International (MNN) — 132 blankets. Nearly 45,000 pounds of new and used clothing. Over 13,800 new pairs of shoes. 168,480 packed meals. 30,300 Gospel bead bracelets. What do all of these have in common?
These are just a few of the items that were packed by the 3,200 volunteers with Global Aid Network (GAiN) for their June Mission Packing Project. GAiN just celebrated the completion of this project two weeks ago, and the statistics are astounding.
These containers of packed food, clothing, and other miscellaneous items will be sent out to countries like Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Haiti, and Zambia. Global Aid Network sends out around 100-150 forty-foot containers yearly.
But it's not just humanitarian aid that GAiN sends out. Phil Liller with Global Aid Network's Pennsylvania Distribution Center says, "We always try and couple the aid with sharing the love of God. Now in many countries…we're able to do that very overtly. We tell them with the use of the Gospel bead bracelet or some other Gospel tool about the love of Jesus and how He died for our sins."
Global Aid Network often sends out missions teams to various countries distribute the containers and work with local churches. Some teams will go into countries where there are restrictions on the preaching of the Gospel. For those cases, Liller states, "We'll do things like vision clinics… People come up and ask us, ‘Well why do you do this? The people in our country don't even help us!' We're able to say, ‘God loves you, and so do we.'" In this way, even teams in closed-off situations are able to be ambassadors for Christ, and people notice.
For countries in which it is too dangerous for a team even to go at all, GAiN partners with local churches to distribute the aid for them. But it can be frustrating to not be able to go minister to a people group with the aid sent.
"Sometimes you wonder, ‘What good are we doing?'" says Liller. "But then we get the reports back from the pastors and they say, ‘You have no idea how you've opened the doors, how you've enabled us in a country that was basically closed to us. Now we can continue the ministry.'"
There is so much that goes into this program and so much that needs the Lord's guiding hand. From the packing of the containers to prepping and sending teams, to getting the packages cleared by customs, Global Aid Network asks for prayer that their program would run smoothly. They would also ask for prayer for the safety of the teams and for donors to catch the vision of the program's mission of aid evangelism.
"If the Lord weren't involved, I'm sure we would be shut down and have door-after-door closed," Liller says.
Global Aid Network thanks God for their opportunities to evangelize through aid and for the successful completion of their June Mission Packing Project. If you would like to get involved either through a local distribution center or even as a missions volunteer, you can go to www.gainusa.org and check out the link entitled "Get Involved."