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This story comes to us from a Dallas-based MobilePack volunteer and donor named Steven.
When Bibby Georgieva stepped off the plane at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in the summer of 2014, it was the end of her first journey on a plane outside of her native Sofia, Bulgaria.
At the time, Bibby was a 16-year old exchange student who was coming to live with my family for the 2014-2015 school year and attend high school with my daughters, Hanna (who was 17) and Julianna (who was 15).
Bibby’s introduction to Dallas and to our family was the first million meal pack in Dallas.
I had come to the shift early while my wife, Kathryn, and our daughters had gone to the airport to pick up Bibby. They drove directly from the airport to Parish Episcopal for the meal pack and dove right in.
Like most Bulgarians, Bibby grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church. While Bibby is Christian, she had never encountered anything like the FMSC meal pack.
It was the perfect way to throw her right into our life and service for others. My daughters got her involved in the youth group, and it became a big part of her life in Dallas.
Bibby is now back in Bulgaria attending university. We miss her so much and she will always be another of our daughters, but we will always remember how FMSC got her started on the right foot from her first day in Dallas.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, Steve! Your family, including Bibby, are an inspiration!
Adam Hanson is a senior team leader at Feed My Starving Children. Here, he shares an AMAZING story of how little things become big things when God is involved.
I had her stand up. She was such a little peanut that I could barely see her head pop up among the crowd of volunteers. At the beginning of that packing session, Bella, a cute-as-a-button little girl, perhaps 6 years old, walked up to me and proudly held aloft a box with a slot in the top.
The box was filled with coins and dollar bills. “Did you fill this up?” I asked and Bella beamed. “Yep,” she said.
I told her how excited I was that she had filled up this box in order to feed starving kids and she grinned, turned and skipped back to her mother’s side.
Now, at the end of the shift as I addressed the crowd of volunteers who had just given up two hours of their afternoon to pack meals at Feed My Starving Children, I held up Bella’s box and called her out in front of the hundred or so in attendance.
She stood and I explained to everyone that Bella had brought in this box of her money because she wanted to feed kids. Bella, red-faced and smiling, bounced ever so slightly where she stood.
One of my favorite questions to ponder when I am at Feed My Starving Children is, “What if?”
What if what we do while we are there makes all the difference in a child’s life? What if this bag that I am filling with food means that a little girl who would have starved to death gets to be strong and healthy and run around and play?
Or this box that I put on a pallet means a mom gets to have the boy she loves back in her arms, rather than watch him slowly wither away.
After almost six years working at FMSC, I have heard enough stories and even seen some children brought back from the brink with my own eyes, that I know that these “What ifs” happen every day in the places we send the food.
And it’s the way God does it that makes me beam, that makes me stand in awe and maybe even bounce a little where I stand.
I explained to the audience that each meal costs Feed My Starving Children less than a quarter to produce and so each of the quarters in Bella’s box could provide a meal for someone who might be desperate for that meal.
Her donation provides the food, then packed up by volunteers, that could mean life for a child starving to death right now.
The audience gave her a great big round of applause, with enthusiastic cheers, and Bella sat down.
I had a few more things to say and then dismissed the volunteers to leave.
When I did so, more than a dozen other kids all around the room, stood up, unprompted, and walked up to me with handfuls of change or wadded up dollar bills.
They all wanted to donate to feed kids too. But not only that, they wanted to put it Bella’s box that I still held in my hands. One by one, they cued up and dropped their money into the box until it was brimming!
Sometimes problems seem impossibly big. World hunger and saving lives are big difficult problems.
But I am wonderstruck when I am reminded that God is feeding the world’s starving bellies, not by the biggest or most powerful of us, not by richest or most intelligent of us, but by little Bella, who when the opportunity came to fill up a box with what she had, she simply said, “Yep.”
Purchase a fundraising coin box HERE.
On a recent visit to the tiny, remote village of Chuticalbaj, Guatemala, our partners New Hope Ministries (NHM) were able to check in on Juana and her mother Manuela, who we first got to know a year ago!
It is a long, challenging drive on extremely rough terrain to make it to their village, but our partners are determined and will stop at nothing to get FMSC food into the hands of those who desperately need it. We are so grateful for the dedication of our amazing partners like NHM.
When we last we heard from Juana, she was growing stronger and her health was improving.
Now one year later she has gained 9 more pounds! She looks AMAZING!
Spunky Juana is approaching her 7th birthday! We love seeing the progress she has made.
Juana is doing very well. She likes to have fun, is very energetic and enjoys running around and playing with her siblings and friends in the village.
Thank you for the impact you’ve made on Juana’s life.
“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.” – Psalm 9:18
UPDATE: After publication of this post, the U.N. Refugee Agency announced that the number of forcibly displaced peoples has hit a record high of 65 million from 59.5 million just 12 months ago.
Close to 60 million people worldwide are forcibly displaced. Let that term sink in. Forcibly displaced.
“Forcibly displaced” is more than a term for refugees, internally displaced persons and stateless persons. “Forcibly displaced” is 60 million heart wrenching stories. When I hear the term, I feel a quickening in my pulse and a need to share the stories I’ve been told.
Here is one such story from James, a leader of a Sudanese church in Wheaton, Illinois:
“There was militia and they went to our village. They killed them all. They burned all houses in the area. They took all the cow we have. Everything we have they took it away from us.”
“We never been free. We NEVER been free. They say we lost 2 million, but it was more than 2 million. Who count them? Who see them? We never see the world to step in.”
What James and his family had been through is unimaginable, but sadly, millions of people around the world don’t have to imagine it. They lived it. Many are still living it.
Now, more than ever, children are being affected by the refugee crisis.
Last year, 51 percent of refugees were under 18 years old. This is the highest figure for child refugees in more than a decade, according to the UNHCR.
Feed My Starving Children meals reach many refugees worldwide. Our partners work tirelessly to bring nutritious meals and clean water to families and children in need.
The Worst Humanitarian Crisis of Our Time
Since the Syrian conflict began, more than 11 million people have been killed or forced to flee their homes, according to MercyCorps. It has been called the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.
The U.N. predicts there could be 4.7 million registered Syrian refugees by the end of this year.
Recently, we brought you a story about a group of students who brought MannaPack Rice™ to Syrian refugees in Macedonia. We are happy to report that Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Iraq are also benefiting from nutritious, life-saving meals.
In the past two years, FMSC has shipped more than 1 million meals to Iraq for Iraqi and Syrian refugees. These shipments have gone through two different partners, Reach Now International and World Help.
Our meals are primarily being used in refugee camps in Kurdistan and in villages in Iraq. We do have other direct partners working in the Middle East with refugees as well, but they have not sent our food as a part of their relief efforts.
While much of the attention in Iraq has been given to meeting the needs of refugees in easily accessible refugee camps, those outside of these camps have been overlooked despite their great need, FMSC partner World Help said.
A very long and harsh winter left rural, hard to reach mountain villages lacking basic necessities.
“Because of the generosity of FMSC, we were able to reach these villages for the first time, providing for a group of people that had been neglected for far too long,” World Help said.
One 31-year-old man expressed the timeliness of this donation.
“It helped us feed many handicap children, [and] old people [who] don’t receive the right care…God bless you all for helping us. It really came at the right time in such a harsh winter.”
Join us in a prayer from the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Our Gracious Lord,
There are many in Your world today who have been forced from their homes by persecution and violence.
Keep them in your constant care, and bring them to a place of safety.
Be the Good Shepherd to refugees who are in flight. Guide them to the green pastures of safety.
Be the Everlasting Father to refugees who have lost home and loved ones. Lead, protect and provide for them.
Be the Great Physician to refugees who are suffering. Grant them healing and hope.
Be the Hiding Place to refugees who are languishing in camps. Shelter their souls as well as their bodies.
Be the Deliverer to refugees who have been able to return home. Restore their lives so that those who have sown in tears may reap in joy.
Be the Wonderful Counselor to refugees who have been resettled. Help them find their way in a new land.
Be the Giver of all good gifts to those who serve refugees. Empower them to do justice and love mercy and walk humbly with You.
Be the Lord of lords to all the earth, that those who rule would do so in justice and righteousness, and no one would have to become a refugee anymore.