Monday, November 22, 2010


I am praising God for all He has done this year and this collection week. I read this morning in 2Chronicles 15:7 these words that are an encouragement. "But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded." God is rewarding our work in wonderful ways.

I hope to see all of you who can come at Chick-fil-A tonight at 6:00 to celebrate God's harvest. I want our time at CFA to be completely exciting and to that end, while we don't know the final total yet, I wanted to share some thoughts God has been working through in me. First of all, while we don't have final numbers and we know God can do ANYTHING today, it seems to me that outside of a miracle we won't reach the goal of 30,333.

So, like my GPS tells me, I'm 'recalculating'. My new goal is that God would give us at least 26,815 boxes--which would be a 20% increase over last year. As I looked at the numbers yesterday I was, at first, somewhat disappointed. We prayed hard over what goal to set last winter and I felt God was leading us to set the goal of 30,333. It seems like it would be in His will to grant that.

Yesterday I listened to a CD about the life of George Mueller who said that if God doesn't answer your prayer it's because He wants to give us something better. He believed that our GOOD God always does the best for us, even when it doesn't seem so to us. So how does that apply to our shoebox goal? At first I couldn't figure that out but then last night I looked at the truck at Covenant which is very nearly full. If God miraculously blesses us with another 3500 boxes today, what will we do with them? Are we prepared to handle that? We need to do some tweaking with our collection system and some re-evaluating in order to receive larger numbers, I believe.

On the other hand, everyone be on alert in case we have to put out an "all hands on deck call" today to process thousands of boxes!!!!!! It's not over yet but I wanted you to know my thinking before we get to CFA tonight. God has done GREAT things among us. To go from 11,999 boxes in 2007 in our first year as a team to whatever God brings to us by tonight is nothing short of miraculous.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Caught In The Middle

Here we are caught in the middle of National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child. I am eager to find out how many boxes have been collected so far in Northwestern PA but I don't really know. I've had reports from a few collection sites, but not all of them.

I love what's happening, though. I love watching the boxes pile up--knowing that each of them will be a 'gospel opportunity' for a child in another country. A child like little Mario in the picture above. We met Mario at an Operation Christmas Child distribution in the Dominican Republic and in this picture he's sharing a huge hug with my good friend, Kim Wilkins. The thing Mario found in his box that he liked the most was a picture of my friend, Sherry, who gave him the box. Try to include a picture in your box because the children truly cherish the pictures they receive.

Last night I worked at the Operation Christmas Child relay center at The Federated Church. A precious group of folks from McLane Church brought in 365 boxes and we were able to get them loaded into cartons. Some of them were so full (closed with multiple rubber bands) that they looked like round balls.

Then I stood in awe as a hoard of youth ran up and down the stairs carrying armloads of boxes that Pat and a few friends had packed all through last year--1043 of them.

The harvest is coming and we're caught in the middle. We don't know the end yet and, of course, we won't really know until we get to heaven. But there's nowhere else I'd rather be than standing in the field watching it happen.

And, like little Mario, I want to throw my arms around everyone who has packed a box, and give each of them a huge hug for making it happen.

There's nothing like being caught in the middle of such love.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

National Collection Week Eve--Thoughts on 1/2 Box

(click 'here' to see a wonderful 1-minute video about Operation Christmas Child)

This is it! Operation Christmas Child's National Collection Week starts tomorrow. Hundreds of people around the globe have committed to pray during this week for the collection and tomorrow at 2:00 PM will mark the National Moment of Prayer when people around the country will stop to ask God's blessing on the week.

This morning I had a blessed time speaking at Fellowship Baptist Church about Operation Christmas Child, then I packed a few more boxes. Yesterday I packed 92 to get the total packed for the year to 13,106 but I really liked the idea of the number 13,113, so I packed 7 more today to get to that grand total.

Then this evening I had a time of training with our new prayer team member. The eve of National Collection Week is the perfect time to get a new prayer team member started. When I got home I called some of our relay center coordinators to check in and see if everyone's ready for the week. The excitement sure is building.

Recently Randy Riddle sent an e-mail reminder that last year we missed our national goal by an average of 1/2 shoe box per collection site in the US. That got me thinking about the need for each of us to do our very best to get more people involved in packing boxes for OCC. With over 300 million people in the US, if we could get just 1 in every 30 to pack a box we'd have 10 million boxes.

Let's pray about that.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Prayer Worrier

An Operation Christmas Child friend of mine, referring to me in an e-mail, called me a 'prayer worrier'. I'm hoping that was just a typing error but it got me to thinking of how often I am guilty of praying but not truly releasing my burdens to the Lord. On the one hand, Jesus talked about the importance of continuing in prayer, of being importunate, as the King James Version puts it.

On the other hand, we need to pray in faith, believing that we have the requests we ask of Him. It's a balance, but I want to learn to trust even as I pray that God is hearing and answering.

And the answers to prayer for Operation Christmas Child just keep coming lately. I am blown away by God's goodness. For a few years I've been praying off and one for a larger church in our area, McLane Church, to pack boxes again for OCC. Last year their college group did about 50 boxes but this year, because one of our team members gave them a call, they decided to spontaneously distribute boxes at their service on November 7th. Pat Carter, the team member who originally contacted them, gave them 262 boxes. Rose Dobson, another member of our team, checked in at the church after the 9:00 service on the 7th and found all the boxes had been taken so she gave them 100 more. Those were all taken also. This is a direct answer to those of us who were praying for those boxes to be distributed FAST. Now people are using their own boxes and they're thinking they may collect close to 600!

We've been praying consistently all year long for God to give us 30,333 boxes from Northwestern PA. We couldn't see where they would come from but now He's starting to reveal it to us. On November 2nd we distributed boxes at Chick-fil-A. The deal was that anyone who brought in a filled box on November 9th would get a free chicken sandwich. I was disappointed on November 2nd when we only gave out 30 boxes but then I was elated on November 9th when God gave us a harvest of 100 boxes AND a spot on three news shows. Only You, God!

Though it's out of our area, God allowed me to hear of an Operation Christmas Child packing party organized by Christi Rupp, the wife of a player on the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, for wives and girlfriends of team members. They packed over 100 boxes on November 10th and in addition to blessing those children who will receive their boxes in big ways, they may also bring some added media attention to OCC.

Heather Rogers, our team's Church Relations Coordinator, works at Behrend College--the local branch of Penn State University. She said the other day in the cafeteria she saw a table set up where several campus organizations had banded together to collect items for Operation Christmas Child.

We're only 4 days away from the start of National Collection Week and I can't wait to see the harvest start rolling in. Those 30,333 boxes that have been objects of our prayer will now materialize and we'll see the evidence again of God's goodness.

I'm not worried.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

God Did It For Amaya!

I'm so excited that my six-year-old friend, Amaya, made the goal of selling 100 homemade Christmas ornaments for Operation Christmas Child. She had a big dream and a big faith in our Big God that made her unstoppable.

She took what she had and gave it to God, trusting Him to multiply it into more than she could imagine. Now she'll use the profits to finance the packing of gift-filled shoeboxes to bless needy children in other countries.

I'll try to post a picture later of the hand-drawn letter than accompanied the ornament I purchased. If you'd like to join in the project you can see my last blog posting for a link to her mom's blog.

If you want to learn more about Operarion Christmas Child, go to

I'm cheering for you, Amaya, and waiting expectantly to see what God's going to do through you next.