Feeding people does more than satiate their hunger.
Daniel Banyuls, pastor of Iglesia Evangelica Bautista in Cerdanyola, Spain, can testify to that.
“Through this feeding ministry, we are fighting material, educational, emotional and spiritual poverty,” Banyuls said.
Banyuls has served the congregation for the past 15 years. He supervises the church’s local food ministry, which provides groceries to about 50 neighbors in need each week. The church works with the local government agencies to raise awareness of the ministry throughout the neighborhood.
And the results have been humbling, Banyuls said.
The need for help in the community is great, with many people suffering from the continued impact of the economic crisis of 2008.
The opportunity to provide even a few staples, such as milk, bread, rice and meat, has had ripple effects across the area.
But it wasn’t always that way, he said.
While the church has been in existence for five decades, most residents knew nothing about the congregation — not even its name — for the first 30 years, Banyuls said.
When Iglesia Evangelica Bautista began its feeding ministry 20 years ago, the community began to take notice. Today, most residents of Cerdanyola and the surrounding area know about the church and have witnessed its members serving as an expression of their faith.
Pedro has attended the Baptist church for 36 years and volunteers each week at the feeding ministry.
“As a Christian, it is a way to be known in the city — to be a light and a testimony here,” he said. “The neighbors know us through this social ministry. This is a great way for the church to be known through this area.”
One neighbor, Antonia, visits the Iglesia Evangelica Bautista feeding ministry every two weeks to receive food for herself and her paraplegic son, who has been paralyzed for the past 12 years. Antonia is unable to work because her son requires full-time care at her home. Without the assistance of the food ministry, she said her family would be unable to make ends meet.
Last October, as refugees continued to flood into European countries, Banyuls realized his church and community needed to help. He began spreading the word about collecting donations for refugee camps in Croatia and then stretched support to Greece as well.
In June, the Baptist congregation shipped its 11th container of supplies to Greece. This shipment was special because it was filled with everything necessary to begin a school in the refugee camp. It included everything from desks and chairs to pencils and paper. Donations flooded in from the community as well as ministries and churches throughout the country.
According to Banyuls, this is one of the largest networks of support in Spain for refugees in neighboring countries. The partnership across the country to help those in need has been truly inspiring to the local pastor, as well as their congregation.
— This story originally appeared at TexasBaptist.org.