PORTALES (BNM) – All across New Mexico, Baptist Convention of New Mexico churches meet the physical and spiritual needs of hurting people. According to FeedingAmerica.org, 298,030 New Mexican’s face hunger. Of that number, 104,080 are children. That means 1 in 7 people and 1 in 5 children are hungry.
The 2021 Mission New Mexico Offering allocates $75,000.00 for Hunger Ministry and Outreach. A partnership between the North American Mission Board’s Global Hunger Funds and Mission New Mexico helps 17 food ministries in the state feed hungry people.
According to the latest 2021 report about BCNM hunger ministries, 134,332 people received grocery items, hot meals and lunch bags. They also received prayer and spiritual support. Some ministries provide job placement services, health service information, computer skills, mentoring, GED preparation and nutrition classes, too. New Mexico churches that self-fund in their feeding ministries are not included in the report.
In February 2020, Calvary Baptist Church, Portales, began its Calvary Cares! food ministry. Coordinator Sheila Owen said the church’s goal “has always been to feed the hungry, humbly without judgment - with the intent to share the Gospel and offer prayer - which will fill their hearts and bellies.”
Each Monday, Calvary sends volunteers to shop at the Eastern New Mexico Food Bank. The church stores the food and distributes it on the first and third Thursday of each month. Anywhere from six to 16 volunteers help with the packing and distribution.
Volunteers pray over the boxes of food as they fill and distribute them. Pastor Brad Morgan said, “On distribution day it is not uncommon to see cars lined up around the block. ... We are typically able to bless between 80 and 100 families with a box of food [each].” Each box also contains a Calvary Cares! information card with the church’s phone number and email address.
Church members donate food and any monetary donations benefit the ENMFB. At a recent distribution, Associate Pastor Wes McAfee shared Matthew 25:34-35 to remind volunteers how important it is to "love on" and feed the community and be “on mission” for Jesus. McAfee attends distribution day to pray with people who receive boxes.
Despite COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and low attendance, Calvary experienced its best financial year in over 10 years. Its 2021 budget included an increase of $12,000 for the food ministry. The church family also began raising funds for a facility expansion. The expansion will house a walk-in freezer and cooler and nearly 1,000 square feet of dry storage, preparation and distribution space. “Soon our state convention got involved, sending us $2,500 for the expansion and $250 per month for ongoing support of the ministry,” Morgan said.
When asked about the impact of the food ministry on Portales’ people, Morgan replied, “We are seeing the people of Portales with entirely new eyes. As we meet the basic need of physical hunger, we have had many opportunities to address spiritual hunger. Our prayer continues to be that we are able to show the community Jesus through the provision of these simple things.”
Owen added, “We have encountered many families that truly needed help. A family that had lost their home to a fire was in need of everything. … There have been opportunities for replacing batteries, mowing lawns, hauling furniture and mainly ‘loving on’ people so they know we care. Together we are the hands and feet of Jesus.”