Thousands of children in Mexico received a gift they will never forget. Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes brought smiles and joy to many boys and girls. Most importantly, children and their families were given tangible expressions of God's love, and heard about the matchless love of Jesus.
Alvaro Vazquez Gonzalez and the other evangelical pastors in the Veracruz, Mexico, area give their all for the sake of the Gospel. Their entire life’s purpose is to share Jesus with their community, and to shepherd their flocks. It can be exhausting, and at times discouraging. "I am broken," Pastor Gonzalez said. Many of the pastors here cry over their people and want the children to know Jesus in a close and personal way. The shoeboxes came at exactly the right time. The gifts provided jubilation for children and parents, and reenergized pastors.
Churches rang with the sound of laughter and squeals of delight as boys found things such as soccer balls and girls discovered delights such as a flute. On Valentine's Day, one boy received a heart-shaped lollipop. In his other hand was an even greater treasure: The Greatest Gift, the booklet that was offered with every shoebox that tells children about Jesus.
Shoeboxes truly become Gospel opportunities because of the work of our ministry partners. They plan and host the distributions. Through skits, crazy costumes, and creative props, they tell boys and girls about the love of Jesus. At one event on our Mexico trip, the parents were taken aside so a pastor could tell them about the Savior who died for their sins. When Operation Christmas Child staff members head back home, these dedicated servants remain to pour into the lives of their community.
After they've handed out the gifts, many churches teach boys and girls more about what it means to follow Christ through The Greatest Journey, our discipleship program for children who receive shoeboxes. Our team had a chance to visit a classroom in Mexico and got to know some of the dedicated teachers and enthusiastic students.
We like to say that the shoebox gifts you helped provide bring joy to kids around the world. For proof, enjoy these photos provided by our team in Mexico!