I remember when Operation Christmas Child began. Franklin Graham (son of evangelist Billy Graham), president of Samaritan's Purse, an international helps ministry, came to Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside to dedicate the hundreds of piled-up, colorful boxes on the stage of the huge sanctuary. At least one of our now-grown and mostly-married children wasn't even born yet. But as soon as they were able to make their own selections as preschoolers on our annual trip to the nearby Kmart, they wanted to pack their own boxes. My parents always filled up a box or two, and my dad still makes up a box some years, or just comes to our house with the small shipping donation and his selections for the age of child he wants to send to. As our children have grown up, they and their significant others packed boxes too. Despite all of the special food, gifts, ministry, business and public Christmas celebrations we take for granted here even in difficult times, we don't forget children in war-torn countries whose only gift ever will be their shoebox.
Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 says,
Cast your bread upon the
For you will find it after many
Give a serving to seven, and also
For you do not know what evil
will be on the earth.
And these children have seen their share of the evil of this world!
When the two of us arrived, we stopped to unload some packed boxes from the Moreno Valley Chik-Fil-A, a Christian fast-food restaurant that has come alongside OCC nationwide. Then we checked in at the front desk and watched an instruction video on the sorting and packing process.we both determined to be inspectors, if the Lord would have it that so, because neither of us can lift much or do well at the twisting and pulling inherent with taking the strong packing tape and winding it around the filled boxes. and then packing 14 to 16 packed boxes into a huge one would just be too much lifting and stooping. As for God's decision on our jobs, Psalm 103:14 says, "He knows our frame; He knows that we are dust." Just substitute Dana and Gretchen in that verse, and you'll know why God mercifully gave us both inspector jobs!
I just loved checking the boxes' contents, dropping into the "inappropriate" pail chocolate candy that would melt, lotions, gels and any other liquids that could come open and ruin several boxes. We all regretted the necessity of removing bottles of bubble soap, because kids all around the world love blowing bubbles. But OCC's discards will be donated to local needy families. There is to be no waste in God's economy!
Every hour a pastor or ministry director would stop all activity in the huge warehouse to call us all to prayer. We were working this Boxing Day (unlike our English friends' holiday), and working hard for six hours, but it was an honor to play a tiny role in this undertaking, and time just flew by.
Corporate prayer at our work stations put everything we did in perspective: Operation Christmas Child is truly GOD'S work!