Shoeboxes is Celebrating a Birthday

by Debbie Vanaman

Twenty-five years ago this year a very small lady from Ikes Fork, West Virginia got the idea to go up and down the hollers of her community and collect items to be put in shoeboxes and  then to take those shoeboxes to the children in countries like Bosnia and Kosovo.

Well since that time over 150 MILLION shoeboxes have been distributed to children around the world and through this effort, countless numbers of children and families have heard the name of Jesus Christ and many have given their hearts to the Lord.  Some of those children now even working for Operation Christmas Child sharing their testimony of how that one shoebox has changed their lives and the lives of their families.

We here at FBC have been involved in this program almost since the beginning and every year your support and giving to this ministry truly blesses those children.  Even in these troubled times, you share your blessings and help a child who literally may have nothing more than the clothes on their back with a shoebox that contains things like soap and a washcloth, a toy, a book, some personal items and maybe some school supplies.

For the month of October, what I am asking you for you don’t have to go to the store to buy.  We are pretty much set on everything we need for our youth to fill the 100 shoeboxes that they will be putting together next month.  What I am asking for comes from your checkbook.   What is needed is $9.00 for each shoebox that we fill and if you do that math that’s $900.   Now that might sound like an awful lot of money but if 100 people gave only $9.00, it would be done.  Or if 50 people gave $18.00, it would be done.  While I know we have support from people who have donated throughout the year for the shipping costs, still more is needed.   So if you write a check, just put shoebox postage in the memo line and place it in the offering plate on Sunday mornings or mail it to the church.

I have heard the testimony first hand of how these shoeboxes have changed lives and this ministry goes 365 days a year distributing shoeboxes around the world.  Please keep them in your prayers as they spread the name and gospel of Jesus Christ.

Operation Christmas Child: Celebrating 25 Years

by Debbie Vanaman

As fall is now upon us and school is back in session, Christmas isn’t that far away. Operation Christmas Child this year is celebrating its 25th year of collecting shoeboxes and distributing them to children around the world.  Five years ago we celebrated 100 million shoeboxes and the figure of 200 million isn’t that far off but it’s still just a drop in the bucket for the children who have yet to hear the name of Jesus or know the compassion of someone creating a shoebox just for them.  Can’t you just see the smiles on their faces as they open that box and find that precious toy or those needed school supplies – it’s heartwarming.

These boxes also impact the entire family by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ through the “Our Greatest Journey” program which is a series of lessons on Jesus and how to accept him into the child’s heart and then, hopefully, the family.     This is such a moving experience to see families changed by something as simple as a shoebox.

For the month of September, we will be collecting various items.  I still need small girl’s hairbrushes, small coloring or sticker books, markers, colored pencils and erasers.   I will be starting a push for October to collect the necessary funds to ship our 100 boxes that our children and youth will be making in November.  So if you want to get a jump on it, just make the check out to First Baptist Church and put Samaritans Purse shipping on the memo line and you can cross that off your to-do list.

As always, I ask that you keep this vital mission in your prayers as we enter collection season that each box made will help to show the love of Jesus Christ to children and families around the word.

Hot Days of Summer

As those long hot days of summer are now upon us, Christmas seems so, so far away but truly for a child who has nothing, these shoeboxes are distributed every day to children around the world to help spread the name and message of Jesus Christ.

In June we were blessed to hear from a young man who as a child had received a shoebox.  This young man is now a spokesman for Samaritan’s Purse sharing his message of how that one small shoebox impacted and changed his life.

For the months of July and August we will be collecting school supplies such as crayons, markers, pencils and pens.  Collection boxes are located in the Welcome Center and in Fellowship Hall.  Above all, keep this program in your prayers as they reach out to children and families around the world.

Alex is Coming!

Our main focus for the month of June will be our guest speaker on June 3rd at 6:00 pm here at the church.  His first name is Alex (and his last name I cannot begin to pronounce, but he is from Rwanda, Africa), and as a child in an orphanage he received a shoebox from Operation Christmas Child.  That box was the start of turning his life around.  He now is a speaker for OCC and shares his testimony and his love for Jesus Christ.    We will be having a pie social at the conclusion of his testimony so you can meet Alex and have a time of fellowship.  I ask you to make every effort to attend this special service.

For the month of June we will be collecting small stuffed animals as well as combs and hairbrushes.  Another suggestion would be children’s sunglasses.  Evidently they are one of those items that are a big hit with the children.  Donation boxes are located in the Welcome Center and in Fellowship Hall.    

Changing Lives Around the World

by Debbie Vanaman

Operation Christmas Child has been a part of our church for almost 20 years and in all that time, there are children around the world who still have not heard the name Jesus.  Most of these children live in remote villages and towns in less than desirable conditions.

On June evening, June 3rd, we here at FBC will have the opportunity to hear first-hand from someone who as a child received a shoebox and how that shoebox has impacted his life.  I’ve heard stories like this and you will truly be blessed to hear how something that you have packed has impacted a child, a family and even an entire town.  We will be having refreshments and a time of fellowship following the service.

For the month of May we will be collecting soap and washcloths.   Donation boxes are in Fellowship Hall and in the Welcome Center.  Also throughout the year, if we feel so led, we are also asking for monetary contributions to help with shipping the shoeboxes that the youth will be making later this year.

I ask that you pray for this ministry and that its mission of spreading the name of Jesus to children around the world continue to touch young lives through the word of God.

How Can You Change A Child’s Life?

by Debbie Vanaman

Spring has arrived, at least according to the calendar, and our thoughts start to turn to the ever-changing world around us.  As soon as the weather starts to warm up, I always start to think about how the trees and flowers come to life in the magic and wonder of spring and how God brings this all back to life each and every year.

Our God has indeed created a beautiful and wonderful world for us to live in but in some parts of the world, there are children who live in less than desirable conditions and lack some of the basic needs of living.  These are the children that Samaritan’s Purse helps each and every year through Operation Christmas Child.  These shoeboxes are distributed not just at Christmas time as you might think but all throughout the year through mission trips all around the world.

You might think how can I help.  Each month we are collecting items to fill shoeboxes later this year and for the month of April, we will be collecting pens, pencils, crayons small notepads and markers.   Most children in these countries lack the basic school supplies and cannot attend school without them so this is a vital part of the shoebox ministry.  I could also use any empty shoeboxes that you might have in the back of a closet or under your bed.

Please keep these children and this ministry in your prayers as the name of Jesus is spread around the world one shoebox at a time.

Operation Christmas Child March Update

by Debbie Vanaman

As I was sitting down on February 20th to write my March shoebox article, it came across the radio that Rev. Billy Graham had passed away.  He is now in heaven and is resting in the arms of our Lord Savior.  Please keep his family in your prayers as they are very much involved in the ministry of Samaritans’ Purse and Operation Christmas Child.

In coming up with a presentation for the Lizzie Lewis Circle on Samaritan’s Purse for their March meeting, I decided to share with them the ministries of Samaritan’s Purse. So I thought I would give you a snapshot of what I will talk to them about.   They don’t only do shoeboxes.  They handle disaster relief, both in the US and around the world.  They were in Greenbrier County when we had the devastating flooding back a few years and were there for months and months.  Samaritan’s Purse is also heavily involved in meeting the medical needs of people less fortunate around the world along with educating them on disease prevention and the proper ways to purify their water.   These are just some of the ministries that reach around the world to help spread the name of Jesus to families who are desperately looking for something to reach out to.

Now, onto shoeboxes.  The 2017 totals are in and in excess of 11 million (yes I said million) shoeboxes were collected from the U.S. and around the world.  These shoeboxes are currently being shipped to countries all around the world and will eventually find their home in the arms of a little girl or boy and that’s how Jesus’ name will reach not only the child but their family and their community as well.

For the month of March, we will be collecting small toys and coloring books.  Please make sure these coloring books are small enough to fit in a shoebox.   We are well on our way in our collection and your continued support and prayers, as always, are greatly appreciated.

Operation Christmas Child 2018

by Debbie Vanaman

The last decorations have been put away from Christmas (finally) and the cold winter of January is behind us (hopefully) and now it’s time to start thinking about shoeboxes and Operation Christmas Child again.  Every day or so I get a Facebook post showing a child somewhere in the world who received a shoebox and the smiles on their faces is priceless.   We here at First Baptist have been involved in this ministry for more than 15 years and every year it amazes me that you give so generously to help spread the name of Jesus to children and families around the world and it all starts with filling an empty shoebox.

For the month of February, I will be collecting soap, washcloths, small hairbrushes and combs.  Donation boxes will be in Fellowship Hall and in the Welcome Center.   As always, I ask that you keep this program in your prayers as the shoeboxes collected last year continue their journey around the world and may God bless each and every one of you.

A Final Word on Operation Christmas Child 2017

Well, shoeboxes for 2017 has come to a close and what a year we had. We started collecting items in January and items were gathered all year long. Items such as crayons, soap and washcloths, small toys, coloring books and school supplies. Each month I emptied our collection boxes and the pile began to grow. Then came November and our youth gathered one Sunday evening and packed 100 shoeboxes with the items that you donated.

Collection week started in a huge way with over 1,100 boxes collected on Monday. The rest of the week went along and each day we collected shoeboxes from all over the Beckley & Raleigh County area. Saturday morning, we gathered, along with some help from the men of the Fellowship House, and we packed a truck and a church van and down to Princeton we traveled. Praise God we got there and back safely. But that’s not the end of the story.

We collected more boxes on Saturday afternoon, Sunday and Monday and I made my final trip to Princeton with this precious cargo (along with the paperwork) which is the part of the process that is not my favorite but anyway when all was said and done, we not only met our last year’s total of 3,151 but we topped it and just in case you haven’t heard, our final total was 3,440.

I would like to thank each of you for all your help this year. Whether you packed a shoebox, brought in some items all year long, worked in the collection center, helped load a carton or just prayed for this project, you are all truly awesome. We could not have accomplished this enormous task without your help. Please continue to pray for these shoeboxes as they start their journey and eventually find their home in the hands of a child somewhere in the world who will learn firsthand the name of Jesus Christ. May you all have a blessed Christmas.

It’s Crunch Time

It’s November and it’s crunch time.  At a meeting I went to recently November was referred to as the Super Bowl of shoeboxes.   It all comes together starting the week of November 13th when hundreds and hundreds of shoeboxes will be coming in from churches, organizations and individuals in the Raleigh County area.

Just think of the impact that these shoeboxes will have on the children and their families all around the world.  Most of these children have never even heard the name of Jesus and are given the opportunity to learn about His love for them.  Just think that this miracle all starts with an empty shoebox.  Our youth will be filling shoeboxes with what you’ve brought in all year on November 5th and I am certainly grateful for that help.  It’s a fun evening for them and a chance to learn something about missions.   We hopefully will pack 100 shoeboxes that night.

Recently I asked 30 people to donate $30 to cover the shipping for these boxes and I’m still a little short.  As of October 22nd, I had $420 of the $900 that I need to cover the shipping for the boxes the youth will be packing. Thank you to all who have donated so far but if my math is correct, I still need 16 people.  So if you could find a few extra pennies sometime between now and the 17th of November, it would be greatly appreciated.