Today is my 100th post since this blog was born a year ago. This fact, however, is exponentially insignificant compared to another great “100.” This is the twentieth year that Operation Christmas Child will send shoeboxes to needy children all over the world. One of the shoeboxes will be the 100,000,000th box. Maybe that box will be yours or mine.
During Vacation Bible School at our church last week, a teacher shared a story of a student who understands the love that is packed in each shoebox. With tears she reported during our morning prayer time, “One of my precious students brought one of her nice stuffed animals from home, that she has had for a long time (‘he’ has come to Sunday School with her). She kissed ‘him,’ and told ‘him’ goodbye and placed ‘him’ in an Operation Christmas Child box, to be sent to a child overseas.” This wonderfully loving child is in our special needs class.
Stories like that cause me to reflect upon the tremendous blessing of this ministry. Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, a Gospel-centered organization that provides relief for people who are hurting, poor, orphaned, widowed, despised, and devastated. They mobilize millions of volunteers to provide assistance in the wake of natural disasters, respond to medical crises, and support our military through a new ministry called “Operation Heal our Patriots.”
With all these great avenues, few reach deeper into the remote villages of Africa, South America, or Asia like Operation Christmas Child. These boxes are so much more than a Christmas gift. Yes, they are received by a child, but they are welcomed by a community. The entire village is transformed by the love of God, the prayers of Christ’s church, the compassion of volunteers delivering the boxes, and the opportunity to trust Christ for salvation. But the “operation” continues beyond a quick delivery of goods. Now discipleship begins.
Each village has the opportunity to engage in life transformation through “The Greatest Journey.” This is a twelve-lesson Biblical study that engages participants in a Gospel conversation. Participants are offered a clear presentation of the Gospel and the Word of God. They are also challenged to follow Christ daily and are equipped to share their faith in Jesus with others in their village. “The Greatest Journey” takes a lovingly packed shoebox to a whole new level.
So, I want to challenge you to consider packing a simple gift this year. A few extra items at the store create a tremendous opportunity in Sudan, Peru, or India to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What takes a moment here will last an eternity in a place you have never been. I cannot think of a better way to make such an impact. Who knows? Maybe your box will be the 100 millionth!
For more information, visit www.samaritan.org/occ
Got a shoebox story? Please share it in the comment box below.