Sweet smiles coming from Ukraine :)
Multiplying the Power of a Simple Gift
Operation Christmas Child begins a ripple effect among individuals and communities in Ukraine
Sometimes one selfless act of love can have a ripple effect on the lives of others, prompting them to reach out beyond themselves and touch the heart of another, no matter how small the gesture may seem.
That’s what made Christmas 2009 extra special for young Ivan Bogun.
The Ukranian boy received a gift-filled shoe box at an Operation Christmas Child party in his village. Ivan eagerly hurried home to show his mother the beautiful gifts he had received in the box, especially the shiny new toys. His eyes lit up as he continued to pull out pencils, a notebook, and toothpaste. He also handed her the little booklet that he received at the distribution telling the Gospel story.
Natalia rejoiced over her son’s excitement as he described the Christmas celebration in detail. During the event, Ivan and his friends heard a presentation about God’s gift of the Savior to the world. Hearing about the sacrifice Jesus made for him had left an impression on the young boy’s heart.
Later that day, Natalia was surprised when her son came to her with a worried look on his face. The elation from just hours ago had disappeared.
“What about the children who live on the streets?” he asked. “Someone gave me this box and this book. They don’t have any of these things.”
His mother suggested that he offer a gift from his shoe box to a needy child. Ivan’s countenance brightened. He gathered up his new toys and returned to her side a few minutes later with not just one, but the entire box of gifts.
Realizing her son was genuine, she set out with him on a walk through their neighborhood in search of a homeless child.
“He ended up giving his present to a boy in the community and told him about Jesus,” she said. “I saw that the gift which my child had received had created a desire in him to give to others.”
That same desire to give back was experienced this year in the tiny village of Bogomazy in southern Ukraine. After shoe box gifts were delivered to the children in December, one local church offered a follow-up discipleship program to boys and girls who wanted to learn more about Jesus. Five parents joined their children in the class.
Seeing the need for a ministry to adults in the community, the church embarked on an outreach program. Twenty adults came to faith in Christ, and a new church was planted.
But the impact did not stop there. Several men from the congregation felt led to minister to inmates at a nearby prison. Ten of the prisoners have since committed their hearts to Jesus, and now members from the new church take turns holding weekly services in the prison.
“So now two churches have started in Bogomazy—one in prison and one in the community,” said a member of the Operation Christmas Child National Leadership Team in Ukraine. “We are encouraged by the new openness of churches and the relationships they are building as a result of Operation Christmas Child.”
WAYS YOU CAN HELP
For the families, churches, and groups that will be packing shoe boxes this year, for the volunteers who will operate collection centers and work at processing centers, and for the children who will receive the gifts.
National Collection Week is scheduled for November 14-21. Samaritan’s Purse hopes to collect 8.5 million shoe boxes to deliver to children in some 100 countries around the world. Click here to order resource kits and other promotional materials for your church or group, and for more information about the program.
The Greatest Journey is an exciting discipleshiip program that teaches children to become faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Click here to help support this project.