Gifts of Hope and Love
by Frank King, Communications Manager, Samaritan's Purse Canada
Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes show God's love to poor children in Costa Rica and brings them to faith in His Son.
It was the last Operation Christmas Child shoebox distribution of our weeklong trip to Costa Rica. The four Canadian pastors on the trip had seen and experienced much of what God is doing through Operation Christmas Child to show His love to poor children and bring them to faith in His Son.
Now we had one more experience – going to the homes of two shoebox recipients and give the children their shoeboxes there.
This was an eye-opening experience for the pastors. While children usually attend distribution events in their very best clothes, the conditions they live in every day are almost always very different. And this was certainly the case at the first home.
Two Canadian pastors, plus a translator, explain the Gospel and give Canadian-packed Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to a family in Costa Rica. We didn’t have time to visit the family and distribute the boxes, so God mysteriously brought them to us.
The mother had nine children, plus a grandchild to care for. Her husband was away working and could only come home on weekends. Her unwed daughter—the one with the child—worked as a nanny and also had to live elsewhere on weekdays.
The house was a four-room concrete block bunker with two beds, some foamies for the kids to sleep on in the living room and kitchen, and no electricity. It was cut off because the family couldn’t pay for it. So no lights, no fridge, no stove.
The mother was amazingly stoic during the entire visit and allowed us to photograph her with the children in the midst of their living conditions. We were moved by the experience and prayed with her before leaving.
That’s when the problem came up. We had to get back to our hotel as fast as possible, because we were behind schedule and Costa Rican pastors were waiting there to tell us about their experiences and the challenges their country faces.
So I made a decision; we would skip the second home and leave it up to our local partners to provide the shoeboxes.
But—and here’s the little ways God so often moves in our lives—just as we were about to enter the bus for the trip to the hotel, along comes the mother and children from the second home! Astonished and astounded, we decided to delay leaving just long enough to give them their shoebox gifts and tell them about Jesus Christ, the giver of all good gifts.
That was the kind of week it was: fellowship amongst believers and children; many opportunities for the Canadian pastors to see that Operation Christmas Child is so much more than boxes of stuff for needy children; and God to do what He so often does—show His sovereign power to change lives for eternity.