|Volunteers gather one rainy October afternoon to assemble 90 shoeboxes.|
For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever. Psalm 9: 18
Ever been to a shoebox packing party? I attended my first a few weeks ago. My generous friend Donna collected hundreds of small items all year to place in shoeboxes sent overseas with Samaritan's Purse for Operation Christmas Child. She transformed her garage into a bright and cheerful place where believers from different churches throughout the community worked side by side to prepare boxes of blessings for children on the other side of the world, children who struggle just to survive.
Operation Christmas Child has a mission: to send gifts to poor children and take an opportunity to evangelize them with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Included in the boxes are things like small toys, toothbrushes, soap, a washcloth, toothpaste, pencils, crayons, notebooks, and other hygiene items. These things that may not mean much here, but to them mean everything, for they demonstrate in a small way the love and grace of Jesus toward the poor and needy.
How could it be that life for these children is so radically different than our life in affluent America?One shoebox goes to one child in any number of impoverished nations around the world. The results have been miraculous, even as my OCC volunteer friend told me that around 7 poor people are effected when just one child in their family receives a box. Parents and relatives also can come to learn about Jesus when their child receives a box.
Not necessary, but Donna provided us with delicious refreshments while we packed, and together we prayed over the boxes, that each box would go to its perfect recipient. We joined hands together and laid our hands on those boxes when we prayed. It was a distraction from the worries and cares of our affluent lifestyle here, and a way for parents to teach their kids about sharing too.
|Families can fill boxes together and young children can learn about sharing during the season of "Gimme."|
One little shoebox represents the love of Christ. Lives have been changed, hundreds have come to a saving relationship with Christ through this ministry that is an offshoot of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and run by Franklin Graham.
I first learned about OCC seven years ago when I went to a Christian concert and benefit for OCC with my sister in Parkersburg WV. I got an empty box to take home to fill. When I came home, I looked on the computer to find a church nearby that collected shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse. I found a Methodist church not far from my home and took the filled box there. I met some kind volunteers who are now friends, they have volunteered countless hours for the sake of this Christmas project for children that we will never see, yet will experience joy in receiving a simple gift. We even enclosed our photo and wrote the little child a note. (Not necessary, but optional.)
It is not hard to fill a box. If you go to the website for Samaritan's Purse you can find out where to take the box, what to pack, what not to pack, and many other questions you might have. You can also find other ways to share with the needy of this world through Samaritan's Purse.
Please copy and paste into your browser to visit their site: https://www.samaritanspurse.org/
Last year at the same Methodist church I heard the testimony of a boy whose life was radically changed by receiving one of these boxes. This young man was from Eastern Europe and lived in a care home, starving for love and attention. He shared one towel to wash his face with about ten other boys. This boy did not know that God loved him, or what God's Son had done to save him by dying on the cross. He was despondent, almost suicidal. One day in the orphanage he heard a commotion: people had come and were handing out boxes. He hurried to join the group before the boxes were all delivered. When he received his, he was amazed to find that his box contained his very own washcloth. How that simple gift gave him hope that maybe there could be a God. He went on to learn about God's Son, and was one day adopted by a loving Christian family. Last year he travelled with Samaritan's Purse and told audiences that the simple gift helped open his cold and desperate heart to the love of Jesus. One person in the audience asked him what gift in the box meant the most and it was the washcloth. Something we take for granted, a clean towel, meant so much to someone who had almost nothing.
This week is "Collection Week," where all across the country people will be bringing packed boxes to collection centers. For each box you pack, you pay a $9 fee for the shipping and distribution costs. If you pay this online, you receive a number and a label that you can print off your computer to attach to your box.
When the box is distributed you will receive an email from Samaritan's Purse that reveals what country your box was delivered to. If you prefer not to do it that way, you can also donate at the collection center to receive your label.
At the website, You can optionally also donate an additional amount to provide a small book called The Greatest Journey that teaches newly saved children how to grow in their relationship with Jesus.
It is not hard to do this. It's a small way to show love to someone, someone we won't probably ever meet on this side of eternity. But just imagine, someday we could meet that child in heaven, one who had next to nothing, who received a box of blessing, and had their eternal destiny changed forever.
|Here is little ole me with one of the shoeboxes I packed.|