The numbers are staggering. In 2013 a total of 9,985,210 children in 112 countries received a shoebox filled with gifts through Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse, a Franklin Graham outreach began this extraordinary program 20 years ago and First Baptist Church has been involved for 18 of those years. Worldwide over
113 million shoeboxes have been given out since 1993. It is said that if all these boxes were laid end-to-end they would extend over 23,000 miles, almost encircling the earth.
Jennifer Sylvester and Rachel Good co-chaired this project and on Sunday, Nov. 9, the church family — young and old alike — packed 106 boxes to join the millions that would fly around the world bringing Christmas joy to a child’s face.
On Nov. 16 the boxes were dedicated during morning worship. Once these 106 boxes are delivered to the drop off site in Caribou, they will be loaded on to a tractor trailer and driven to North Carolina. There the boxes are checked and sorted and divided up for delivery to refugee camps, orphanages, flood victims, hospitals around the globe. The packages travel by jumbo jets, sampans, rickshaws, panga boats, bicycles and on foot. A booklet telling the story of Jesus is included with each box and excited hands tear into them with glee.
“There is something very satisfying about the tangible task of filling a box with goodies to delight a child,” said Sylvester. “Monies are needed for mission work also, but the shoebox brings joy both here and there as its contents are revealed. That’s what keeps us doing this year after year.”