FMSC on Flickr
I remember my first experience at Feed My Starving Children outside of volunteering–as a person hoping to be an employee. I arrived at the interview and before we got into the interview portion, the hiring manager asked if I was okay if she opened the interview in prayer.
That was the last thing I was expecting, having come from the corporate world where it was against policy to put a small desktop Christmas tree in my cube. I said yes, and throughout the prayer, I could feel tears welling inside of me and in one split second thought, “Oh no, they are going to see me cry,” and in the next split second, I felt a sense of peace rising with me. It was beautiful.
Being part of an organization in which prayer is such an interwoven part of our day…I love it!
Together as staff, we pray at the start of our day to focus on the foundation we are built upon and lift up:
- Our partners- all that they do, all they go through and for all of God’s children
- Our volunteers- those coming that day as well as those who haven’t yet signed up, prayer requests and praises that have been requested by volunteers, or praises of volunteer stories that we have witnessed or have been shared with us.
- Our donors- past, current and future
- Organizational prayers and praises for the variety of things across departments, sites, and our board.
- Staff personal concerns and praises- it humbly connects us all.
- The optional blessing at the end of every shift- Sometimes for staff this is one of the most touching experiences. To see individuals coming together, sometimes with arms around each other, holding hands, possibly placing a hand on the pallet/boxes of food, or simply participating.
We witness unification. We witness hugs. We witness tears. We witness true hope. The love that is lifted at that time can be insurmountable. Again…God has brought these people together.
Other Opportunities for Prayer
- Prayers before meetings- This keeps us grounded. We ask that God guide our discussions so that we continue to make decisions that align with our mission to feed His children
- On the Spot Prayers among staff- We are a compassionate staff. We are humans with hurts and praises, and I have witnessed staff coming together to pray for each other
- Prayers over Shipments- It’s a time for all staff to stop whatever tasks they are doing and focus on the core of our organization — coming humbly and gratefully together to praise the hands and feet of Christ, the volunteers who packed hope and love, to offer praise for staff and volunteers who worked together to orchestrate the possibility of the shipment, to request safety and blessings over the MannaPacks in the container, to request safety over all transportation, to pray for the specific partner who will be receiving the food and to pray for the amazing and beautiful children of God who will receive the food.
We come together to lift up our gratitude for all He continues to give us opportunities to do. We come together to spread the love He commanded us to share.
So Why Do We Pray?
We pray to feel closer to Him, to become more unified in Him, to humble ourselves, to feel His power and His love, to seek guidance and feel protection, to grow, to feel, and to share faith, hope, and love–His LOVE. Without these, what is there?
*FMSC will never force prayer on any volunteers. We do offer an opportunity to for volunteers to be part of a blessing at the end of the packing sessions, but no one is obligated to participate. It is simply an optional opportunity to be part of that aspect of FMSC.
Erin Arndt is a site supervisor for Feed My Starving Children.
Clay Williams and Powell Bryant used to talk about ending world hunger when they worked the opening shift at Tacos 4 Life Grill. The two friends are now teachers, and inspired by the Tacos 4 Life model, they’re combining their passion for world hunger and hiking.
Williams and Bryant are hiking along the southernmost 200 miles of the Appalachian Trail at the end of the school year. Their mission is based around the idea of contributors donating one meal for each mile that they hike.
Their goal is to raise enough money to provide 100,000 meals.
The Tacos4Life owners stress how solvable world hunger is, Williams said.
“I think there are a lot of problems in the world that maybe won’t ever be solved: murder, war, hate, greed, but when they say hunger is the world’s most solvable problem, I completely agree with them on that,” he said.
Both Bryant’s and Williams’ students are excited about the project and helping raise money.
“It’s blown me away,” Williams said. “I knew they were good kids but never would have imagined that they would be so excited to help me with this sort of thing.”
They hope to keep people updated from the trail whenever possible, so follow them on social media!
“It just made sense for our hike to involve something like this — helping to raise money, awareness and meals because that’s where our friendship started,” Williams said.
Thank you, Clay and Powell! We can’t wait to see you change the world — you’ve already started! You can read more about the hike and donate to the cause HERE.
Above: FMSC file photo from a MobilePack in early 2016
“Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:16-17
For the third year in a row, the women of the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Shakopee donned hairnets and gloves to pack 25,000 meals for malnourished children.
The MobilePack™ consists of two shifts during one day and embodies FMSC’s mission by feeding those hungry in spirit and body.
Prisoners and prison staff are spiritually and emotionally nourished while providing nourishment and hope to starving children.
Many women volunteers have never had opportunity to give back to the community.
“Volunteering with FMSC made me feel like a person, not an offender,” one volunteer said.
The women finance part the event by donating their wages, that may be as low as $.25 an hour. They gave close to $800. The rest of the MobilePack is funded by a donor. The event is hoping to add a third shift after a MobilePack in Salina, Kansas donated $3,000.
Fundraising was a big concern for the hosts of the Salina, Kansas MobilePack, but they stepped out in faith and told everyone they knew about the opportunity to feed starving children. In the end, the hosts raised a surplus of more than $9,000.
Usually when an event raises extra money, they forward it to their next event to have a head-start on paying for their next event. Salina wanted to share their good fortune with others by splitting their extra funds among four other events.
“For me it was especially meaningful to be a part of because it really felt like it fed the spirits of the women packing while also feeding the spirits of the MobilePack team staffing the event,” one of our MobilePack staff said.
“It broke down barriers and made me appreciate the women there in a way I never had before. Also, that they gave so generously from their poverty, like the widow’s mites*, was impressive to me and several others.”
*The Widow’s Offering (Mark 12:41-44 New International Version)
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
I just returned from a trip to Haiti with Feed My Starving Children where our team of marketing staff and donors met our in-country food distribution partners.
We helped distribute FMSC meals packed by volunteers in the United States to kids in desperate need, saw the impact of how that food has created jobs and sustainable communities and loved on kiddos who just desperately needed affection.
Below are my observations and reflections from this precious time in Haiti:
There is trash everywhere – Haiti doesn’t have a sanitation system in place. But, there was an overwhelming smell of the beautiful flowers from the tropical trees in bloom.
Vendors line every inch of the street selling personal care items, clothing, shoes or produce out of tin shacks, or on scraps of cloth on the ground – yet each item is so carefully and meticulously placed to make a beautiful arrangement of goods.
There are chickens and goats with babies scurrying all over – new life.
There are views of the turquoise ocean water and lush mountain-sides. Children in tattered clothing know we’re foreign, but flash beautiful smiles and wave with excitement as we pass by.
Bible verses and passages are painted on abandoned buildings. Half-built homes made with beautiful masonry and stonework are abandoned after the money-supply ran out.
Tap Taps with ornate, brightly painted designs and metal details buzzed up and down the streets jam-packed with locals. Every advertisement and logo is perfectly hand-painted on cinder block walls that create enclosed compounds hiding beautiful places inside.
Every night it stormed fiercely (which is a blessing with the drought they’ve been facing there) and in the morning it was sunny and beautiful.
Haiti is beautiful mess.
I can’t help but see a lot of similarities in myself. The truth is, I am a beautiful mess. I am beautifully and wonderfully made in God’s own image and likeness. Yet, on the inside, I’m a jumble of faults, shortcomings and chaos. But, recognizing my shortcomings magnifies the abundant grace that God provides – and it gives me hope.
On the surface of Haiti, you see a vicious cycle of poverty and economic helplessness. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Close to 12 percent of children under 5 years old are underweight. Haiti has made progress since the earthquake of 2010, but struggles remain.
Haitians are a creative and entrepreneurial people. There is so much potential. They just need hope and a little help.
Just as God provides what I so desperately need – His grace, He provides what His children in Haiti so desperately need – hope.
Hope starts with food. That’s where FMSC comes in.
We visited Feed My Starving Children partners who are doing the most amazing things to help. They’re providing hope that starts with getting food into the hands of the thousands who are hungry.
FMSC meals are the foundation of starting the cycle of sustainability and break the cycle of poverty, all while feeding kids starving in body and spirit. Our partners are making a real difference.
It is so evident that God is at work in Haiti.
This song by Gungor is a perfect picture of God’s work in and through us:
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You
Kristen Tersteeg is a graphic designer at Feed My Starving Children. Follow her on Instagram @kristentersteeg.
“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” –Aesop
My parents got divorced when I was in junior high. Money was tight, and I remember going to our church’s food pantry with my mom.
A woman from the church stood over us, making sure we didn’t take more than the recommended amount of canned vegetables.
I was humiliated. I was worried my friends would see me. I didn’t understand what was happening. I was 13 years old and didn’t know what would happen to my family.
But that didn’t mean I wasn’t grateful for the food.
In my role at FMSC, I sometimes come across photos where people are holding MannaPack Rice,™ but they aren’t smiling. It’s natural to wonder why…to wonder if they are grateful.
We didn’t receive a lot of information with this photo, but judging by the children this woman was standing with and her age, I think she may have been their grandmother. Many children in the countries where we work are orphans and many are raised by their grandmothers.
The children in the photo have big smiles on their faces, but she is straight-faced. You could almost call her expression a scowl.
I see it as pained.
I look at this photo and can tell that this woman has a story. She has seen suffering, and now she is simply trying to provide for these children.
Sometimes They Don’t Smile
At Feed My Starving Children, we try to focus on HOPE. We love to share pictures of happy, well-fed children.
But sometimes they don’t smile.
Some children have been abused. They don’t smile because they don’t trust, and their little hearts are broken.
For some children, MannaPack Rice is their ONLY meal for the day, and they go home to no food. They don’t smile because they are still hungry and have often experienced more pain than any child should.
Hope starts with food. Food is the building block for health, education, spiritual growth – basically everything.
But the heartbreaking reality is that despite this hope, hunger still exists. Sickness and pain and sorrow still exist.
Sometimes gratitude looks like a big smile. Sometimes gratitude looks like tears.
And sometimes gratitude looks like the noble grandmother standing over her children with a face hardened by suffering and wisdom.
Katie Koranda is the social media specialist at Feed My Starving Children. Follow her on Twitter @ktkather.