It is hard to read the news these days with what is happening in the middle east. There are people being tortured, killed, separated from family, and children being sold into a life of slavery. Their pain is beyond what I can comprehend. Not just in this time of crisis with the fanatical soldiers of the middle east, but around the world… there are those who are relatively safe but live in abject poverty and have very little hope when they become ill. From unspeakable horrors to tragedy to hunger… the need is great throughout the world. There is no way we could understand many of these things because it isn’t what life is like here; but God calls each of us to care about the ones who are suffering and share their stories so that the deeds of darkness are exposed and the plight of those who are suffering is heard. How else can we meet needs if we don’t know what they are? How else can we pray if we don’t even know it is happening?
You know that bible verse that says “the harvest is many but the workers are few”? Have you ever wished you could be used by God to bring others to Christ or at least participate in some small way to spread His love with those less fortunate – those who didn’t live in a place where they could learn about Him? Operation Christmas Child gives you and me that opportunity each year and they are making a difference in the lives of children who are in poverty, despair, and darkness. In 2014 alone, they collected and shared more than TEN MILLION SHOE BOXES — that’s 10,000,000 children touched by Christ’s love!
These kids matter. The little things they find in their shoeboxes as a Christmas gift change their lives. I dare you to go and watch some of the videos about these kids and how the box led them to the Bible and opened their heart to God and His truth. Not only them, but their parents, their neighborhoods, and their villages! One child could be the domino that leads a whole area to Jesus… that gives hope where there has been none; purpose where there has been none.
We participated in Operation Christmas Child a few times and last year we decided it was going to be a family holiday tradition for us. It starts around the time that Halloween is coming up, which makes me happy since we try to avoid Halloween if we can. The boxes are usually due at a local drop-off-station at the first of November, gearing you up for Thanksgiving and some great lessons you can have with your kids about being thankful for what you have and praying for those who are without.
We may never get to see the child’s face that opens our specific gift, but we pray for them and hope that it lets them know someone in America cares about them and wishes them well and wants them to have the hope that we have. It isn’t about the THINGS in the box, but the love behind it. The God who cares about them enough to make some stranger across an ocean cry over them and buy things for them and pray for them. That is what Operation Christmas Child is about. Touching hearts for Christ. Touching hearts to let them know they are loved and that even when darkness surrounds them, someone else knows and cares.
Do you want to be a part of this harvest? You can! Check out the Operation Christmas Child website to find out where a drop-off is in your area and head to your closet to find a shoebox! Fill it with wonderful things, needed things, special stuff that you think your kids might smile at if they lived where these kids live. There are plenty of ideas on the website if you need some. I suggest checking it because there are some items they recommend NOT sending.
Let your kids see the videos. (We were especially touched by the ones about India – where our sponsored Compassion child lives – and Iraq – where our Muslim friends are who are afraid for their lives in this new culture of fanaticism and killing there.)
Do a geography lesson with your children. Get them involved in packing the boxes and ask them what things they would be excited to have if they had nothing.
If you participate, you will be blessed by it, I promise! You will watch it sprinkle the seeds of being “mission-minded” into your own children’s hearts… teaching them to love and care for others who are not as comfortable and safe.
I pray that you are as blessed as we have been through participating in Operation Christmas Child. I hope this year is their best and biggest year ever – and that you will consider making them a family tradition also!
P.S. If you want to raise some money and send it to the hurting kids in the middle east, here’s a great way to help: Liberty Relief International.