Thursday, July 24, 2014

What A Difference A Decade Makes

This morning I read Psalm 18:49--"Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O Lord, and I will sing praises to Your name."

Since people from different nations read this blog it's a perfect place to give thanks to the Lord among the nations....and so....I want to give thanks and sing praises to His name.

Lucky for you, I'm not going to actually sing, but you get the idea.

I found this picture in an old Bible a few weeks ago.  It's a picture of a bulletin board I created at my old church in 2003 and it announces the Operation Christmas Child shoe box goal we were praying for that year.

The goal was God-sized.  After all, we'd only packed 796 boxes the year before in 2002.

But we prayed and trusted and watched God provide.  Every purchase was lovingly recorded in my simple notebook.

I was so excited when God provided notebooks at WalMart for .10 each and crayons for .15 and when I found large tubes of toothpaste for .69 each.

Ultimately, by God's grace, we packed 1,234 boxes.  Loved that number!  And it was a 55% increase over 2002.

I was ecstatic.  God was gracious to let me exult in the victory.  He didn't tell me then that a decade later we'd be packing over 22,000 boxes in one weekend.  That would have terrified me.

Instead He led us little by little--to 1,780 the next year and then to 2,240 the next and to 3,100 the next.  Increasing first by hundreds and then by thousands, with Him providing all the way.

Also in 2003 I went to an Operation Christmas Child informational meeting and filled out an application to become a volunteer.  I was never interviewed and never had any more verbal contact with our regional office, but I received a training manual and a certificate signed by Franklin Graham that proclaimed me trained as a "Promotional Partner."

I got a shirt in the mail every year but it wasn't until 2007 when I met Leigh Fisher and interviewed for a position as a volunteer Area Coordinator that I really got connected.  Things were different a decade ago.

And in 2003 we got an official OCC Collection Center in Erie for the first time. I believe they collected about 7,000 boxes that year.  That, too, has changed, with 40,000 coming out of Erie in 2013.

Year by year God gives the growth.  Pushing us.  Growing us.  Every year doing something new.

At our OCC area team meeting last night we joked that "We never do the same thing twice."  Last year, for example, I thought I had the perfect supplier for soap and toothbrushes and planned to use them again.  Instead, we got our soap and toothbrushes from totally different places this year.

Some things stay the same, though.  I still lovingly record every purchase on lined paper in my simple notebook.

And, still, God always provides.

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