Operation Christmas Child

ChristmasGiftsHC1512_M_150_C_Y 2

   For the seventh year, the Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church in Plevna will be a drop off site for gift filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Submitted by Jolinda Allerdings

Last year, individuals and groups from Fallon and Cater Counties delivered 276 shoe boxes to the church. The community is encouraged to bring their filled shoe boxes during National Collection Week, Nov. 16-20.

   On the Operation Christmas Child website many stories like this one tell how the gifts impact children around the world. Luis received a shoe box in Panama at age six. He wrote, “the stuffed lamb in my shoe box was the first toy I ever received. I still have it. It was really a treasure. It played a little song and was so beautiful. I used to pretend I was playing with a real lamb. After I finished playing with it, I always put it back inside my plastic shoe box.”

   Luis continued, “The most valuable items in my shoe box were school supplies: crayons, a pencil sharpener, pens, pencils, and notebooks. In Panama in 1996, if you didn’t have supplies, you could not go to school. That year I was able to use the pens, the pencils, the notebooks – everything.”

   The day before I received my shoe box, I was begging my mom to buy supplies so I could go to school. She said, “I can’t. I don’t have the money, but if you want you can pray.” We never went to church. We never talked about God, but that day she told me to pray. She said, “You can talk to God like He’s right in front of you, but you have to respect Him because He is the Lord.”

  I asked specifically for school supplies and the next day I was invited to a church. Inside the shoe box was a letter that said, “Jesus loves you and I love you, too.” That message broke my heart immediately. To receive that letter allowed me to see the spiritual message behind the box.

   We were nonbelievers and the shoe box helped us understand that God answers prayers. My mom said, “Now I know that God is real.” Even though I didn’t have a father, God is there for me. We didn’t have anything. I was hopeless. The shoe box allowed me to understand that God cared for me.”

   “My mother and my little sister became Christians right away, but I didn’t understand that I needed to follow Christ. Still the letter was always telling me, “He loves you. He’s waiting for you.” There were people telling me that God had a better plan for my life.

   “At 14, I realized that I needed Him and accepted Jesus as my Savior. The shoe box was the first seed that was planted in my life.

   “Today, I don’t have the pencils, but I have something that is more important because the Bible says, “the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:25, ESV). I just needed to know that He loved me, so the shoe box was a beautiful gift,” wrote Luis.

   Ruth Graham, Billy Graham’s wife, loved the idea of a toy lamb with a music box inside that played “Jesus Loves Me”. During the first few years of Operation Christmas Child, the Grahams found a supplier that made the lambs for many shoe boxes.

   “For children who are too young or too sick to enjoy other shoe box gifts, a lamb with a music box inside is a perfect gift,” wrote Ruth in the book, “Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts”.

   With children like these in mind, you are challenged to buy school supplies, small toys and hygiene items, and fill a shoe box. The Emmanuel Evangelical Free Church will be open Nov. 16 – 20 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. to receive the filled shoe boxes. The boxes will be hauled to Glendive where a truck will pick up the boxes and haul them to a processing site. They will then be shipped to one of 130 countries.

   Contact Jolinda Allerdings in the evenings at 406-772-5882 for a brochure describing how to pack a shoe box. For more information, connect to www.samaritanspurse.org.