So, what sparks this excitement in our household?
The power of a simple gift.
I first heard about Operation Christmas Child about 7 or 8 years ago when it was introduced to our church by a lady who had lived in California and participated in the project there. I have to admit to be a little slow to catch the vision for this ministry. I had never heard of Samaritan's Purse or Operation Christmas Child. Of course, I had heard of Franklin Graham, but that didn't impress me too much. Still, packing shoe boxes was easy and fairly inexpensive and LB thought that it was fun (she was the only child old enough at the time to participate with me) so we got on board, slowly.
But, it wasn't until I really began to understand the impact of this ministry that I truly "caught the vision" for my personal involvement and, along with others in our church, began to see an opportunity for the church to get involved as well. As a result, for the last few years our church has served as a relay center for OCC and has been truly blessed in the process.
Over the years, I have come to love this ministry. If the only purpose was to bring joy into the lives of hurting children, I would still love this ministry. But, this ministry goes beyond simply supplying momentary excitement through the receiving of a gift. Every box that is packed and prayed over represents at least one opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a child who might not have ever heard the name of Jesus before.
Last year, that number was 7.4 million children.
And many of those boxes opened the door for the Gospel to be shared with the families of the children ~ parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings. People who are hurting, desperate, and forgotten and who all of the sudden realize that somewhere, someone cares and they want to know why anyone would care about them. And then someone tells them ... the person who packed this box loves you because God loves you. He knows who you are and what you have done and He still loves you.
He knows who I am and what I have done and He still loves me.
If God can use me for His purposes, surely He can use a simple shoebox filled with gifts and dedicated to Him so that He can minister to a hurting child that I have no opportunity to touch in any other way.
I suppose that you have noticed by now that I am passionate about this ministry. I would love to share with you all of the reports that I have heard over the years of how this ministry has impacted both the lives of the children who receive the boxes and those who pack the boxes, but I can't. But, you can visit the Samaritan's Purse website and find all the information you need to see the impact of this ministry and also to get involved.
I hope you will catch the vision quicker than I did.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you,
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40