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Oklahoma Feeding Program Surpasses 1 Million Meals Served

Oklahoma Feeding Program Surpasses One Million Meals Served

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With only a desire to help, a prayer, and $5,000 in seed money, AGAPE Mission has officially served over one million meals to their community of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

In 2000, Sherri K. Smith saw God answer her prayer of three years by providing a way for her to leave her job in the corporate world and dedicate her life to fulltime hands-on ministry. Seeing the need of hunger in her community, Smith knew that someone had to do something and she felt that God was calling her to be that someone. Although she had no money for the mission, Smith knew the heart of her church, First Assembly of God Church, now Spirit Church, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and decided to ask her pastor if the church would help to fund a feeding program for the community.

Smith and her husband approached their pastor at the time, B. R. Brummett, over a Sunday lunch and started conversations about their vision. By the time lunch was over, Sherri had agreed to make a presentation to the board at the church.  Smith was notified of a restaurant in a nearby city that went out of business and agreed to sell everything in it to Smith for $5,000. “Even though it was a great deal, she may have asked for $5 million because we didn’t have a cent,” says Smith.

Following approval from the board, Brummett brought Smith’s dream and financial need before the congregation. “All of a sudden, Sister Naomi Reeder stood up and said that she would give the money needed,” recalls Smith. Reeder, a widow who had spent 24 years working in a local school cafeteria, told Smith that she understood the need of the children and the community from her previous work and wanted to be part of Smith’s solution. Along with her financial donation, Smith states that Reeder became her right arm until she passed away.

“It was then that everything just started to fall into place,” says Smith. Throughout the next several years, AGAPE would start three additional feeding programs in addition to their daily on-site meal program. The on-site meal program, which has served over one million meals, requires no application or proof of income to receive a hot meal other than providing a date of birth and an address if applicable. Smith believes that service to anyone in need is what she and her ministry are called to do. “When Jesus fed the 5,000,” Smith states, “he didn’t ask them their income or if they had had a cigarette or a drink that day.”

Oklahoma district superintendent, Darryl Wootton, who had just moved to Bartlesville in 2002 to pastor Spirit Church, arrived while AGAPE was still in its infancy but states that he immediately fell in love with the ministry. “AGAPE was really seeking to fulfill the heartbeat of Jesus by sharing God’s love with the least, the last, and the lost,” he says.

In March of 2005, AGAPE started their Food for Kids initiative which serves local elementary school children who do not have access to adequate food on the weekends or over holiday breaks. “We started the kids program with one of the most impoverished schools,” Wootton says, “and provided sacks to teachers who then identified students who needed them most and placed them in their bags.” Wootton reports that this program experienced exponential growth in a short amount of time and the benefits of the feeding program were noticed by district level school officials. “We actually had the superintendent of the schools we were working with reach out to us and share that the nutrition on the weekends was helping the kids do better in school and on standardized testing,” he says.

ow serving in over 14 local schools, AGAPE fills over 600 sacks a week that go home with children who have been identified as at-risk by the school. “Each child goes home with one sack containing anywhere from 8-15 food items,” Smith says. She reports that they now hand out an average of 20,000 bags per year.

 AGAPE organizes all classroom parties for what Smith identifies as the least funded elementary school in the area. “We provide cupcakes and juice and organize their class parties so they can have school celebrations, too,” says Smith. Volunteers for this program come from AGAPE and other local churches who have caught onto AGAPE’s vision for making sure no child in their community goes without.

AGAPE also offers a senior meals program to individuals over 60 years old and will assist those individuals in getting food on a case-by-case basis.

Due to the need for an expanded facility, Sherri believed it was God’s timing for her and Spirit Church to raise the funds to construct a brand new facility in the most impoverished part of their city. This new facility offers a state-of-the-art kitchen, warehouse, offices, and a space specifically designed as their Food for Kids area.

Smith says that she feels so blessed to be able to be the hands and feet of Jesus in her community. “It is incredible to look back and see what God has done,” she says, “but I also know that when God does something like this, when He provides for His own, we shouldn’t be surprised.”

Wootton states that the love of Jesus is always present at AGAPE and, although he moved to Oklahoma City in 2021 to become the district superintendent, he makes an effort to visit the ministry whenever he is in that part of the state. “I even celebrated my 50th birthday there because it is a place just filled with Jesus,” he says.

Sherri has been married to her husband Mike for almost 37 years with 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren and remains an active member of Spirit Church in Bartlesville.

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