POMPANO BEACH, Fla.— With just $40 in their bank account, no work visas and a paycheck from a remote job many weeks away from materializing, a Brazilian couple found God’s divine providence at First Brazilian Church in Pompano Beach.
“My husband and I arrived in the United States in March, along with the pandemic,” said Caroline Nmukek. “Although we have right to work visas, our documents have not yet arrived, and we cannot work until they arrive. And the money we have saved to come to the U.S. is already gone.”
“Today these food boxes were God’s gift in our lives. I’ve been touched in such a way that I left the parking lot of the church crying.”
First Brazilian has been distributing food twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the past seven months in response to the needs brought on by COVID-19. Since then, the church has distributed 23,100 boxes of food reaching approximately 92,400 persons. Their generosity has led to 96 professions of faith. Twelve of the new believers were baptized by the church Oct. 29.
A volunteer force 1,960-strong has performed the strenuous tasks of unloading food, sorting, packaging, and organizing it until the well-stocked boxes are delivered to the drive-thru line and hundreds of waiting cars.
The food was provided to First Brazilian as well as other churches across the region by Feeding South Florida and the Florida Baptist Convention.
“This is a team passionate about the cause, that rejoices with testimonies of hope and gratitude seen in each food drive,” said the church’s pastor Silair Almeida. “Every week at the food drive, we can donate not just food, but (also) a smile, a word of comfort, a prayer. That’s our way to show the love of Jesus.”
People from all backgrounds, including Hispanics, Anglos and Haitians, wait patiently in the drive-thru lines. Church volunteers have noticed that some people seem to be living out of their cars as the number of belongings packed into their vehicles seem to overflow.
“It is very sad to see what has happened to our community because of COVID but God is doing amazing things here. We thank our Lord Jesus for so many blessings during these difficult times,” said Almeida. “God has been our provision, our grace, our strength. To God be the glory!”
As her family received the lifeline of groceries and supplies, Nmuke said, “Every person welcomed us with a smile on their face. Every food we receive is the love of Christ materialized in our lives.” She expressed her “gratitude for this church and each of the volunteers.”
Food distribution ministries across the state by Florida Baptist churches have led to more than 1,000 professions of faith since April 2020, according to Marc Johnston, community ministries catalyst for the FBC.
“Churches are always looking for ways to share the Gospel and through food distribution they are planting Gospel seeds in people,” he said.