Good News! Great Joy! Operation Christmas Child- have you heard of it? Operation Christmas Child delivers great joy to millions of children around the world throughout the year through shoeboxes lovingly and prayerfully packed with gifts that will bring delight to a child. In the hands of local churches, every gift-filled shoebox is a powerful tool for evangelism and discipleship—transforming the lives of children and their families around the world through the Good News of Jesus Christ! After receiving shoebox gifts, many boys and girls are invited to enroll in The Greatest Journey, their 12-lesson discipleship program where children learn what it means to faithfully follow Christ and share their faith with others. These small shoeboxes are making an unbelievably big impact.
As a family, we have packed shoeboxes for going on 5 years now. As a family, I wanted the four of us to go hear from a shoebox recipient last Sunday night. And, as a family, we left that evening changed. Each of us in turn having our hearts affected by the message that we heard. Each of us walking away with an urgency to do more.
I sat with tears clouding my vision as I heard story after story of how God is working through something as simple as a shoebox gift, something I had done selfishly because it made me feel good, something that I didn’t really understand until last Sunday. We heard stories of children with nothing who are experiencing a gift for the first time. Children who are excited to receive, as a gift, things we take for granted, soap and washcloths, a pair of socks, a comb. This is how God is using toothpaste and pencils to make an eternal impact.
We heard stories like this one…
A 9 or 10 year old little girl in Mexico was patiently waiting as box after box came though the hands of the volunteers delivering them, but not one for her particular age. They kept telling her they had a box for her, they just had to find it. When they finally found “hers” she opened it and sat stunned. They thought something was wrong as she sat holding a picture of the family that had sent the box. When they asked her what was wrong she pointed to the little girl in the picture and said, “I know her.”
“Honey, you can’t know her,” they replied. “She lives in Alabama.”
“No, I know her. We lived in Alabama for a year and I went to school with her.”
This is real! This happened! God is directing these boxes!
We sat and listened to how a Pastor in the Philippines built his church in four days so that the children would have someplace to gather as the boxes were handed out. Single handedly built a church in FOUR days! And then, after the boxes were handed out and opened, instead of leaving, the children continued to sit in the middle of this church floor with their parents and families lining the walls around them. No one moved, no one left, and the Pastor kept sharing the gospel, and out of a shoebox, packed across the globe, a church was born.
I would invite you to read the story of Timur, last Sunday’s featured speaker. I won’t try to sum up his story in just a paragraph other than to share this sentiment from him with you. “Through the shoebox I felt loved. Someone took the time to put in those items that became my favorites. I wondered a lot how Christians who didn’t know me were willing to give me a gift.” This was a child who would sneak to the bathroom in the orphanage at midnight to read the Bible because that was the only safe place and time to do it, a child who’s life was changed by a box!
Last year Samaritan’s Purse sent 10.5 million boxes to children across the world and through these boxes 1 million of them have come to know Jesus as their personal savior. This year, they are projecting that, directly through this program, 1.5 million children will come to know Jesus. That is 4,000 children every day as a direct result of such a small act of giving on our part.
And then I heard this story….In one particular village they had brought 250 boxes to be passed out in the local church. As they were passing out the boxes they noticed, though the cracks in the wall, little brown eyes. You see, these were the children on the outside, the ones who weren’t invited in because there weren’t enough boxes. These were the little ones to whom they had to say, I am sorry. We don’t have enough. And this…this is a story, this is an image, that I can’t get out of my head, let alone my heart.
Please, please, please won’t you partner with me, with my family, and as we try to make sure that no child is left on the outside looking in? Let’s band together and see if we can sponsor just 100 boxes. This is a beautiful picture of our story, being linked through a shoebox gift, to the story – to the life – of a child across the world.
Here’s how you can be involved and help us reach this goal:
Shop! This is the fun part, and was always a great family activity/adventure. The Dollar Store is a great first stop for small toys, hair accessories, and toiletries. Multipacks of anything are always good because they can be broken down and split among multiple boxes. Here are some detailed shopping guidelines.
Locally, on Sunday, November 15 we are going to be hosting a packing party (watch for coming details on the where and when.) We would love to have you join us to help assemble and prepare these boxes for their final destinations around the world. If you are unable to join us and have items you would like included in this year’s boxes let me know. I will be happy to come and get them.
Please also consider donating to have a box shipped. The cost is $7 per box and we will be tracking where each of our boxes end up.
In addition, you can cover the cost of filling a box and shipping it ($25 tax deductible donation) through the Operation Christmas Child site using the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be sure to share what the boxes were filled with.
Finally, and most importantly, PRAY. Prayer is what is fueling the amazing work that is being accomplished through this simple act of giving in the name of Jesus.
If you have any questions or want to have your own packing party, please let me know! Box by box we can change the world, and become part of a kingdom building movement. Let’s do this!