We Couldn’t Do it Without You
By Kate Berkey - November 2, 2017
Posted in Adult Ministry, Partnerships, Student Ministry, Children's Ministry, High School Ministry, Middle School Ministry, Stories from NMC
In less than a week, the Gym will be transformed, making way for our Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) MobilePackTM. Since 2010, NMC has hosted MobilePacksTM, and each year, thousands of volunteers walk through our doors to help us reach our goal. Some attend NMC and some don’t. Some are adults. Some are kids. Some come with their place of employment. Some come with their fifth grade class.
There is something incredible about watching the school groups participate in FMSC. There’s something powerful about watching kids feed kids. There’s something beautiful in seeing students connect to the stories of the kids they are feeding. This year, nearly 1,500 students will pack meals. Here are just a few of their stories.
Wakarusa Elementary School
They’ve been coming since the first pack in 2010. The entire group of fifth grade students at Wakarusa Elementary School close their books and zip up their coats to come to FMSC. Tonya White, one of the teachers at the school, believes so strongly in the value of FMSC that she is willing to champion it to the rest of the staff, administration, and school board. To her, this is the kind of thing that teaches skills that textbooks just can’t.
“Many things in the big picture of life that you want to teach kids cannot be found in a textbook, but they can be found in an experience,” Tonya explained.
As a teacher, this event takes planning and preparation, but the rewards far outweigh any frustration in the planning process. Each year after they return from FMSC, she asks her class to write about their experience. Over the years, she has been astounded by the beauty and truth found in students’ reflections.
“When I was carrying soy in the buckets, I thought my arms were going to fall off. I kept at it because I was basically holding like 20 kids lives in my arms, and if I just stopped, those kids would die,” one student wrote.
As a teacher, there is no greater reward than watching a child “get it,” and Tonya believes that there is little else that helps children “get it” more than FMSC.
“I love when our students grasp how incredibly blessed they are. Grasping this concept while hearing how others struggle just to eat—something we take for granted—challenges them to do something about it,” Tonya said.
This year, NMC is excited to see our fifth graders from Wakarusa Elementary School. We couldn’t do it without them.
Triton Elementary School
“FMSC is living out our mission,” Triton Elementary School Principal Jeremy Riffle explained.
He said that you wouldn’t find this mission written on the walls of the school or hanging up in the classroom. It’s more of a personal mission—others over self. Jeremy challenges his staff to live out this principle for their students in the hopes that the kids begin to understand the incredible value of it.
To him, this is why getting students to FMSC matters so deeply. In a culture where entitlement is rampant, FMSC gives his students a chance to see beyond themselves. They get to learn about the plight of other kids all over the world. They get the opportunity to see what serving others does.
“We’ve also found that the most difficult kids in the classroom are the ones who thrive the most at FMSC. They have a chance to use their hands and move around. They feel useful. They have a purpose. They are able to apply the leadership skills they are taught in the classroom,” Jeremy said.
This application is incredibly important to Jeremy. The teachers at Triton spend an enormous amount of time teaching life-skills, and many long for real experiences to help their students practice what they are learning. That has been one of the unexpected beauties of participating in FMSC.
For the last four MobilePacksTM, the fifth and sixth grade classes come, usually accompanied by one of the high school sports teams. These older kids aren’t just “chaperones.” They are a way to connect students across school lines. This year, the girls junior varsity and varsity basketball teams will pack meals alongside 11 and 12-year-old students from the elementary school, and together, they will feed starving children all over the world.
This year, NMC is excited to see our students from Triton Elementary and High School. We couldn’t do it without them.
Jimtown High School
So often God nudges us in one direction or the other. Most often, these “nudges” don’t make sense, and they require trust. This is exactly the situation Jeff Ziegler faced about six years ago. At the time, he was the principal at Jimtown High School, and as a regular NMC attender, he had heard the big ask for volunteers to sign up for Feed My Starving Children. Little-by-little, the Lord began to work in his heart and in the hearts of those on his team. Six years ago, he never would have been able to guess how God would use this event to deeply impact the lives of his students.
“I remember sitting with a student who had planned to commit suicide. He could even tell me step-by-step how he was going to do it. But he never did, and when I asked him why, he was able to pinpoint the reason to one event—FMSC,” Jeff said with tears in his eyes.
At the time, the student felt so alone, like his life didn’t matter, like he had nothing of value to give to others. Yet, as he packed meals alongside his classmates, he looked around at the pictures of starving kids that hung on the Gym walls. And in a moment, his feelings of worthlessness were replaced by something much deeper. In just two hours, he had helped save kids’ lives. Without his repetitive movement, dumping rice into a funnel, some child around the world would continue to starve.
But not anymore.
This story, and so many others like it, is exactly why Jeff sees the value in bringing his students to FMSC. For his students, FMSC has become an event they look forward to. Jeff will never forget the year they decided to open signups to the entire high school student body. The first-come-first-serve signup sheet was put in the lobby and students were allowed to sign up when class ended.
“It was like the running of the bulls, like when they open the doors on Black Friday. There must have been 500 students lined up because they all wanted to feed starving kids,” Jeff recounted.
These students “get it.” Not all go to FMSC understanding why they are doing what they are doing. For some, they just want to get out of class, but by the time they hear stories of kids who have been saved because of the food they packed, everything starts to sink in. They begin to realize that they were actually part of something so much bigger than themselves. They helped save lives.
This year, NMC is excited to see our high school students from Jimtown High School. We couldn’t do it without them.