Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What IS Operation Christmas Child???

I wanted to share a bit about Operation Christmas Child for my new readers, who may not know about this program.

Imagine, due to a life of poverty, that your child has never received a gift of any kind, not from you, your family, or from anyone.  Now imagine your child’s face when a shoe box full of gifts is handed to him or her free of charge. This happens millions of times each year through Operation Christmas Child.

Operation Christmas Child is the world’s largest Christmas project.
Operation Christmas Child became a part of Samaritan’s Purse in 1993 when Dave Cooke from Wales handed the project to the organization.  Samaritan’s Purse is based out of Boone, North Carolina and, although founded in 1970 by Dr. Bob Pierce, the current president is Franklin Graham.  The group’s purpose is, “to provide immediate, no-red-tape response to the physical and spiritual needs of individuals in crisis situations – especially in locations where few others are working.”  According to its mission statement, the organization has helped meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Fourteen countries take part in the giving of shoe boxes:  the United States, Canada, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hong Kong, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. In 2012, more than 9 million shoeboxes were collected, part of the now 100 million shoeboxes packed and sent. 100 MILLION. 

The shoeboxes go to more than 100 countries around the world, from the former Soviet Union where for decades Christ's name could not be openly spoken, to remote jungles in Central America, and Aids stricken regions of Africa. Several shoe box gifts have also been distributed in North America to Native American and Appalachian children.  One such distribution took place in the Alaskan town of Hooper Bay.  In August of 2006, the community was devastated by fire, and Samaritan’s Purse helped rebuild the town and handed out shoe boxes to those who lost everything.   OCC has donated a total of 88,666 shoeboxes to need children living in the United States, but its focus is international missions.

At each distribution the child is offered a booklet explaining the gospel in their language with bright pictures. Additionally, this ministry often opens doors for Samaritan's Purse to get involved whether building hospitals or schools or digging wells. And most wonderfully, many of these children go onto take the Greatest Journey 12 week discipleship class where upon graduation they will receive a New Testament in their language.

This simple program is changing hearts and changing lives. It brings hope and light and love into some very desperate situations. God IS working miracles!


Each OCC brochure (available through the website) includes shoe box labels, and donors can choose if they would like the box to be sent to boy or girl. Then they are to select the age of the recipient.  The ages range from 2-14 years old.   Also included in the brochure is a list of suggested gifts.  Some of the items include school supplies, toys (of all kinds including plush or dolls), hard candy, hygiene items, family photos, notes of encouragement and yes, even shoes.

I encourage you to go to their website to learn the specifics about what you can pack in your shoebox... things like liquids are not allowed, for instance. Or military toys. Shoebox lids and bases must be wrapped separately so that they can be checked to see if customs regulations were met..

After the boxes are brought from local drop off points, (here at Calvary Chapel Klamath Falls, during Collection Week) they are inspected at six warehouses across the United States.  Next, they are shipped by cargo planes, trucks or sea containers to a variety of destinations.  In the remote location of Zimbabwe, one local form of transportation has been used – elephants.  Other colorful modes of transportation have included camels and dog sleds. 

A $7 donation is suggested so that the shipping and printing costs are covered. By using “EZ Give,” the online giving option on the Samaritan’s Purse Web site, donors can follow their box to the destination country where the boxes are hand-delivered by church leaders in that particular country.

Learn about all God is doing through the Impact Tab above... where you can see videos and pictures and read stories about how God is working mightily through this ministry!

Join us.. do something simple.. something beautiful.. for a child. Show YOUR love and God's love in a tangible way. Pack a shoebox with your children to teach them how to give and how to love their neighbor. Pack a shoebox with your ministry groups to carry out the Great Commission. Pack shoeboxes with your organization or school to have an IMPACT in a child's life... a child who likely has never received a Christmas gift.

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