June 3, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Baptists have put together about 2,000 food boxes for Iraq and collected about $17,000 in donations to be passed along to the International Mission Board (IMB), according to Gwen Martin, ministry assistant with the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).
The food is arriving in Iraq this month in conjunction with the first vision visit from an MBC delegation in what will be a long-term partnership between Missouri and Iraq. The delegation, which left June 2 and returns June 11, includes David Clippard, MBC executive director; Roy Spannagel, MBC associate executive director who will join the team after completing a mission trip to Romania; Jay Scribner, former MBC president and pastor of First Baptist Church, Branson; Ralph Sawyer, pastor, First Baptist Church, Wentzville; John Stack, IMB missionary to Iraq; and an Iraqi translator. The strategic area that the MBC is focusing on is the province of Ninewa in northern Iraq.
Missouri Disaster Relief is coordinating the shipping of the boxes to Virginia, where they are being transported to Iraq. IMB workers are using the donations to purchase additional food boxes for Iraqis as needed, said Gary Morrow, state coordinator of Missouri Disaster Relief.
Each box feeds a family of five for a month. Included are such staples as beans, rice, tea, flour, sugar and salt, Morrow said.
MBC churches were given a short window of time to respond in May, and many did. One example was First Baptist Church, Ozark, where Rick and Susan Wiles served as volunteer food box coordinators.
“The church just jumped right in there and we were able to finance 133 boxes in two weeks,” Susan Wiles said. “It was neat to see how quickly they reacted.”