It's that time of year again...time to pack your shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. I know there are lots of giving opportunities this time of year but none have quite the impact of OCC. Many opportunities will provide for physical needs, which is good, but with OCC you're going beyond the physical and you're making an eternal impact on an entire family and community.
We spend lots of time finding items for our box that the child will enjoy and that will be of great value to them. We pray over the box as we pack it and pray for the child whom God has chosen to receive our box. We can watch videos on the OCC website and see the joy and laughter that the shoeboxes bring to each child. They are so excited and happy to receive a special gift for the very first time in their lives.
What I love about OCC is what comes after the box is opened. Have you ever thought about what comes out of a shoebox? Beyond the fun of the toys and gifts, you might be surprised at the list of "things" that aren't really things at all that come out of a shoebox. I had never thought about some of these until they were shared at an Area Team meeting.
It all starts with Gospel Opportunities. At every shoebox distribution, the gospel message is presented by the local pastor and each child receives a small booklet explaining that the greatest gift we can receive is Jesus. The gift that can transform their life for all eternity.
These gospel opportunities lead to children making the decision to accept Christ. This year alone 502, 000 children have received the gift of Salvation because they heard about Jesus through a shoebox distribution. But it doesn't just stop with making a decisions. The children are invited to be part of a 12 lesson Discipleship program called The Greatest Journey (TGJ). These lessons teach them about Jesus, the Bible, what it means to grow in their walk with God and encourages them to tell their families what they are learning about Jesus.
One 10 year old boy named Melvin, had to walk 9 miles to get to his TGJ classes. As he made the trek he would stop and talk to people in the villages along the way telling them what he was learning about Jesus. This led to 5 New church plants. Five new churches started because a 10 year old boy received a shoebox.
As the children share Jesus with their families, then entire communities are making decisions for Christ.
These decisions are impacting the local church and it is growing and Flourishing. Imagine the impact that is made by children who are excited new believers. This impact is actually Changing a generation.
One young girl who is changing her generation is Veronica. Veronica received a shoebox at the age of 12 and also received God's gift of salvation. She is now 16 and is a trained TGJ teacher. She is just one of 72,000 trained TGJ teachers worldwide. Veronica has desire for other children to hear the message that she heard at age 12. “I want these kids to learn that there’s Someone that’s going to love them, Someone that’s never going to leave them,” Veronica said. “One day they can teach other kids about God, and make this a generation that will change.”
Do you want to help Veronica and Melvin and other children like them change a generation? You can do that when you pack a shoebox. Your shoebox can be filled with toys, toiletries, prayer and love that God will transform into gospel opportunity, salvation, discipleship, church plants, flourishing churches, TGJ teacher training and a generation that is eternally changed.
Impact a community for Christ. Pack a shoebox today. It's not too late. National Collection Week is November 17th - 24th. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.