Seeing The Greatest Journey in action inspires Operation Christmas Child supporter
“I was blown away by the passion the locals have in delivering these programs”
For five years, Renee McCracken has volunteered to inspect Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes at the Samaritan’s Purse processing center in Calgary.
Each year, when filling out the volunteer form, she checked the box that indicated her interest going on a mission trip to help deliver shoeboxes to hurting children. And each year, nothing happened. That is until this year, when she received an email from Samaritan’s Purse, and her wish came true.
“It was God’s doing that I’m able to be here,” said the 29-year-old Airdrie, Alberta resident gratefully. She was speaking while in Costa Rica, part of a group of 17 passionate Operation Christmas Child supporters who spent a week in the Central American country handing out shoeboxes to children.
Renee packed a shoebox for a 10-14-year-old girl and gave it to Yvonne, a young teenager with whom she connected through her rudimentary knowledge of Spanish.
Renee McCracken saw the impact of shoeboxes when she went with Operation Christmas Child to Costa Rica.
“Before Yvonne opened the box, she told the translator it was her birthday,” Renee said. “So I knew this was the right choice—God’s choice.”
When she arrived in Costa Rica, Renee had only vague knowledge about The Greatest Journey, a vital part of the Operation Christmas Child ministry.
The Greatest Journey (TGJ) is a voluntary 12-lesson discipleship and evangelism program that all children are invited to attend after they receive their shoeboxes. Since 2010, God has used The Greatest Journey to bring more than four million children to faith in His Son.
“I’d heard about it and saw photos of a class in Senegal,” said Renee. But after seeing a class in action, “I was blown away by the passion the locals have in delivering these programs. They give up their time to make sure kids don’t just get boxes, they also get an opportunity to learn about Jesus.”
Renee and the rest of the Canadian group participated in a graduation ceremony for The Greatest Journey. These ceremonies, usually organized by our partner churches, are important because for some children, it’s the only program from which they will ever graduate.
“People don’t get to hear about The Greatest Journey,” said Renee passionately. “So I want to help them understand it’s about what God is doing through Operation Christmas Child and most of what He’s doing is through TGJ.”
Renee also took advantage of a rare opportunity to visit the home of one of the shoebox recipients. That home was barely 300 square feet, split into two rooms with one closet and a bathroom with a broken shower. A single mother and her two children welcomed Renee and prayed with her.
“The kids have nice clothes at the shoebox distributions, but it’s a façade when you see what daily life looks like. This mother sacrificed so much just to give her children something. And the fact she let us visit was incredible.”
A teacher at a Christian school near Airdrie, Renee intends to become the school’s Operation Christmas Child champion. She also plans to promote the ministry in her church.