Wednesday, November 18, 2009

the most wonderful time of the year

No, I am not talking about Christmas, per se.

I am talking about my favorite week of the year. Well, one of my favorite weeks anyway.

This week ~ the week before Thanksgiving ~ is always National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child. I have shared how much I love being involved with this ministry before, but now I want to share how it has impacted my life personally and the life of our church.

For the last five years, our church has been a relay center for OCC. In other words, people can come and drop off their boxes at our church and we will pack them in cartons and send them on to the next location. During these five years we have had the honor of receiving just over 10,000 shoeboxes. This is just a tiny drop in the bucket of the boxes that have been received, but I am so thankful that God has allowed us to be a small part of this process. We have been given the opportunity to add our prayers to the many others for each box. And we know that each box represents at least one (but probably many more) opportunity for the Gospel of Jesus to be shared with a child (and his or her family).

Just knowing that a child may be reached for Jesus is enough to keep us working each year to help as much as we can with this project. What an honor to be allowed to participate in this process.

I don't know exactly how to share with you what happens during collection week. I find that I am blessed by this week more than I can express. Perhaps it is because we know that we are part of something "bigger than ourselves" as our pastor mentioned the other night. I know that is true, but I also know that a large part of the blessing, for me anyway, comes from something that I believe is one of the most important functions of a true New Testament church ~ fellowship.

I know that in the Southern Baptist Church fellowship begins with a capital letter and generally involves casseroles. This kind of fellowship is great and we are pretty good at them in our church.

However, in this case I am talking about the kind of fellowship that goes deeper and truly impacts our lives. During these few hours, one week a year, I get a glimpse into the lives of the ladies who volunteer. I see their heart for hurting children that they will never meet. I hear them pray for those children and for those who have packed boxes and delivered them to us. I hear these ladies (and some men, too!) laugh and joke with each other. I see them willingly take extra time packing a carton so that they can let my children be a part of the process and learn how to serve. I see them welcome new people who come to volunteer from other churches and make them feel at home in ours. I see their love for God expressed in more ways than I can count.
I see all these things, and I am blessed beyond measure.

The ministry of Operation Christmas Child is only one of the many things that I am thankful for during this season of the year. I am often amazed that God has allowed me to be a part of this ministry. I started out hoping to be a blessing to someone else, but the truth is that God has blessed me more than I can ever hope to give.

Isn't God good?


Rie said...

Oh Jennifer, you made me all teary eyed. You know I love this ministry, also, but have never done anything but packing our individual boxes.

Next year I'm coming to help!

You passed your blessing on to me with your words, thank you.

Jennifer said...

Marie - I'm signing you up!