Saturday, October 30, 2010

Amaya's Operation Christmas Child Dream

There's nothing like having a big dream from God and then seeing Him do what only He can do. This week I had a special blessing in my Operation Christmas Child life. I was able to meet a new online friend--a six-year-old named Amaya who has one of those big dreams.

Amaya wants to pack more boxes for needy children through Operation Christmas Child and in order to finance that project she is creating and selling homemade Christmas ornaments. Her goal is to sell 100 and as of last night the count was at 72. Won't you invest just $5.00 (plus $1.50 shipping) and help her reach her goal?

click here to see Amaya's project

You can pay on her site via PayPal by clicking on the button, but if you don't have PayPal, e-mail me at for the address to mail in your payment. And when you hang Amaya's ornament on your tree this year you'll have a tangible reminder of how a mighty God can take our small dreams and use them for His glory.

Oh, by the way, Amaya's original goal was to raise $10,000 for Operation Christmas Child. I would love to see God do that just because He can.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

99% Is Not Enough

Check out this boy from Uganda and the joy he gets from his Operation Christmas Child shoebox BEFORE he even opens it. No wonder I love this ministry so much!

Things are really kicking into high gear as we're only 18 days away from National Collection Week--the time when we harvest all the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes for the year. Life is busy and I wonder constantly if I'm doing the right things with my time.

God has provided great sales on summer clearance items over the past two weeks and I've amassed more than 1100 pieces of clothing for next year's boxes as well as a lot of summer toys. It takes a lot of time to buy it and record it and store it all and I worry that that's taking too much time away from the things I'm supposed to be doing as Area Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child here in Northwestern PA.

This week God blessed us with an application for a prospective team member and now I need to call her and begin the interview process. We don't have any members on our team to take care of media so I have a lot of press releases to send out also. And I need to contact our collection center coordinator in Erie to see about getting training done for our new relay centers.

The most fun part of this season of the Operation Christmas Child year, though, is seeing God answering prayer right and left and up and down. Last weekend our Area Coordinators from the five states in the Mid-Atlantic Region all submitted prayer requests for events happening in our areas over the weekend. What a joy it's been this week to hear of all God's doing all around. There's nothing I'd rather be doing.

And as I wonder if I'm doing enough to promote Operation Christmas Child, I wonder what could ever be enough. If we could reach 99% of the children around the world, that would be pretty amazing. But I've been thinking how even an amazing 99% wouldn't be enough.

99% wasn't enough for Jesus who told of a shepherd who would leave 99 sheep to go and find that ONE who was lost. Jesus Himself is that good shepherd and He calls us to follow Him to find even ONE.

So no matter how large the ministry of Operation Christmas Child becomes, as long as there is ONE child left on earth who doesn't personally know God's love our work cannot be done.

As hard and tiring and sometimes frustrating as it can be, we need to get into that 'easy yoke' with Jesus and keep on looking for ONE MORE box for ONE MORE child.

Even 99% is not enough.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Multiplying Miracles

I am so amazed by all God is doing here for Operation Christmas Child in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Two years ago in 2008 we had a total of 15,015 boxes from our three counties at the end of National Collection Week. This year, we have just about that many packed already and collection week hasn't even begun. This is a blessing we never anticipated--a multiplication mystery we can't explain.

We're also learning that God's answers to prayer come in His time, not ours. In 2009 one of our ministry goals was to make contact with the Boy Scout and Girl Scout councils in our area to inform them about Operation Christmas Child. Though we prayed for this last year, we never saw it happen. This year, however, our new prayer team member, Priscila Mirone, is involved with the local Girl Scout council and presented the program to them. We had about 100 Girl Scouts come out to help at the packing party and some of them are now packing boxes in their own troops.

Our new community relations team member, Tracey Berger, is involved with the Boy Scouts. Two days ago she went to their local council and asked if it would be possible to distribute information about Operation Christmas Child to all the local troops. They told her it would have to be approved at a meeting which wouldn't be held until the beginning of November--too late for them to get involved before National Collection Week. Well, God had other plans and by His grace the Boy Scout council sent out an e-mail yesterday to all troop leaders encouraging them to get involved in Operation Christmas Child. Now we're praying that God will multiply this opportunity and bring in many more 'gospel opportunities'.

I think of all the children around the world who are waiting for shoeboxes and pray that God will move multiple people to pack boxes and multiply our harvest beyond 8.5 million this year.

I can't wait for the miracle.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Operation Christmas Child Packing Party Video

The video of our Operation Christmas Child packing party here in Erie on September 25th that was produced by a crew from Samaritan's Purse is up on YouTube. We packed 12,670 boxes that day and the video perfectly portrays the energy and chaos of the day juxtaposed with the calm and peace of the meaning in what we were doing. I especially like the scenes of us praying around the truck for the boxes.

Meanwhile, God's using the packing party in ways I didn't expect. Yesterday I had a phone call from Jeannie in Colorado. I've never met her but she saw the video of the packing party and looked up my number online. Jeannie's sweet daughter Aubry drowned in 2009 when she was 3 & 1/2 years old. In her memory Jeannie is planning a shoebox packing party on November 18th (Aubry's birthday) and wondered if I had any ideas for her. I really didn't--except to say that God provides for every person in different ways. We were able to pray together and I KNOW God has great plans for the boxes she'll pack in Aubry's name.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Planning Ahead

On Tuesday I made my first major purchase for next year's Operation Christmas Child giant packing party. I bought 12,000 small tubes of toothpaste and 12,000 toothbrushes just like the ones shown above. I figured I needed to get them while they were still available from the warehouse dealer in my town who offered to sell them to me.

Last night I had a casual meeting at Panera Bread with Heather Rogers, Elizabeth Randolph and Kristin Hesch from the OCC Area Team to debrief about this year's packing party. I reminisced with Heather and Elizabeth, who've been working with me on OCC since 2004, about those first meetings of our Wesley Church OCC team then and how we worked all year to pack 1,780 boxes. This year we did more than 7 times that many (such a perfect number). It's probably a good thing God didn't reveal to us then how far He would take the project or we'd likely have been terrified. He is so gracious to lead us step by step.

We talked about some of the things we need to do to improve the packing party for next year--having assigned supervisors for areas of responsibility; designating key volunteers in advance and having a training session; developing a video that we can show on a loop to orient new guests about how to pack boxes. But even as we talked about needed changes I couldn't get over how amazingly well God blessed us that day despite our lack of human planning and preparation.

While we want to make things better for next year, we always face the unknown because every year brings different challenges. For example, we don't know now what kind of boxes we can get for next year so it's hard to plan for labels and how to pack the cartons more efficiently. We don't know how many items God will bless us with and how many boxes we'll be able to fill.

I never want to come to the point where I think I have everything planned adequately in advance. I want to always be in a place of dependence upon God to make it happen. I don't want to see what we as humans can accomplish. I want to see God do what only He can do and stand in amazement.

Last night I interviewed a new relay center coordinator for our team and today I will interview another. We prayed for three new relay centers this year and God provided them through prayer alone. He gave the contacts in wonderful ways and our Operation Christmas Child collection network in Northwestern PA is growing because of His goodness and provision.

So what am I planning for next year? I'm planning ahead to see God show up and amaze us again.

What a plan!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

On the Samaritan's Purse Website

If you want to know more details about the Operation Christmas Child giant shoebox packing party, here's a link to an article on the Samaritan's Purse website. Valerie Davis did a great job of capturing the essence of that wonderful day.

Seeing God do what only HE could do on September 25th was just another fleshing out of what God told Paul, "My strength is made perfect in weakness." God proved that again. I stand in awe.