BOLIVAR, Mo. – Southwest Baptist University’s Student Association and University Ministries are working together to collect shoeboxes campus-wide for Operation Christmas Child, which is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization.
“I got to meet with Operation Christmas Child during the business fair during Welcome Week, and we immediately began talking about how we could partner to see Christ glorified across the globe,” said Spencer VanSickle, Student Association Vice President.
“We see this as an opportunity for students to be directly involved in the advancement of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.”
The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to show God’s love and the good news of Jesus Christ with children in need around the world through gift-filled shoeboxes. Since 1993, more than 168 million shoeboxes have been delivered to children in more than 160 countries. Oftentimes, the shoeboxes are the first gifts these children have ever received.
On Sept. 23, the Lower Midwest Region, Springfield Area Team handed out 200 empty shoeboxes after Chapel for students, faculty and staff to fill and left an additional 200 shoeboxes for anyone interested in participating.
During that Chapel service, Alina Aisina shared how receiving a shoebox as a child in Asia allowed her to not only receive the gifts of crayons, etcha-sketches and slinkys, but to hear the Gospel for the first time.
“Imagine spending your whole life never hearing this,” Aisina said of the Gospel, “and then, all of the sudden somebody comes in and they tell you the greatest news of all.
“I took my box from a lady and then we heard the words that probably every child wants to hear, ‘You can now open your presents.’ It’s like joy exploded in this cold little church on that dark night. The kids and I were astonished and amazed by these unusual, American things.
“These boxes were given to us as a tangible expression of God’s love. God used that shoebox to teach me who He truly is and who I am through Him.”
SA will host its first collection day at Chapel on Wednesday, Oct. 9. Students, faculty and staff can drop off their shoeboxes, which can include items such as toys, school supplies and hygiene products. National Collection Week is Nov. 18-25 at nearly 5,000 drop-off locations in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. SBU will drop off the collected boxes at Wellspring Baptist Fellowship in Bolivar.
“Over the course of the next (almost) two months, we will also be handing out more boxes from the SA offices,” VanSickle said. “We will have a dedicated day the week of October 21, in order to collect and hand out more boxes.”
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child through SBU, contact the Student Association Office at (417) 328-1828.
PHOTO: Alina Aisina shares how receiving a shoebox as a child in Asia allowed her to hear the Gospel for the first time.