Mark Watkins, a parishioner at St George’s in Norwich and his wife Debra who attends an evangelical church, are Church Relations and Community Relations team members with Operation Christmas Child. They are calling on churches and families in the Norfolk area to pack more shoebox gifts than ever before for the Samaritan’s Purse project, which is committed to its mission of reaching millions of children across the globe with hope. The campaign seeks to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and, together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Operation Christmas Child (OCC) has been collecting and delivering shoebox gifts—filled with school supplies, hygiene items and fun toys—to children worldwide for three decades. Since 1990, the project has collected and delivered more than 200 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories. Last year alone Samaritan’s Purse UK was able to gift 252,000 shoeboxes to needy children around the world. Globally 10.5 million boxes were distributed in more than 100 countries.
One church which has recently joined OCC is Beacon Community Church in Bacton, who held a special Sunday service on 6 August to launch their partnership with Samaritans Purse and become a Church Collection Centre.
Martin and Pam from the Beacon leadership team said: “When Mark first made contact with us, we had a positive feeling about OCC, and Mark’s obvious passion for the project convinced us that, as an outward-looking church, we should become a Church Collection Centre, and everyone at Beacon was on board with the idea. We ordered 50 boxes from Samaritan’s Purse, and we’re pleased to say that 41 boxes were quickly taken up within the first few days. This has been an amazing experience for us, and we’re excited to see where this journey takes us.”
Mark points out that this is a mission project that everyone can be a part of. Simply pack shoeboxes and then bring them to one of the Drop-Off Locations during National Collection Week, which this year is from November 13 to 20. To find your nearest Drop-Off Locations click here from next month. The organization also offers an option to virtually pack a shoebox gift through its online tool.
“Your shoebox gifts give an opportunity for the local church in the receiving countries to share the good news of Jesus.” said Trish Ellse, Regional Manager for Operation Christmas Child, East England. “Children are invited after receiving their shoebox gift to the local church to learn more about Jesus through The Greatest Journey Discipleship Programme, a fun and interactive 12-week Bible course.”
Those interested in more information on Operation Christmas Child for your church, school, group or business can contact Mark and Debra Watkins at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured above are delighted recipients of a shoebox in Namibia, courtesy of Samaritans Purse. Below are Debra and Mark with Pam and Martin (centre) from Bacton Community Church.