Operation Christmas Child
Founded by Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham, Samaritan’s Purse is an incredible organization that is truly reaching the nations for Christ. Operation Christmas Child, or OCC, is their way of spreading the message of Christmas, of God becoming man, dying in our place, and rising victoriously three days later as atonement for our sins, to the downtrodden, desolate, and broken by using something simple: shoeboxes.
Every year, millions of shoe boxes are filled with tooth paste, match box cars, the game UNO, and Lolli pops and are sent to just as many children across the globe throughout the year. Filling a box is simple, and it is something my family has done every Christmas. Pick a gender, pick an age range, and fill the box with toys, candy, games, and toiletries. When I was six, I filled a box for a six year old little girl. When I was 12, I filled it with things that a 12 year old little girl would like. Now that I’m older, I still fill boxes, and take the kids that I am babysitting shopping so that they can fill them too.
Because these little shoe boxes can change lives. Each is delivered with a story book explaining the Gospel, and is paired with a Gospel Presentation. Not only have I heard about it in countless presentations in my church, but I’ve been a part of. I’ve seen it happen.
Like I said, every year I have filled boxes and prayed over them and for the children that will receive them. But this summer, I was able to be on the other side. While in Ecuador, we were blessed with the opportunity to deliver the boxes, to see the children’s faces. Once, at the church that we have partnered with, and again at the local orphanage.
And the entire time one sentence was ringing trough my mind.
This is the body of Christ uniting across the globe. This is taking something as simple as a thirty minute shopping trip and an old shoe box to tell children what love really is, WHO love really is, and to tell them, possibly for the first time, that they are loved by the Creator God. By THEIR Creator God.
You see, my church has partnered with a Church in Ecuador called La Primera Iglesia Bautista de Ambato, (PIBA), or in English, the First Baptist Church of Ambato. And Pastor Jonhattan, the senior pastor there, is also the Regional Director of Operation Christmas Child. It is him, and his team, who are in charge of delivering the boxes in Ecuador and surrounding areas.
The first weekend we were there, the church had a special service designed to bring in the children of the city. We watched the people of PIBA do their clown show, their way of sharing the Gospel at each distribution, and then joined in with them to distribute the boxes.
|The clowns (payaos, in spanish) finishing
a dance that teaches the Gospel
|Three of the clowns in a skit,
praying for forgiveness and accepting Christ
|In the midst of opening the boxes|
|The joy that the filled shoe boxes bring|
|After the boxes were opened|
|My team and the clowns after the distribution|
|With another girl from my team and two of the clowns,
Juan, and the Pastor’s daughter, Saritah
|With David, another clown. See that star in my hair?
That hair clip was in one of the shoeboxes.
The little girl who received it immediately gave it to me.
The joy of giving is not lost on these children,
even when they have nothing.
The next weekend, we visited the local orphanage. Before the distribution, we had several hours to play with and love on some kids, as well as do some manual labor around the property.
|Juan (yellow clown) playing soccer with some of the orphans|
|I guess wrestling in a universal pass time for boys|
After lunch, we had our makeup done, and joined in with our friends from PIBA to put on the clown show.
|The people from my team that decided to be clowns|
After taking lots of selfies, we danced to their clown songs and distributed the boxes.
|David and Juan in the skit|
|Joining in with the clowns to dance|
Let’s face it. I’m a romantic. I’ve fallen helplessly in love with my Savior. And I used cardboard shoe boxes to spread that love. I can’t wait to go back.
If you would like more information about Operation Christmas Child, view a packing list, or would like to learn how you could get involved, I have included the link to their website below.