Yesterday, my boys, a dear friend, and I went through and checked 58 shoe boxes filled with toys, hygiene items, and school supplies. The boxes, packed with love and prayers by our church's AWANA clubbers, will be shipped all over the world to children who are hurting because of poverty, disease, and war. After returning home, I realized this is our 11th year to participate in this wonderful program. So why do we do this year after year?
1. Spreading the Gospel in a Tangible Way
Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse and headed by Franklin Graham, "is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world... The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ." I know that my gift will be sent to needy children, but more importantly, they will hear the Gospel. That is important to me.
Izabella, a child recipient who is now an adult, gives a powerful testimony of what these shoe boxes can mean to a child: "When I received my shoebox, that was the moment I understood that this God that I'd been reading about in the Bible is a truly personal God who cares about each and every one of us." To see and hear Izabella's story, click here.
In many cases, children have the opportunity to take a discipleship course after receiving an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.
2. Teaching Your Children How Blessed They Are
Every year, this is a reminder to my children of their many blessings. I remind them that this gift that we are packing may be the only gift this child receives for Christmas, maybe even this year.
3. Teaching Your Children How to Give
After realizing how blessed we are, it's time to act -- it's time to give. Even young children can learn how to give -- and to give sacrificially.
When my oldest was 2 and a half, he packed his first shoe box. We went to Wal-Mart and picked out lots of fun toys-- Hot Wheels, bouncy balls, a small Magna Doodle. When we arrived home, my toddler decided he did not want to give up those toys. He readily "gave up" the toothbrush, soap, and washcloth, but the toys were going to stay with him. This was a wonderful opportunity to talk with him about giving, sacrifice, God's love, blessings, etc.
Eventually, he relented but asked if he could ride on an airplane, find the boy, and play with him. Oh, how I wish he could have!
4. Praying for the LostLastly, packing a shoe box gives us an opportunity to pray specifically for the child who will receive our gift. We pray that this precious child will hear about God's love and know it's true because someone very, very far away was willing to share that love tangibly.
So, are you ready to participate, too? It's not too late. Shoe box collection goes until November 21, 2011. For more information on how to fill a shoe box, see here. Drop-off locations are located all over the country. Also, if you pay online, you will receive a tag to tape onto your box that will let you know via e-mail WHERE your box was sent! Last year, our boxes went to children in Mexico!
"Every shoe box offers an opportunity to share
the Good News of the Savior with a hurting child."
-- Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan's Purse