This week, I'm sharing something different than usual :). I wrote "Pencil with a Purpose" (see below) two years ago to encourage people to participate in the Operation Christmas Child (a project of Samaritan's Purse founded by Franklin Graham). My kids get excited every year around this time. Why? They get to pack shoe boxes!!! Their boxes along with boxes from others will be given out to children around the world who are living in extreme poverty, in constant fear because of wars/fighting, or in disaster-struck areas. These simple gifts will brighten up the children's life with God's love, joy, and hope. These shoe boxes are also evengelistic tools; they give local believers the opportunities to tell children about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, through Gospel literature and evangelism programs.
This is a wonderful project to get your kids involved in. Kids in America have so much to be thankful for, yet many take their plenty for granted. This is one of many ways we can share with others in need. For details (including how to pack a box and the location of the collection center near you), please visit https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/ or call 1-800-353-5949. The collection week this year is November 16-23. If you choose to make your donation ($7 for each box to help cover shipping and other project costs) online using a credit or debit card, instead of putting your donation in an envelope and placing it in your box(es), you will receive an EZ give label (one for each of your boxes). The barcode on the label enables OCC to track each gift. You will receive an e-mail telling you the destination of your gift, along with information about Operation Christmas Child in that country. Isn't that cool? I was always curious about where our boxes traveled to.
By the way, there are so many ways we can give, especially near Christmastime. Many Christian organizations (ex: Samaritan's Purse, Gospel for Asia, World Vision, etc.) have gift catalogs available from which you can purchase lambs, cows, chickens, pigs, goats, fishing boat, Gospel literature, VBS material, wells, etc. for native missionaries and needy children/families. These kinds of gifts touch lives and make a significant impact. Giving (especially secret giving) is such a joy!
"If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain." Emily Dickinson
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord JESUS Himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35
Pencil with a Purpose
Pick me...pick me, please! Yes! A 7 year old girl picked me and put me in a clear plastic box next to sweet-smelling candies and a beautiful rag doll. There are more things in this container: a box of crayons, a sharpener, Bible activity pad, a writing pad, bouncy balls, a yo-yo, a jump rope, a toothbrush, a tube of toothpaste, a purple comb, a washcloth with heart shapes all over it, several glittery hair clips, a pair of pink socks and a pair of white socks. Before the girl closed the lid, she placed an envelope addressed to Samaritan’s Purse, and a letter on top. Then her mom and she bowed their heads and prayed for the child who would soon receive this special gift.
I have to admit...it’s a little crowded in the box but I’m glad it’s a clear plastic box. I can look out and see the world while having a fantastic adventure. First stop was a local church which was one of 2,000 drop-off locations nationwide. I could see rows and stacks of all kinds of shoe boxes and plastic boxes. Christmas music was being played in the background. I felt festive all of a sudden. From there I traveled in a huge semi-truck to a regional processing center where boxes were inspected and prepared for shipment overseas. Volunteers cheerfully checked each box to make sure that there were no used or damaged items, war-related items, chocolate (which can melt), liquids or lotions (which can leak), breakable items, medications or vitamins (no-no items). A lady looked in my box and she smiled at me (wasn’t she sweet?) These volunteers also took out the envelopes with the donation. Then they secured the boxes by using rubber bands. I was thankful for that because I didn’t want to risk falling out of the box and getting lost. Oh...what a nightmare that would be.
Ooh...my next stop was at an airport. I got to be on a plane for the first time. Millions of box gifts were loaded onto ships and planes and delivered to more than 90 countries. I wondered what country I would end up in. How exciting!!! I was so excited and bewildered that I didn’t realize we were in the sky for over 10 hours. Finally, the plane landed and boxes were transported to a rural orphanage by a pick-up truck and by a motor boat, respectively. People speak a different language here. They speak Thai. I’m in Thailand...can you believe it? Tons of children gathered in a small room. The room was filled with excitement and anticipation. How lovely those smiles were! The National Leadership Team explained about the Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse and told the kids that these gifts were packed by caring people from several parts of the world who wanted to share the love of Jesus with them. They introduced the children to God’s greatest Gift of all–Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Then the team members distributed boxes along with Gospel booklets written in their own language to the orphans who were beaming with joy.
I was anxious to see who would receive the box I was in. Then the moment came...when the box was handed to a long, black-haired 8 year old girl. She said, "Kawp Koon Kha" (thank-you in Thai). She quickly opened the lid and took out the items inside one by one. When she picked me up, she looked at the words on me: "Jesus is God’s Greatest Gift." She wanted to know what they meant so she asked one of the team’s staff. The man took the opportunity to share with her the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. She listened attentively. The man invited her to join in the children’s Bible study program after school. She said yes and was so happy (I could tell because she couldn't stop smiling). She also asked that same man to translate the letter she found in the box. She then sharpened me and started to write a letter to the girl who wrote her. She asked the man if he could translate her letter into English and send it for her. He assured her that he would. Now...do you understand why I’m a pencil with a purpose? What better purpose is there than to be used to share a message of God’s amazing love and to spread His joy? I know...my life is short but it has been well spent. Don’t you think? :)
~Written by Urailak Liljequist
Please visit here for the links to other Spiritual Sundays posts.
Please visit here for the links to other blogs that are participating in the Operation Christmas Child Carnival.
Have a blessed week in the Lord, everyone!