What is Operation Christmas Child?

For me, Operation Christmas Child seems like its been around forever.

History of Operation Christmas Child boxesThat's probably because the idea of OCC started when I was in 1st grade. In 1990 the Romanian Revolution had just occurred, the Cold war was still going on, and the Iron Curtain had yet to come down. During this time, {October '90} a couple in Wales, Dave and Jill Cooke were watching a broadcast about an orphanages in Romania that were holding thousands of children, with an estimated 3,000 infected with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. They were broken by the footage and needed to know how they could help the children living in this war torn country in unfathomable living conditions everyday.

Knowing there was nothing a single couple from Wales could do to stop the war they decided to offer something they did have, the simple {yet profound} gift of Love. They ended up filling 9 trucks with medical supplies, food, clothing, and other Christmas gifts for the orphans of Romania. This simple act was the beginning of the largest children's Christmas program.


Just three years later, Franklin Graham, president of  Samaritan's Purse, adopted Operation Christmas Child. In the new book, Operation Christmas Child: A Story of Simple Gifts, Franklin Graham shares about the beginnings of OCC:

Shortly before Thanksgiving his secretary came into his office and said, “Do you remember that man from Britain that called you back in the summer asking for shoeboxes? He’s on the phone asking when you’ll be sending them—he’s leaving for Bosnia soon,”... After speaking with the man on the phone, Mr. Graham having forgotten about the need and was way behind on accomplishing such a project, called the senior pastor at Calvary Church in Charlotte, NC. When presented with the opportunity and the pastor offered to help however he could.

The request? “Get a shoebox and fill it with some little toys for kids—maybe some toothpaste and a toothbrush, a hair brush, and sock,” Graham suggested. “Take it to the pulpit on Sunday and show your congregation. Ask if they will help us collect shoebox gifts for the kids in Bosnia. And by the way, tell them to put a note inside with their picture so the child will know who the box is from—maybe some of the kids will write back.”

He also passed on the request to their executive director in Canada to see what kind of response you can get from a church up there and quickly forgot about the project again until after Thanksgiving when he got a return call from North Carolina.

In a surprisingly humorous conversation, Graham learned that not only had the NC church been able to collect a few hundred boxes in only two weeks, but they had received about eleven Thousand boxes that were now taking up space in their gym, foyer, and Sunday school rooms.

That's just where it started. {Numbers 23:23} Now the operation is run by thousands of families collecting gifts, numerous churches collect boxes all over the states, and multiple packing warehouses full of volunteers assuring the safety and appropriateness of the items in each box, adding a gospel pamphlet, and praying over EVERY box before sending out to other countries.

***Over the last 20 years, more than 61 million shoe boxes have been delivered
to more than 135 countries for children in need.***

"But it all started with:

One phone call
One request
One shoebox
One church
And one message about the Christmas Child
For one heart at a time
We pray that the heartbeat of the Gospel will stir the hearts of hundreds of millions more."

This just goes to show, finding where God is at work and joining Him rather than conjuring up our own grand schemes is much more fun and productive for His kingdom. Packing tiny shoe boxes with insignificant gifts would have never been thought to be an extremely beneficial idea long term. Something more grandiose is usually what we would gravitate toward. But no, God desires you to seek Him and where He wants to work and be glorified. When we are able to humble ourselves and chase after Him in the seemingly small things to be a part of something MUCH bigger than ourselves. So Cool!

The rest of this week, I plan to let YOU know how to be apart of something Much bigger than yourself. How to be apart of where God is already working. YOU can join this journey of sharing one profound truth that changes one life at a time.

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