Through Operation Christmas Child, a woman came to understand and accept God’s forgiveness and love.
Tricia Hardman volunteers with Operation Christmas Child by speaking at schools. A simple gift changed her life.
In June 2005, I went to church for the first time in more than 20 years to ask for prayer for my brother who had been in coma for 13 days. I knew nothing about that particular church other than my good friend Heather went there. She had spoken to the pastor about my brother, so the church prayed and John opened his eyes the next day. The prayer was answered! John was and remains paralyzed from the waist down – but he is alive.
I was hooked and continued to attend church. In October of that year, one of the church ladies asked for volunteers at the shoebox warehouse. I readily agreed. No one warned me about shoebox addiction.
By the end of the campaign, I had signed up to do schools talks but thought nothing more about it until I was invited to go to a presenter training. It required becoming a registered volunteer, so I filled in the form and sent that off. I did the training, and that year I gave some presentations and volunteered at the warehouse. But God had much bigger plans for me.
As a registered volunteer, I received an invitation to the Operation Christmas Child conference. I had a 7-year-old daughter and did not think that my partner would be happy for me to leave them. So I didn’t ask, but I didn’t throw away the conference leaflet. It floated up and down in the piles on our dining table, and eventually my partner picked it up. He simply asked, “Are you going to this?” Of course I said yes.
Stepping off the Cliff
For several months before the conference, I felt like I was walking along a path at the edge of a cliff. I knew that I had to stop and somehow step off the cliff. The cliff was my old, safe, known, life. I needed to step out in faith and allow God to catch me. I knew that God would not let me fall, but I couldn’t let go. It meant not being in control and not knowing what would happen next, whether my life would change, and whether I’d have to let go of things and people who were precious to me.
I went to the conference praying that God would help me to take the step but acknowledging that all things are in His time not mine. Friday night passed with praise and good fellowship among the delegates. I had found another few hundred family members.
On Saturday morning we sang “Lord I lift Your Name on High,” and as I sang the lines “…From the Earth to the cross, my debts to pay,” I was struck by the awesome meaning of those simple lines. Jesus died for ME. It was my sin that nailed Him to the cross. He lived and died to save me.
God reached out and without me knowing it, He gently helped me to step off the cliff. At that moment, Jesus became as real to me as the people around me. I was completely overwhelmed by a feeling of closeness to God and a need to repent and be forgiven. I went back to my room and wept.
The rest of the day was a rollercoaster of emotions. I attended workshops and seminars on Biblical topics and Samaritan’s Purse projects. Through it all, I kept coming back to the awesome knowledge that Christ had died for me. From the despair that I felt when I realized how unworthy I was, came the amazing understanding and freedom that God had forgiven me, and that I must now honor His gift to me by giving my life to Him.
I went to the conference unsaved and came back reborn. A few weeks later, I was baptized, and later that year I finally persuaded my partner of many years to become my husband.
In 2005 I found out the power of a simple shoebox. It has transformed my life.