids. God fiercely grabbed hold of my heart with every spoonful of the rice and chicken meal that I slopped on each well-used plate. How rich it was to experience both the creation and distribution of those ever-so-important meals. A well-fed child is able to focus in school, work hard for his family, raise animals, and much more, whereas a hungry child struggles with all of these things. Feed a child and change a life…. that’s for sure.

So as we plan and pray for this upcoming second annual Meal Packing Marathon, we invite you to join us on the journey.

Jesus said to his disciples, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Join us as we do this. We promise an adventure you won’t forget!

When: Saturday, January 30, 10am-12pm,  or 1-3pm. (Child care in morning session only.)

Where: Community Center, BelPres

Who: YOU! All ages welcome.

How: Register now, as space fills quickly. www.belpres.org/events

Why: To join God in His rescue operation! Pack a meal and change a life!

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