Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Modern Day Easter Story

 from the Samaritan's Purse blog:
A Modern Day Easter Story
A young man extends the forgiveness Christ has given him to a man who murdered his family members in Rwanda
By Matt Rath, producer with the Samaritan’s Purse Broadcast department
I have a story that will knock you out of your seat this Easter season. It’s a story of the strongest man I know (even though he looks like he weighs about 100 pounds). It’s a story that helped me understand what this weekend means to true believers in Christ.
How many times do we hold grudges or try to get back at people in order to “get even?” I know I’m guilty all the time. But now I realize that the true way to get even is to forgive those who have wronged us.
I know, that sounds much easier to say than do. But let me tell you about my friend Alex and maybe that will make it easier for you to forgive others in your own life.
Alex Nsengimana is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide that took place back in 1994, when almost a million of his countrymen lost their lives. He vividly remembers his uncle and grandmother being brutally killed right in front of his eyes by his own neighbors when he was about 6.
I can’t imagine how a boy deals with this at such a young age, especially since his mother had already died from HIV/AIDS before the killings.
He was displaced, running for his life with his brother and sister. Eventually he landed in an orphanage where he said no one could ever sleep because of the screams from the children as they faced nightmare after nightmare.
I can’t imagine any of this. If Alex would have just learned how to function in society with these horrible experiences in his mind, I would have been amazed. But believe me when I tell you he is not just surviving, he is thriving.
He will graduate this May with a degree in Pastoral Studies from Crossroads College in Rochester, Minnesota. He is an unbelievable example for us all and I was so happy to be able to meet him and go with him to Rwanda to produce a video on his life’s journey.
We were heading to Rwanda to distribute Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes in the very orphanage where Alex received one right after the genocide in 1995. He says that the simple gift was his first glimmer of hope and the beginning of his faith in Jesus.
We knew his story was already special in so many ways. But when I met him in Minnesota he made it clear that he wanted to meet the man who killed his family when we visited his home country. There was more. He didn’t want to meet the man to lash out or question him. He wanted to meet him so that he could forgive him! That blew me away.
We went to Rwanda not knowing anything about this man other than his name, but we put our faith in Christ to clear the path for this encounter.
Three days later we were in a Rwandan prison about to witness the most amazing scene any of us had ever experienced. We weren’t allowed to bring our video cameras, which turned into a blessing because instead of worrying about getting just the right shot I was able to just watch and be completely amazed at what happened.
Alex held his composure as the man began by admitting to the murder of his uncle. He also admitted to being a part of almost 30 other deaths.
Rather than condemn him, Alex ministered to the man and let him know that we are all created in Christ’s image and He loves us all the same. He told the man to repent of his sins so that he too can experience the kingdom of Heaven.
Would you be able to forgive the person that took someone close to you? I don’t think we could ever answer that truthfully unless we experienced it ourselves. It shows how amazing Alex’s faith in the Lord was. He kept saying to me, “God forgave me of my sins, so he wants me to forgive this man of his sins too.”
Alex prayed for the man and I could tell it strongly impacted him. The prisoner said he doesn’t know what kind of evil came over him at that time. He asked Alex to go back to the village and find family members of the other men he killed so that he can try to bring peace by asking forgiveness for his sins against them.
It was amazing. Strangely enough, the greatest part of this story of forgiveness didn’t take place until a later conversation with Alex.
He explained how badly Rwanda needs forgiveness. Those who committed the crimes can repent and come to Christ and still be accepted into the kingdom of heaven. But those who live in bitterness and are unwilling to forgive those who committed the crimes just as Christ forgave us may miss out on the kingdom.
Alex’s dream is to plant a church in Rwanda to spread this message of forgiveness.
This Easter we remember that Christ died on the cross for our sins. All of us commit sins, none of us is perfect. But on the third day he rose! Because of this we have a place in Heaven next to Him if we repent and accept His offer of grace and forgiveness.
I hope this Easter that you take a moment to think of any bitterness you are holding in, and forgive those who God loves just as much as you. Just as Alex did. And just as Jesus did through His sacrifice on the cross.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32, ESV).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Find Deals with Clip With Purpose.. like FREE hair scrunchies...

I often share deals I find at or the corresponding fb page... and so I wanted to make sure you ALL knew about it. :) Although the site is not as active as it once was it is still a GREAT place to find deals and inspiration for Operation Christmas Child.

Right now, you may have noticed my absence.. I am in Florida on vacation while I wait for the Operation Christmas Child 100 million shoebox concert and then volunteers' conference. Woo hoo!! I will be posting from the conference and concert throughout the weekend of April 4th through 7th... and after that for quite a while. I can't WAIT to share all I learn and see with you. In the meantime, keep checking the awesome blogs you can find in my sidebar and stay inspired.

And check out clipwithpurpose for her deal at RiteAid for FREE FREE FREE scrunchies..

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Shrinky Dink Jewelry

Isn't this fun??? I think this would be a GREAT idea for a children's group or teen group to do for their shoeboxes! To make this or a variation thereof and take a picture of themselves wearing one half and sending the other. The possibilities are endless.

Tutorial at

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Part of Something Great

From Samaritan's Purse blog: A Part of Something Great March 15, 2013
More than 100 children complete the The Greatest Journey discipleship course and help spread the Gospel in Liberia By Chris Blackham, staff member from the Samaritan’s Purse office in the UK

Today is the last day of my trip to Liberia, and what a way to end it.

We spent time with a group of children practicing for their graduation party from a Samaritan’s Purse discipleship program. Sounds like fun, but nothing ground-breaking, right? Wrong!

Two years ago this community was completely unreached by the Gospel, with no believers in Jesus and no church! Two years ago, Samaritan’s Purse invested time and energy to place two local missionaries there, calling them community development facilitators. They worked tirelessly, engaging the community and sharing God’s love with them in practical ways. They hosted outreaches and Bible studies to build on the platform created by their practical work, as well as organizing a simple distribution of shoe box gifts from Operation Christmas Child.

This team also hosted a summer camp for kids and had youth sports programs and literacy programs for adults. After two years of wide-ranging, diverse, yet complementary, investment from Samaritan’s Purse, we had the privilege of witnessing a milestone in their development – a celebration of more than 100 children completing the comprehensive discipleship course, The Greatest Journey. This training and graduation was hosted by the community’s thriving church, which has nearly 100 adults in attendance every Sunday morning. Again, I remind you, two years ago this was an unreached people group with no knowledge of the transforming power of the Gospel. God has no boundaries, so long as we are willing to be used by Him.

Samaritan’s Purse staff in Liberia were obedient to God and offered their services under His direction. God responded and used this amazing group of people to do something remarkable. It’s seeing things like this that make the early mornings and long days worthwhile! God is at work.

If you didn’t know that already, then I hope this has opened your eyes! You and I are a part of something great, something supernatural. It truly is amazing how God weaves together the most unlikely combinations of ideas and opportunities so that conditions are created to bring His children back home to Him. Operation Christmas Child, The Greatest Journey, projects… all of them combined bring life and hope to a lost community. This is our God; this is what we do. Now that’s worthy of an amen!

Celebrating a NEW BEGINNING

The shoebox you pack is just the beginning... the beginning of a wonderful new life in Christ, the beginning of a new relationship with a church, with the Lord.... And the shoebox distributions are a CELEBRATION of the gifts, yes, but more so of Christ's love. Catch a glimpse in this video.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Michael W Smith on Operation Christmas Child

OK.. this video had me in TEARS and smiling. I can't wait to see him in person at the OCC 100 million shoebox celebration concert... but whether you get to go to this amazing event take the time to watch this video and see what the heart of Operation Christmas Child is all about.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Distribution in Peru just last week! BLOG with PICS

One of my favorite things to do is read the blogs and look at the pictures of those few blessed to go on a shoebox distribution! Some of OUR boxes went to Peru, so this distribution IN Peru had me looking at the pictures for boxes I recognize.... not yet. One day though!

The blog, Laugh With Us, has a delightful post that let me taste and see a bit of what the distributions were like.. and they are from just over a week ago! I know that you will also enjoy the blog and the pictures and the videos... so head on over and be blessed.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Operation Christmas Child - Not rocket science... LOVE

The below is from OCC UK

Gifts of Hope

boySamaritan's Purse UK's Chris Blackham reports from the second day of a team trip to Liberia. "So Day Two starts with a 6.00am drive to the airport for our helicopter ride up to Sannequellie City, Nimba County. Bizarrely this little backwater was the location in 1959 of the original signing for the Organization of the African Union between Liberia, Guinea and Ghana. Strange how we’ve come full circle, from a time of so much hope and expectation, through two decades of bloody civil war, and back around to bringing gifts of hope to a future generation…

"Those of you that have had the privilege of witnessing an OCC distribution in the developing world will know what the words “Organised Chaos” mean. Picture over a hundred children, a huge pile of presents and a handful of adults tasked with holding them back! The eagerness on the children’s faces, as they realise that someone thousands of miles away has prayed and packed a box full of personal gifts for them, is overwhelming. These are kids who are lucky to have a roof over their heads, fortunate if they know where their next meal is coming from, blessed if they have parents to care for and nurture them to adulthood.

"So after a short Gospel presentation and a very long line of handing out boxes, the kids are finally let loose on them after a rousing chorus of “Thank you Jesus!” And at that point all the chaos of distribution and stress of keeping the kids in line suddenly melts away. Smiles erupt on their faces as they open the gift that was sent especially for them. Screeches of glee bounce off the walls as they share their gifts and show each other their bounties. The joy on their faces is enough to melt even the hardest of hearts.

"Who’d have thought that a simple box could bring so much joy to a child? It’s not rocket science; it’s not development; but it is an amazingly powerful expression of God’s love for His children all around the world. I for one now know over 250 kids this evening who will be thanking God that their new friends from the UK blessed them with a gift today, and I’m pretty sure Jesus is also smiling when he sees this…"

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A girl named Miracles, Peru

The below is a part of a series of posts about a distribution in Peru on the awesome occ blog, clipwithpurpose. It is amazing and totally worth your time so please go over and read the rest.

This is the third post by my friend, Pastor Henry Fuhrman, from CenterPoint Church.  He and and a group of pastors from across the US are currently in Panama on an Operation Christmas Child distribution.

A Girl Named “Miracles”

When we arrived in Chilibre (for the shoebox distribution), the children were already singing and dancing.
Afterwards a young girl was invited to address the crowd.  She walked slowly to the stage, holding her father’s hand.  She was cute, wearing a red and white skirt with pink sunglasses.  She couldn’t have been older than 7 years old.  As I watched her closely, I realized that without her dad’s hands, she wouldn’t know the way.  It soon became clear that she couldn’t see.  This sweet little girl was completely blind.
Pink Sunglasses Girl2
I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.  She grabbed the mic with confidence and began to preach!  She quoted from memory:

Romans 6:23, “for the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

For the next 20 minutes I listened to this 7 year old girl expound upon this text in clear, passionate, and powerful ways.  She talked about the gifts we brought today, and made the connection to the true gift that Jesus brought 2000 years ago.  She urged her fellow children to not only receive the gifts in these shoeboxes, but to receive the gift of eternal life as well.  Then she prayed for them and for us.

Still in awe of what I just witnessed,  I made a point to meet this little girl.  I walked up to her, hugged her, and told her with the little Spanish I know, that her sermon on Romans 6 was one of the best I had heard.  And I meant it.  She smiled.

See... you want to read the rest of this post and the rest of the series.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Peru- A Message of Hope

The below article is from Samaritan's Purse at
3-4-13_OCC _Peru
A Message of Hope
Children living in deplorable conditions in Peru receive shoe box gifts from Operation Christmas Child and the hope of eternal life with Jesus Christ
By Samaritan’s Purse staff writer Kim Rowland, who spent a week in Peru covering the distribution of about 2,300 Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts to children in need.
Guilt washed over me, soaking my consciousness as thoroughly as the water saturated my hair and washed over my face in the clean, white shower of my hotel room. A mere five hours had passed since I skidded down a sandy hillside on the outer fringes of Lima, Peru, hastily waving goodbye to the women and children whose faces are now etched into my memory forever.
“How can I so easily wash away the grime of the day while the children I left in the dust of those hills are just settling into their piecemeal cardboard, wooden, and tin shacks to sleep?” I reflected. Guilt-stricken thoughts raced through my mind as tears started to spill from the edges of my eyes.
My despair felt misplaced, an entirely unexpected emotion after spending a day witnessing more than 100 children receive shoe box gifts from Operation Christmas Child. Their joy was beyond compare.
3-4-13_OCC_Peru_3One little girl was so excited that she just kept screaming, “Wow! Wow! Wow!” over and over again. Some of the items in her shoe box were a jump rope, pair of flip flops, bar of soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, and several other small toys—none of which will serve to lift her out of the poverty of Pachacutec, the district where she lives.
The area, at the far northern edge of Lima, is crammed with jumbled wooden shacks that crawl up the steep, sandy hills and overlook the Pacific Ocean. They gradually taper off into tawny hilltops that blend almost seamlessly into the hazy sky. The area is almost desolate, yet breathtakingly beautiful.
One mother explained that like many others in the area she sold her home and land in the Andes Mountains and moved to Lima in hopes of finding a better life and work. She arrived with her family to discover that living in the city was too expensive. Without enough money to return to the mountains or get another home, she had no choice but to settle in one of the shantytowns of greater Lima and piece together a roofless shack out of cardboard and sticks, using a sheet of plastic to cover only the bed.
The majority of families in Pachacutec have electricity. But the area has no running water or sewer system. Water is trucked in several times per week, but the liquid in the 55 gallon drums is not potable and is nearly too expensive to use in necessary amounts. The water must be boiled in order to cook with or drink, and families rarely use it to bathe.
Since hygiene is poor, tuberculosis has become a problem, along with other contagious diseases. To top it off, the desert conditions and sandy soil make it impossible for families who are used to farming to grow any crops of their own.
The reality of thousands of people living in those conditions—surrounded by crime, drug use, abuse and disease—weighed heavily on my mind as I settled under the crisp white sheets of the springy mattress in my hotel. Sleep evaded me as desperation swirled through my mind.
“What hope is there for the children I spent a few fleeting moments with, sharing smiles and laughter, but unable to give them more than a hug and a few small items in a cardboard box?” I wondered.
3-4-13_OCC_Peru_2Slowly, like a beam of golden sunlight streaming through a break in dark gray clouds, a phrase came into my mind. “God knows their names.” It began to take shape, latching onto my thoughts and gradually overpowering the desperation of the evening. God knows the names of each of the children living in Pachacutec, and He cares for them enough to send His only Son Jesus to die for them, so they may know Him eternally.
Some in the area already know this truth. On the way to the distribution, I passed a message emblazoned on one hillside: “Cristo vive”—“Christ lives.”
Finally, I remembered that a shoe box gift is more than a box of toys. It is a message of hope, the hope that is found in salvation through Jesus Christ. The shoe boxes are given to the children through local churches, and the most important part of the gift is not any physical item. It is the Gospel that is shared alongside it, explaining that Jesus is the greatest gift anyone could ever receive.
Local churches are able to use the shoe boxes as powerful tools to demonstrate the love of Christ. They will continue to minister to the children and their parents long after the physical items have worn out.
The pastor who coordinated the distribution in Pachacutec hopes to plant a church in the community. The tiny, donated building where the gifts were given out that day likely has become the talk of the town. Many children will return, bringing their parents along. It is my prayer that they will also obtain the hope of glory in Jesus.
The 80 children who received a shoe box gift are now participating in The Greatest Journey—12 Bible lessons, offered as a follow-up program that teaches children about salvation and living a life of faith in Christ. This truth, not the items in the shoe boxes, will give the children joy and an eternal hope that transcends their difficult living conditions.
This is the truth that brought peace to my troubled thoughts.
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27 (ESV)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Staples Free After Rebate Paper

Hammermill 8.5″x11″ Copy Plus Copy Paper, 500 ct $6.99 through 3/6 Buy 1, Submit $6.99 Easy Rebate Pay $6.99, Submit for $6.99 Easy Rebate Final Price: Free Staples Photo Plus 4.5″x6″ Gloss Paper, 60 ct $9.99 through 3/6 Buy 1, Submit for $9.99 Easy Rebate Pay $9.99, Submit for $9.99 Easy Rebate Final Price: Free You can use the free paper for inserting loose into the shoeboxes... or make homemade notebooks for them. And use the photo paper for pictures to put in the the shoeboxes... photos of YOU can be one of the most prized possessions in the shoeboxes!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kings and Queens

Found this video... and it made me smile. Love the song. Love the images. And I hope you will too.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Crafting with Love

ClipwithPurpose blog is an amazing OCC blog.. and it just shared an idea that I know many of you will appreciate. If you craft for your shoeboxes... and I know many of you do... how about adding a note or tag so that the child who receives it knows that they are special and loved.

As I craft I pray for the child. So that they feel my love and God's love when they use it. How about adding a tag just to that effect? Isn't that a great idea?