Sunday, November 1, 2015

Packing Party Perfection

As the song says, "It's the most wonderful time of the year"--Operation Christmas Child packing party time, that is!  You know, there's almost nothing I would rather do than be at a shoebox packing party.  Some people pay a lot of money to watch a football game or attend a Broadway play, but I'm sure I'd be willing to pay just as much to go to a packing party.

And tonight's was something special.  I first met Pastor Daryl from Flagship Free Will Baptist Church two summers ago at their church rummage sale and since then I've been praying for them to begin participating in Operation Christmas Child.

This year, through the wonders of Facebook, I made contact with the pastor who invited me to speak at their church.  Yeah, it probably would have been easier if I'd called him instead, but considering my aversion to phone calling I have to depend on prayer and a dose of social media.

I had such a great time speaking there and that's where I met Amanda who I learned had been at most of our previous community-wide packing parties with her Girl Scout troop or her family.  You can read my blog post about that day by clicking here.

That day God gave Amanda a vision for a packing party at her church and today, through hard work, prayer, a supportive church family, and God's grace, that vision came to life.

We started the evening upstairs in the church worship area with an OCC video and the pastor's crucial reminder to everyone to pray as they packed.  Then Amanda shared from her heart and gave some brief instructions.

She'd prepared for all the details:  All 200 boxes were folded, signage in place, and items sorted and stacked on tables as the 34 in attendance lined up to begin.   And then it just took off.  The lines moved like a well-oiled machine (well, a machine that prays) and she had volunteers stationed at the end to inspect the boxes and mark the age groups.

The pile of boxes was depleting quickly and I noticed the stuffed animals were, too.  So I offered to make the short one-mile drive to my house to bring some from my stash.  By the time I returned they were down to just two boxes.

I headed to retrieve another carton of GO boxes from my car and we started folding them.  Less than 15 minutes later Amanda was supervising as the last box was packed.

And the final total?  251 amazing gospel opportunities packed by 34 people in just 45 minutes.  How great to see them all pose for a picture by those stacks of precious boxes.

This was the body of Christ at work--young and old and even one special little guy who is battling brain cancer--all praying and giving and working together to send God's love to children around the world.

Tonight, Amanda shared this as a Facebook comment, "I'm speechless, blessed, and overwhelmed. I have a great church family. They didn't question my crazy idea of a packing party. The Operation Christmas Child project is so near and dear to my heart. In the beginning (7 years ago) it was just something fun and great to do with my Girl Scout Troop. This year I started going to church and learning more and more about God and his grace. This year as Kathy Schriefer visited our church, the first thing that came to my mind was a packing party. Second was what the real meaning behind the boxes. The boxes were giving kids hope with teaching the gospel of Jesus. This year I had an opportunity to host a packing party. The results are amazing. I'm so blessed. 
"I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said it is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35
Really, what could be more perfect?

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