This past Sunday evening our church had a special prayer service as we brought our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.
What OCC is is a way to get Christmas presents to kids in third world countries. People here stuff a shoebox with toys and gifts and then pray for the child who will receive it. Each box given must include $7 to pay for the shipping and handling.
This year was the second year (since I have been here, 2003) that our church has participated in the OCC shoebox collection. Last year we gave a total of 28 shoeboxes.
So when it came time to start preparing for this year’s OCC shoebox collection, I got a little zealous and set us the high goal of 100 shoeboxes. That is nearly 4 times as many as we gave last year.
Well for about the past month we have talked it up, shown videos, passed out boxes and pamphlets and literature about the awesome opportunity to participate in “giving this Christmas away.” I have told our church countless times what Jesus says “It is more blessed to give than it is to receive.” And even as our church is embracing giving more and more, we still heard people saying that there is no way we will reach our goal of 100 shoeboxes.
Well finally Sunday night, November 20th came, and it was time for folks to bring their shoeboxes. In the middle of our regular Sunday evening service, we had a time for people to come forward with their box as an offering and pray silently for the child who will receive it. It was really nice just to watch this happen. At the end of that time, I came forward and prayed for all of it. There was big pile of shoeboxes at the altar of our church. Then we continued on with our service: singing, praying, and hearing God’s Word preached.
Then the end came, I stepped up and counted the box… 91 OCC shoeboxes! 91!
I was shocked! I was so happy that our people had given 91 christmas presents away. I was thrilled to think of 91 children getting a gift. I was proud to think that we gave away $637 of our own money.
But I was also bummed that we didn’ t reach our goal. We were 9 boxes short. When I told our people, they were all shocked too. Possessing a puzzled simultaneous joy and discouragement look.
Then all of a sudden a lady walked in the back door carrying 1 box. So I said, “Wait, there’s one. That makes 92.” Then another lady raised her hand and said “I got five right here, I wasnt able to bring them forward yet.” That made 97! Then another guy raised his hand and said “I got 2 more right here.” Then another young girl had 2 more. Then another couple had 2 more.
It was amazing! Without any hesitation, the whole church celebrated with clapping and cheering. Praise God!
All in all we had given 104 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. I was so happy. I was so proud to be the pastor of these people. And I was so proud and humbled to be a child of God.
Now, I realize 100 is not all that many. And I realize there are many, many kids who still will not get a Christmas present this year. And I realize that it wasn’t 300, or 500, or 1,000 shoeboxes.
But it was 104. And it was 4 times as many as the year before. And it was our church reaching a big goal! And it was Christ’s church becoming more and more like him in the fact that we were blessed by giving!
May God get the glory for His work in us! Who knows what our goal may be next year!