We had Christmas with my in-laws last night and it was so great to see my MIL open her little snowman. Christmas has been more about what I can give to others each year rather than what I can get myself. I know my family will be opening the gifts that I lovingly made for them this morning... 2000 miles away in their homes. Soon, I will post photos of my gifts! They aren't the best because I am still trying to learn how to use my camera and find the best light.
My greatest joy this year was packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child (OCC). OCC is a Christmas program put on by Samaritan's Purse; an organization created by Franklin Graham. You pack a shoe box full of toys, candy, school supplies and anything else that fits within regulation and Samaritan's Purse delivers these boxes all over the world to children in need. They also minister to these children by giving them New Testament Bibles in their own language and they put any willing child through their "The Greatest Journey" - an exciting discipleship program that teaches children to become faithful followers of Christ.
This year, like many years, we paid the shipping for our boxes online so that we could track where they are delivered. We have had boxes go to Zimbabwe and Belarus. This year, our boxes went to Benin, Africa. Here are some facts from the OCC website about Benin:
Forty-five percent of Benin’s 9 million people are 14-years-old or younger. In 2009, 106,150 shoe box gifts were delivered to children in Benin, which first received the gifts in 1999. Since then, 530,043 children have received a shoe box gift.
In 2010, Operation Christmas Child is offering a new, follow-up discipleship program to our ministry partners in conjunction with the shoe box gifts. This year in Benin, these Bible lessons will be offered to 14,000 children who receive a shoe box gift.
The Greatest Journey begins when children are freely offered Gospel storybooks along with their shoe boxes. The Greatest Gift of All booklets—printed in over 70 languages—contain colorful illustrations that explain the Good News of Jesus Christ in a simple, engaging style.
After receiving a shoe box gift, boys and girls are invited to participate in the voluntary Bible study course produced by Samaritan’s Purse. The 12-lesson set guides children through a study of who Jesus Christ is, what it means to follow Him, and how to share this exciting message with others.
To help these boys and girls continue to grow in their faith, we also want to provide them with their own copies of the Greatest Gift of All New Testament. This special edition also includes select Old Testament stories, a dictionary, and a section that encourages the children to memorize Scripture.
This Christmas, I ask that you pray for the volunteers who will be handing out these gifts to the children and also, pray for the children as they are given the gifts. Please pray that God will have them hear and understand.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
For more information on Operation Christmas Child, please visit http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/