“Declare His Glory among the nations.”
Operation Christmas Child has been doing this now for 25 years in over 160 countries with more than 157 million shoe box gifts! That’s a lot of boxes! Through Evangelism, Discipleship, and Multiplication the good news of the gospel is going around the world and changing entire communities for Jesus Christ!
I was first introduced to Operation Christmas Child (OCC) in 2002 when our sons were nine and five. The church we attended was promoting it in their children’s program and I thought it would be a great tool to use in teaching our sons about giving to others at Christmas, rather than only focusing on their personal “wish lists”. We always packed boxes for boys of the same ages and they enjoyed choosing gifts that appealed to them – which included cars and balls of course!
As I learned about the evangelistic focus of OCC God stirred in my heart to invite others to pack shoe boxes, and through the years He has drawn me into a year-round volunteer role in this region to encourage and equip people to pack shoe boxes.
In 2016 I was invited to travel with OCC to Asuncion, Paraguay, to participate in several shoe box distribution events which were held at churches, local schools, and community centers. What impressed me the most at each of the six events was the dedication and intentionality of the local OCC leadership volunteers in preparing events which were fun and festive, and totally focused on presenting a clear gospel message to the children. Before the children opened their boxes, I helped hand out “The Greatest Gift” story booklets to each child which presents the message of salvation in their own language. It also was an incredible experience to meet and pray together with the local pastors and church leaders and hear so many amazing stories of what God is doing through Operation Christmas Child. The local volunteers overflowed with words of thankfulness for the faithful prayers and generosity of Christians in America to partner with them in this ministry.
In 2009 OCC created “The Greatest Journey”, a 12-lesson discipleship program in which shoe box recipients are invited to participate. These children learn what it means to follow Jesus and share their faith with friends and family. I attended a class in the outskirts of Asuncion where they were in the midst of one of these lessons being taught by a local church leader. The graduation ceremony at the end of the program provides yet another means to share the gospel and multiply the Kingdom!
I’m grateful that Life Point Church is partnering with Operation Christmas Child in packing shoe box gifts. Even if we never travel to another country, we can still be missionaries in sharing the gospel! National Collection Week is just around the corner, November 12-19th, and it’s not too late to pack another shoe box! Volunteering at one of the eight processing centers around our country between Thanksgiving and Christmas is also a very exciting experience, one I’ve done several times. And if you feel God calling you to a greater level of involvement with OCC throughout the year, I’d love to visit with you! 😊 Contact the church office for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 217-277-7772