When I was a kid, my Bible study class would pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (OCC). It was a joyous occasion and all of my friends and siblings were excited at the idea of sending a little piece of Christmas to children who rarely experienced it.
Before I started working with AFA, I thought OCC was just a bunch of missionaries who packed their trucks full of shoeboxes and took to the streets handing out all of the boxes to the needy.
Boy, was I mistaken.
OCC is a full-blown ministry with many different facets than just showing up and handing out boxes. They are using the boxes as a tool to bring children in and disciple them.
The mission of Operation Christmas Child is simple: reach the unreached and declare the gospel to the ends of the earth. The ministry is about so much more than just driving up and dropping off gifts. It is the beginning of a relationship with children that need to hear about the love of Christ.
As of now, Operation Christmas Child has sent over 168 million shoeboxes in over 160 countries and territories. They are currently reaching 50 restricted countries, unreached people groups, and are planting churches throughout the globe.
A major part of OCC is how they incorporate Bible teaching into their communities and daily lives. Before going into a community with shoeboxes, OCC takes time to train volunteers and pastors on how to continue presenting the gospel through their discipleship program, The Greatest Journey.
The Greatest Journey is a 12-lesson discipleship program that enables children to go back into their homes and share the gospel of Christ to their families and friends. Since 2009, 8.9 million children have reported personal decisions for Christ through this program.
It gets better.
Upon completion of the Greatest Journey, the children are given a graduation celebration and presented a New Testament bible, map, and a biblical dictionary. How cool is that? Through a shoebox, the Kingdom of God is growing and making more disciples along the way.
Operation Christmas Child would not be possible without servants in the states being willing to partake.
I encourage you to send a box, knowing these children will hear the word of God spoken clearly. All you have to do is pack a shoebox, print a label, pray for the child, and send it on its way! Packing a shoebox can be fun for any age group.
This year, my boyfriend and I made a date night out of packing boxes. Likewise, married couples can do this or small group classes. Now there is even the option to create a virtual box online for $25 and cut the hassle out of in-store purchases.
The goal of Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child is to reach the ends of the earth, their scripture, Romans 15:20-21. “Thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, but as it is written, 'Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.'"
Collection week is November 18-25. For more information on how to send a shoebox visit, Operation Christmas Child.