“I did not realize there was more. The beautifully wrapped shoe box was enough. I never imagined the box was filled with things.”
As a child in an Eastern European orphanage, this now articulate young woman had once received a shoe box wrapped in Christmas paper. Just the paper was enough for her.
My eyes blurred with tears, making it hard to focus my camera as I tried to take pictures of her sharing her story.
While my children listened, trying to wrap their minds around a world where children share a toothbrush, eat less than three meals a day, and have no clue what an American definition of Christmas means, their hearts were impacted. My heart broke for the precious children yet to hear the name of Christ while rejoicing silently for the grace and mercy shown to this stunning young lady.
All because of a loved-filled shoebox with pretty paper.
Left abandoned by her parents, scavenging for food on their own, she and sister were taken to an orphanage. Conditions were not much better there. Through the hand of God, they were eventually adopted and moved to the United States. Now with a heart to reach children in similar circumstances, she spends her college breaks sharing her testimony of hope in Christ and the power of spreading the Gospel through a simple shoebox.
Until our homeschool co-op’s tour of the Operation Christmas Child processing center in Atlanta, Georgia, I only knew OCC outreach through shoe boxes. The story does not end with a beautiful box filled with toys and necessities.
That’s just the beginning.
The Greatest Journey is an evangelism outreach to all children who receive shoe boxes. The mission of OCC is more than a shoebox gift, it is sharing the Gospel and discipling children. “The Greatest Journey is a dynamic evangelism and discipleship program offered as a follow-up program to the shoebox gift. During a 12-lesson Bible study, young people gain a deeper understanding of what it means to have a relationship with Christ and how to share their faith with others,” explains OCC.
As many of our children in the United States are attending Vacation Bible Schools, children around the world are taking part in The Greatest Journey. Provided in their own language, The Greatest Journey is a powerful tool for local believers and missionaries. Currently, Samaritan’s Purse has trained more than 84,000 local teachers to use The Greatest Journey. More than 800,000 children in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are waiting to participate.
My children’s tour of the processing plant ended with receiving copies of The Greatest Journey and praying together with the OCC chaplain for those who would be receiving their own book. The shoe boxes we pack and wrap with shiny paper do not hold a candle to the light of the Gospel shared by those serving around the world to introduce the saving knowledge of Christ to others. Our boxes are seeds planted, a way to open the door, and bless a child. Let’s pray for the Gospel to be spread liberally, children to understand The Greatest Journey, and decisions for Christ worldwide.
This summer children around the world graduate from The Greatest Journey program complete with caps, gowns, and certificates. If would like to learn more, help provide textbooks, Bibles, teacher’s guides, and certificates, find out more here.
Kellie Renfroe founded Mentoring Moments in 2005 with two friends as a way to introduce women to the benefits of godly mentoring. Happily married for 23 years to Greg Renfroe, they have one daughter (14 years old) and three sons (19, 11, and 8 years old). Visit her new blog, Citizen Mama, follow on Facebook where she shares free Kindle books daily, and Twitter @kellierenfroe.
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We’re throwing back Thursday with a blast-from-the-past post and you can join in too! Link one of your favorite oldie-but-goodie homemaking posts from your blog with us on Thursday. Throughout June we’ll throwback on a different topic each week. Go ahead, dust those links off and let’s throwback!