In the slums of the coastal city of Alexandria, Marina, 11, attended an Operation Christmas Child outreach event where she received a gift-filled shoebox. Brimming with toys such as a stuffed clownfish, a puzzle, a pen, and a stuffed cat dressed in purple overalls, the gift from someone far away delighted her heart.
"The thing I liked most from the box was this cat called Bundle," Marina said. "I love it very much."
But Bundle was far from the most important gift she received that day. She also learned about God’s free gift of salvation at the outreach event, and it prompted her to make a signficant decision.
“When I accepted Christ, it changed my whole life.”
Marina went on to participate in follow-up discipleship lessons where she learned about how to follow her newfound Savior and share Him with others by studying 12 Bible stories including creation as well as Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. She said, "Each lesson, I actually learned something new about God."
Now seven years later, Marina teaches these same discipleship lessons to other shoebox recipients at her church. She does so because she desires others to have the same input in their lives as she received and called, "Wonderful!"
She also still keeps her shoebox gift intact with all the items inside it to remind her of God's great love for her. Marina said, "It's not easy to keep something for seven years, but because I like it, I did!"
In addition to opening her heart up to God, the shoebox gift taught Marina a significant lesson about giving.
"I think the whole idea is that if I send something to someone, I don't have to appear," she said. "I don't have to be the one that gets the credit, but God can send me something from someone I don't know and it can change my life."
“I don't have to be the one that gets the credit, but God can send me something from someone I don't know and it can change my life.”
Marina is one of 200 million shoebox gift recipients and 50 million children discipled, but millions more boys and girls around the world need to discover God's love for them, just as she did. God can use you to help change the lives children like her simply by packing a shoebox! National Collection Week is coming Nov. 13-19, 2023 when more than 300 sites will be open across the country to receive your prayerfully packed gifts.
Read more on the early years of Operation Christmas Child.