Bread plays a significant role in the Bible. A good number of miracle stories involve bread. There is the story of the five barley loaves and two fishes that turned into 12 baskets of leftovers in the book of John. Then, there is the miracle of Christ’s body, becoming the bread at the Last Supper in Luke. While a good number of people believe that bread was just a metaphor for the body of Christ, there are a few religious traditions that believe the bread served at Communion is the actual body of Christ.
And what about manna from Heaven, the bread that rained down from Heaven to feed the Jews wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. It must have been quite the sight to see flakes of bread floating down gently from the sky. It wasn’t just any bread, either. The bread from that Exodus miracle contained every essential vitamin and nutrient that a body would need. It would have to. Those wandering in the wilderness needed food that would nourish them no matter how long it took to find the Promise Land.
Manna in the Modern World
Sadly, a good number of people think that Bible-scale miracles don’t occur anymore, that bread from the Divine no longer falls from the sky. However, if James Cammilleri of Elevating Christian Ministries (ECM) has anything to say about it, more people will come to believe that miracles still do happen, even if their mode of delivery has changed.
James Cammilleri’s own life is proof of that. An unexpected call from an old friend inspired him and his wife, Sarah, to go to Haiti on a mission trip.
“It is really about saying yes,” he said. “When God calls you to do something, you do it. We firmly believe in our heart; if you’re not willing to do something, he’s going to put somebody else in your place to do it.”
That first act of saying “Yes” to the children of Haiti eventually led to the Cammilleris agreeing to return to Haiti to build bread ovens for a severely undernourished population of kids. It might not be a bread-falling-out-of-the-sky kind of miracle, but the kids who benefitted from it might disagree.
“I think the biggest thing for me was when we came here, we found out that the kids were only being fed every other day,” said Sarah. “I could not imagine kids at home, not being fed.”
The Inspiration for the Bread Program in Haiti
There were some obstacles.
Initially, there was the very practical challenge of deciding on a food that would meet the nutritional needs of the kids they were trying to feed. Many of the Haitian children showed signs of malnourishment; their hair began to turn red because of it. Whatever sort of nutrition program that James Cammilleri and his team came up with, it needed to address the nutritional issues the kids faced immediately.
He drew inspiration from the Bible and from manna, which had all of the nutrients a body needs. A memory of his mom also offered some insight into the problem and a possible solution. His mother used to make bread from scratch each day, and it wasn’t the kind of scratch that we think of today. That is, she didn’t go to the store to buy the flour. Instead, she purchased the wheat and ground it into flour to make the bread.
“Breads made from fresh-ground ingredients contain every essential vitamin and nutrient that the human body needs,” he explained. “I knew we had to start by feeding these children and baking nutritious bread.”
Faith Plus Action = Sustainable Missions
The Cammilleris initial program had fed 1,000 kids by the time the oven-building mission came to its conclusion. Today, the mission work of ECM includes not only this bread program, but also a housing project, a construction project, jewelry assembling programs, and a bakery program to name but a few.
Partnering with businesses like New York-area Burger Kings and Orcon Industries Corp. as well as donations and even an online store helps to keep Elevating Christian Ministries sustainable. The organization also builds partnerships not only in the business world but in the faith community in Haiti as well. Many already-established churches and other religious organizations have become partners with ECM.
By taking this approach, Cammilleri has fed the children he originally intended to help. More importantly, ECM has also created employment opportunities for people in the communities that the ministry serves.
But at the end of the day, it is all about putting faith into action. That one thing alone influences every decision that James Cammilleri makes.
“Haiti, I believe, is us truly activating our faith by saying ‘Yes’ to God,” he said. “Whatever door God opens up; Sarah and I want to walk through it.”