Matt Parks, Campus Pastor at LCBC Berks, traveled to the Bekaa Valley on the border of Syria and Lebanon this past winter and returned to Berks County, Pennsylvania with the dream of a movement in his mind. "I saw firsthand the extensive hopelessness and need of the refugee crisis," Matt explains. "We knew we simply could not say a prayer and walk away. We had to help, and we had to do something bigger than our local campus alone. This was when the idea of connecting with the local community started to take root."
Investing in the community is a critical part of the local church—but the global need that Matt and his team felt seemed hopeless at first. This community was halfway around the world, and it involved people in the largest humanitarian crisis since World War II. But a desire to do something greater as a community outweighed the fear of not having enough impact.
"We knew we simply could not say a prayer and walk away. We had to help, and we had to do something bigger than our local campus alone."
"When a community, church, or individual chooses to look outward, to see the needs around them both locally and globally and then do something about it, they start to realize how much they can make a difference in the world, in their community, and in their own lives." Matt’s dream of making a difference for children specifically in the community of Lebanon, Syria and surrounding countries also comes directly from what God tells us about serving the world. "Jesus knew the world was desperate for hope, joy, love, and grace. He's made us, the local Church, responsible for sharing this great news and hope with the world."
Partnering with World Vision and the Reading Berks Conference of Churches, Matt started a movement that began in Berks and is reaching all the way to Lebanon, Syria. The Berks Cares movement provides Promise Packs to refugee children impacted by the six years of war that Syria has faced. Each pack includes personal care items, a blanket, and school supplies—tools to bring comfort and care in the midst of uncertain and difficult times.
Matt and the partnering organizations have already begun making an impact through donations for these Promise Packs, but they stand by their goal of providing 3,000 packs to Syrian refugee children with the Berks Cares movement. And the hope is that it won’t stop there. "The local church can impact its community and the world just by starting something," Matt says. "When we stop just agreeing that something needs to be done and start acting, it adds to the larger movement of the Global Church working to be the hope and grace of Jesus to the world."
The Berks Cares movement is just one great example of the impact we can all have when we partner together to make a difference in our communities down the street and halfway around the world.
Learn more about our Global Initiatives