EXcitement, joy & love
Tomorrow we will start checking boxes in the Wirral Warehouse. These are some thoughts that I plan to share with the other volunteers followed by a brief time of prayer. Please take a little time today to pray for all of those who will be involved in the Operation Christmas Child campaign this year.
As we start checking boxes today I thought it would be lovely to share a poem that is more usually read out after Christmas.
The work of Christmas by Howard Thurman
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among the people,
To make music in the heart.
Each box that is wrapped, packed, checked and eventually shipped, will be received by a child who may be lost, broken, hungry, or have parents or siblings who are prisoners.
They may live in a war-torn nation or a refugee camp.
They may have never experienced peace.
They may have forgotten the joy of music.
A shoe-box filled with gifts is not going to make all of the horrors in their live go away but for just a short time they will experience the pure joy of knowing that somewhere someone cares.
For perhaps the first time in their lives they will have “things” that belong to them alone.
For those of us who have been collecting, sewing, knitting, crafting and so many other good works all year it may seem that we never stop thinking of Christmas. But the next few weeks are probably the hardest work that many of us do all year!
This Poem reminds us that the work of Christmas is just beginning. Right now.
I have assemblies to do at my daughter’s school tomorrow. While looking for inspiration in some of the original training materials that I was given by Samaritan’s Purse when I first trained as an OCC presenter I came across this. I will be reading it….
Our Lord, Creator and Sustainer of all our lives,
We come before you today to pray for the children…
Who sneak biscuits before tea-time,
Who erase holes in math’s workbooks,
Who can never find their shoes.
And we pray for those who stare at photographs from behind barbed wire,
Who can’t run down the street in a new pair of trainers,
Who were born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead,
Who never go to the pantomime,
Who live their lives in an X-rated world.
We pray for children, who bring us sticky kisses, and a fistful of dandelions,
Who hug us in a hurry, and forget their lunch money.
And we pray for those who never get pudding,
Who have no comfort blanket to drag behind them,
Who watch their parents watch them die,
Who can’t find any bread to steal,
Who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
Whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s refrigerator,
And whose monsters are very, very real.
We pray for children who spend all their pocket money before Tuesday,
Who throw tantrums in the supermarket
and pick at their food,
Who like ghost stories,
Who hide dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the bath,
Who get visits from the tooth fairy,
Who don’t like to be kissed outside school,
Who squirm in church and yell down the phone,
Whose tears we sometimes laugh at, and whose smiles can make us cry.
And we pray for those, whose nightmares come in the daytime,
Who will eat anything their hands can find,
Who have never seen a dentist,
Who aren’t spoiled by anybody,
Who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
Who live and move, but have no being.
We pray for children who want to be carried, and for those who must,
For children we do not allow to be born, and for those who are born, but not allowed to truly live,
For those we never give up on, and for those who won’t have a second chance,
For those we smother, and for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.
We pray for all these children whom Jesus loves, and especially for those who haven’t heard of Him.
All these prayers we offer in the name of Him who came as a little child, and became poor for our sakes,
Our Lord, Jesus Christ,
Today we are praying for OCC, and so I thought I’d share how I became involved in this amazing, live-changing charity
In June 2005 I went to church for the first time in over 20 years to ask for prayer for my brother who had been in coma for 13 days. I knew nothing about the particular church other than my good friend Heather went there. She had spoken to the pastor – the church prayed, John opened his eyes the next day – prayer answered! John was and remains paralyzed from the waist down – but he is alive.
I was hooked and continued to attend church. In October of that year, one of the church ladies asked for volunteers at the shoebox warehouse – I readily agreed thinking that I could afford 3-4 weeks per year. No-one warned me about shoebox addiction ;).
By the end of the campaign I had signed up to do schools talks but thought nothing more about it until I was invited to go to some presenter training, that required becoming a registered volunteer – I filled in the form and sent that off. Did the training and that year I gave some presentations and volunteered at the warehouse. But God had much bigger plans for me.
As a registered volunteer I received an invitation to the SPI/OCC conference. I had a 7 year old daughter, did not think that my partner would be happy for me to leave them and so did not ask … but I didn’t throw away the conference leaflet. It “floated” up and down in the piles on our dining table eventually being picked up by said partner who simply asked “Are you going to this?” Of course I said yes. The thought of getting away on my own for the weekend was, I confes, a big factor!
For several months before the conference I had felt like I was walking along a path at the edge of a cliff, I knew that I had to stop and somehow step off the cliff. The cliff was my old, safe, known, life – I needed to step out in faith and allow God to catch me. I “knew” that God would not let me fall – but I couldn’t let go, it meant not being in control; not knowing what would happen next; not knowing whether my life would change and whether I’d have to let go of things and people who were precious to me.
I went to the conference praying that God would help me to take the step but acknowledging that all things are in His time not mine. Friday night passed with praise and good fellowship among the delegates – I had found another few hundred family members…….
On Saturday morning we sang “Lord I lift Your Name up high” and as I sang the lines “…from the Earth to the cross, my debts to pay” I was struck by the awesome meaning of those simple lines – Jesus had died for ME, it was my sin which had nailed Him to the cross, He lived and died to save me.
God had reached out and without me knowing it; He gently helped me to step off the cliff. At that moment Jesus became as real to me as the people around me. I was completely overwhelmed by a feeling of closeness to God and a need to repent and be forgiven. I went back to my room and wept…….
The rest of the day was a rollercoaster of emotions – I attended workshops and seminars on Biblical topics and Samaritan’s Purse projects. Through it all I kept coming back to the awesome knowledge that Christ had died for me. From the despair that I felt when I realised how unworthy I was, came the amazing understanding and freedom that God had forgiven me, and that I must now honour His gift to me by giving my life to Him.
I went to the conference unsaved and came back reborn. A few weeks later I was baptised and later that year I finally persuaded my partner of many years to become my husband.
In 2005 I found out the power of a simple shoebox – it has transformed my life.
A Christmas list with difference, not things I want but things I would love to give away.
This is not all my own work but has been collated over the last 9 years of my shoebox obsession. My sources are SPI/OCC – websites and FB pages, fellow volunteers, and also the many boxes that I have checked with joy. It is really such a privilege to share the joy of these boxes filled with love and to know that each one will make a difference to a child who may have never received a gift or even love.
Enjoy and happy shoeboxing.
What should go in a shoe-box?