And yet the rapid growth of the ministry doesn’t surprise Campbell. The Holy Spirit’s leading through divine business appointments—which is how virtually every corporate connection has come—and the ministry’s heart to do things God’s way have made FCE an easy sell to corporate partners, he says.
Instead of approaching businesses and asking them simply to write a check, FCE has devised a way for corporate employees to get involved with a hands-on approach to alleviating local and global hunger. In an era in which most companies see the value in blending social justice advocacy with their own corporate values and culture, FCE has found a sweet spot. The nonprofit organizes events and allows corporations to bring teams of individuals to get physically involved in the food-packing process. In turn, employees leave the events with a sense of personal satisfaction, having helped to make a difference in the lives of hungry children across the U.S. and around the world.
“You have companies like JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America—two of the larger companies in this country—that have executives and people that want to do something good and noble from a social responsibility standpoint,” Campbell says. “We’ve found a niche where they can take the dollars they normally contribute and instead use those dollars to mobilize their staff and deploy their donation into their community and ultimately impact the lives of children locally and globally.
“We approached them and told them that we have volunteer opportunities—philanthropic opportunities—that they can attach to their check and give them a feeling of pride that they’re doing something to impact the world. You might be surprised at just how eager people are to help when you’re asking them for more than simply money.”
Eager indeed. Jodie Hardman, senior vice president and market manager for Bank of America, says that when bank employees are asked to gather for a packing event, there is usually a waiting list of at least 150 to 200 people.
“It fills up pretty quickly,” says Hardman, who herself has participated in past packing events. “People don’t have to have a special skill or a special gift to give back to the community. Knowing that you’re helping others, you feel good, and it gives you a lot of pride that you’re making a difference. It’s a great lesson you can teach to your kids.”
Hardman says that although there are many worthy charities to choose from, FCE is exactly the type of organization Bank of America looks for in its community investment program.
“It all goes back to the simplicity of their process,” she says. “Their events are so spirited. A lot of times when you’re asked to do something for the community, it can be a somber event when you’re serving. But with FCE, there’s a lot of spirit around it. It’s fun, and it’s fulfilling.”
Gospel Bonus But personal fulfillment isn’t the only benefit participants receive. When God opens the door—and He frequently does—FCE’s staff seizes the opportunity to share His love to whoever will listen.
Ron Johnson, senior pastor at One Church in Longwood, and one of the Campbells’ biggest spiritual supporters, says people are more apt to receive the gospel message when they aren’t simply listening to a sermon but instead are seeing Jesus’ love in action.
“That’s the genius of the model, the fact that Don and his people are taking kingdom principles and bridging them while addressing a major need in the world—hunger,” he says. “They are reaching people that may never darken the door of a church. The reason it’s working is that they don’t have to convince people by their words. What they are doing—feeding hungry children—touches the core of our humanity.”
For Campbell, the work comes as a direct response to Jesus’ frequently quoted but rarely followed words in Matthew 25: “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink” (v. 35).
Campbell says it’s clear that feeding people and meals around the table were at the heart of Jesus’ ministry. And he believes that God wants to do great things through His kids using that same model. “If we’re willing to move in faith, the Bible says that pleases God,” he says. “If you move in big faith, God can do big things.”
It’s because of the “big things” God is doing through FCE, along with Campbell’s personal integrity, that he has earned the respect of many pastors in the Central Florida area. Among those is Jeff Krall, under whom Campbell served as youth and family life pastor at Family Worship Center.
“Don has told me that he has had conversations with people in the secular world, and they look at him and say, ‘You’re a different kind of Christian,’” Krall says. “They tell him, ‘I think you’ve got the words and actions of life.’ The universal appeal of what he is doing with FCE is amazing.”