News from Impact

Thank you from Karen VBS


Thanks to all who donated backpacks to needy Karen children and helped out in the VBS that took place August 6-8. We collected 85 backpacks, and 131 children attended the VBS, aided by 47 volunteers. You blessed many families! Twenty-four children made first-time decisions to follow Christ. Below is a picture of the cross you'll see in the Commons this weekend at Five Oaks. Kids at the Karen VBS each put their thumbprint on a small wooden heart charm, which signified that they were unique and special to God. Those kids who wanted to live their life for Christ went up and hung their heart on the cross.


Feed My Starving Children “Pack at the Park”

 

Target Field has been the site of both agony and ecstasy for the Twins this summer, but on September 20 you will be able to bless the most vulnerable of children by going there to pack nutritious, desperately-needed meals. The meals will be shipped to partners working hard to reach the neediest children around the world.

We have only 200 slots, so register soon!

Date:     Wednesday, September 20
Time:     5:30-7:30 PM
Place:    Target Field, downtown Minneapolis

Want to sign up to help? Click here to volunteer.


What is Five Oaks doing in Berlin?


Dennis and Nicole DeBruyn, Reach Global workers in Berlin, will visit Five Oaks August 26 and 27 to share with us about church planting, leadership development, and neighborhood outreach in this strategic, multicultural city.  We look forward to the opportunity to meet them in the Commons learn more about their ministry!


Upcoming Impact Opportunities

Dorothy Day – prepare and serve a meal
Saturday, Sept 2, 9:30 AM -1:15 PM
For details and to register, please email dorothyday@fiveoakschurch.org

SALT ESL Training (SALT=Somali Adult Literacy Training)
Saturday, September 9, 8:30 AM – 2:00 PM, Bethlehem Baptist Church
For information:  impact@fiveoakschurch.org

Feed My Starving Children Mobile Pack – Target Field
Wednesday, September 20, 5:30-7:30 PM (more information above in this blog)

Click this link to reserve your spot:
 

Kids Hope USA Mentor
Get informed and sign-up in September
For information:  impact@fiveoakschurch.org

Blessings,

Kevin Johnson, Impact Director

A donated backpack + your time = a huge gift

 

We are wrapping up our Karen backpack drive this weekend! Please return all backpacks filled with school supplies to Five Oaks by Sunday, July 30. (Yes, you may bring them to our baptism service on Sunday!) Attached are the lists for supplies needed in both the elementary and the high school aged backpacks. Thank you for your generosity for these Karen children. Many of these kids have only recently arrived in the US and cannot afford to purchase school supplies for their kids in the midst of all the other new expenses they've incurred.

What's even better than knowing you helped some "new kids" feel welcomed with a filled backpack?  Seeing the joy on their faces as they receive these backpacks. You can share this experience by volunteering, alongside the Bryant small group, to help with Karen VBS on August 6-8, 6:30-8 pm each night. This is a low-key, relationship-focused serving opportunity, one that requires no VBS-leading experience.  We'd love your help with things as simple as talking to community members while their kids are participating, helping distribute treats, kicking a soccer ball with youth, or helping kids with crafts and games. The Karen community loves this event and looks forward to our return every year. All ages and families are welcome to help! Interested? Please contact Kristen Bryant, bryantkristen@hotmail.com

Missionary Highlight: Zimmermans

You've heard about and possibly met international students. Here is a story that shows the impact we can have for the kingdom when we engage them.

It's also interesting to note that our missions weekend speaker, after speaking to us, returned to his home country to speak to a church that was formed by believers who had become Christians while studying in or working in the United States and then returned to their home country to share the gospel.

Kevin Johnson
Impact Director

To contact Russ & Di Zimmerman, email them at rzimmerman@bridgesinternational.com.

Five Oaks Missionaries

Did you know that Five Oaks supports 14 Missionary Families? 
Come and pray for them with us on January 22.  They work with:

  • The Roma people (“Gypsies”) all across Europe 
  • Church planting in the global crossroads city of Berlin, Germany.
  • Camp ministries that reach children, youth, young adults, and families in two of the largest secularized countries in Europe: France and Spain. Both countries also have large Muslim populations.
  • Marginalized urban populations in Louisville and Los Angeles.
  • International Students: Future world leaders on our doorstep!
  • Community outreach and Leadership Development in the most populous country in the world: China 
  • Relief, education, discipleship, and leadership developmentin Haiti
  • Unreached people groups in Peru and residents of the slums in Rio.
  • Strategic global direction for Reach Global, our missions organization, including crisis response, child sponsorship, and internships.

Service Night @ Feed My Starving Children - Eagan

We invite you to join us on September 23, 2016 from 5:30 - 7:30 pm.  

The Five Oaks Church Family is coming together to pack meals for starving children world-wide. We will meet at the FMSC Eagan Facility, 990 Lone Oak Road, Suite 136 Eagan, MN 55121 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. Get your Small Group together, bring your friends, or serve together with your family. You will have fun and you will make a real difference to a hungry child!

To Sign-Up:  1) Go to FMSC.org,

                     2) Click on the “Volunteer “ tab

                     3) Click on the “Join A Group” tab

                     4) Enter our event # 966139  

See you all there!

- Jerry Meras, Director of Outreach   

China Impact Blog

Here is the vision of our city team in China:

“We are incarnational participants in our community developing people into healthy disciple makers and church leaders to reproduce healthy churches to the ends of the earth.”

Each member of the team has a different passion. Below is one:

"My passion is to invest in wom­en, families, and children. With a background in education, God has used me to train Sunday school teachers and to walk alongside women and moms. I love working with the church’s next generation of leaders—kids! I love teach­ing them God’s Word and helping to develop their character and education so that they can effectively lead tomorrow’s church.”

What can you do?

Pray for the impact of the Guang Hua Church Family Retreat taking place August 26 - 28, 2016 -- that those who attend would be strengthened in carrying out God’s mission with the learning and encouragement that they received.

Kevin Johnson - China Impact Coordinator

 

How do you reach a country of over one billion people?

One neighborhood at a time.

What are we doing in China?
•“Good Neighbor Center” – Practical help for families under stress
•Developing a generation of well-trained pastors and leaders who are firmly rooted in God’s Word
•Building bridges with young people through English camps, and with business people through ongoing English classes

What can you do?  What can your small group do?
PRAY!  Check announcements for opportunities to pray for China. 
LEARN! Watch for opportunities to learn about our work in China.
GO! Watch for details on a short term trip to China October 27-November 7.

Karen Backpack Drive - July 9 - 31, 2016

It is time for our annual Backpack Drive to benefit Karen refugee families from Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand.

Many of the Karen families are new arrivals to the U.S. and do not have the resources to purchase school supplies for their children. We want to properly prepare the kids for the next school year.

The Karen VBS Team will deliver filled backpacks to the Brittany Apartments in St. Paul, on Tuesday, August 9. Backpack supply lists will be available at the Impact Table. Our goal this year is to fill 300 backpacks! Please pick up a card and fill a backpack. Filled backpacks are due back by Sunday, July 31. For more information contact Pam Hawley, phawley@fiveoakschurch.org.

Backpacks—Elementary

A. 36 #2 PENCILS

B. 1 PAIR SCISSORS

C. 4 GLUE STICKS

D. 1 BOTTLE OF GLUE

E. 1 BOX OF CRAYONS (24 COUNT)

F. 1 COMPOSITION NOTEBOOK

G. 1 PACK OF ERASERS

H. 1 PKG. OF COLORED PENCILS

I. 4 DRY ERASE MARKERS

J. 1 BOX (8-10 COUNT) WASHABLE MARKERS

K. RULER

L. PROTRACTOR

M. 5 2 POCKET FOLDERS

N. 5 SPIRAL WIDE RULED NOTEBOOKS

O. 1 THREE-RING BINDER

P. BACKPACK

 

Backpacks—Middle/High School

A. 24 #2 PENCILS

B. 10 PENS—BLACK OR BLUE

C. PENCIL POUCH

D. 8-TAB DIVIDERS

E. 1 COMPOSITION NOTEBOOK

F. ERASERS

G. ONE 3 INCH/THREE-RING BINDER

H. HIGHLIGHTERS

I. EAR BUDS

J. RULER (INCHES & CM)

K. 2 COLLEGE RULED NOTEBOOKS

L. COLORED PENCILS

M. PENCIL SHARPENER

N. BACKPACK

 

 

 

 

Serve in China from October 27 - November 7, 2016

How do you reach a country of over one billion people?

One neighborhood at a time!

What does a neighborhood look like?

 Not what you might think.

Our in-country partners have a vision to "Ignite church planting movements in every apartment complex in our city.”

What can you do?  What can your Small Group do?

First PRAY!  Check announcements for opportunities pray for China!

Second GO! Watch for details on a short term trip to China, October 27 - November 7! 

To get involved or for further information contact our China Impact Coordinator, Kevin Johnson,  kevindawn@comcast.net.  

FMSC Meals to Our Haiti GVCM Orphanage

We have wonderful news! Five Oaks is sending a full container of food (272,000 FMSC meals) to the GVCM All God's Children Orphanage outside of Mirebalais, Haiti!! This past March, Feed My Starving Children designated the All God's Children Orphanage as an official food distribution site.  Five Oaks Church will be sponsoring the shipment of one full container of FMSC meals to the orphanage each year. The circle is now complete. We will pack the food at Five Oaks Church during our FMSC events, ship containers to the orphanage, and finally send teams of Five Oakers to help distribute that food to malnourished children in Haiti's Central Plateau. The first container is scheduled to ship May 2016.

A little history and background: Back in 2005, Five Oaks Church began its partnership with Global Vision Citadelle Ministries, led by Pastor Yves Prophete. At the time GVCM was renting some land and a small shack to house orphaned children from the area of Fedja, Haiti. The conditions for the orphans was deplorable. The one room shack served as sleeping quarters, school and pretty much everything else for the kids. We committed helping GVCM acquire land and to building an orphanage building. Here is a photo of the old orphanage:

Bedroom.JPG

Between the first building mission in January 2006 and August 2009, when we cut the ribbon of the main orphanage building, over 200 different Five Oakers traveled to the building site in Haiti and gave of their TIME, TALENT & TREASURE to make the orphanage building a reality. Many of those people volunteered several times over several years.  

 The mostly complete main orphanage building.

The mostly complete main orphanage building.

We continued to send building teams for a couple more years building the orphanage wall and support buildings. The All God's Children Orphanage is now a complex of buildings serving newborns to 17 year-olds. There are, as of today, 106 orphans housed there. The orphanage is the main school for 225+ local kids, and a school of 14 deaf orphans was moved to the campus. Five Oaks has since transitioned from sending building teams to sending teaching and evangelism teams. That effort continues to this day. Our next Haiti Mission will be from July 30 - August 6, 2016. Five Oaks Church has also supported the welfare of the children, the orphanage / school operations, and staff with ongoing financial support.  

 The All God's Children Orphanage campus.

The All God's Children Orphanage campus.

Approximately 3.5 years ago I started working with Yves Prophete, and various FMSC staff to forge a partnership between FMSC and GVCM. Five Oaks began packing meals with FMSC in 2008 and it seemed like a natural partnership to get those meals to the GVCM orphanage in Haiti. Haiti is the poorest country in our hemisphere and indeed, many FMSC meals go to Haiti. The bulk of those meals, however, go to Port-au-Prince. The orphanage is in Haiti's Central Plateau and we could not find a local distribution point near that area. I will not bore you with the details and red tape, but now that partnership is a reality. With the 272,000 meals the orphanage will receive, we know that the orphans and school children in the area are protected from the recurring famines that sweep through Haiti. The food also gives GVCM pastors and missionaries license to enter villages throughout Haiti to spread the Gospel.  

I consider this development the most important brick we laid since we set out to Impact Haiti back in 2005. The orphans are housed and now we know that they are fed. Glory be to God for orchestrating all of this!!

- Jerry Meras, Director of Outreach

  

Haiti Child Sponsorship Drive a HUGE Success!

I want to take a moment to send out a gigantic "Thank you!" to all who felt God's calling to care for the orphans of Haiti! These kids truly are the least of these. For the past two weekends we displayed photos of the orphans from the GVCM All God's Children Orphanage just outside Mirebalais, Haiti. We asked our congregation to select an orphans photo and story and to make a financial commitment of $35 a month to provide them with food, clothing, medicine and an education.

So many of you came through in a HUGE way to help provide a future for children growing up in our hemisphere's poorest country. Over the past two weekends we saw 19 orphans gain sponsors! That brings the Five Oaks total to 35 sponsored orphans. We more than doubled the number of kids we are supporting monthly.

These are the things that make a tangible difference in our world. I am so proud to be part of a church that is truly concerned with being the hands and feet of Christ to a hurting world. I am so proud to call Five Oaks my church home!

I want to thank Ron & Lesley Schlegel, our Haiti Impact Coordinators, and Sarah Bowers, who has an incredible hearth for these kids. Sarah provided us with the photos and stories and tracks our GVCM ChildVision sponsorships.

The opportunity to sponsor an orphan in Haiti is always open. Contact Sarah Bowers,  sarah@gvcm.org, and she will answer all your questions, introduce you to your child and set-up your sponsorship.  

Below are some photos of our newest sponsors. We were not able to get pics of all of our sponsors. If I left you out I sincerely apologize. You are all heroes to me.

Psalm 82:3 (NIV) - Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.

- Jerry Meras, Director of Outreach

  

Thank You from Woodbury Elementary

I want to take a moment to thank everyone who brought in school supplies during our Fill the MINI Event in support of Woodbury Elementary. I also would like to share what I experienced when I made the delivery. First some background: On the weekend of February 27 & 28 the KHUSA Team held the Fill the MINI Event. Nichole Zacharias decorated my MINI and we asked our congregation to bring in school supplies and drop them off in the MINI. 

The office staff maintains a supply closet for underprivileged kids who show up to school without the necessary items they need to be successful. There is no budget for these supplies. They depend on donations to keep their closet stocked.  

Mary at W.E. asked me what time on Monday I would be dropping off the donated supplies. I simply thought she had a busy day planned and needed to carve out a specific time to help me unload the car. When I pulled up, I was completely surprised by 24 kids running out of the school with carts to help me unload. Mary had also arranged for Madeleine Rush, Communications Specialists with South Washington County Schools, to photograph and write about our event and donation. She supplied the photos in this blog.

Everyone at the school was so grateful it completely warmed my heart and I only wished we could have done more. Below is a note given to our KHUSA Director, Judy Visness, from Principal Connha Classon: 

Dear Kids Hope and members of Five Oaks Church--

We at Woodbury Elementary want to thank you for "maxing the mini" and donating school supplies to our students in need. We truly value our partnership with you and thank you for your contributions!

Connha Classon, Principal, WES

   

What is Your Bag of Hope Story?

We want to hear your Bag of Hope Story

Back in October 2015 we handed out over 200 Union Gospel Mission Bags of Hope. The bags contained a Bible, water bottle, toiletries, cold weather gear and information on UGM services for the homeless. We distributed these bags to our congregation at no charge and simply asked for three things:

  • That you would keep the bag in your car and give it to a homeless person when you felt led.
  • That you would explain to them that you are commanded by Christ to care for your neighbors.
  • And to ask, "How can I pray for you?"  

Have you had the opportunity to give your Bag of Hope away? What happened when you did? Email Jerry Meras, jmeras@fiveoakschurch.org,  with your story.




Kids Hope USA - Fill The MINI

Fill the MINI

Woodbury Elementary School Supply Drive

Weekend of February 27th & 28th    

We want to help Woodbury Elementary School restock their “Magic” room of supplies!. The School Office Staff maintains a room stocked with school supplies that they distribute to children in need when they show up to class without the supplies they need to be successful. There is no school budget to stock this room and they rely, solely, on donations to keep it open. They asked if we would be willing to help. Of course, we are willing to help! We are Five Oaks Church!! Our goal is to fully restock this room in one weekend.

Jerry Meras will have his MINI Cooper parked in front of the church the weekend of February 27th & 28th. We need your help to fill the MINI from floorboards to ceiling.

Flyers are being given in the Tree House this weekend or can be picked up at Guest Services. Below is a list of the needed items:

● Plastic school box (5”x8”)               ● #2 pencils with erasers (Ticonderoga preferred) 

● 12 pack colored pencils                   ● 24 pack Crayola crayons

● 10 pack classic thick markers       ● 10 pack classic thin markers

● Highlighters                                       ● 4 oz. Elmer’s white school glue

● Glue sticks Glue sticks                   ● Crayola watercolor paints 

● Spiral bound notebooks (wide line)● Dry erase white board markers (low odor) 

● Pocket folders                                  ● Wet wipes (large container)   

● Loose leaf paper                              ● Post­its (3x3”) 

● 3”x5” ruled index cards                  ● Notebook of graphing paper (4 squares per inch quad)

Bring what you can, no donation is too small!   

For further information contact KHUSA Director Judy Visness, visnessfamily@gmail.com.

God bless!

Jerry Meras, jmeras@fiveoakschurch.org

 
 


Union Gospel Mission Needs Volunteers - Saturday, February 27

UGMTC at HandsOn Twin Cities Volunteer Expo

 

On Saturday, February 27th, HandsOn Twin Cities will be putting on their annual volunteer expo at the Mall of America.  Over 80 local non-profits will be on hand speak with the thousands of people at the mall to talk about ways to volunteer and give back to the community.  Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities will have a booth in the main rotunda.  In addition to having a booth, UGMTC will also have space for families and individuals to help decorate placemats that will be used at our Men’s and Women’s Campus cafeterias. 

We’re looking for volunteers who would be willing to help be present at our booth and to share with people about how to volunteer with UGMTC.  The event will be on Saturday, February 27th from 10 – 3pm.   There are two shifts that we are looking to have volunteers be present and we would like to have 4 volunteers at each shift.   Of course, we’ll all wear our UGMTC t-shirts!

Shifts:

10am – 12:30pm (4 volunteers)

12:30pm – 3pm  (4 volunteers)

All supplies and handout information will be provided.  Josh Windham and other staff will be present to provide support.  Contact Josh Windham if you are interested and he will sign you up! 

To Volunteer or for Further Information contact:

Josh Windham

Volunteer Services Manager

Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities

77 Ninth St. East, St. Paul, MN 55101

Direct: 651-789-7645

Fax: 651-222-7968

Email: jwindham@ugmtc.org

Website: ugmtc.org

New Life Family Services - Diaper Drive

It's Sanctity of Human Life Month, and we are celebrating by supporting New Life Family Services with our annual Diaper Drive! During the weekends of Jan. 16/17 and 23/24, bring in diapers of any size to the NLFS table located by the Impact wall. Also, enter to win a pair of tickets to NLFS's upcoming event: Laugh for Life, Sat. Jan. 30, 7:00 PM at Grace Church Eden Prairie. Drawing will be held after services on Jan. 24, and winners will be notified by email.

About New Life Family Services:

New Life Family Services compassionately opens their doors and hearts to women and men who believe abortion is the “only” solution to an unplanned pregnancy. Through practical and spiritual counsel, they provide education and support with the hope each client will make a life-affirming decision for their unborn child.

NLFS offers three distinct services that affirm life:

Pregnancy Counseling:

New Life operates four pregnancy center locations, known as First Care Pregnancy Center, throughout the Twin Cities and Rochester communities. Each center is equipped with social workers, nurses, and trained staff who provide free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, pregnancy-related counseling, referrals, resources and more. Three of their pregnancy centers also offer Parenting Plus, a parenting education program which allows families to earn practical items such as clothing, car seats, diapers, and more.

Licensed Adoption Services:

New Life Family Services has been licensed to provide adoption services since 1980. New Life facilitates full adoption services and partial services to allow for complete customization based on each individuals needs.

Post-abortion Counseling and Recovery

Through Conquerors, New Life restores hope after abortion to men and women ready to seek healing from the damage a past abortion has caused in their lives. Conquerors offers both group sessions and individual mentoring.

Serve in Bucharest, Romania

April 16 - 24, 2016

Serve the 'Least of These' in Bucharest, Romania this coming year. Impact Ministries is partnering with the Ruth-Project School in Romania to offer an exciting Global Missions opportunity. We will take a team of 6 - 12 mission-minded individuals to serve and work with the 400+ Roma (Gypsy) children at the school and in the Ferentari district of Bucharest. The Roma are among the poorest people group in Romania and throughout Europe.

The Romanian government has identified Monday, April 18 - Friday, April 22 as Field Trip Week. In addition to other activities, during the school week we will help guide the children through museums and other cultural activities.

The Ruth School is committed to giving education to the marginalized and disadvantaged, particularly for those coming from Roma (Gypsy) families in order to help them reach their highest potential. Through education, the Ruth School seeks to assist in the inclusion of Roma in society as well as their future educational endeavors (high school, vocational schools, etc.)
In addition to the educational opportunities offered by the Ruth School, there was more that attracted students to Project Ruth. Due to poverty, many children started to attend the school simply because of the hot meal offered by the foundation. Noticing all these things, The Ruth School organized the following services for their target group: an educational program based on the MECT curriculum, programs of education, a hot meal at the school and basic medical care as well as hygiene program. For more information on the Project-Ruth School click here: http://www.projectruth.ro/

Cost is $2,200 per person. We will help you gather support to serve. You were made for mission. Pray about this opportunity. To sign up or for further information email Jerry Meras, jmeras@fiveoakschurch.org.

Perspectives on the World Christian Movement

Five Oaks Church is excited to offer and host Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.

Perspectives is a fifteen week course designed around four vantage points or "perspectives" — Biblical, Historical, Cultural and Strategic. Each one highlights different aspects of God's global purpose.

The Biblical and Historical sections reveal why our confidence is based on the historic fact of God's relentless work from the dawn of history until this day.

The Cultural and Strategic sections underscore that we are in the midst of a costly, but very "do-able" task, confirming the Biblical and Historical hope.

Why Perspectives?
Perspectives helps believers from all walks of life see how they can get threaded into God’s story of redeeming people from every tribe, tongue, and nation to Himself. From Genesis to the prophets, Jesus Christ to the early church, and Constantine to today, you will see how God has been moving, how the global Church has responded, and what the greatest needs in world evangelization remain today. It isn’t a class about missions, but a course on how every believer can be intimately woven into the story of God using His people to be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth.

Perspectives is a deepening journey with the Lord in His purpose and passion, which brings much hope and life. Somehow along the way we are gloriously changed. Incredible! To borrow from Floyd McClung, it truly does, "ruin you for the ordinary"

Come check it out on January 7th and 14th for free! Register early to take advantage of an early-bird discount! 

Class Info

Date: Thursday, January 7, 2016 through Thursday, April 28, 2016

Time: 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

Cost: $245 for Certificate Level

Location: Five Oaks Community Church 4416 Radio Drive Woodbury MN 55129

Contact: perspectiveseastmetro@gmail.com

For further information or to enroll go to:https://class.perspectives.org/Visitor/Public.aspx?ClassId=432793

Go on Mission with EFCA - TREK7 Teams

Matthew 28:19 (NIV) - 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

TREK7

On mission and in community. It's hard to find programs that train and equip you for both.

ReachGlobal's seven week trips for college-age young adults will bring you to some of the world's most remarkable locations, forging lifelong friendships with your teammates, all while you learn how to effectively engage in God's mission alongside ReachGlobal's local practitioners.

Is God calling you to mission?

It's time you found out. If you're between the ages of 17 - 27, you can join a TREK7 team this summer and explore God's calling for you over a 7-week period.  Your journey will begin in Minneapolis on June 20, 2015. Over the next three days you will learn team building and be exposed to cross-cultural ministry. On June 24, you and your team will fly out to your destination where you will learn from, and work closely with, local full-time missionaries. Your team will return to Minneapolis on August 3. You will have two days to reflect on all you have learned and experienced. You will debrief with your team and finish by investigating next steps and future opportunities.     

God will work in you and through you to grow you and bless others.    

Cost: $3000 plus airfare.

Where will you serve?

To explore all the possibilities click here: http://go.efca.org/ministries/reachglobal/trek7

FMSC - Story of A Miracle

Miracles happen all around us, even though we often fail to see or understand them. I just learned that one such miracle occurred at the FMSC Woodbury Mega MobilePack. I knew that the shift Five Oaks Church had participated in, the Saturday 6:00 - 8:00 pm shift, broke the record for the most meals packed in a single shift EVER in the history of FMSC. I did think that was really cool. I just didn't understand HOW COOL it really was.

Last night, November 10, I attended the FMSC debrief of our Mega MobilePack event. We went over every aspect of the event from a 3000' view. Discussing volunteer recruitment, marketing, fund-raising, etc. We all learned a lot about putting on an event of this size and scope, but all that took a back seat when we opened the floor to hear personal stories from that weekend in October. We heard a behind-the-scenes story from Lisa Engh that just floored us. I hope I can do it justice here. 

Saturday afternoon, after the 12:00 - 2:00pm shift ended, several key volunteers and senior FMSC staff were eating and going over the numbers of the event to that point. They came to the sobering realization that with the number of shifts left, and the number of volunteers scheduled to work each of those shifts, the event was going to fall short of the 4 million meals goal.  Up to that point, the 10 completed shifts packed an average of 215,714 meals. Paul Dopkins, from FMSC, who has supervised many, many MobilePacks made it clear that a great shift might produce meals in the high 290,000's, but even that was extraordinary. Only 1 of the prior 10 shifts had breached the 290k mark, and 5 of the shifts had fallen short of packing 200K meals. There were only 6 shifts remaining and some of those shifts had low volunteer commitments. The team came to terms with the fact that they would fall short of the goal by approximately 500,000 meals.  

That is when Laura Bernard, the Mobile Operations Manager for FMSC, spoke up. She reminded everyone that they had seen miracles happen before at these events. Though this would require a bigger than usual miracle, it was not beyond God. The group huddled and prayed. That is when God showed up.

The next shift, in the same two hour time frame as the rest, packed 356,832 meals. Unheard of!! Then it was our turn. Over 500 Five Oakers came together to pack meals on that Saturday evening. We did have a full shift, with 1,200 volunteers, but we finished packing an amazing 385,128 meals! Again, that is a FMSC record! 169,000 meals over the average and 100,000 more meals then what an extraordinary shift was expected to pack. It was impossible and defies explanation. Other full shifts had worked hard, had every bit of the same heart that we had, but the outcome was much different. Lisa described it as a real loaves and fishes type miracle. The real miracle lies in the difference between the expected outcome and the 4,066,200 meals we ultimately packed. By hitting and surpassing the goal another 1,551 children will be fed for an entire year. God will see His children fed!   

We never know when God is using us to do His work and we rarely understand when we are in the middle of something wonderful. I certainly didn't at the time.

- Jerry Meras