While Christmas is not about the presents, it is very special to have the privilege of giving something to others to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to demonstrate the generous nature of God. For some children, the excitement and happiness surrounding this amazing time of year, is simply foreign.
Each year, an organisation called Samaritans Purse, gives millions of children across the globe, the opportunity to receive a very special gift. A shoe box full of gifts, hygiene items and school supplies. A box full of things so rare to those who receive them. Samaritans Purse impact the lives of vulnerable children through educational, feeding, clothing, and shelter programs that let them know they are not forgotten (www.samaritanspurse.org).
This shoe box program is called Operation Christmas Child and is just one of the many programs they run aimed at children, but the way it has been embraced by individuals and churches around the world is astonishing.
Since its inception, Operation Christmas Child has benefited millions of children around the world. Not only have these shoe boxes brought joy to the recipients but also to the givers. Joy can still be found at Christmas â€" and packaged and shipped â€" in an unlikely container, a simple shoe box (www.beaufortccc.edu).
Individuals and churches across the world pack shoe boxes and deliver them to a drop off point nearest to where they live. Each box is packed for a boy or girl in a specific age range and under $10 is placed in each box, which is used for shipping purposes. Each box now is able to be tracked and the giver of the box is able to find out which country their box went to. Such joy to give such a special gift of love this Christmas.
Lego, Transformers, Play Stations, X-Box….plus hundreds of other expensive toys and games will fill Australian homes this Christmas. These sights are foreign to the receivers of a shoe box. A toothbrush, some pencils, some socks, a small doll….the contents of a shoe box will be all many children will receive this Christmas time…but it will be their happiest Christmas ever!!
A mother from our church went shopping to fill their shoe box. She says, "it was so lovely shopping with my daughter for the toys...every time she handed the money to the person behind the register, she told them 'toys not for me but little girl far away, we putting them in a shoe box and sending them to her for Christmas'. What a beautiful concept to instil in our children this Christmas. It's all about giving to others.
The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Not only are children receiving things they need for school, for daily hygiene and things to play with, but they also receive the good news about Jesus along with the box. As boxes are handed to the children, the giver says to them, "a gift from Jesus" and children also receive booklets about how Jesus loves them and who He is.
This is in no way forced but is offered to the children. Many eagerly want to find out who this 'Jesus' is. He is the one who loves them more than anything because He created them.
Laura Veloso is wife to John and the mother of 3 young boys. She is trained in child welfare and primary school teaching and has experience in overseas missions and youth leadership.
Laura Veloso's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/laura-veloso.html