Operation Christmas Child is the largest programme in the world that reaches out specifically to children. As a progressive volunteer service OCC has adopted a whole new way to team up as a community to make an impact in the world.
On Wednesday 1st April at 7.30pm at The Lighthouse Francois Joubert, new North Island Area Manager for Operation Christmas Child, shared his enthusiastic vision for working together to increase further the impact of this programme. Those who attended were enthused, enlightened, inspired and challenged through videos, photos, stories and Francois' presentation.
Francois told several inspiring stories e.g.
A young boy who prayed about what to put in the shoe box he was filling and was convinced he had to put a hammer in it among its other contents. The depot staff who checked the box before it was sent thought it was a strange thing to put in but left it in. When the box was distributed the boy who randomly received it screamed when he opened the box. He and his family had been praying for a hammer so that his old brother, a carpenter who had all the tools he needed except a hammer, could work more effectively.
Francois also shared that the children who receive the boxes have probably never received any gifts previously in their whole lives, and often have nothing to call their own. When the boxes are processed a small booklet is included in them about "the Greatest Gift" - Jesus. When the boxes are distributed the children who receive them are invited to join a 12 week course called "The greatest Journey" which introduces them to the Gospel. During the course many of the children who attend bring along friends, family and neighbours. At the end of the course one in six of the children who received boxes make a commitment to Christ. (Statistics are not available about the number of others who have been brought along by these children who also make the same commitment.)
Francois said that last year several thousand boxes were sent from New Zealand and Australia into seven South East Asian and Pacific nations. Ten million were sent world wide. That means that statistically around 170,000 children made a commitment to Christ directly through the ministry of the shoe boxes! Plus all the family and friends who they brought along to the courses and who also made commitments but for whom no statistics have been kept.
Francois was previously a church Pastor for two decades. He shared that in all his years of pastoral ministry he never touched that many people's lives nor saw any where near that number come to Christ. His enthusiasm for this effective, global evangelistic outreach was very infectious to those who attended.
Shoeboxes can be filled throughout the year and are then collected at local depots from where they are sent to the national depot to be checked and the booklets inserted before being freighted overseas.