A man becomes an OCC volunteer after surviving a heart attack
Rick Armstrong, an Operation Christmas Child area coordinator for South Orange County, California, organizes a volunteer team of 24 and helps recruit people to serve year-round with the Samaritan’s Purse project.
After accepting Christ just before graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Rick said, “I got so wrapped up in trying to provide for my family and having a nice house and everything else in society that I got busy doing too many things.”
The stress led to several heart attacks. The last one in 2011 left the 68-year-old expecting to die. But after a transplant a month later, Rick was excited to live.
“God didn’t give me a new heart for me to go back to business,” he said.
He gave up working in insurance and started looking for a ministry. His limited mobility meant that he couldn’t build houses, but when he came across Operation Christmas Child, he said, “Oh shoeboxes! I can do shoeboxes!” Just three months after his transplant, he was serving as a church relations volunteer.
“I don’t have a lot of time at my age; I’ve got to be effective,” said Rick, now 72. “If you’re interested in being effective, then Operation Christmas Child is the ministry for you.”
Reflecting on his volunteer work with other organizations, Rick said, “I felt I wasn’t really involved in the ministry; I was just there to support the staff. Here I feel the opposite—they’re here to support us. It makes you want to do more.”
After supporting Rick’s volunteering, his wife, Lynda, also began serving as a logistics volunteer for Operation Christmas Child a year ago. She and Rick enjoy serving on the project together as she coordinates the shoebox collection at The Bridge Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.
“I’ve never been on a mission trip, and I don’t know if I ever will,” Lynda said. “This is my opportunity to spread the Gospel.”
This article is part of our January series highlighting year-round volunteers who serve through Operation Christmas Child.
Click here to find out more about volunteering with Operation Christmas Child.