We popped gallons of popcorn the other night for our AWANA kids. It was Pastor & Popcorn night. The smell of the popcorn made us all ravenous, the buttery salty flavor drifted through the doors every time someone entered. And to make it more tantalizing we popped all the corn at a machine stationed right outside the entry of the Children’s building. Needless to say everyone who came in the doors that night was inhaling and nearly dizzy with desire for that yummy snack.
It was a joyous night. A simple gift, a simple message from the Pastor and our kids were blessed. Purpose completed, the night a success, carpet and floors finally spotless. We went home exhausted but proud. No one went home hungry and we even had three bags of popcorn left over (after serving well over 100 brown paper bags). High five! Whoop whoop. Let’s do this theme night again next year!
Which brings me to this other picture…the one where children are standing behind a closed gate. Empty handed. There are no shoeboxes for them.
The next day, following Pastor & Popcorn, I went to a luncheon that helps to promote and kick off the annual Operation Christmas Child Shoebox season in our area. It was a delicious meal, great company, beautiful surrounding, encouraging people and an amazing testimony from an actual shoebox recipient, KoJo, who had given his life to Christ through a shoebox gift.
But this year the Samaritan’s Purse representative showed us some different pictures. Pictures like I have NEVER seen before. Always the promotional material for Shoebox season includes vast multitudes of children smiling and elated as they lift the top off of the box and gaze at their gifts. Lots of red and green boxes full of colorful toys and you can almost hear the laughter through the pictures. How uplifting to see the result of our “little” labors.
This picture tells a different story, the story on the other side of the gate. Children who cannot receive a box because, although their community pastor applied for them, there perhaps were not enough to go around. They are standing there, watching and waiting. It does more than break my heart to look at this picture. It shames me.
The children at our church are never denied even a kernel of popcorn. Hey, we even drop and spill pieces on the ground and sweep them up as trash at the end of the night! Like this popcorn at Candies Creek the Gospel is always readily available to kids, weekly or biweekly even. The Word is so close by and accessible, easy to get to.
And that is what Samaritan’s Purse is trying to do, be sure the Gospel (through a little shoebox of toys and gifts) is available for every child in the world.
I would encourage you even implore you, pack a shoebox this season or two or three. Give local pastors in villages around the world a tool to get into the gates that are currently closed. There are waiting lists, YES, WAITING LISTS of local believers trying to reach their neighbors using this ministry resource. Local people reaching their neighbors with the Gospel! We use a popcorn machine and other crazy theme nights and never turn a child away…how can we make sure that our brothers and sisters around the world have EVERYTHING they need so that no child is ever on the other side of the gate?
SHOEBOX KICK OFF AT Candies Creek is Sunday October 16th. Supplies in the Fellowship Hall, please help yourself! As they say at Samaritan’s Purse…GOOD NEWS, GREAT JOY!