Brooklet United Methodist Church is accepting packed shoeboxes for the Operation Christmas Child project this week to benefit children in need around the globe.
Operation Christmas Child is part of the ministry of Samaritan's Purse International Relief. It sends children shoeboxes that are packed with much-needed toiletry items, small toys and games, candy, food and a brief tract about the love of Jesus Christ.
In the words of the founders of the project: "A small shoebox can have a big impact. What goes into the box is fun, but what comes out of it is eternal. Be a part of changing children's lives all over the world in Jesus' Name through the power of a simple gift."
One local girl, my daughter, remembers the impact packing a box had on her own life, in addition to an unknown little girl. Jessica Lavender spent hours selecting just the right items for the recipient of her shoebox, a 2- to 4-year-old girl somewhere in the world.
Eight-year-old Jessica prayed faithfully for "the little girl who gets my box," before she donated the box to the church and then for days, weeks and months later.
After praying night after night for over a year, her exasperated preteen brother, as only an older brother can, annoyingly said to her, "I think your box has made it there. You can stop praying now."
That only made Jessica pray harder.
Shortly after, Jessica received in the mail a damaged letter on blue stationery. The only word we recognized amongst the foreign symbols was "India." But taped to the letter was the beautiful face of a precious little girl.
As only God could arrange, a church friend who had grown up in India as a missionary's son read the letter to Jessica, word for word. Even he was surprised that he could read that particular dialect of many in India.
An older brother wrote the letter for his sister, the recipient of the box. The young boy thanked Jessica for her love and care in sending the supplies to his little sister. The tender letter was worth the wait. And the prayers. And a young girl in America learned what it meant to send the love of Jesus to another one of God's children across the globe.
To participate in the Operation Christmas Child project, go to www.samaritanspurse.org for details on packing a box. Please call Brooklet United Methodist Church at (912) 842-2908 or Janet Odegaard at (912) 977-2241 for drop-off hours.