Monday, October 27, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

It's that time of year again!

Yesterday I did a kickoff presentation at our church for Operation Christmas Child. I began with a story that nearly brings me to tears, one I read in my packet of materials from Samaritan's Purse (this is an abridged version):

It was a cold winter morning in war-torn Bosnia, and several inches of snow lay on the ground. This was not a welcome sight for a young girl who had no shoes to wear. For months, eleven-year-old Lejla had been wearing a ragged pair of sneakers that her older brother had outgrown. Her toes protruded out of the gaping holes at the front of the shoes, making it a never-ending battle to keep her feet warm and dry. Her parents wrapped plastic bags around her socks for insulation and covered the bags with another pair of socks before she pulled her shoes on. Then they fastened the torn ends of each shoe with steel wire and sent her on her way.

As she trudged to school, drawing her coat tightly against her, Lejla wondered when the cruel war would end. Did God care? Did He even exist? With little work to be found, her parents struggled to buy food and clothes for their four children. Many nights they went to bed hungry.

“I didn’t see any purpose for living,” she said. “If God loves me, why does He make me live like this? Why doesn’t He just let me die and end the suffering?” she wondered.

Lejla arrived at school and saw a man handing out colorfully-wrapped boxes to her classmates. She did not know how to react when the kind stranger handed a box to her. But that was just the beginning of the surprise.

“I thought I was dreaming when I opened the box,” she said. “Inside was candy, the first I had tasted in four years, and pencils and a notebook for school. But best of all, there was a brand new pair of white sneakers!”

Lejla was the only child in her class who received shoes in her box. And the shoes fit her feet perfectly! “I knew that God had answered my prayers. I was so overwhelmed, I started to cry. I no longer felt lonely because I knew that God, my real God, was watching over me.”

The man told her that the Christmas present was packed by people in America who were sending it in the name of Jesus. Lejla wanted to know more about Jesus, and she later invited Him into her heart. Now she had two wonderful gifts—a new pair of shoes, and most of all, a Savior who would never forsake her.

That’s what Operation Christmas Child is all about. A simple gift-filled box is a tangible expression of the love of God, bringing hope and breaking down barriers to share the Good News of the Savior with all people. In countries where Christians are persecuted and traditional evangelism is prohibited, shoeboxes can help to advance the Gospel.

May I encourage you to participate in this fun and exciting ministry? National Collection Week is November 17-24, so you've got about three weeks to shop. Visit the website to print labels and view a list of packing guidelines as well as search for a drop-off site near you.


Kayla said...

I LOVE Operation Christmas Child!!!
I've been doing it since I lived at home with my parents. I'm excited that this year, Jayden is going to help me pick out the items. We just packed up a nig garbage bag full of his toys to give away to someone else who needed toys. That was fun and also a little hard for him but I loved every second of teaching him that.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for posting this information about Operation Christmas Child on your blog. We are grateful for your passion and for your commitment to this ministry.

Darren Mullenix
Donor Ministries
Samaritan's Purse

Anonymous said...

I was hoping you'd post . Thanks for the collection date heads-up. I"ve often wondered whether I should send a pair of new shoes, if they fit the recipient, perfect! But if too small, disappointing? Or would they have the joy of giving them to someone smaller? So I've never done it. Do you have any idea whether they check in advance to match a shoe size with a recipient?

Amanda Pittman said...

I just blogged about this same thing today! I've always wanted to do this, but just never "got around to it" (what an excuse!). This year, I am in charge of our MOPS group, and we are doing it! I printed up the letters to mail out today:)

Amy said...

Zo, I have no idea...I've just figured it was the sovereignty and perfect wisdom of God, inspiring someone to buy a certain sized pair of shoes and directing that box to just the right recipient :) I suppose human intervention along the way might facilitate that, although it seems overwhelming to think of them checking details like that. I always assumed the boxes were handed out somewhat randomly, but I really don't know.