Dear Samaritan’s Purse,
Thank you for Operation Christmas Child, the ministry you have faithfully implemented for almost 30 years. Your ministry helped me, my now-grown children, and the children I teach at church, to:
- recognize my first-world biases related to Christmas shopping
- organize my perspectives and priorities before the Christmas season
- challenge our ideas of what a Christmas gift should be
- identify our first-world mentality, which expects treats, not necessities, as gifts
- present the concept, often inconceivable to first-world children, that many people never receive gifts
- share the true Christmas gift of Jesus as we pack the boxes
- identify how Operation Christmas Child shares the gift of Jesus with shoebox recipients
- demonstrate a way to participate in missions around the world
At first, the children think I am silly when I ask if they get toothbrushes, pencils, or soap as gifts. They cannot comprehend that hygiene and school items are anything other than necessities automatically provided by parents. The reality that there are children in the world who don’t have these items is hard for our first-world children to grasp. We talk about gratitude and not taking necessities for granted. Teaching gift-giving to preschoolers is a challenge. We talk about giving gifts, letting go of the toy they grabbed, saying goodbye to the toy, and closing the box. The older grade-school children can discuss poverty and how that affects gift-giving.
For every level of understanding, Operation Christmas Child helps teach important lessons on gratitude, appreciation, sharing, prayer, and missions. We pray for the kids who don’t know Christ: as I buy the items, with kids as we pack, and later when we find out where the boxes will be delivered. Sharing Jesus’ love is the biggest gift of all, an important lesson to emphasize for both children and adults.
Thank you for the structure of your organization, the planning that goes into shoebox deliveries, and the dedication of those who bring the love of Jesus along with the physical gifts. What a treat that we can now follow the boxes online! This year, I plan to bring in a globe and show my Sunday school students the shoebox delivery countries.
Thank you, Operation Christmas Child workers, that you do not just drop off boxes and run away. Thank you for presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ to entire families before you distribute shoebox gifts. I especially appreciate that we can donate toward the follow-up discipleship lessons. What a blessing that you connect the gift-receiving families with a local church, where they can hear more about the truth of Jesus Christ. The entire ministry of Operation Christmas Child is centered around bringing Jesus to the world. And even if children cannot go on missions, you provide an opportunity to connect and share Christ’s love with children around the world.
Nothing reframes my Christmas priorities better than filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Thank you for your ministry!
[Originally posted November 2021]