By Kevin Kindelin
Did you ever wake up one Christmas morning as a child all excited to run downstairs, upstairs, or no stairs, whatever the case may have been, to find nothing under the Christmas tree? Did you ever wake up to find no Christmas tree at all? Probably not. If you grew up in this area, you probably had more wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows remaining after you tore open your presents than you knew what to do with. Even if you grew up in a time or place that wasn’t so affluent, you probably still had a few gifts that made you feel quite special on Christmas morning, right? Yes, these were material things, but they represented your parents’ love and, ultimately, God’s love.
Now, imagine you lived in Uganda, Ghana, or some other seemingly God forsaken part of the world and your Christmas morning wasn’t about worshipping Jesus and opening up nicely wrapped presents found under a beautifully decorated tree, but trudging five miles or so to find water barely suitable enough for drinking. The children who live in these countries may know that their parents love them, but do they know God’s love?
That’s where we come in. Immanuel is partnering with Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization dedicated to providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world led by President and CEO Franklin Graham, son of world famous evangelist, Billy Graham. Operation Christmas Child is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse and the vehicle whereby we can extend the love of Jesus Christ to children all over the world. Operation Christmas Child sends shoeboxes filled with presents such as toys, school supplies, toothbrushes, combs, personal letters, and a variety of other small sized gifts to these children. Along with their shoebox gift, children also receive “The Greatest Gift,” a colorful presentation of the Gospel in their own language.
Immanuel‘s American Heritage Girls, Trail Life USA boys, 50’s Plus, and Thrivent are partnering to participate in a national challenge to pack boxes on November 7th in Fellowship Hall from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. This is open to the Immanuel community as well as the community at large. This gives us the opportunity to show children around the world who do not know Jesus that they indeed are not forsaken, that they are the children of a loving God. Trephina Bedell, Immanuel’s Children’s Ministries Coordinator, points out, “We are doing this to impact those who need to hear about our Savior’s love and compassion for them, both the packers as well as the receivers. This isn’t a one sided project; It affects everyone from those that donate, to those that purchase the items, to those that pack the items, all the way to delivering the presents to the kids and presenting the Good News to those in the field through the 12 week bible study program.”
For many children, their shoebox is the first gift they’ll ever receive. The presents and personal letters inside communicate that someone cares for them and gives them an opportunity to experience the love of God. After receiving their shoeboxes, children are invited to enroll in The Greatest Journey; a 12-lesson discipleship program where they learn from trained volunteers what it means to follow Christ and how to share their faith with others. Through the efforts of Operation Christmas Child’s National Leadership Teams and local believers, entire communities are being evangelized.
The girls in the Adventure Bible Class created a bulletin board about Operation Christmas Child that’s displayed in Fellowship Hall. Check out how many items can actually fit in these “shoeboxes.” Contact Trephina Bedell at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 847-359-1549 or visit the Operation Christmas Child page to learn more about how you can plant the seed of the love of Jesus Christ in a child’s life. Donations are welcome.