Operation Christmas Child Impact Stories: The Power of a Simple Gift
Collection week of November last year has come and gone. The shoeboxes filled with various items for children have been distributed. But that’s not the end of the story. Around the world thousands of children are enrolled in a discipleship class, The Greatest Journey, learning about who Jesus is and what He came to do, and how that can make a difference in their lives. The box has been just the beginning of a journey with Jesus that will last a lifetime, and beyond. Read on and be amazed at what our God can accomplish through a simple gift distributed in His name.
From a letter from our friend, Octavio:
Years ago while I was visiting you [Grace Church], I had the chance to help a bit with the Samaritans Purse shoe boxes. I honestly never thought it could have such an impact on children’s lives around the globe. As I have been interacting with brothers and sisters here in Kosovo, I have noticed that most of the younger generation of believers here in [this city] have actually heard the Gospel through the shoebox project. Every single one of the people I talked to and asked about how they first heard the good news have said that it was through the Samaritans Purse!! The church here is very active, they have different projects going on, very strong emphasis on children’s ministry here, lots of work and freedom to evangelize.
Yuliya received a shoebox at age 9 in a Central Asian country.
When I lifted the lid on my purple plastic shoebox, the first thing I saw was a stuffed dog. I was filled with exuberant joy! I just remember hugging it. Even though I had toys growing up, the dog was an item you couldn’t find in my country. It was really soft and had puppy eyes. It was my new best friend, my newfound treasure.
My second favorite item was bubble gum-flavored toothpaste that came in a pink tube. We didn’t know such a thing existed. We would squeeze out a bit the size of the tip of a match so we could get a little bit of flavor and make it last as long as possible. Word traveled fast. My friends would line up in our bathroom and my sister and I would squeeze out a tiny amount on their toothbrushes. I think we made it last about two years.
The toys were the most important things to me as a 9-year-old but it also stood out that the letter in the box said, “I am praying for you.” As time went on, I realized why. With my shoebox, here was someone I’d never met and never seen, yet she was still praying for me.
We became pen pals and she would always close her letters, “I am praying for you.” I always wondered, “Why is she praying for me?” The impact hit me more than seven years later after I became a Christian. She was showing me the love of Christ all along, starting with the shoebox and continuing in her prayers. The shoebox was a seed. Sometimes you see fruit right away and other times it takes years for the seed to grow.
I still have my stuffed dog 14 years later. That’s a glimpse of how much the shoebox meant to me because it was packed with love and prayer.
Wouldn’t you like to be a part of this ministry that touches the lives of children, families, and whole communities? Pack a shoebox this year on your own or with a friend, and/or join our Relay Center team during National Collection Week in November, as we collect shoeboxes from churches and individuals in Berkshire County. Want to know more?
Speak to Charleen Bridgman, Relay Center Coordinator.
Grace Church Congregational
bearing witness to Christ with integrity and compassion