by Jim Stanley
November 2013 – It was a life changing experience – a trip with Operation Christmas Child to distribute shoeboxes in Peru. Sure, I had packed shoeboxes with my church and at AFA. It’s one thing to pack a shoebox in the comfort of one’s own home, church or office. It’s quite another to be the one placing the shoe box in the hands of an excited boy or girl.
For three days last February, our team visited five churches and distributed more than 700 shoeboxes. While handing out the shoeboxes and seeing the joy of the children was indescribable, I was also touched by the servant’s heart of the pastors and their families toward the children and their congregations.
Operation Christmas Child becomes a bridge between your family and that local church. In one community, the pastor felt the Lord was leading him to shepherd the community, but he had two major obstacles to overcome. First, there was no church building. Second, there was an immense pile of garbage on a vacant lot. The pastor and his family removed the refuse and began building the church one room at a time. I found this to be a fairly common practice among the churches we visited – they build only when they have enough money to complete a room. Sometimes it’s only walls with a tarpaulin or sheets of thin plastic for a roof.
Another church I visited was so small that to say it was on a shoestring budget would be unfair; they wouldn’t have been able to afford the shoestring. Yet, after a great worship service that included the distribution of more than 60 shoeboxes, the pastor insisted on feeding us at his home. What I didn’t realize until we were driving away is that the pastor and his family had given up their meal for us. To see them sit down and eat what we had left on the plates was very humbling. I take so much for granted, and to see them so grateful for what we did was amazing.
I’d encourage you to pray for these local pastors, their families and the congregations they serve. Pray about how the Lord might have you to partner with OCC. You can make the difference in the life of a child.
I am your shoebox – by Jim Stanley
I am an empty shoebox rescued from your closet and destined to bring joy to a needy child. But I need your help. Please begin my journey with prayer for the child who will receive me. Will I go to a boy or a girl? What age? You decide.
Next, fill me with love and goodies, both fun and practical – colors, pencils, drawing pads, stickers, small toys (don’t forget batteries), socks, toothpaste, toothbrush and so on. If you include a picture of your family and your address, my child may write to you.
Now that I am packed full, take me to your church or a collection center, and Operation Christmas Child will take me to a child who needs me. You may not get to see that child’s face, but believe me, it will beam a radiant smile and a shout for joy, all because you started me on my journey with love and prayer.
For drop-off locations, visit samaritanspurse.org/occ or call 800-353-5949. National Dropoff Week is November 18-25. You may mail your shoebox to Samaritan’s Purse, 801 Bamboo Road, Boone, NC 28607.