MEMPHIS, Tenn. (BP)–One church in the Memphis area is working to meet medical needs in Iraq by assembling kits that will help improve the health of thousands of Iraqi families.

First Baptist Church in Collierville has a goal of shipping 14,400 kits to Kuwait City in late June. The kits will include everyday items — from children’s multi-vitamins to Band-Aids, toothbrushes to shampoo, and even dishtowels — at a cost of around $40 each.

Those kits will take 30 days to arrive by sea. An initial shipment of 1,800 kits will be air freighted to Kuwait City for a trial run of the distribution process before the others arrive.

“Nothing in the boxes will cure the problems of an Iraqi family,” said Rusty Griffin, executive administrator of Medical Missions Response, an independent nonprofit missions organization based in Collierville helping with the project. “But hopefully it will open the door to longer relationships that will allow MMR to bring in medical clinics and supplies that will have a long-term effect.”

This relief effort hopes to establish and build ties between healthcare professionals in America and Iraq.

Medical Missions Response uses “medical expertise as a way of opening doors,” Griffin said. MMR usually works in countries that are closed to traditional missionaries, so medical aid is another way of gaining access to help people.

The kits will not be passed on to big relief organizations for mass distribution either. “Unlike many relief efforts, these kits will be hand-delivered, individually, to Iraqi families by Arab Christians,” said Ken Carver, missions committee chairman at First Baptist.

The 2,100-member Tennessee church was not sure at first if it could handle a project that called for more than 14,000 kits at a cost of $40 each.

“This is a God-sized project,” said Chuck Herring, First Baptist’s new senior pastor. “But we should not be scared off by the numbers. True, it is more than we can do alone.”

The church took responsibility for the need anyway and now seeks to enlist the help of other churches in the Mid-South region, said minister of missions Sam Nichols.

“This is an opportunity for Christians in our area to help open doors for the gospel to be presented to a people group completely unaware of the joys of knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior,” he said.

The project complements the family food box project being sponsored by the International Mission Board, Griffin noted. “These aren’t competing projects. It’s all for the cause of helping Iraqis in distress and advancing Christ’s Kingdom.”