ALBUQUERQUE (BNM) – First Spanish Baptist Church, also known as First Bilingual Baptist Church, Albuquerque, begins the budget process each year by listing 11 or more missions line items in the annual budget. The church is a firm believer in supporting both local and foreign mission ministries. Hence, the line item, "Mission New Mexico State Missions Offering."
One of the offering allocations under the Mission New Mexico State Missions Offering is Hunger Funds. Hunger is of great interest to the church, so the church decided to start a food pantry. Its launched its Downtown Food Pantry, staffed by volunteers, on the first Saturday in May 2005. The pantry launched as a partnership between the church, Central Baptist Association's missions department and the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.
The pantry’s primary objective is to feed hungry people spiritually and physically. Volunteers share the Gospel as they provided water and food to the hungry. The ministry also fulfills community needs in Jesus’ name.
The food pantry ministry has undergone several changes since it began. It started with volunteers giving individuals or family groups food boxes from the church's Downtown Food Pantry every Saturday morning from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. They offered devotional services for those that chose to attend, which aligned with the church's objective, to share the Gospel. During the devotional time, the church provided Bibles and tracts in the waiting room during the food pantry visits.
On September 1, 2016, the church discontinued food distribution from the church's Downtown Food Pantry location. In its place, the church initiated a food box delivery program. The revised program made it possible for church volunteers to visit needy families in their homes. During those visits, the church provided food boxes, Bibles, tracts and prayed for their individual needs.
At the same time, the church also added a food distribution ministry called "Feed the Kids." For that ministry, the church purchased, packed, and delivered food bags weekly to schools with students identified as having little or no food at home.
The church says the food ministry is a great blessing, not only for the recipients of the food in the community, but by bringing together a significant number of volunteers in the church to provide their services. Those volunteers established close relationships.