On a ship headed to Botswana are enough meals to alleviate hunger for 125,000 people in the southern African country, where at least 32 percent (about 650,000) of the people live in poverty.
Money for the food was raised during the eight weeks of youth camp this summer at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, through sales of $5 wrist bands. About one in six campers purchased the 9,500 wrist bands, each of which paid for 12 meals. Not only did each $5 pay for meals, but also for packaging, containers and shipping to Botswana.
But the youth did more than just purchase wrist bands. About 2,000 of them gathered the week after Falls Creek at Moore, First to participate in this year’s Youth Evangelism Conference mission project—packaging the food for shipment.
In about three hours, the students put together 125,000 meals, consisting of high quality white long-grain rice, vitamin fortified crushed soy, a dehydrated blend of six vegetables and chicken-flavored vegetarian vitamin and mineral powder.
The meals have been formulated by food scientists to provide a rich source of easily digestible protein, carbohydrates and vitamins needed by a malnourished person’s body and mind. The food also accommodates to the broad diversity of ethnic tastes and religious differences around the world.
The four readily available, dry ingredients are easy to package, keep for long periods and require only boiling with water to prepare.
Each bag of food contains six servings of the dehydrated food which when boiled will feed six children. Additionally, the bags are made from moisture-proof and odor-proof material to prevent spoilage and insect or rodent problems, and have a shelf life of at least three years.
“For our annual YEC mission project, we usually help new church starts or do clean up around schools or other community projects,” said Norman Flowers, BGCO student evangelism and mobilization specialist. “But this was a great opportunity to bring mission minds together, making an impact with kids who are hungry and at the same time, helping IMB missionaries with a chance to share the Gospel.
The students, with plastic caps on their heads and gloves on their hands, used funnels to sort the meals into bags from large containers. After the bags were sealed and laid flat in the boxes, students wrote prayers on the boxes, asking the Lord to help the food feed the hungry and that the Gospel will be shared through the distribution of the food.
The students worked in partnership with Change This World, a Florida non-profit humanitarian organization, which in 2010 facilitated the packaging and distribution of more than 4 million meals to children and families throughout the world.
Change This World partners with Missionary Expeditors, Inc., who has 50 years experience in relief and missionary cargoes. Meals are shipped one way in an 18-foot freight container. Containers are shipped unmarked without Change This World identification to avoid any suspicion of humanitarian aid, which prevents containers from being targeted when incidents happen at sea. Change This World has never had a container hijacked or compromised during travel.
Meaghan Crump, event coordinator with Change This World, said the students at YEC were absolutely incredible.
“This was one of the largest events I have personally been a part of with Change This World,” said Crump. “What I love most about working with Change This World is the opportunity work and connect with students. I always love to watch their reactions when their session is over. They always want to keep going. It is truly inspiring to see students become empowered to stand up and make a difference.”
She said Change This World is extremely grateful for the work of Flowers, Matt Hofield, pastor of Oklahoma City, Mayfair, who was in charge of the mission project, and the Baptist Collegiate Ministries team for making the event a reality.
“The BCM team, who helped us set up more than 40 assembly lines for the event, was a huge help,” noted Crump. “This would not have been possible without them.”
Crump said there are several ways that churches and students can be involved with Change This World.
“The first is to host their own packing event, which is a great opportunity to bring churches, schools and the community at large together,” she explained. “Students can also join the Hungry For A Change movement, a student-led movement of young people who will stand up and fight world hunger. From purchasing T-shirts online to becoming an advocate in their schools and communities, students will work to spread the word about hunger.”
Crump added that Change This World loved working with the Youth Evangelism Conference in Oklahoma and hopes to be a part of it in the future.