Alex Nsengimana currently lives in Minnesota, but he is from Rwanda. He was in the suburbs in a captured city in Rwanda, a nation in turmoil, as the president was assassinated in 1994, and the Hutu tribe was committing genocide of the Tutsi tribe.
He had lost his mother at a young age to HIV and did not know his dad, and so lived with his uncle and grandmother. During the war, his grandmother was taken out of their house and killed as she was a Tutsi. And all their stuff was taken as well. Then an uncle was killed. And they fled to the city and found it also terrible, with debris falling through their house, so much so that they did not sleep on their beds but under. They found themselves on the run, and Alex heard bullets, and he tried to dodge, and he slipped and fell. Saved. Fell in a cow pie... Yes God can even use a cow pie to great purpose. God saved Alex over and over again, but at the time he could not see that.
He stayed in a camp for 3 weeks and then went back to the house. His remaining relatives, the uncle and aunt, got sick, and so placed the 2 boys in the orphanage (but not the sister as she was too old) before they died.
Alex lost hope. He rejected God and felt without hope.
Then Operation Christmas Child came to the orphanage. Alex shared that he can remember that day as though it just occurred. He remembered particularly the comb he kept for 3 years.... and a colored stick that smelled funny, was sticky, but tasted good - a candy cane, his first candy cane.
With the shoebox, it was the first time he knew hope and love. A seed was planted and grew.
Then one day, he was chosen by the African Children's Choir among 12 children. He came to the US to sing. Although they rescued him and they were teaching him about God, he still questioned God.
As he was reading the Bible, he came to Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Alex realized that God had a plan for his life, for those He had saved. He saw then the many times God had saved him from death and tragedy and gave his life to God.
He knew that God loved not just Alex, but also his enemies, the same. And he read the Lord's Prayer... realizing that God was asking him to forgive even those that killed his family. God continued to heal his heart. Alex wanted to forgive the man face to face, so that the man could know the peace that God had brought him.
Through OCC Alex had the opportunity to deliver shoeboxes to the VERY orphanage where he had lived. And he also got to meet and forgive face to face the man...
This is the power of God and the power of a shoebox. God is using each box for His glory to change the lives of children.
(Do you recognize the story?
I posted it from the Samaritan's Purse blog just a bit ago... )