Wednesday, September 28, 2011

legacy

If you have been reading this little blog of mine for very long, or if you happen to know me in the real world, you probably already know my passion for Operation Christmas Child.*  What you may not know is how our church came to be involved in this ministry.

Ken and Mae joined our church in the final weeks of my second pregnancy ... I remember being surprised that they came to the shower the church gave us (which was after the evening service on the day they joined) and I still remember the cute little outfits that they gave us for our first son.  Little did I know then how God would use this precious couple in my life.  Many things about the years that Ken and Mae were with us stand out ... memories of her sense of humor even through terrible trials and his amazing talent in creating beautiful backdrops for our VBS stages, but it is for her love of Operation Christmas Child that I will always remember Mae and this ministry is her greatest impact on my life.

In 2002, when Mae first suggested we pack shoe boxes, I don't think that very many of us were familiar with Operation Christmas Child.  I am not sure that I had even heard of Samaritan's Purse, though I did know who Franklin Graham was.  I think I packed one box that year ... our church packed 32 total and we were pretty happy about that.  We would continue packing boxes over the next several years and in 2005 we became the only drop-off location in our county.  I remember that first year, receiving boxes and packing cartons, mostly in the hallway of our church where we were tripping over each other and laughing and, for me especially, learning more about these ladies I had known for years and yet didn't really know all that well.

Fast forward a few years and we are still a relay center and we now have several church members who are year-round volunteers with Operation Christmas Child.  In November we will go back to Atlanta to work in the processing center preparing the shoe boxes to be sent to their final destination, the children!  By the way~it is so exciting to know that you are the last person to touch a box before it is placed in the hands of a child. 

So now you know that Mae's willingness to encourage us to do something new has greatly impacted our church, but the story doesn't end there ... and this is the part that gets harder to tell.  In August of this year, Mae went home to be with Jesus.  She will be greatly missed by those of us who worshipped and served with her, but the legacy of her mission work still goes on.  While preaching Mae's funeral, our pastor shared about her work with Operation Christmas Child and how this ministry has touched hearts in our church and how God is using this ministry to reach children all over the world with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and equipping local pastors in the areas that receive boxes to reach children they might never have been able to reach before through the power of a simple gift. 

 What Bro. Don didn't know as he spoke that morning was that there was a lady in attendance who knew Mae outside of the church.  She also knew about Mae's involvement with OCC and after hearing the sermon that morning she was inspired to find out more and to take this ministry back to her own church.  They had been involved at one time, but not in the last several years and she felt led to encourage them to pack boxes this year and the ladies of their WMU have agreed to do just that!  Wow!  Since each box that is packed represents an opportunity to share the gospel with another child and possibly with that child's family, I am always excited to hear about even one more box that someone plans to pack.

I only knew Mae for a few years and I am sure that there are many things about her life that I don't know, but I feel certain that the impact of her love of mission work and her commitment to serving our Lord will continue to be felt in the years to come.  I know that I will always be thankful for her impact on my life.

*If you want to know more about Operation Christmas Child, check out their website or ask me or anyone who works with this ministry and we'll be happy to tell you how to get involved.

1 comment:

Rie said...

That was beautiful, Jennifer. Our church had a Mae, her name was Marianne and they probably knew each other. We started that same year if memory serves me right.

And, my dear dear friend, you can rest in knowing that one day you will be remembered in the same way. Remembered here by the ones after you and richly rewarded in heaven - where you'll meet children who received boxes you touched.