My church participates in Operation Christmas Child (OCC) every year and we are a designated shoebox drop-off site….meaning we receive shoeboxes from many locations such as church, scouting groups and individuals. We then pack all of the donated filled shoeboxes and put them in large cartons that hold about 50 shoeboxes. We then place these cartons onto a semi-truck bed which will transport them to the one of the Operation Christmas Child sorting centers around the country. Check out their website at the link above to learn more about this incredible process and to watch videos of children all over the world receive their shoeboxes…it will warm your heart and bring a tear to your eye.
The last few years I have not been able to participate very much due to family illnesses that always seem to crop up during collection week. This year my husband decided we should just donate empty shoeboxes and pay the cost of shipping but let volunteers pack them for us. Then, two days before the end of collection week, the Lord spoke to my heart and prompted me to pack a single box. Never before had I so prayerfully and intentionally packed a OCC shoebox. I felt led to pack a box for a girl in the 10-14 year old range and I prayerfully picked out items that I thought she would enjoy.
The OCC website talks about placing one “wow” item, a really special gift, in your box along with practical items like toiletries and smaller fun items. I decided to make my “wow” item a bracelet that I crocheted. I made two identical bracelets…one for her and one for myself. I included a photo of myself wearing my bracelet and holding up the second one. As I was praying for the “girl who would receive my shoebox” I thought that it was too impersonal to pray that way so I asked the Lord to lead me to a name that I could call her during my prayers and I believe He led me to the name Ailish…which is pronounced Aye-lish and is an old Irish name which means “God is my oath”. I wrote her a letter and told her that I am praying for her by “name” and that even though I do not know her real name, God in Heaven does know her name and that she is so precious to God that He even knows the number of hairs on her head!
A few weeks later, as I was praying for Ailish and wondering if the gifts that I had packed would really amount to any real meaning in her life God reminded me of a Bible study that I had just finished participating in with my women’s group at church. It was on Gideon and the Holy Spirit impressed upon me that just as “Gideon’s army used the uncommon weapons of trumpets, torches and empty clay pots to bring victory over the Midianite army so will I use the simple gifts in a shoebox as an uncommon weapon in the life of Ailish. They will be weapons against loneliness, against insignificance, against darkness & despair and through them I bring joy, hope and love.”
A really wonderful option with the OCC shoebox is that you can print a special label that will allow you to track your shoebox as it gets sorted; you will be able to know what country your shoebox is shipped to! My shoebox was shipped on November 30th to the West African country of Togo! Now I can learn more about the country where Ailish lives and be able to pray not only for her but for the needs of her country too! What a great & mighty God I serve!
Thank you LORD for the amazing things You can do with an obedient heart and a shoebox! Thank You for all of the “uncommon weapons” in all of the shoeboxes that have been delivered this year!