Monday, October 20, 2014

Pack an OCC Shoebox and change a life.

In the last 9 years I've helped collect nearly 1,000 Operation Christmas Child (OCC) Shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse. That's no exaggeration. I've helped lead the OCC Shoebox collection at the two churches I've served in since 2006. The first year I was in ministry it was basically dumped on me and I was told in October "Oh yeah, the youth pastor does the shoebox collection too." The first year I honestly didn't know what I was doing. I set a goal of 50 shoeboxes and we hit our goal. From then on I increased the total each year as we continued to meet our goals. Last year at North Catawba Baptist Church we surpassed our goal by 12 and this year raised our goal by 25. I've had the unique opportunity for several years to deliver our shoeboxes with church groups to the OCC Collection Center in Boone. By doing that I've had an opportunity to hear more in-depth about the collection process while touring the facility. All of this has combined to give me a heart for this particular ministry. When you pack an OCC Shoebox you are literally changing the life of a child somewhere in the world.

Each child that receives a shoebox also receives a presentation of the gospel in their own language. Not only do they hear the local pastor share the gospel at the community distribution, but they also receive a booklet explaining the gospel in their own language. Receiving the gifts is enough to change a child's life. Many children around the world do not have a fraction of a percent of what our children in the U.S. have in their homes. The shoebox shows these children around the world that someone loves them and more importantly that God loves them. The gospel presentation that accompanies your shoebox is more important than any toy, notepad or ball found in the box. The gospel will impact their lives and change their eternity. And that presentation is able to be given all because you packed a shoebox.

Let me close by sharing a story with you that I hope will encourage you to pack a shoebox and change the life of a child. I use stories during my children's sermons when promoting OCC Shoeboxes but unfortunately I can't share this one in church for fear of scaring our children. But it is a true story and a sad reality of the world we live in. This story was shared once by a Smaritan's Purse employee discussing OCC with my church group. 10 years ago OCC did a shoebox distribution in Beslan, Russia. One young man received a shoebox and the book that presents the gospel as well. Not long after the distribution the boy was headed to school and on his way out he gave his mother something to mail. He told her it was the decision card from his book and that she had to mail it today so the folks at OCC would know he had made a decision to follow Christ. That day his school was taken hostage by Chechen rebels. It was also the last time his mother ever saw him alive. During the attempted rescue of those in the school this young boy was one of the casualties. But that young boy had his life changed because someone had spent the time and the money to pack a shoebox for OCC. More importantly his eternity was changed. When you pack a shoebox you are literally changing people's lives.

I encourage you if you haven't already started to pack a shoebox do so now. Local churches are usually collecting them in October or early November. You can contact one and drop it off if your church isn't collecting them. Or better yet start a collection at your church and get your church involved in changing lives around the world.

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