For many years now, it has been a huge privilege and honor to be involved with Samaritan's Purse and the Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoeboxes. Life groups, families, Bible classes, and other individuals have packed and prepared shoeboxes filled with gifts for needy children that were sent around the world for children to receive at Christmas time. You can imagine our delight when the opportunity came up for us to not only send Christmas boxes, but to actually go onsite and delivER boxes to a group of children.
Faith E Church is partnering with a church in La Paz, Honduras and when we heard their church had a leadership role in distributing approximately 6,000 OCC shoeboxes in their region in Honduras, we grabbed a hold of the opportunity to visit and partner with them as they distributed 200 boxes at their church. With hearts of expectation, four of us from Faith E Church journeyed down to Honduras and the blessing we received was simply incredible. We watched as children sat through a well-prepared program, 25 children responded to the Gospel for the first time, and they excitedly opened their shoebox gifts.
Let me share just a couple of things that we learned and were reminded of by this experience. First, the integrity of the Samaritan Purse ministry and the OCC program was so respectable. The structure and operation of this program was impressive. Ana, the pastor's wife from the La Paz Church, is the director for that entire region for Samaritan's Purse. When she detailed the vision, training, accountability, and impact of the program, our hearts were impressed with the well-organized operation.
Another aspect that was informative for us was the discipleship piece of the program. We typically think of OCC as being a crazy little gathering where kids dive into their boxes and go racing down the street, maybe glancing at the gospel literature that was handed to them on the way out. At least, I thought that way. But Samaritan's Purse is interested in bringing the good news and discipleship to these children. Along with this one-day event there is a 12-week study the children are invited to go through, and receive their own Bible after 6 weeks and a certificate of completion at the end of the class. Ana shared many stories of how the classes have affected whole families with the Gospel, not only the children.
I was also reminded of just how extraordinary it is to experience partnership in ministry with a global partner. The rich relationship that we have with this Honduran Church and the joy we have in celebrating Christ together is a major blessing. As we learn from one another in ministry, we benefit greatly in the common bond we have in Christ. It is a great reminder of the picture we have of heaven where there will be gathered every "nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne and before the Lamb." -Revelation 7:9
Finally, we were reminded of the big difference that a little box can make. It is not just a box, but each of those gifts represents the life of a little child - valued by God. One of the ladies who traveled with us, Dyann Rohrer, helped a little boy open a box and in it she found a note written by another little boy from New Jersey who had sent the box and included his address. When we returned from our trip, Dyann wrote a letter to the New Jersey boy and his parents to let them know just how impactful and significant that box was to the little boy in Honduras. His mother, after receiving Dyann's letter, wrote the following on Faith E’s Facebook page:
Today, my family received a letter from one of your employees, Dyann, who was in Honduras when a child opened up an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox my son had packed. She took the time to send us a letter and a picture of the boy-what a blessing! We are so thankful for her! This is one of my sons' favorite holiday ministries. We will be praying for your church, and for this ministry that brought 25 children to Christ this day. GOD Bless!!! -Donia Mills
This experience motivates us to continue to strive and make a difference in every area of ministry and with each opportunity that God puts in front of us. May we always keep in mind the value of people that God puts in front of us everyday. What a joy it is to be His DELIVERY agents blessing our world with the good news of God's grace.