MIDDLEBURG – Every seat in the sanctuary was filled and another 100 residents stood against the side wall last Saturday when Middleburg First Baptist Church Associate Pastor Todd Jones told the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish.
He spoke from a canyon of cardboard boxes stacked all around the massive pulpit. For more than 600 inside the church – and others on the way – the church’s plan to feed 5,000 was a blessing, if not a miracle, in a critical time of both nutritional and spiritual need.
“Don’t worry, you don’t have five loaves and bread and two fish in these boxes,” Jones said with a chuckle. “See all these boxes, they’re filled with food. And we have more boxes in the back.”
Each box – all 1,000 of them – contained a turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans and a pie to feed a family of five on Thanksgiving. Larger families were allowed to take additional boxes.”
The church wanted to make sure everyone was feed, both physically and emotionally.
“This means the world to me,” Orange Park’s Sherri Jackson said.
“We didn’t have a turkey,” said Marie Tonco-Rahim, a Puerto Rican who now lives in Orange Park. “We can have family now. We’re so thankful to have a plate for Thanksgiving this year.”
Middleburg First Baptist started its Feed 5,000 program three years ago. The church said it’s a unique opportunity to spread the gospel for people who desperately need hope.”
Nothing in return was expected. Show up, go home with a Thanksgiving dinner for five.
Some residents, however, were eager to pray. Some wanted relief from physical, emotional and financial problems. Others just wanted to say thanks. And some simply needed to find their way in a world they believe forgot them.
“We can meet their physical and spiritual needs,” said Gary Upchurch, an associate pastor of children. “We’re here to listen, too. We’re here to help our community.”