Less than two weeks after a commitment to provide 50,000 meals for suddenly unemployed Texans in 14 days, Texas Baptist Men (TBM) announced on May 14 that as a result of incredible support the ministry will provide 100,000 meals in roughly the same time period.
The ministry created its first virtual feeding team, dubbed “the biggest feeding unit in TBM history,” to multiply the capacity of church-based food pantries and ministries across the state that were struggling to keep up with the demand for food as Texas unemployment has skyrocketed to levels not seen in decades.
Within hours of launching TBM Feeding Texans, the ministry already had 40 percent of the funds needed for the monumental task. Donations, all of which are being used by ministries to purchase food, continued pouring in. Earlier this week, funding surpassed the goal and kept climbing, empowering the ministry to help churches to share Christ’s love with more people.
“All of us know someone who has had their hours cut, been furloughed or been even laid off during the COVID disaster,” TBM Chief Executive Officer Mickey Lenamon said. “People who have never needed to reach out for help suddenly have no other option. We all know the need across the state.
“Members of the TBM family gave sacrificially to help their fellow Texans in need. Christ commands us to care for the hungry in their time of need, and friends, families and churches are seeking to live out that teaching through TBM.”
TBM has already distributed more than 50,000 meals and expects to provide the next 50,000 meals in the coming weeks through church partners across the state.
The meals provide for struggling families in nearly every major city in Texas, including Abilene, Amarillo, Del Rio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Laredo, Lubbock, Midland, San Antonio, Sonora, Tyler, Waco and Weslaco. In several of these locations, TBM coupled the use of their vehicles and trailers to double and triple the outreach, empowering churches to meet the needs of more people.
TBM’s effort came at the perfect time, said Jeff Chadwick, executive director of Mission Center of Houston. “Right now, this is so needed,” he continued. “We get all our food from the Houston Food Bank, and they’ve just been overrun by the major distributions. We’re finding food kind of hard to come by.”
The disaster has affected people where the disease is not present, such as Sutton County, which has had no confirmed COVID cases. The economic downturn has impacted people there, sending them searching for assistance. TBM helped the Food and Resource Center of Sutton County with additional resources through First Baptist Church in Sonora.
“About 75 percent of our local economy is oil and gas. When that closed, we saw a big bump in families needing food,” said Matt Killough, pastor of First Baptist Church in Sonora.
Across the state, food distributions have opened up conversations with people about spiritual matters. Individuals have asked church leaders to pray with them. Congregations encounter on-going ministry opportunities.
TBM supports the First Baptist Church in San Antonio’s food distribution. Through the ministry, church leaders met a couple who worked at Luby’s Cafeteria, which has been affected by the slowdown. As a result, the couple has not worked in weeks. The church’s grocery distributions make sure the couple and their three elementary-school-age children have something to eat.
During a recent delivery, leaders noticed another need – one of the children could use a better bed. Someone had recently donated a mattress to the church, which they were able to give to the family.
“In the darkest times, light shines brightest,” Lenamon said. “These past few weeks have truly been some of the darkest of our lifetimes. Christ-followers have beamed light into the lives of others in mighty ways. Together, we are delivering help, hope and healing to a hurting world.”
The effort is Texas Baptist Men’s latest initiative in a busy response to the COVID-19 crisis. Already the ministry has donated 15,000 protective masks, 1,200 pairs of protective glasses, 2,000 biohazard suits and four decontamination tents to medical professionals and first responders.
TBM Disaster Relief is made possible by the financial and prayer support of churches and individuals. To give online, visit TBMTX.org/donate. To contribute financially by mail, send a check to Texas Baptist Men, 5351 Catron Drive, Dallas, Texas 75227.