From a missionary serving in Africa:
- Please do not fill a box with toys. While your child in America would love the latest Barbie, or matchbox car, children overseas do not need, want or know what to do with these toys. Most of your toys will end up in the garbage heap or as household decorations.
- Focus on filling your shoe box with school supplies and hygiene items. I realize school supplies and hygiene items aren't very glamorous, however, they are actually needed and wanted. Combs, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc will go a long ways in helping to provide for a family. Children at least in Northern Ghana love blue and red Bic pens.
- Involve your children. Take your children along with you as you fill a box. Teach them about the importance of giving. Operation Christmas Child is a great way to teach your child about the Nations. Help them to realize that the world is bigger than their school, neighborhood, city, state and nation.
- Fill your shoe box with a new shirt, hat (no Duke hats), and a pair of sunglasses. Remember most places overseas are closer to the equator and most children do not have adequate protection from the sun. Most children own their school uniform and one other shirt, an extra shirt even just a plain colored one will make a child’s day.
- Write a note and provide a picture of your family in your shoe box. Most children who receive a shoe box have had very little interaction with white people. A note/picture will go a long way in making a child’s Christmas. Include in your note a prayer of blessing for the child and his/her family.
- Follow the instructions when filling your shoe box. Instructions can be found on Samaritans purses's web site (How to fill your box). Do not think you know better than Samaritans Purse. They have been filling shoe boxes for a long time and have it down to a science; a lot of headache can be avoided if you follow their instructions.
- Pray over your shoe box. Pray when filling your shoe box. Pray before going shopping for your shoe box. Pray while shopping for your shoe box. Pray when mailing your shoe box. Pray over your box.
- Operation Christmas Child is a great way to open your eyes to the Nations and others who are less fortunate. Do not stop with only filling a shoe box. Consider purchasing a goat, mosquito nets, etc to help serve a family or a community this year. Here is a link to a site which will help you better impact others this Christmas (Baptist Global Response)
Read the whole thing here.
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.