Wednesday, December 26, 2012


On our lazy Christmas day I made an online order to buy some visors for our 2013 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and today I made some more purchases of pencils.  I love buying these things and knowing they will go to children who need them.

I was troubled, though, by an early-Christmas Eve conversation with someone close to me.  I was complaining a bit about a local charity that successfully  raises large sums of money to grant expensive wishes for children with life-changing health conditions.

The person quickly reminded me that I had no right to be negative about another organization, reasoning, "After all, you send a bunch of unethically manufactured stuff that's non-sustainable to poor children."  Ouch.  Maybe I deserved that.

Of course, this had me thinking all day, even as I combed the stores looking for good prices on "unethically manufactured stuff."

It's unexplainable to those who don't understand the truth that these boxes are more than simple gifts--they are opportunities for children to receive the message of the gospel.  The pencils and clothing and crayons and toothbrushes and toothpaste will be used up or wear out or be lost.

But the gospel message IS sustainable.  The hope that comes from the gift IS sustainable.

I do support Samaritan's Purse and other organizations who drill wells and build schools and provide other sustainable resources for the desperately needy people around the world.

I admit, though, that my main calling for some years now has been Operation Christmas Child.  While others have been called to pour their lives into providing clean water or medical care or education or food for those in need, God has clearly led me to this simple but complex ministry of packing gift-filled shoeboxes.

If some of the items I send in shoeboxes are not ethically manufactured, I am sorry for that.  I have a strong sense of God's desire for justice in all economic areas but I don't always know how to work that out in practical ways.  I will trust God to bring to my mind injustices that I need to participate in righting.

Meanwhile, I will unapologetically keep doing what God has called me to do.  The Bible talks often about how God loves to give good gifts to His children.  I think the same Lord who turned water into wine at a party--meeting not a sustainable physical need but a need for social pleasure--must be pleased to see precious children receive cuddly toys and new clothes in His name.

Bringing a sustainable gospel message with sustainable hope.


  1. Hi Kathy,
    I really enjoy reading your blogs and learning more about your OCC ministry activities. I am not an "official" OCC volunteer, but have been organizing our church's box collection for the past 3 years here in San Diego. I am also doing more and more shopping for deals on my own, too, which I love. I thought I read in an older blog that you use a tax-exempt certificate when you make purchases. Is that something that others of us who buy for OCC could do as well, or do you need to be officially affiliated with Samaritan's Purse? I expense it all at the end of the year, but I'd prefer to have that extra money to spend on more items. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks for your inspirational work and messages. Sincerely, Linda Beattie

    1. Linda, I use the tax exempt number from my church. I believe you can only use the OCC tax exempt number if you are an actually OCC employee (not a volunteer) but I am not absolutely sure about that.