Wednesday 28 March 2012

How can we Pay It Forward?

It is now March and Christmas should be a distant memory to me but you know what?  Christmas never really leaves my mind, the whole year through I am thinking about and planning for the next Operation Christmas Child shoebox collection.  All those party bag toys and duplicate presents that the kids receive go into a cupboard and get kept ready. When I am shopping and I spot the supermarket has a pack of biro's on special for 20p I pick up 10 packs and I save them.  This kind of awareness is what saves me money and means that I can easily make at least 5 boxes from just our family.

I do fully realise that this charitable initiative is one that people either seem to love or hate and you know which camp I stand-in. As a Christian Mum, I want every child in the world to know that Jesus loves them and to feel the joy at receiving a shoebox full of small gifts that might be the only thing they receive for a very long time.
Each year I co-ordinate a collection at my kid's school and I pray this year will be no different.  I loved the development last year that OCC now emails you to advise you where your box has been delivered to and you are even able to watch the video or live stream of the children receiving those shoe boxes.  The last collection made from our school was delivered to Swaziland and knowing this in advance meant we could pack the parcels with country appropriate items such as sun hats and no jelly sweets.

I was reading through the OCC site the other day and looking over some of the shoebox delivery stories and one really struck a chord with me, so I thought I would share it. Nikola is now 20 and a translator for OCC in Montenegro, he grew up in Serbia and as a five-year-old, his parents were told to bring him to their small local pentecostal church that they were members of.  They were told there would be a nice surprise for their son.  That next day Nikola received a shoebox gift from OCC and he says that day and the unexpected kindness he received still stays with him 15 years on. He recalls that the toys in the box formed his whole childhood basically and he loved them dearly. Nikola is now pleased to offer this hope and kindness to some other children in need.

I hear so many objections from people in regard to OCC shoebox deliveries and normally they fall into two categories; the first being that people do not like that Samaritan's Purse is a Christian charity which does not hide its aim of delivering the gospel, as well as gifts. The second is why would we in the UK buy cheap toys that were produced abroad and then package them and send them to a different country again.

I think Nikola's story answers both of these objections. Firstly, many of the children receiving boxes are already part of the Church and are not being forced into Christianity as I have heard insinuated before and secondly those toys which we disregard so easily make the world of difference to a child that literally has nothing else.

Pay it forward is one of my most favourite concepts and Nikola is living proof that OCC helps those who once had no future to offer hope and joy to others.

OCC aside, If we all looked for simple ways that we could give back for the blessings we have received, life would be so much better, don't you agree?
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