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Stories of hope

December 2021, Featured, FRONTLINES

A Bigger Garage: The Story of Children’s Hunger Fund

In a run-down hospital in Honduras, one missionary couple answered the call to provide comfort to impoverished children facing terminal cancer. Little could be done for the children other than provide basic care and share the love of Christ with them before they died.

This was where God broke Dave Phillips’ heart for the poor.

The year was 1986, and Dave was fresh out of college and pursuing International Banking. Though he returned to the US after this two-week mission trip, Dave’s experience in Honduras stayed with him. Dave began working as Director of Operations for World Opportunities International, distributing food to families in poverty in South Central Los Angeles.

In 1991, Dave came home from work and told his wife, Lynn, that he felt that God was calling him to quit his job. Together, over the course of a prayerful weekend, they established two clear goals of what they wanted to do:

  1. Alleviate the suffering of children, both physically and spiritually.
  2. Encourage and challenge the church in serving the poor.

It was then that Children’s Hunger Fund was born.

Dave reached out to his corporate contacts to acquire donated products. Medicine and other donated goods were stored in Dave and Lynn’s garage. A partnership with a church in Panorama City allowed them to hire one employee and expand to a small warehouse about the size of a three-car garage.

On January 17, 1994, residents of the San Fernando Valley were abruptly awakened by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake, known as the Northridge Earthquake.

Dave received a call from the California Director for FEMA, who told him that CHF had the largest food distribution warehouse still standing in the San Fernando Valley. FEMA had 150 semi-loads of food and wanted CHF to distribute them.

Overnight, CHF went from serving 10 churches to serving 150. In the week following the earthquake, 54,000 homes received food. FEMA provided CHF another warehouse, an additional staff person, and a forklift.

As the food moved through the warehouse to churches, many people were coming to Christ. Meanwhile, transportation invoices began piling up and the payment promised by FEMA was nowhere in sight.

After six months, CHF had $63,000 in bills and no way to pay them.

With reimbursement nowhere in sight, Dave and Lynn saw no option other than to shut down operations. On his way to the warehouse to deliver the difficult news to his two employees, Dave stopped by the mailbox.

Inside were three unsolicited donations totaling $63,000—the exact amount that was needed. “It was a great opportunity,” Dave shared, “for God to remind us that He’s got everything taken care of. He had us in His hands, and He demonstrated that in a very powerful way.”

In the years that followed, the ministry of Children’s Hunger Fund continued to grow and evolve to include a unique model of home delivery and incorporate mercy ministry training for the pastors and volunteers distributing food to families in need.

Partnerships were formed with international churches, beginning with Uganda in 2002. As of 2021, CHF now has official partnerships in 29 countries, including the US. CHF’s volunteer program grew from a handful of friends and families to thousands of volunteers on an annual basis.

Through it all, the vision of Children’s Hunger Fund remained the same: to meet the needs of suffering children and to empower and uplift local churches for mercy ministry.

As Dave recently reflected on the ministry that began thirty years ago in his garage, he couldn’t help but think, “God just keeps giving us a bigger garage.”

As we celebrate thirty years of ministry at Children’s Hunger Fund, we are so grateful for every donor, every volunteer, every corporate partner, every prayer, every pastor, and every person who has supported the mission to deliver hope to suffering children by equipping local churches for gospel-centered mercy ministry.

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