Well, Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week is FINALLY here! Over the course of the past few weeks, Sweet T and I have been gearing up for this incredible annual ministry event. Like everything else in our present world, COVID-19 will make this season one to remember and one that certainly looks different than in years past. There is no time in our recent history that the need of the Gospel–-the Good News of Jesus Christ––is more evident. The world needs to hear the message of hope concerning a loving God who gave His son so that whoever believes in Him would not perish but experience eternal life. God is real and He is a interested in a personal relationship with each of us.
The INCREDIBLE Journey of a Shoebox
I recently heard a story from my friends at Samaritan’s Purse about a 4-year old girl name Claire who lives on an island called Peleliu. Peleliu is small country boasting a population of less than 500 people. Last February, prior to the coronavirus becoming a global pandemic, Peleliu Elementary hosted an Operation Christmas Child distribution party. Grace, a local OCC leader, beamed with excitement as she had the opportunity to hand out shoeboxes and share the love of Jesus with the children of Peleliu. She prayed for children to know Christ, recognizing that if people like you and I don’t tell others about Jesus no one else would. During that OCC distribution Grace got to see little Claire open her shoebox gift and squeal with delight as she pulled out a doll, a stuffed animal, and a washcloth along with a number of other toys and hygiene items. Her heart overflowed with joy! The distribution event reminded Grace of the importance of sharing the Gospel with others and affirmed how God works through the simple gift of a shoebox.
Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.1 John 3:1 (TPT)
As we geared up for this incredible week, the Lord reminded me of the importance of flexibility, freude, and faithfulness.
The need for a spirit of flexibility has never been greater than now. Things won’t look the same or be executed the same as in years past. Sure, there are staples—things that remain the same no matter what’s going on around us. But even those staples will appear a little different than in years past. Your church is building boxes online this year instead of filling actual shoeboxes with gifts. Here in the DFW area, we’ve been blessed with a ton of plastic shoeboxes instead of the traditional cardboard ones we’ve all grown accustomed to packing. Perhaps, due to COVID, National Collection Week snuck up on you and you’re now rushing around, hurriedly gathering items to pack your precious shoebox gift.
Things for us look a little different at our Central Drop-Off location hosted by our home church, Trinity Bible of Richardson. After years of collecting boxes on the east side of the church, we moved to the west side of our campus in order to accomodate our weekly outdoor “Live on the Lawn” services. It’s great meeting with our church family outdoors! PPE, social distancing, curbside dropoff, and other ideas are part of the mix this year due to COVID. The weather promises to be beautiful, so we will be blessed to work outside for much of the week. But, the weather in Texas can change pretty quickly so we have an inside plan worked out because we need to be flexible in the event bad weather rolls in unexpectedly.
Naturally, our volunteers and donors will also need to practice a spirit of flexibility as things will inevitabely be a little different than in past years.
Freude is the German word for joy. When we’re serving the Lord, joy is a natural part of the equation. We need to serve with joy, receive with joy, volunteer with joy, and donate with joy. Sharing the Gospel is something that should bring us great joy. The truth that God loves us and sought us out to save us must give us joy. Biblical joy is rooted in whom we serve—a great, amazing God—not our situation or circumstances. Worldly joy fades. Godly joy lasts.
Doing the work God calls each of us to requires faithfulness. Every day isn’t going to yield the results we desire. We might not delight in every moment of ministry. Things probably won’t go according to our plan. Some people may not fully understand what it is we are doing or why. None of that really matters. In the end, God is going to ask us “Were you faithful in doing what I gave you to do?”
Through the simple gift of a shoebox containing love-packed school supplies, toys, and many other things, Operation Christmas Child affords us the opportunity to share Jesus with millions of children and their families all over the globe. I can’t think of a better way to invest my time than in doing my part to ensure somewhere a child will come to know Jesus.
For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift.So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.John 3:16 (TPT)
- Have you ever packed an Operation Christmas Child shoebox?
- What is your favorite item to include in a shoebox gift?
- How does it make you feel to be part of the family of God?
- Have you ever received a shoebox gift?
- Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?
Father God, what a marvelous privilege it is to be part of Your family. Thank You for sending Jesus to reconcile us to You and return us into a right relationship with You. Father, we pray that each shoebox gift donated this week would transform the life of the child that receives it. We thank You, Lord, for the donors, volunteers, and everyone who faithfully takes part in this incredible ministry. In Jesus name! Amen.
God is good and He remains in control. He sees us and delights in us. He loves us so much more than mere words could ever express. Amid a global pandemic, God can do great things to draw us nearer to Him and demonstrate His love for us. Your shoebox gift is a real, tangible way to share that with a child, like Claire, all around the world.
The Devotional Guy
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I believe that in order to experience life the way God intended, you and I must receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, God has made this gift available to all who ask.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Will you personally receive the gift of eternal life so that you can experience the total forgiveness from your sins that come through believing in the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”
As I read your post, I could look up and see our stack of boxes packed and sitting by the window ready to deliver this week. So, I asked my children what their favorite item is to pack. They both said the stuffed animal because they chose it especially for their child, and they can give it a hug before putting into a box sending some of their love along with it. For me, my favorite item is the crocheted draw string bags I make to hold the washcloths and soap. Each colorful bag is stitched in love and prayer. Have a wonderful collection week!
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Thanks for sharing this, Beth! Praise God!
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Thank you, Nathan. I appreciate your encouraging words.