In my post last week “How Shoeboxes Help Spread the Gospel,” I talked about how Operation Christmas Child provides children around the world with what might be their only opportunity to receive the Gospel message. I also shared pictures taken by a Focus staffer of the boys and girls in Senegal, Africa, as they received boxes.
One of the people who attended that trip was Damaris, a young woman who, herself, received a shoebox when she was 9.
I want to tell you about her.
Damaris grew up very poor in Communist Romania. They were tough years, to say the least.
Romania was opened to relief workers and volunteers after the Communist regime fell. It was at that time that Operation Christmas Child first entered the country. Soon, Damaris and her family received word that their small church in Lupeni would have shoeboxes delivered.
Damaris called the gift she received her “box of treasures.” It didn’t matter that the gifts inside were simple: a doll, hair clips and bows, a comb, markers, soap, toothbrush and paste, and a colorful notebook she would keep into adulthood. To her, those small gifts were priceless.
The family who had prepared her gift also included their picture – a mom, dad and two boys. There was no name or address, but they did include a verse and short note printed on the back:
This “treasure” box had a great impact on me. I learned that love always looks like something: love gives. “For God so LOVED the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16) I learned that by loving like Jesus, I need to give to others.
Damaris’ family eventually immigrated to Canada, a country that has an Operation Christmas Child office. Damaris now volunteers at the Kitchener-Waterloo location. She recently reflected on her participation in the program:
I want to continue the tiny seed one shoe box has placed in my heart: giving. I want to touch other children’s lives the way one special, carefully-packed shoebox has impacted mine. It is by giving that we reflect the love of Christ because when God LOVED, He GAVE…
… I represent millions of grateful faces. Thank you, Operation Christmas Child, that you, along with thousands of volunteers, GAVE!
It’s incredible how a simple shoebox filled by a caring family would impact 9-year-old Damaris so deeply and would encourage her to “pay it forward.” She was blessed, and she now blesses others. And as you look at these pictures of Damaris handing out gifts in Senegal, you can see the joy on her face. God is at work in her life just as much as He is in the lives of the kids who are receiving those gifts.
Operation Christmas Child’s shoebox collection week will be held from Nov. 18 to 25. There’s still time for you to plan a family trip to your local store and shop for little gifts that a child halfway around the world will count as treasures. It’s an opportunity to serve others as a family, and to teach your kids the importance of giving. Most of all, as a family you can pray that the little boy or girl who receives the box will one day come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Focus’ partnership with Operation Christmas Child includes a free PDF that explores the importance of serving others as a family or as a couple. It’s a great resource, jam-packed with informative articles, links to videos, and ideas on hosting a shoebox-packing party. You can access the PDF by clicking here.
Finally, for a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family, we will donate a musical plush lamb that Operation Christmas Child will include in the shoeboxes they receive. You can safely donate online.
I hope you’ll consider helping us support Operation Christmas Child this year – as you can see, the rewards are eternal!