Our shoeboxes have been delivered. This is encouragement to continue to be praying for the children and families who received them.
Luis received a shoebox in Panama at age 6.
The stuffed lamb in my shoebox was the first toy I ever received. I still have it. It was really a treasure. It played a little song and was so beautiful. It was so tender, so soft. The little face of the lamb was something I loved. I used to pretend I was playing with a real lamb. After I finished playing with it, I always put it back inside my plastic shoebox. The lamb made me smile every time I saw it because I would remember the day people gave me the shoebox.
The most valuable items in my shoebox were school supplies: crayons, a pencil sharpener, pens, pencils, and notebooks. In Panama in 1996, if you didn’t have supplies, you could not go to school. That year I was able to use the pens, the pencils, the notebooks—everything.
The day before I received my shoebox I was begging my mom to buy supplies so I could go to school. She said, “I can’t. I don’t have the money but if you want you can pray.” We never went to church. We never talked about God, but that day she told me to pray. I asked her to teach me how. She said, “You can talk to God like He’s right in front of you, but you have to respect Him because He is the Lord.”
So I knelt and I talked to Him like He was in front of me. I asked specifically for school supplies and the next day I was invited to a church for a special event. That’s where I got my shoebox. Inside the shoebox was a letter that said, “Jesus loves you and I love you, too.” That message broke my heart immediately. All that I needed was to know that I’m loved. So to receive that letter allowed me to see the spiritual message behind the box. We were nonbelievers and the shoebox helped us understand that God answers prayers. My mom said, “Now I know that God is real.”
Because someone took a moment to write down “Jesus loves you and I do too,” it allowed me to see that even though I didn’t have a father and even though I don’t have a perfect life, He’s there for me. I lived in the ghetto. We didn’t have anything. I was hopeless. The shoebox allowed me to understand that God cared for me.
My mother and my little sister became Christians right after I received my shoebox, but I didn’t understand that I needed to follow Christ. Still the letter in the shoebox was always telling me, “He loves you. He’s there for you. He’s waiting for you.” There were people telling me all the time that God had a better plan for my life. At 14, I realized that I needed Him and accepted Jesus as my Savior.
The shoebox was the first seed that was planted in my life. Today I don’t have the pencils but I have something that is more important because the Bible says, “the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:25, ESV). I just needed to know that He loved me, so the shoebox was a beautiful gift.