A five day trip to Veracruz, Mexico—sounds like a dream vacation, right? But for a wife and mother of six, who had not been out of the States in over 25 years, this was more than a simple trip, it was life changing. Sue Brewer would be joining a team with Samaritan’s Purse, as part of Operation Christmas Child, to aid the local church and spread the gospel by delivering shoeboxes filled with gifts for children.
Every November, shoeboxes that have been packed by individuals, families and churches with an age-appropriate toy, essential hygiene items, school supplies and accessories are collected by Samaritan’s Purse for Operation Christmas Child. Throughout the year, Samaritan’s Purse delivers millions of these gift-filled shoeboxes to boys and girls all over the world.
While in Mexico, Sue and the team were able to help deliver some of those shoeboxes to one school, two churches and to an area where they were starting a church.
“The kids were very excited to get a shoebox,” Sue shares. For most of the children, the main toy prompted the best reactions. So as you build your shoebox, that is a key component.
“However, while walking back to the bus, I did see a little girl with a toothbrush in her mouth, waving to us as we walked by her home that had no power, running water or even doors,” Sue remarks.
But one of the things that surprised Sue the most about the experience was that the children didn’t come for the shoeboxes. They didn’t even know they would be getting the shoeboxes or a gift. “They came to learn about God,” she says.
“After each gathering, we were able to pray over the pastors and their families and to pray for their church and ministries,” she continues. “That was very moving, and they were so appreciative.”
Sue and her team also saw the first day of The Greatest Journey program. After receiving a shoebox gift, children have the opportunity to participate in The Greatest Journey, a Bible study for the children and parents who prayed to receive Christ. This 12-week course helps them better understand their decision and to be discipled.
“The last place we handed out shoeboxes, the local church was going to build a church in this housing development,” Sue recalls. “It was literally a dump before. They even used some of the materials from the dump to build the homes. Because these people were in a remote area and could not get to church even if they wanted to, the church came to them.”
The church set up a stage, had live music and gave a gospel presentation. Once that was done, they gave out the shoeboxes—the kids were very happy to get a gift! Then they fed everyone lunch.
The church plant team planned on returning the following week with shoes. So while they were there, the team also assessed the situation so they could go to their church family to supply the needs of these families. The church plant team would continue to care for their physical needs for the next month or so, and then they would start the church.
“I had never seen a church plant before,” Sue shares. “It was amazing! I was able to watch the church be the church that God intended us to be! I feel so blessed to have seen that and to have been a small part of it.”
Since returning to the States, Sue has taken the lessons she learned across the border and applied them to the ministries at home.
“We have kids hungry for the gospel here in our home town, too,” she explains. “While giving a shoebox to a child in the United States would not have the same impact, something can be done here as well, and I want to be a part of it.
“And one other thing…When I build a shoebox in the future, it will be for an older boy, and it will have a gift that a 12 year old boy would like to get—a soccer ball and a pump!”
If you would like to learn more about how you can pack, send or deliver a shoebox with Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child, click here.
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