Operation Christmas Child — one hundred million reasons to celebrate
It’s not often that Operation Christmas Child (OCC) plans an international conference, but that’s just what happened April 4 to 7 in Orlando, Florida. Among those attending were Haywood County OCC volunteers Bill and Becky Jarrell. The conference included participants from 102 countries that either provide or receive the Christmas shoe boxes collected annually. And this year, the celebration centered on the delivery (to a 5-year old girl in the Dominican Republic) of the 100 millionth shoe box since the program began in 1993. The conference was led by Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse.
“The general sessions and breakout groups gave us a wealth of new information to share with the many churches, organizations and individuals in Haywood County who faithfully support OCC,” said Bill. “We are returning deeply inspired to share new messages, stories and testimonies with both current and new participants who want to make a difference in the life of a child in a desperate situation in our world.”
Last year, Haywood County increased the number of Christmas shoe boxes it provides by 20 percent to more than 3,700. The shoe boxes include small gifts, school supplies and most hygiene items. Increased visibility, presentations to local churches and organizations, and important education about what happens after the shoe boxes are delivered, had a lot to do with the significant increase in our area. But, as always, the generosity and dedication to love and serve others both locally and around the world by Haywood County residents is what really made the difference.
“It was a joy to meet the members of OCC National Leadership Teams from around the world and to hear first-hand how the Christmas shoe boxes change the lives of children and their families,” Becky said. “It’s absolutely clear that what happens ‘after the shoe box’ is what really matters. Seeing how God is using The Greatest Journey (a 12-week discipleship program offered to children who receive a shoe box) is so exciting, and hearing speaker after speaker at the conference share how the simple gift of a shoe box is introducing children, families and communities to Christ was a wonderful blessing.”
In August, Bill and Becky will begin providing information and opportunities leading up to the 2013 collection week (third week in November). They will be available to speak to churches and organizations starting Aug. 18, including a new OCC video, highlights of the international conference, and details about The Greatest Journey. Contact Bill or Becky at 246-0331 for additional information about Operation Christmas Child or to sign them up early to speak to a group.