Friday, February 17, 2012

Does the Shoebox matter??? YES!

December 9, 2011

Jon Acuff, the author of "Stuff Christians Like", recently traveled with Samaritan's Purse to Vietnam where he visited two kindergartens he helped establish by raising money through his blog. Earlier this week, he wrote about a man whose life was transformed because of a shoe box gift from Operation Christmas Child.

This is a true story. But, at times, it will feel like fiction.

It will careen over mountains and oceans, unravel across decades, cross closed borders and speed through open technology. And the whole thing starts with a small flute.

More than 15 years ago in Australia, a complete stranger put a flute inside a cardboard box. They didn’t know who would get the flute. They had no idea which home or heart that box would end up in. But, they sealed the top and they sent the box out like a musical message in a bottle.

The box and the flute traveled through the South Pacific Ocean and the Coral Sea until finally landing in Hanoi, Vietnam. There it rumbled through streets crowded with motorbikes and eventually found its way to Hoa.

He was 14 years old and living on the streets. After leaving his village and moving to Hanoi to earn money, he had become one more teenager with a lot of life left but very little hope.

Fortunately, Samaritan’s Purse operated a targeted supplemental nutrition program for malnourished kids in a Hanoi shelter. They provided food for breakfast and dinner to the people who lived there. Hoa was one of those people. And one day, in addition to a meal, he got a small cardboard box.

Fast forward 13 years, and a 5-year-old little girl in Atlanta, Georgia–my daughter–sees a photo of a starving child in a book and says, “That’s pretend right? That’s not real, right?” And when she says that, I hear her saying, “You’re not OK with that, are you dad? Do other people know about that? Are you doing something about that dad?” And I wasn’t, so I decided to do something differently.

That’s when I asked you, thousands of strangers from dozens of countries around the world, to help me raise $30,000 to build a kindergarten in Vietnam.

Fast forward 18 hours, and the entire $30,000 goal is complete. In less than a day, it’s done. So we decided to do it again and raised another $30,000 to build a second kindergarten.

A world away, Hoa has never heard of the blog "Stuff Christians Like". Readers of "Stuff Christians Like" have never heard of Hoa, but their paths were about to intersect.


Well, the person who coordinated the building of two kindergartens in a remote region of Vietnam was a young man in his late 20s who was once given a flute by a stranger. That small gift kicked off a life change that is still impacting Vietnam. After Hoa became a Christian, he went back to his village and introduced his parents to Jesus Christ. And then, more than a decade later in a city where Christians are .01 percent of the population, Hoa got a phone call in Hanoi.

About building two kindergartens.

About a five year old with a question.

About blog readers with a mission.

And somewhere, in Australia, a stranger who put a flute in a cardboard box can’t possibly know the difference they made.

Does a box really matter?

Does building a box with Operation Christmas Child really change the world?

Can the gospel start with a flute?

Hoa would tell you yes.

And now that I’ve met him and seen the kindergartens he built with your help, I would tell you yes too.

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