(Photos courtesy of Samaritan's Purse)
“I want to send a baby doll!”
“Can I send a princess coloring book?”
“What about a jump rope?”
From a young age, I remember hearing these questions from my siblings as we stood in the Dollar Store aisle. Our baskets were full of novelties and hygiene products. Our biggest issue with our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes wasn’t the need to fill it, rather it was to get it to stay closed.
As a child, there was something magical about serving those overseas. We were helping them learn about Jesus and enabling them to experience Christmas! But as I grew, the magic of shoebox ministry faded. I began to reckon with myself thinking, I did that in grade school. I can’t do that anymore. It’s something churches used to teach younger kids about the importance of giving.
But then, I started working for AFA.
Recently, a previous shoebox recipient, Dania, visited and told her story.
When Dania was born, her family was living in a Middle Eastern city where 97% of the population weren't believers. With the constant threat of war and persecution, Dania's parents knew they would have to leave to find a better life for their children. After the move, they found a church.
At five-years-old, Dania found herself craving love and worth. She thought if she were able to have new toys or clothes her emotions would be validated. One day she told her mom, “I just want something new to help me feel that I am valued.” Her mother quickly replied, “Dania, I know it’s hard for you to understand. Your dad and I can’t give you new things, but I know someone who can.”
Dania and her family couldn’t afford much. In fact, they had no form of television or radio to learn about what was going on in the world. Dania wanted to listen to a Christian radio station so bad, but they couldn’t afford a set. But they knew Someone who could make it happen.
She and her family began praying.
One day, when Dania arrived at church (an hour’s walk away), she began to see boxes stacked high. The box had a picture of a shoebox with wings. Dania thought, why does this shoebox fly?
But soon enough, she would see what was hidden in those boxes – hope.
She couldn’t wait to see if there was a box just for her.
After walking home for miles, Dania was able to open up her box. Inside she found gifts such as pencils, a coloring book, a calculator, stuffed bear, and soap that made the whole box smell divine. But as she looked through the box, she found a tiny radio.
Out of the millions of boxes, Dania and her family ended up with a radio. What are the odds of that?
When she finished her story, I was squirming. For the first time in my life, I realized the true power the Lord reveals to those who trust Him. Immediately, I was convicted of all the times I try to keep Him in a box.
I trust Him. But do I trust Him enough to send a box of Dollar Store gifts overseas? Do I truly believe that those gifts are what a child has been trusting Him for?
Diana had the heart of a prayer warrior. She had no way to purchase a radio, but she knew the Lord could make a way. She trusted His plan and timing and ended up with exactly what He saw fit. Yet, here I am wondering why it takes so long to go through the McDonald's drive-thru.
Dania said, “Even though we were poor, prayer made us feel rich.”
Do we as believers believe that the power of prayer is that mighty? Can we trust with our prayers like she trusted Him for a radio? Do we trust that he’ll be able to take care of our needs?
As fellow believers, we should take heart in Dania’s testimony and learn to trust the Lord with such courage. That relationship, payment, grocery trip, legal battle, is all within His reach, we just have to be willing to trust Him. That’s the real power of God we serve. So often in our world, we minimize His power and faithfulness. Even though, He’s spinning the whole-wide-world on its axis.
Through the ministry of Operation Christmas Child, hope is given to some of the world’s most hopeless children. Remember Dania’s story and be encouraged to pack a box. More importantly, I hope you pray for the children receiving the shoebox. This is a fun and easy way to be the light in the darkness. You can be the answer to the prayer someone has been waiting for. Will you?
(Dania with her OCC gifted radio)