God used an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift packed with love to transform a young girl's life in Honduras.
Ivanna Ramos was looking for a miracle.
Ivanna, 12, lives with her single mother and three siblings down a dusty dirt road on the island of Roatán, Honduras. Her father left the family years ago, after lots of “arguments and fighting,” she said. “We always had problems for no reason.” The conflicts and her dad’s departure took a heavy toll on Ivanna and put her on a “lost path,” searching for the love of a father who was no longer around.
A short walk down the road from Ivanna’s modest concrete house is Iglesia Misionera Cristo Mi Fortaleza (Christ My Fortress Missionary Church), a single-room cement block structure with a thin tin roof and small dirt floor. Ivanna and her family didn’t attend church, but Ivanna admired the people who did and wanted to come someday.
“Only God Could Reach Me”
When Ivanna was 9, a friend invited her to an Operation Christmas Child festive outreach event at the church. She thought maybe she would find the miracle she was looking for at the gathering. When she arrived, she was instantly delighted by the joy she felt as the boys and girls sang songs of praise. She listened intently as she heard how God loved her so much that He gave His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for her sins on the cross. Later, she was elated when she received a gift-filled shoebox because she saw “the inspiration and the love that went into making the shoebox gifts.”
As pleased as Ivanna was with the toys and school supplies she found in the box, what touched her most was a handwritten letter from a girl named Sarah who packed the shoebox and told her that she and Jesus loved her.
Pastor Julia Lagos invited any child who wanted to give their life to the Lord to come forward. Ivanna didn’t hesitate. “I started to pray, and I asked God to help me follow in His footsteps,” she said. “Only God could reach me, and I felt something powerful in my heart. I was born again with a healthy life. I felt the glory and virtue of God by my side.”
“God used that shoebox to bring her to the Lord’s feet,” Pastor Julia said, noting the remarkable transformation she then saw in Ivanna. “She is now a girl who yearns to be in the house of the Lord, and when she is at church, she motivates everyone else because she is so focused on the Lord’s work.”
Ivanna eagerly enrolled in The Greatest Journey discipleship course where she learned more about Jesus and how to share Him with her family and friends. Today, Ivanna is actively involved in the church, is a prayer warrior for her community, and is a bold witness for the Gospel to reach other children with the love she has now found with her heavenly Father.
“Every time I read the Word of the Lord, I think about how Jesus sacrificed Himself for us,” Ivanna said. “I love sharing the Bible, and what’s good to God. I tell people, and I tell my friends, to seek God.”
Shoebox Packed with Love and Prayer
Ivanna’s life was transformed by the Lord using a simple shoebox packed with love and prayer by a girl named Sarah. Pastor Julia said there are many children in her community and throughout Honduras who are from broken homes and need to know they are loved—and that a shoebox gift is a wonderful way to let them know they are cared for by our Savior.
“Children are important to God,” Pastor Julia said. “Sometimes adults see them as inferior, but they are the next generation. They are the future. I have always believed that God works through the younger generations. Today, we must teach them so that tomorrow they will be the bearers of the Word of the Lord.”
“Children are important to God.”
There is still time to pack an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift. But don’t delay! National Collection Week is coming Nov. 13-20.