A Shoebox's Journey - by Heidi Logsdon
It’s that time of year! My house is littered with red and green shoeboxes. The bags of school supplies, wash cloths, soaps, toothbrushes, and toys are dragged out of closets and prepped to be lovingly and prayerfully placed in the shoeboxes. Operation Christmas Child’s (OCC) national collection week is just around the corner.
Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. Their mission is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local Church worldwide, share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Luke 6:38 says, “…give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” A command and a promise all in one. So many times, I miss the charge but want the vow. I want the promise of prayers answered, and I’ll even tell God “how” to answer them or reduce myself to believing that God has given His Son for me so why would He give anything else? He has already given everything.
For years, we packed our OCC boxes and dropped them off at the church never really thinking about what happened after that. This was our good deed for the holiday season; this was our “give.” I told my children these boxes would go to needy children around the world. Then we moved on to the next event or Christmas party without thinking much more about the box until the time came for us to do it again the subsequent year.
If I can be completely transparent with you, I was happy that a child somewhere would receive the box and hopeful that it would brighten their day, but what I REALLY wanted was for my children to learn to give without expectation. I never really considered that an Operation Christmas Child shoebox could be a Gospel sharing opportunity until I happened upon an article in a magazine about volunteering to process shoeboxes, which led to volunteering year-round.
Let’s take a little trip together! I’ll walk you through the journey of the shoebox from when it leaves your hands until it reaches the hands of the child God intended to receive it. You’ll see along the way how so many people are impacted, and that this little shoebox gift is an opportunity for a child to come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
You have packed your shoebox. What’s next? The box is either dropped off at your church or taken directly to a drop-off location that has partnered with the ministry to receive the shoeboxes. Once you walk in carrying a shoebox, the volunteers will greet you, ask for basic contact information, and then ask if they can pray with you over your shoebox gift. The box is then placed in a carton where it will be transported to a processing center.
Now that your box has reached the processing center, volunteers carefully open and check each box for items that are not allowed such as glass, food, or liquids. Boxes are then taped and, once again, placed in a carton. The box is usually prayed over again as it comes into the warehouse, while it is being processed, and even as it is placed on a shipping container to be sent around the world. Franklin Graham, President of Samaritan’s Purse, has been quoted as saying that the most important thing you can pack in a shoebox is prayer!
The box has been packed, processed, and prayed over multiple times. It is now headed to one of the 150+ receiving countries who have needy children suffering from poverty, natural disasters, the ravages of war, or who have not had the opportunity to hear the hope of Christ. Upon reaching the country, all the boxes must go through customs, and then a logistics team ensures that the boxes are distributed appropriately to the local pastors and churches.
Now the fun begins! Giving your shoebox gift to the child God has intended to have it! The receiving country has a team of trained volunteers who are on hand to guarantee that the Gospel is shared appropriately and effectively every time. Through hand motions and stories, the children are taught that God created a perfect world. Then sin (which is anything you think, anything you say, or anything you do that goes against God) separated us from having a relationship with Him. But God sent Jesus, His own son, into this world. Jesus lived a life without sin. He died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin. He was buried and three days later, rose from the grave and is now in heaven with God. Christ’s death on the cross paid the price for our sin. The children are then taught how to pray and accept Christ as their Savior. It’s an amazing time!
But that’s not all…
They are then invited to a 12-week discipleship program. It is like the vacation Bible school that we have here but over a much longer period and only once a week. Each week has a memory verse, a story from the Bible, and a time of learning how to apply it to their life. They are taught these things so they can learn who Jesus is and how they can walk with Him daily in their lives.
It is quite a journey! As I saw it, the shoebox was a simple gift for a child. However, it is the beginning of a life altering journey with Christ for so many. The beauty of it all is that I get to be a part of it just by packing a shoebox!
Our family had been giving shoebox gifts for years without ever really knowing the impact that one box can make in the life of a child. I have and will continue to “give” as commanded in Luke 6. However, when I look back and see how God has blessed me through this ministry, I am humbled. It has been “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, and put into [my] lap.”
My daughter and I became year-round volunteers with the ministry and have had the privilege to meet some of the most amazing and Godly people. We have learned what full-time ministry looks like, and the time commitment it takes. The training we received has given us confidence to go into the world and share the Gospel. OCC has allowed both of us, at separate times, to be the beautiful feet that bring the good news (Romans 10:15) to Africa.
Had I been told when we first started packing shoeboxes that all of this was going to happen, I do not think I would have believed it. I would not have even known to pray for it because I could not have imagined that God would choose me to be a part of ministry in this way. I was simply doing my part and trusting that God would fulfill His promise.
My breaktime is over and I need to get back to my shoeboxes. Why don’t you grab a shoebox and join me? And come back later this week to hear about my experience in Africa distributing shoeboxes!
A little bit about Heidi: "The Lord looked upon this world and chose me. He chose me to be a military spouse, homeschool mom (retired), and community relations coordinator for Operation Christmas Child (OCC). I have had the privilege to walk through life with the love of my life. Together, we have had the joy of raising and educating three beautiful children and have since gained two lovely daughters-in-law. Our crazy, Army life has moved us to many different locations throughout the United States, but my work with OCC is portable, so I have done community relations in multiple regions. The Lord chose me. He chose me to be loved, to be redeemed, and to be His. This fact is never lost on me and I am humbled to know that the C
reator of the universe chose me."