Once again this year we are supporting Operation Christmas Child (OCC). Why? Because it makes such a difference to children worldwide, and is such an amazing chance to share Jesus’ name and God’s love at Christmas.
By getting involved, you are all part of something so much bigger than just a small shoebox. After last year, we were sent a thank you letter telling us that Operation Christmas Child in the United Kingdom sent an amazing 678,942 gift-filled shoeboxes to children overseas, and these formed part of the 11,012,840 that were sent from all OCC’s partners across the world. And bringing it down to a local level, 10,629 shoeboxes were sent from the Bournemouth warehouse to children in Latvia.
Wow! And that’s just the statistics, but each shoebox means that over 11 million children worldwide had a ray of hope and love shining into their lives. This is Patrick’s story*:
Pastor Oscar, his team, and a group of excited children of various ages, gathered together in the brick shell of a partially built, roofless church plant in Muskotwane, Livingstone. The children listened intently as the local church shared the Gospel message with them, using the colourful, child-friendly ministry guide. They heard how much God loves them and how He sent us the Greatest Gift of all – Jesus.
One by one the children went forward to receive their shoebox gifts. Sitting among the group of children aged 5-9 was a young lad called Patrick. While the shoeboxes were being given out, Patrick turned to one of the national leadership team members and asked, ‘Teacher, am I not getting a box because I am blind in one eye?’ All the boys in his group had already received shoeboxes, and none were left for his age group.
The team member went in search of a spare shoebox, leaving another member of the team to chat with Patrick. As they talked it became clear that his visual impairment was sometimes seen to be a curse in his local area, which is why he assumed he wouldn’t be worthy of a box.
But suddenly, Patrick’s name was called to collect his shoebox. It turned out he was already ten, and had been mistakenly sitting in the younger group, so they had simply not got to his name yet! He jumped up and ran with excitement to the other side of the church to collect his shoebox with a beaming smile on his face. He had not been left out at all. As the children began to open their shoeboxes there were shouts of joy as they showed off their new treasures. Among them sat a contented Patrick – with a brand new football and many other new possessions. In a culture where Patrick was often side-lined, he received a physical example of God’s amazing love and heard that he was created by and special to God, and that there was a plan for his life. God knew his name and He wasn’t about to let Patrick miss out.
Please be part of this amazing generosity, and pray that God uses these shoeboxes to change the hearts and lives of the children who receive them.
Clare Shearing, Communications officer
*Story from OCC