This is a departure from my typical post but I attended an event this past weekend and I want to share what I learned about a great way to show the love of God to a child that can impact them for the rest of their lives.
The event took place on Saturday October 1st. Since it’s now October and I know that many of you are already thinking about Christmas. I have a friend that has already sent out invitations to her annual Christmas Eve party. That same friend is already listening to Christmas Music on her Iphone and Ipad. Stores already have Christmas displays up and many are seasonal staff. You are probably trying to figure out what to get your children and grandchildren (if they haven’t already told you), and you are already stressing about what to get your spouse, our special friend, not to mention those gifts for the relatives, to people in the office, on and on and on.
There’s something about Christmas that causes people to want to give to those less fortunate than themselves. There are toy drives like “Toys for Tots”, churches have toy drives, non-secular organizations have toy drives, churches and other organizations have events where they give food, clothes, toys, and other things to those who need them. All of these things are good and something that I believe God is pleased. What many, if not most, of these activities miss however is the real reason that we celebrate Christmas. The real reason is that Jesus Christ the Son of God was born and through Him all mankind, has the opportunity to have a personal relationship with God and be with Him forever. That’s the real reason we celebrate Christmas.
Operation Christmas Child
The event that I attended was that of an organization that brings joy to children who would not otherwise experience the joy of receiving gifts on Christmas. I’m talking about children in third world countries, and in places in those countries that are almost impossible to get to. Children who along with their families have difficulty in scraping out in even meager existence. In some places neither the children or their parents have even heard of Jesus, some even still worship idols.
That organization is Operation Christmas Child a project of Samaritan’s Purse. Samaritan's Purse is an international relief organization headed by Franklin Graham it’s President. Operation Christmas Child gives gift to children in third world countries and they do it in a unique way. The provide a shoe box, yes the kind of box you get when you buy a pair of shoes, full of gifts for children 2-14. The shoe boxes include things like toys, school supplies, and, non-liquid hygiene items They are also given a booklet “The Greatest Gift”. After they get their shoe boxes the children are invited to participate in “The Greatest Journey”, a 12-lesson discipleship program. Participation is completely voluntary, in fact it’s not even mentioned until after the show boxes are distributed.
Many of these children have never received a gift of any kind. At the event I watched a video of a young man who is a former member of Parliament in Grenada, and now a pastor who received a shoebox when he was a young boy. The fact that somebody who didn’t know him loved him so much that they sent this shoebox made such an impact that he attributes it to his desire to help his country but becoming a member of Parliament. The relationship that He developed with Jesus as a result of His salvation through “The Greatest Journey” program has caused him to resign from Parliament and become a pastor. All this from a shoebox from Operation Christmas Child.
There was a young man at the event for somewhere in Central America, I don’t remember the country, who was a shoebox recipient. He like the young man in the video was “blown away” that someone loved him who didn’t know him. In the shoebox that he received 14 years ago there was a Toy Story Woody pull string toy. He still has that toy and showed it to us at the event. There are countless stories of children blessed by the love of those who fill shoeboxes with gifts. Since 1993 Operation Christmas Child has provided 124 million shoeboxes. From the beginning of the Greatest Journey program more than 7.4 million children worldwide have enrolled and 3.3 million have accepted Christ as their Savior. As they say at Operation Christmas Child “That’s the power of a simple gift”.
If you want to bring joy to a young boy or girl who may not get anything for Christmas, or this year for that matter, and at the same time give them the opportunity to know Jesus Christ, who is the “Greatest Gift” filling a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child is an excellent way. Churches throughout the United States participate in various ways, so I’m sure there’s one near you no matter where you are in the country.The national collection period for the shoeboxes is November 14-21, 2016. To locate drop off locations for your shoeboxes go the the Operation Christmas Child website HERE.
Your Shoebox Of Love
To participate all you have to do is get an empty shoebox and fill it with things for a boy or girl 2-14. Here are some suggestions:
For other suggestions visit the Operation Christmas Child website
It costs Operation Chirstmas Child $7 to ship each shoebox anywhere in the world so with your shoebox also give them a donation of $7 for shipping.
Here are some places to get some shoebox gifts, supermarkets, discount stores like the 99 cents store or dollar store, Target, Walmart, when you visit a hotel ask the manager for those small hygiene items. You’ll be surprised at what people might do if you tell someone that you’re collecting things to help make children who would not otherwise have a Merry Christmas, to have one.
This year’s goal is 11 million shoeboxes for children around the world. Just think of that 11 million children who would not otherwise get anything for Christmas and you’ll be helping to spread the gospel through “The Greatest Gift” booklet and “The Greatest Journey” program. You’ll be doing your part in accomplishing the last thing that Jesus said to His disciples just before ascending back to His Father in heaven.
Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJV)19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
“That’s the power of a simple gift”.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.