Operation Christmas Child 2017: Jesus loves the little children
By Don Davis for the Salisbury Post
Many of us who have a deep concern for Operation Christmas Child have already started preparing for this year’s Collection Week, Nov. 14-21. The love for children and wanting to give children a wonderful Christmas is probably the primary reason for most people participating. However, by far, we as Christians know that each Operation Christmas Child Shoebox is a means of introducing children to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In 2016 Samaritan’s Purse collected 11.5 million boxes which were distributed in over 100 countries around the world. This was another record year, but more importantly, each one of the children who received a box was introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ, maybe for the first time. Each child received a box of goodies but they also received the booklet “The Greatest Gift of All” in their own language, telling them about the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior. Also, this valuable tool opens the door for the child’s complete family to learn about Jesus and show them that through Jesus Christ they can become a child of God.
Don’t you know that God must be happy each year when He hears those numbers and sees little children asking Jesus into their hearts? The Bible tells us, “But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them, of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14, NKJV). Through our packing of shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child we are certainly helping bring them to Jesus. I do not believe there is another ministry in the world that does a better job of taking the story of Jesus to children.
Now is the time to get started shopping for our shoeboxes. We have a little more than six months before the 2017 Operation Christmas Child Collection week to start accumulating items as we do our normal shopping.
A couple of months ago, after Easter, I was able to buy small bunnies at less than half the original price. These are ideal to be packed in boxes for the smaller children (2-4 years range). Also, clothing and school supply stores will soon have Back to School Sales where we can purchase children’s clothes along with good buys on school supplies. When you buy a little at a time it is easier on your pocketbook, and all that is left in November is to pack the boxes.
Starting this year there is a change in the items allowed that must be considered when shopping. Candy and toothpaste can no longer be placed in the shoeboxes. Other countries will no longer permit these items to be distributed to their children and Samaritan’s Purse must honor their request.
One of the greatest blessings my wife Barbara and I have ever received from the Lord was when He let us help distribute Operation Christmas Child boxes during mission trips to Johannesburg South Africa in 2005 and 2006. Although that has been more than 10 years ago, I can still see the joy on the faces of the small children and youth and listen to their screams as they opened their boxes and saw their gifts. We were impressed by the gratitude they expressed and sensed they knew these came from the hands of God.
Again this year, special emphasis is given on prayer, because we know that only through God’s divine intervention could Operation Christmas Child continue the ministry and increase the number of boxes packed and shipped to children around the world.
This year as you shop and pack, pray and sing “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the children of the world.”
Don Davis and his wife, Barbara, are members of the Church Relations Team for Operations Christmas Child covering the South Piedmont Area. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org