Volunteers from LaGrange Park Baptist in Fayetteville, North Carolina, prepare items for distribution for an Operation Inasmuch event in May 2016. (Photo: Operation Inasmuch / Facebook)
The Operation Inasmuch ministry has equipped and motivated congregations to minister to people in need in their own communities for 20 years.
God has used the Inasmuch model of community ministry to mobilize nearly 2,000 congregations and tens of thousands of volunteers in 22 states to minister to hundreds of thousands of people in need.
Now, we offer a new and related ministry - packaging thousands of nutritious meals for both international and domestic needs.
In the past three years, almost a half-million meals have been distributed in Guatemala and about half that many have been distributed to hungry people in the U.S.
Here is how it works: A congregation or organization engages the Inasmuch ministry to pack a large number of meals.
The church is responsible for (1) the volunteers to work on the assembly lines where the meals are packed, (2) a facility adequate for such an event and (3) the costs of the ingredients of and supplies for the meals.
Inasmuch is responsible to (1) order all ingredients and supplies and have them delivered to the place of the event, (2) set up all the equipment required to complete the packing event, (3) train the volunteers to complete the packing and (4) see that the completed meals are delivered to an agreed upon location either for local distribution or for future shipping.
These packing events offer several advantages over other compassion ministry projects.
They can work a large number of volunteers simultaneously (the number is determined by how many meals are packed). They provide an easy way for nonmembers of a church or organization to be involved. And they offer a major impact by their sheer numbers. Finally, everyone has a blast!
The packing process is simple and children as young as first grade through older seniors can work alongside each other very well. A video overview of the packing process is available here.
Where several congregations conduct an Inasmuch United event (several churches of various denominations, sizes and races working collaboratively) in their community, some have used a food packing event both to work a larger number of volunteers and to provide a way to have volunteers from all participating churches on one project together.
Inasmuch United packing events have taken place in Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia.
Food packing ministry is especially meaningful when the same volunteers who packed the food can also personally give it to hungry people. A video overview of the distribution process is available here.
I had just that opportunity last year in Guatemala. I can tell you that I have seldom felt so satisfied in serving others than to give people in obvious need food for their family.
David Crocker is founder and special consultant of Operation Inasmuch. His writings can also be found on the Operation Inasmuch website, and you can follow the organization on Twitter @OpInasmuch.