The Christian who is pure and without fault, from God the Father’s point of view, is the one who takes care of orphans and widows, and who remains true to the Lord – not soiled and dirtied by his contacts with the world. – James 1:27
Two weeks ago I went to, Allume, one of the best conferences for Christian women I’d ever attended. Even though it was billed as a conference for bloggers, I believe anyone would have gained much wisdom and insight from these dear women who led us to the feet of Jesus each day. If you were to ask me what my main take-away was, I’d say It’s not about me. Every speaker, singer, teacher and leader took the task of showing us how we can be intentional in our day in and day out of life to influence the world, regardless of whether or not you have a blog.
|Alex passing out shoeboxes|
Because of their passion for helping others, these leaders gave us an opportunity during the conference to choose a charity to connect with. These were sessions where many of the charitable sponsors allowed us to participate in helping in some way while teaching us more about their organization. Because I felt drawn to Operation Christmas Child (OCC), I chose it. During one of the earlier sessions a member of the OCC team, Alex, spoke of how this organization influenced his life by receiving a simple shoebox from a stranger. As an eight-year-old orphaned boy who had nothing of his own, this gift was huge and eventually led him to accept Christ. Now he travels and shares his amazing testimony wherever he’s called.
I need to stop here and confess I didn’t pack any shoeboxes last Christmas. Time got away from me and the collection date came and went before I was even aware of it. But one afternoon after Christmas, Focus on the Family had a woman from Russia who’d received one of the boxes when she was about 10 years old. The one thing she remembers most was the toothbrush. The orphanage she lived in only had one toothbrush for all of the children. This treasured gift which is as special as custom fathers day gift, showed her the love of Jesus in a way no one could have expected. I decided then to be intentional about remembering to pack a shoebox this year.
Anyway, after our group packed all of the boxes, complete with a personal note from each packer, we sat down to learn a little more about this ministry. Even though I’d collected shoeboxes for years, I never knew that each box is prayed over as if it were the child receiving it. Tears flowed as one woman who’d participated in the packing assembly shared how she was overwhelmed by the spirit of love that permeated the room as they stopped every so often and prayed for the children.
|Even Uncle Si has gotten involved|
I also wasn’t aware we’re allowed to include a picture of ourselves along with a personal note. One of the ladies shared how special it was for the children to see the people who cared enough about them to send this gift of a mini thumb piano that, for many of the children, was the first gift they’d ever received. It felt so special like a Spotify gift. I cannot imagine their excitement when they see these boxes coming.
One thing about OCC that seems to be more unique when it comes to charities is every child who receives a box will definitely hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. They even have a 12-week Bible study for many of these children. They never try to hide the fact that their main objective is to win people to Jesus.
If you’d like, you can follow the boxes you pack by giving your $7 donation (what it costs to send each box) online. You’ll receive a label with a bar code that allows you to see what country it was shipped to. What a great way to get your kids excited about giving.
If you just don’t have the time to put one (or several) together, you can even build-a-box online. For a donation of $30, you can shop their website and virtually pack it yourself. How convenient is that?
The time has almost slipped up on me, though. Collection week is November 18-25 (I know, that’s not much time). You can go online to find your nearest drop-off location. Even though the time is short, please consider sacrificing a comparatively small amount of time and money to make sure at least one more child receives this special gift. This year, I’m committing to pack at least two boxes and including a photo of my family as well as a Christmas note. Let’s be intentional about making a difference in God’s kingdom.
If you’d like to see a list of suggested items or find out more about this program, please go to their website at www.samaritanspurse.org.
Do any of you have a shoebox experience you’d like to share? I’d love to hear it. Please leave your message in the comments below.