Making our way through the store aisles my kids call to each other. “I think she will love this doll.” “I’m sure he doesn’t have a ball. He can throw it with his friends.” “She probably needs a pair of socks.”
Each holding a shopping basket, they search for treasures to buy for a child their age. They don’t know their name or where they live. “Mom, isn’t it so cool that God already knows who will get these things?”
Every November for the past eight years we have bought gifts for children in unknown places. We gently place them in shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child. They give the boxes to children who need to know the depth of Jesus’ love.
Finding the toothbrushes and toothpaste they slide off each package determined to find the perfect color. “Don’t forget the soap. Here’s a washcloth. Do you think my child lives in an orphanage?”
Weeks before our annual shopping day we dream of what a child in a far-away country may need and perhaps quietly tell God. We pray and ask the Giver of every good gift to show us what to buy to fill the shoeboxes. He already knows who will hold the precious gifts, and He can tell us what to purchase for them.
Is it too amazing to conceive that the Creator knows and loves each person so intimately that He can place into their hands a gift that exactly meets their needs and desires?
Last year as we gathered our presents in the shopping cart, our youngest was adamant that she needed to buy flip-flops for her little girl. “Sweetheart, that is such a good idea, but we don’t know where your shoebox is going. What if it goes to a country where it is cold most of the year? You don’t even know what size the girl wears.”
Sadness crept around her mouth and eyes as she looked for other things to fill her box. Every aisles we perused she plead, “Mom, I really want to buy some flip-flops.” Bending down I looked straight into her loving and innocent eyes. “Do you think God wants you to buy flip-flops?
“Yes, I really do. I think my girl needs some flip-flops.” “Ok, then ask God what size she needs, and you can buy some.” Without noticing the other shoppers watching, in the middle of the aisle, my little girl bowed her head, closed her eyes and folded her hands and whispered, “God, please tell me what size she needs.”
Looking through the flip-flops she pulled off pink size 2 flip-flops. I have no doubt a little girl who wears size 2 shoes received her shoebox, and was mesmerized by the beautiful flip-flops. Jesus spoke love into this little one’s heart.
Pouring everything on the floor, our children organize the gifts into shapes and sizes. The joy of giving exudes all over their faces. “I really think my boy needs this hat.” “My girl will like this flashlight. We better put in some extra batteries.” “I know my girl loves pink.”
Fitting each carefully selected present into every tiny space is like completing a puzzle. They help each other put things in plastic bags to make more room. Laughter fills our house as they talk about the children who will find surprises inside each box.
Perhaps on a cold, blustery day somewhere in the far north or hot, steamy day in South Asia, children will hold the boxes in anticipation. They will wait patiently as someone shares with them that people in America love them enough to send special presents. Children will listen in silence as they hear how these people so far away love Jesus, and they want them to know how much He loves them too.
The sweet children hold more than a shoebox. They hold the love that compelled Jesus to come to earth to be born as a baby, die as the Savior and rise to conquer every barrier between heaven and earth.
This is collection week for Operation Christmas Child. There are collection points across the country as Samaritan’s Purse gathers the boxes together to ship to the ends of the earth. We donated online so we can follow our boxes. We will receive an e-mail in December or January telling us the destination of our boxes. Knowing the country we can picture the children and surroundings.
If you would like to send a shoebox, click here for the Samaritan’s Purse website. You can even “Build a Box” online.
The love in the box can change a child’s life.
Copyright © words and photographs by Jane Carole Stein