Last year my family and I decided to start organizing an Operation Christmas Child event on a small scale. If you don’t already know what Operation Christmas Child is—it’s an incredible worldwide project and movement that is run by the organization Samaritan’s Purse. Every year in early November, all over the country, groups of people within homes and churches gather to fill boxes with toys and hygiene items for children in need. They bring their filled boxes to designated “drop off stations”. From there the boxes get distributed to children all over the world.
I do want to address something though—Supporting global mission organizations like Operation Christmas Child can receive a bad name at times. I think there is this temptation as Americans to think that these countries need us to come in and “save” them with our American things, ways, and ideas. This is called a “God complex” or a “savior mentality”. Us white people especially have that tendency since we have grown up in a society that is rooted in ignorance and white privileged mindsets. This is bad. This is toxic. This is not helpful. I have had to “check myself” many times to make sure my heart and intentions are in line with God’s, and not an arrogant self fulfilling americanized “gospel”.
The real gospel message is lived out by modeling the life of Jesus and aligning ourselves with what God is already doing.
The work Samaritan’s Purse is doing through Operation Christmas Child, is addressing this one need by connecting families all over the world and blessing children with a gift they may never have been able to receive otherwise. THEN, they are doing it all as a tangible way to tell or remind them of the ultimate gift of Jesus, and to speak truth into the lives of them and their families. That is something I want to be a part of. That is in line with the mission of Jesus.
So there we were, on November 7th 2020, packing all 50 boxes that were filled with the generous donations of many! We decided to add a card with a little hello note and a picture of our family, into each box that we filled. We prayed over every box and asked the Lord to send all 50 to the right children and families, and to bless them in very specific ways because of it. I’ll admit that this prayer seemed “small” at the time—but I was recently reminded that there is no such thing as small prayers when you are praying to a big God.
Please know that I have permission to share what you are about to read, and that I truly believe God can use this story to strengthen the faith of many.
On April 7th 2021, exactly five months after packing our boxes, I received this photo and fb message—
“Hey! Hola. My name is Jonathan, I’m from Honduras. My son Jeff is 5 years old, he received your box of Samaritans Purse. He Told: Thank you very much, God Bless you.”
My immediate thought was “wait, what???” Even though we did put notes in our boxes with our names and info on it, I still couldn’t believe that I was actually hearing from one of the families! How fun! I responded, and we went back and forth a couple times. To me it was just a beautiful reminder that filling these boxes isn’t about checking off some charity box and doing a good deed. It’s about being able to connect with people all over the world, and being a part of what God is already doing.
Four days later on April 11th, I received the first photo along with another message from Jonathan that read:
“There is a long story behind this gift but I just want to say thank you very much and my son thanks you too. I am a Honduran teacher who was unemployed in the pandemic. I attend my church and work with children in Sunday school too. Due to the pandemic and unemployment we have faced certain struggles as a family and one of them has been being able to buy gifts for our boy. Making him understand that I didn’t have a job was difficult but I always told him to pray because the gift was on the way. And a week ago I was contacted by a friend pastor where she told us that she had a gift from samaritan’s purse. Our son very happy opened his gift and he said God answered our prayers. We are very happy and very grateful because we know that it was God who used you as a family. We send you a hug and God bless you all, your husband and your children.
You can share this with all people. We here in Honduras have also been going through that very difficult and this is one of the prayers that God has answered and we know that more answers are coming for us. I was crying when writing because how beautiful. God is with us. If you had seen the face of joy and emotion that my son made to receive that gift, we cried because we had months of not giving him something important. I am a coordinator of a project for low-income children in Honduras, many times at night I asked God why I helped other children, but my son, I could not help him with a gift. My son asked that we put his photograph in the mirror so that whenever we look at them we will pray for you.”
Wow. Look at God showing off because He can.
So to sum it up—A shoebox with gifts has increased this man’s already big faith in God, showed his son that God is real in a very special way, increased my faith as well, and has given me the opportunity to share the power of prayer, the importance of giving, and the excitement in partnering with God.
The reality is that we all lack in some sort of way—be it physical, financial, relational, spiritual, emotional ect. I think right now one thing we all lack is faith (understandably so), and we could use a little more hope. Whether that means your faith in God is wavering, or your faith in humanity is diminishing. I don’t have to give you examples of how we as a human race are failing miserably right now. Sadly enough, we have every reason to feel hopeless during these times.
So next time you pray and wonder if God is hearing you, just remember that a man told his 5 year old son to pray because “the gift is on the way”—and weeks later an actual gift showed up.
God took two families, connected them, and taught them both a lesson. Because you see, we both received the same exact message—Hi. It’s God. I’m real. I hear you. It was just packaged a little different.
So here is your reminder, for whomever needs to hear it—
God is real. He hears you. Don’t loose hope. Keep praying.
The gift is on the way.