This past Thanksgiving, over two dozen churches celebrated how God used them to provide meals for over 125,000 people, equivalent to over three times the capacity of the Washington Nationals baseball park. Approximately a third of those most critically in need in Metro Washington were served. Beyond this effort, many more people fed by other churches across the region.
The meals provided physical nourishment, but even more importantly, spiritual nourishment. Jesus taught, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" (Matthew 4:4). To those suffering with food insecurity, receiving a Thanksgiving meal was surely good news, but nowhere near the magnitude of the Good News of the gospel that came with the physical food!
For the nineteenth consecutive year, McLean Bible Church organized an assembly line to box ingredients for a families of 8-10 to prepare and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal together. These boxes not only included the turkeys, but also the Book of John, CDs, and other faith building literature. Over 7,500 boxes were either hand delivered to homes or to partnering ministries on the frontlines of neighborhoods in need. In situations where families were not able to prepare the meal, massive family style dinners were held. In both cases, the food provided a catalyst for relationships and spiritual conversations.
Another example of spiritual nourishment included a Thanksgiving rally organized by the World Missions Extension Center in the heart of the inner city. Over 1,000 families gathered at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church to receive their meals and to hear the Word. As a result, many responded to the gospel. Dr. JoAnn Perkins, who founded the ministry almost 30 years ago, holds 6 similar rallies each year focused on providing tangible resources and the gospel to disadvantaged families and at-risk youth. For her work feeding and clothing the homeless and educating some of the city’s poorest children in Ward 5, she has been recognized by the Metro Police Department as Citizen of the Year. This coming Thanksgiving, plans are being formulated to more fully understand the extent of coverage by the Church and to accelerate distribution of both food and gospel to those in need.