I know. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I do love that time of year! But it is time to get our Christmas boxes ready so they can be delivered in Africa, Romania, or wherever, in time for Christmas.
I sat mesmerized and teary eyed as a beautiful young Asian woman told a large congregation why she is so grateful for one particular Christmas box delivered to her at the orphanage where she lived fifteen years ago. Initially, she was thrilled to have her own toothbrush. She’d never had her own toothbrush before, had always had to share one with about a dozen other girls. But, ultimately, the gift she treasures most is getting to know her Savior because of that box.
Last Sunday was Operation Christmas Child at our church. Little children led by parents and teachers flocked down the center aisle lugging bright boxes to the altar. More and more children of all ages streamed down the aisle and then the rest of us were invited to bring our boxes. It was a special moment for me as I set my box with the rest knowing these gifts would be flown to children who desperately need to know somebody cares.
The boxes are stuffed with such things as pencils, notebooks, coloring books, crayons, socks, tee shirts, soap, and, yes, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Each box has at least one age appropriate toy, too. In one of mine I tucked a red bell I’d knitted. In a box packed by my mission group is a woolly lamb who, when pressed, plays “Jesus Loves Me.” When the boxes are inspected for shipping from Atlanta they will each hold at least a portion of scripture.
It is such a thrill to be involved in this way with reaching children around the world for Jesus! In the past I’ve so enjoyed involving grandchildren in helping to shop for the Christmas boxes. It can be quite a challenge explaining to our very blessed children why we need to provide these boxes for children of other lands. But, as they begin to understand, then they want to pack the whole store into a box!
I’m thankful to Franklin Graham for his leadership in Operation Christmas Child, for conceiving the idea, for carrying it out year after year. I’m thankful to my friend Helen King who, years ago, came home from a missions conference so excited about getting us all involved in packing boxes for this cause. I’m thankful to numerous folks in our church and community, like Judy Strickland, who, year after year, organize us to give from our abundance. I’m thankful for the thousands upon thousands of volunteers who make this venture so successful–like Gary and Rhonda who, year by year, volunteer to inspect boxes in Atlanta. And I’m so thankful for the missionaries who coordinate the presentation of those boxes to the very children who need them.
As I packed my box with combs and socks, a ball, a notebook, etc. I prayed for the child who would receive it. And I trust that, through the power of God, that child will be blessed just like the young woman who told us how her box was used to help her begin a new life.
When we view a video of children in other places receiving their boxes with such eagerness and delight, I wonder why I didn’t pack more boxes.
Have you packed yours yet? For instructions, just Google Operation Christmas Child.