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Small acts of love and kindness can change the world.
I love seeds. So much life and potential exist in a teeny tiny container. As a gardener, I can easily tell a zinnia seed from a Morning Glory seed. While each is unique, once planted, each has the ability to grow and become more than they were. Just one small marigold seed can grow into a flower that yields 50 new seeds.
I also love the ministry of Operation Christmas Child. As I take my empty shoebox and pack it with things I chose especially for “my” child across the world (a blue hat and gloves, a stuffed red dog that matches the cover of the coloring book I found, a blue toothbrush, a red washcloth, a soccer ball, etc.) my box is slightly different from every one packed and sent. It’s uniquely mine and full of potential, just like a seed.
Over 100 million shoeboxes have been distributed to over 100 countries around the world. Each one takes the Good News of Jesus Christ “to the farthest parts of the earth” Acts 1:8. How exciting to think that my simple shoebox gift will travel by truck, boat, canoe or camel to reach just the right child – to tell him that he is loved by His Father in heaven. Even though I’ve packed shoeboxes for over 20 years, I still get tingles to think of how God will use or “sow” this small seed!
When a child receives their shoebox, they are also handed a colorful gospel booklet, “The Greatest Gift of All” about the gift of Jesus. I’ve seen many photos of children putting away their toys and pouring over the book, often with their friends and parents. The seed is beginning to grow. But then what?
The Greatest Journey“” discipleship course was developed to be that next step to help these children become lifelong followers of Jesus. To nurture and grow their young faith, these lessons are offered to the children after they receive their shoebox through the churches in their neighborhood.
Years ago I was asked to teach a Sunday School class, but I had no training, no experience, and no lesson plans! I began with good intentions, but quickly became discouraged and confused. Operation Christmas Child understands that not only are the children who receive the gifts living in poor and desperate conditions, but also their local churches. Through this program, Sunday School teachers are provided with all the training, booklets and materials!
I asked the National Team Leader from Belize, how this affects the churches. She said that training them to share the gospel with children, taught them how to share the gospel with their own family and neighbors. The teachers grew in their own faith, and more seeds are planted.
Then when the children complete all the lessons, there is a joyous graduation ceremony! All the families are invited and many will hear the gospel for the first time. Each child receives a certificate and a New Testament in their own language. Some will never complete regular school, so this graduation is even more meaningful.
“I give thanks to God for the opportunity He gave me to study the Bible lessons,” said 14-year-old Gimena from Paraguay. “Through them, many children have met Jesus. I invited my friends to the classes, and many of them received Jesus as their Savior too.”
The seeds have grown and now yielded new seeds. A simple gift can change the world.
What a precious opportunity we have been entrusted with! God is at work! It is exciting and humbling to be a small part of something so great. How will God continue to use these seeds?
Do YOU want to pack a shoebox? For more information about how to pack a shoebox CLICK HERE.
In 2014 I asked by Operation Christmas Child to write this as a guest article for “Teach Them Diligently Homeschool Events”.