R. Steven Norman III
R. Steven Norman III
R. Steven Norman III
In May 2022, hundreds of volunteers from AdventHealth and the Celebration, Fla., community gathered on a Sabbath afternoon to pack food to help people affected by the Ukraine crisis. The event was a success. But, most don’t know about the many miracles behind the scenes that made it possible.
Javier Cordero, chaplain at AdventHealth Celebration, was inspired by a previous food packing event he attended. He wanted to plan a similar event in his location for those in Ukraine, but wasn’t sure where to start. In speaking with Carol Campbell-Norris, another chaplain from AdventHealth Celebration, he connected with Adriana Pasos, spiritual ambassador coordinator for AdventHealth in Central Florida, who had coordinated similar events in the past.
They quickly identified several major obstacles: they needed a venue, funds to purchase the food, volunteers, and a way to transport the meals to Ukraine.
Pasos connected with the AdventHealth Global Missions team to get their help to fund the packing of 25,000 meals because there were no funds yet.
The team challenged Pasos to think bigger. “They said, ‘If we can get the funds together, would you be willing to host the event outside of the hospital and to plan for more meals?’” How much more? Pasos asked. “100,000,” they said. Pasos was unsure. If they didn’t have funds for 25,000 meals, how would they get funds for four times that amount?
Pasos and the chaplains’ team agreed, and they continued planning in faith, knowing God would provide. They approached the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Celebration to request a space and some volunteers. The church, which worships at the Nicholson Center each Sabbath, was excited to help and offered their Sabbath afternoon time, allowing the event to take place free of charge. That was miracle number one.
The lack of funds was the next hurdle, but God provided again. AdventHealth Global Missions called Pasos and shared that the funds were secured through team member donations. News quickly spread to the community, reaching a previous anonymous donor who called the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists to propose a plan. “They said they would be willing to donate a matching gift if the Conference would be willing to donate as well,” said Pasos. With these collected funds, they connected with No Child Hungry, an organization AdventHealth has worked with for the last five years, who then purchased the food to be packed. “What started out as just an idea became 200,000 meals that would be packed through $75,000 raised in a matter of days,” said Pasos. That was miracle number two.
A venue was secured, the funds had been raised, but there were still a few more hurdles. Many meals to be packed could only be achieved with many volunteers. Would enough volunteers show up on a Sabbath afternoon? “I just thought, ‘God, only You can do this,’” said Pasos.
During this time, AdventHealth Celebration executives reached out, expressing the desire to supply snacks for the volunteers. So, Pasos advertised the event and registration with the church and community, hoping to get at least 500 people for the 200,000-meal goal to be met.
Once again, God provided, and more than 600 people registered and showed up for the volunteer event. That was miracle number three.
The chaplains’ team and Pasos now focused on the transportation of the packed meals. They discovered No Child Hungry had available cargo space on a plane that would transport the packed meals to Ukraine in June. That was miracle number four.
On the event day, it took less than four hours to pack the meals, surpassing the 200,000-goal mark. People of all ages and backgrounds from the community and surrounding areas showed up. It was a day of celebrations as they watched a large projection on the wall tallying up the meals they packed. Updates came every 15 minutes and as they saw the numbers shoot up, there were shouts of joy and excitement.
“I think that my voice was gone after that event!” said Pasos. “To me, the greatest miracle was that it began with an idea in one of our chaplains’ hearts. Then suddenly it bloomed, and God provided everything — the space, the funding, the people, the Celebration Adventist Church, a generous donor, and the Florida Conference. We had people from everywhere, families from the little children to the grandmothers. God just multiplied the loaves and the fishes — literally.”
AdventHealth | August 2022