INTRO: Finally, at this time of year, many people of faith try to give extra help to the needy. Churches across the country have been taking part in a special project for the charity Stop Hunger Now. Congregation members pack non-perishable meals that will be sent to children in poverty-stricken areas of the world. We visited Grace Community Church in Arlington, Virginia, where senior pastor John Slye said packing the meals was a concrete expression of their Christian faith.
JOHN SLYE (Senior Pastor, Grace Community Church): We focus on just three things at Grace: Christ, community, and compassion, and compassion for us is practical service, which is what we’re doing here today. We gathered together 1,500 people to feed 100,000 hungry bodies.
DEREK ADYE (Executive Pastor, Grace Community Church): Okay, that gong means that we have already packaged 7,000 meals. We are way ahead of schedule at this point.
DOMINIC ALEXANDER (Regional Program Manager, Stop Hunger Now): The meals are comprised of four ingredients: a long grain white rice; soy protein—textured vegetable soy protein; we also have a dehydrated veggie mix—celery, carrot, onion, bell pepper, carrot, cabbage, and tomato; and then finally, probably our most potent part of our meals is a vitamin sashay pack, which has 21 different minerals, nutrients, and vitamins specifically tailored for malnourished children, and when all these ingredients are added together and cooked with water it kind of tastes like a chicken rice-a-roni.
SLYE: Most of those meals are going to go to schools or orphanages. We love the fact that many of them in the past have gone to schools. Because parents know that there’s a good meal for them at school, they’ll send the child to school to get the meal, and then they get the education.
ADYE: Okay, we’re up to 74,000.
SLYE: What we tell people is that to come out to this event, and instead of hearing a sermon in a traditional service, instead of hearing a sermon they come here and be the sermon. This world is filled with so many problems that you almost don’t know where to start. And for us, when you gather a bunch of people together there’s strength, and there’s encouragement in that, and so what we say here is, together we can do more. So we gather a lot of people together so we can make a much bigger impact in a very practical way.
ADYE: We’re up to 81,000. Eighty-one thousand meals.
SLYE: When you look at the biographies of Jesus’ life—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—there’s only one miracle of Jesus that’s represented in all four biographies, and that’s Jesus feeding hungry people, thousands and thousands of hungry people. So we think this event is so Jesus.
At that event, Grace Community Church packed 100,000 meals in one morning.