The lady asked the young girl what she would like in her shoebox. The young girl answered, “something purple.” The lady thought, “what are the chances of that?” In a little while you could hear the shrieks of joy coming from the children opening a present for the first time in their life! The lady ran to find the little girl to see what she had gotten. When the little girl took the lid off, everything in her box was purple! As the lady said, “If God doesn’t have His hand in this, who does?!” Numbers 23:23, “See what God has done!”
Another lady at the training center shared that she was one of those little girls who had received a shoebox as a child. She was 10-12 years old and had never received a present. She could not believe that someone who did not know her, loved her enough to send her a gift. This is the same for most of the kids. This is why this lady is now the coordinator for Operation Christmas Child at her church. One child prayed for a button shirt so he could go to school. Guess what was in his shoebox? A button shirt! Luke 1:37, “For there is nothing that God cannot do.”
You can feel Cheryl’s passion as she shared these stories with me. She said, “I can’t go be a missionary but I can do these shoeboxes.” That is why she is the coordinator at Pine Valley United Methodist Church for Operation Christmas Child. She also shared with me what happens after we drop our shoeboxes off at church. Her UMW circle, Ogden By The Sea, checks the boxes and prays over them before they go to the distribution center in Charlotte. Cheryl was blessed to experience working in the distribution center. The boxes are checked and sorted. During every shift they stop and ask everyone to put their hands on the shoeboxes and they pray over them. They also tell them where this batch will be going.
When the shoeboxes make it to the designated country, they are delivered by carts, boats, donkeys, camels, elephants, etc. The children have a designated gathering place where they receive their shoebox. Before the children rip into the presents, they are told that Jesus loves them. They are given a brochure called The Greatest Journey, in which they can return to this local place for a 12-week class. Many of the children come back, bringing their siblings and/or parents, who often accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Mark 16:15, “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” This evangelism and discipleship program teaches them about God and Jesus. When they graduate they receive a Bible in their native language. They are equipped to teach about their faith so they are asked to go back to their village and witness. Matthew 29:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Many of the children go back to their village and preach the good news to the adults! Since 2009, when The Greatest Journey began, 10.6 million children have completed the program and have received a Bible!
When my girls were growing up we always filled shoeboxes - it was part of our Christmas tradition. It was exciting as they always filled a box for a girl their age. This is a great ministry to share with your children, grandchildren, as a group, with a neighbor, etc. Let’s remember what Jesus said in Acts 20:35, “... ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Things have changed a lot in the past few years including no food or liquid. You can no longer include hard candy or toothpaste. Some of the most wanted gifts are inflatable soccer balls (come with a pump) and marbles. Ideas they recommend are school supplies, toothbrushes, soap, washcloths, toys and jump ropes. You now have the option to pay $25 and they will pack the box. You can donate money or you can donate items in the Christian Life Center and fellowship hall during September for the Ogden By The Sea circle to put together. Your gift will probably be the only gift a precious child has ever received! “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9 Thank you in advance for sharing the Good News one shoebox at a time!