After years of volunteering with Operation Christmas Child, Joel Slesak wondered about one thing. Do shoebox distributions really happen the way the videos show?
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, a project of the international relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse, has sent more than 157 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories.
Joel had heard about children opening their boxes to find their hearts’ desires. He had seen videos of impoverished children, wildly excited over pads and pencils because it meant they could go to school. He had heard about entire families, even villages, coming to Christ through the 12-week discipleship program, The Greatest Journey, that is offered after many shoebox distributions.
But how much of that was really true?
He and his wife and fellow volunteer, Pat, would soon find out as they flew to Ukraine to distribute shoeboxes. What an honor and opportunity!
Local Operation Christmas Child volunteers invited the children to attend a social activity. After singing, dancing, and games, trained teachers distributed “The Greatest Gift” booklets. Using visuals provided by Samaritan’s Purse, they taught these children about God’s greatest gift to us — Jesus.
“They didn’t know they were going to receive shoeboxes. When our team leader announced we had brought gifts for them, they were so excited,” Joel said.
Although a bit reserved, with wide smiles, they delved into their shoeboxes and shared the contents with each other. There is no doubt in Joel’s mind any longer.
“For me, it is certainly true. Everything we saw is exactly the way the videos show it. I’m totally amazed at what this project can do and so grateful for the shoeboxes our community puts together. It’s just a beautiful presentation of the hope of the Gospel for all the children.”
Pat was touched by the words of the pastor of a small rural church. He thanked the team for being an encouragement to him and to his congregation. He said the church could not reach people in their community for the Lord without the boxes that are sent to them. What a beautiful picture of the global church in action!
Pat said, “We have the responsibility, the where-with-all to do this. God’s given us the opportunity. Now is the time. We’re partners in ministry around the world, and we’re winning the world for Christ. Does it get any better than that?”
Just as Pat said, we at Hope Church have the power to make a difference. Learn more about us today!