In just two days, members at an evangelical megachurch in Florida prepared over 300,000 meals that will be sent to refugee families displaced by the Islamic State terrorist organization and the ongoing civil war in Syria.
The multi-campus Christ Fellowship in southeast Florida held its third annual "Make-a-Meal" weekend on March 18-19 in which an estimated 12,500 church members pitched in at all eight of its campuses to prepare meals for refugees in the Middle East and their less fortunate neighbors throughout south Florida.
Christ Fellowship's associate director of Missions, Philip McCracken, told The Christian Post on Monday that over 489,000 meals were prepared over the course of the weekend.
While 300,000 of those will be distributed by the humanitarian aid group World Help to large refugee camps in the Middle East, the rest will be distributed to local food banks and other ministries to impoverished families throughout the southern Florida region.
Although McCracken couldn't say which refugee camps the meals would be distributed to, he assured that lot of those meals will be served to refugees from Iraq and Syria.
"It was something that our church could do in a way that creates an easy serve opportunity for people. It allows the opportunity for people to come serve for a small amount of time but when you step back and look at the big picture, you are like, 'Wow! Together, we really did make a big impact,'" McCracken told CP.
"I think it is in it's simplest way an example of how we are able to live out our mission, which is to love others and help others the way Jesus did," he added. "There are times providing food to people in need is a way to do that and a tool to minister to those in need. It is just a good way for us to live out our mission to share the Gospel."
The meals that were packed for refugees consisted of a rice product that included sugar, dehydrated vegetables and vitamins. Meanwhile, the food that was packaged for local distribution was an oatmeal product that included vitamins, cinnamon and sugar.
While church offerings helped pay for some of the products that went into the meal, McCracken said the church was helped out by local farmers who attend the church who donated "thousands and thousands of pounds" of rice and sugar for the event.
"They are just individuals who go to our church and feel called to help out in the areas that they have been blessed with and the areas where they have resources," he explained.
As this marks the third year that Christ Fellowship has held its "Make-a-Meal" event, McCracken said that this is the first time that the church made food for people in need in their immediate communities. In past years, the church had only prepared food to be distributed internationally.
In 2016, Christ Fellowship prepared food distributed to people in need in the landlocked Western African nation of Niger. In 2015, the church prepared food that was distributed to people in Haiti.
McCracken said that most church members who participated in the event helped out after church for about 20 minutes.
"Each person gets six bags and once you make your six bags, your commitment has been fulfilled," he said. "A lot of people do stay and help but from beginning to end, it takes somebody about 20 minutes from the time they get their instructions, bags and make their food."
"It's a classic example of how you are better together when people contribute a little bit," he noted. "For some of these people, hopefully it is an introduction to serving and opens their mind to other service opportunities — whether it is locally in our own neighborhoods or some of the international things we do as well."