When our church announced it would participate in a missions outreach called Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, my husband and I decided to investigate. The missions statement intrigued us: “Operation Christmas Child demonstrates God’s love to hurting children in a tangible way by partnering with churches worldwide to deliver gift-filled shoeboxes and the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
What we found was a surprising worldwide ministry to children at Christmas. Since 1993 more than 100 million boys and girls in more than 130 countries have experienced God’s love through the power of simple shoebox gifts. With the recent typhoon in the Philippines, the need had reached urgent status.
It sounded so simple. Fill a box with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items and send it to a gathering sight. We were drawn to the simplicity of the project and could easily imagine children without anything receiving the gifts we sent.
My husband brought home an empty box, deciding he would fill one for a young boy. After he went shopping, he became excited, impressed with how much one little box could hold. We returned to the store and together bought gifts for two other children. I filled one for a girl and my son filled one for a pre-teen boy. I don’t know when we’d had so much fun shopping together for someone we didn’t know.
The third week of November is collection week and we stacked our boxes with those brought in by other church members. The middle school, high school, and college departments fill sixty-eight boxes by themselves. The colorful red and green shoeboxes were as beautiful as any Christmas tree could have been.
But more than the gifts, and the unconditional love represented inside, I imagined the faces of the children who would receive a gift they’d never expected. Knowing our boxes might change the lives of hurting children, we were the greater blessed.
In Matthew 19:14 (NKJV) Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
For more information about Operation Christmas Child visit samaritanspurse.org Franklin Graham, President