By Faye Gaston
A pandemic does not stop the work of evangelism to Christianity through gift shoeboxes given to children in more than 100 countries of the world through "Operation Christmas Child" sponsored by Samaritan's Purse. The shoeboxes become "missionaries."
The gift shoebox introduces the child to "the greatest gift, Jesus Christ." A booklet containing the Gospel of Christianity is enclosed in the child's language.
Local pastors and community leaders are trained to teach the children about Jesus in a course with a graduation and with a certificate and a gift of the Bible. Family and friends who attend the graduation often also believe in Christ as Savior and Lord.
On October 3, 2021, thirteen folks from Bullock County attended a special area meeting at Bush Baptist Church, the host church, to hear a man from Africa tell about receiving a shoebox. Each one in the audience was given a shoebox to fill.
As he spoke, scenes from Africa were shown on a screen that depicted extreme poverty and mass killing (genocide) of their people. Yves came from a Christian home in Rwanda, Africa.
His parents were pastors. When his mother was pregnant with him, his grandparents and extended family were killed by machetes by other Africans, and his family fled to another area.
He had met only one living aunt. He heard the message that God and Jesus loved him, and he was to love people, But he hated neighbors because of the murders.
When those free shoebox gifts came, he was put at the back of the line because he was the pastor's child. At age 14, he received a shoebox.
There was a sticky note that said, "God loves you, Jesus loves you, and I love you." This convinced him to love his neighbor and transformed his life from those feelings of hatred.
The witch doctors killed people who did not obey them. The family of Yves saw a witch doctor carrying two bags coming to their home. They locked the door, but finally, the pastor-father opened the door.
The witch doctor and his wife had converted to Christianity. He was doing away with the bags that contained all the things he used in his evil work.
The witch doctor then led other witch doctors to accept Christ as Savior and Lord. A group of witch doctors was baptized. Yves and his family speak six languages, having lived in eight different countries.
The United Nations placed his family as legal refugees (not immigrants) in Buffalo, New York. Yves is now 27 years old. He was scheduled to speak at eight churches during the weekend as a representative of "Operation Christmas Child."
About seven counties are included in the area where gift shoeboxes will be transported to a central location in Troy.
From there, they will go to Atlanta to be inspected before shipping to countries across the ocean. Amy Hall and Mona Crawford reported that there was no goal set for Bullock County last year during the pandemic, but 923 gift shoeboxes were delivered to First Baptist Church, the drop-off location for Bullock County. This was the most ever received.
This year a goal has been set for 1,000 gift boxes from individuals, churches, and groups across the county. Shoeboxes may be dropped off at the church anytime before November 21, 2021. Phone the church office (738-2840) on weekday mornings for details.