Operation Christmas Child kicks off campaign season

By TIM SINIARD
Posted 9/15/19

When children in other nations receive a shoe box filled with gifts from Operation Christmas Child, some just the cradle the highly decorated box, preferring to open it at home with their parents, while others immediately open it to see what treasures it contains.

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Operation Christmas Child kicks off campaign season

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When children in other nations receive a shoe box filled with gifts from Operation Christmas Child, some just the cradle the highly decorated box, preferring to open it at home with their parents, while others immediately open it to see what treasures it contains.

But most have one thing in common: it's likely the first time they have ever received a plush toy, a toy car or a book about the Gospel printed in their own language.

The boxes are delivered by workers and volunteers from Operation Christmas Child to children in nations such as the Republic of Georgia and South Africa. OCC is described as a "shoe box ministry," operated by Samaritan's Purse.

On Thursday, the organization hosted a project leader workshop and luncheon at First Baptist Church in Cleveland to kick off its season of assembling the shoeboxes. The luncheon featured speakers from the organization: OCC Student Operations Coordinator Mary Beth Canida and  Regional Maganer Kari Osborne.

All the children, according to Canida, are excited to receive the gifts.

“Some of them have never been given anything in their life,” Canida said.

Canida said a girl whose box contained a stuffed animal hugged her gift.

“That stuffed animal made her life,” she said.

Another girl cried as she held her box, not yet discovering what was inside.

“This is the impact you are making,” Canida said, adding that 1.7 million boxes have been delivered to children in the Republic of Georgia over the past 27 years.

 Osborne said the organization’s  mission is to “demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children around the world.”

“It’s a glorious mission of sharing the Gospel,” Osborne said.

Osborne said visiting South Africa is a “dream ministry,” but noted the extreme poverty caused by a 47% unemployment rate.

“That harbors hopelessness,” Osborne said.

However, one way to fight hopelessness was to help children around the world learn about the Gospel. In addition to containing toys, as well as products such as toothbrushes and school supplies, each box includes a copy of “The Greatest Gift,” which is a book about the Gospel printed in their own language. 

“This is what you are packing for,” she said.

Osborne said 87,000 young people have been enrolled in the organization’s Greatest Journey  Discipleship Program, which enables them to learn more about Christ’s love, as well as share it with others.

She said the program helps Christians spread the word of the Gospel as directed by the Great Commission — doctrine that stems from the instruction by Jesus Christ that Christians must spread His teaching throughout the world.

Osborne said the organization is reaching thousands of children each year and helping them to become Christians.

“It is working,” Osborne said.

For more information, visit https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/.

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