#shoeboxstories is a series by shoebox recipients who give a first-hand account of the eternal impact of a gift delivered in Jesus’ Name.
When I started brushing, it was like a birthday party in my mouth.
Timur received a shoebox at an orphanage in Central Asia at age 13.
When the local Christians came into the orphanage with the shoeboxes, I thought, What is that? I’d never received a gift. My birthday was a normal day. We didn’t celebrate Christmas.
They brought a bunch of shoeboxes and all 500 kids got together in a gymnasium.
The guests shared the Gospel, saying, “’For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son and we’re going to show you that through shoeboxes. You don’t have to dance. You don’t have to perform. We give them to you for free.”
I was already a believer so I understood that this was the major difference between Christianity and other religions.
" I ran around the orphanage saying, ‘Christian toothpaste! Christian toothpaste!’"
They started passing out shoeboxes and we were so excited! I started ripping open my box and then my eyes grew wide.
The first thing I saw was toothpaste. I saw the word Crest and thought it said Christ so I thought, Oh! Christian toothpaste! I was so excited I ran around the orphanage saying, “Christian toothpaste! Christian toothpaste!”
In Central Asia they had this boring white toothpaste made by the Soviets. It didn’t taste very good so I wanted to check out the white, blue, and red American toothpaste. I found a toothbrush in my box, put the toothpaste on it, and started brushing. I thought, Oh, I have a birthday party in my mouth! You guys make awesome toothpaste! So I celebrated by eating it and got sick the next day.
Another thing in my shoebox was a lot of pencils. You got one pencil a semester in the orphanage. If you used it up or someone stole it or you lost it, you were without a pencil. When I saw the pencils in my box, I thought, I’ll have leftovers for college!
My other favorite was white socks because in the orphanage you got bad quality socks that would always stink and have holes in them. When I received good quality socks I thought, Wow! They’ll last me so long and they smell good. I really, really liked those socks.
“I wondered a lot how Christians who didn’t know me were willing to give me a gift.”
Through the shoebox I felt loved. Someone took the time to put in those items that became my favorites. I wondered a lot how Christians who didn’t know me were willing to give me a gift.
I once hated everything about Christianity and the cross. I even persecuted a new orphan that was a believer. I started punching him because he said Jesus is the only way to heaven.
One day I had the opportunity to steal food from the cafeteria with other orphans. We invited the new kid and he said, “I cannot do it.”
“Why?” I asked.
He said, “If you’re in Christ the ‘old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). I can’t do that anymore because Christ has changed me.”
That really got my attention. I said, “Tell me about this Jesus that you worship.”
He said that Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, came in the form of a man and lived a perfect life. He went to the cross and took the judgment we all deserved. He didn’t stay on the cross but on the third day he rose again. And He’s coming back again in judgment.
I thought, This is the most foolish thing I’ve ever heard.
God began working on my heart and showing me that I am a sinner. When I saw the crucified Christ on the cross He became beautiful. I repented from my sins. I started running to the cross and I embraced it. God changed my life radically.
“ The gifts are a tool that opens the door for believers to share the Gospel.”
God calls us to love one another and through the shoebox, I saw that practically from believers I’d never met before. They understood that God was generous in giving His Son Jesus to us—the Greatest Gift of all—so they wanted to be generous as well by taking the time to pack shoeboxes and send them to people in need.
Receiving one of those boxes changed my attitude. I realized, It’s not about you. Be generous with others.
The gifts are a tool that opens the door for believers to share the Gospel. God used a simple shoebox to reach many of my friends in the orphanage. They came to Christ by hearing the Good News and receiving a shoebox.
I had been telling them about the Gospel. I had sown the seed. Other believers came with the shoebox and they watered and God gave the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6). I saw all that working together and it was very encouraging. Many came to Christ through it.
Starting in 2017, candy and toothpaste will not be allowed in shoebox gifts due to customs regulations. We remain confident, however, that your gift will still delight a child in need.
Operation Christmas Child delivers great joy to millions of children around the world through shoeboxes lovingly and prayerfully packed with gifts that will bring delight to a child. In the hands of local churches, every gift-filled shoebox is a powerful tool for evangelism and discipleship—transforming the lives of children and their families around the world through the Good News of Jesus Christ! After receiving shoebox gifts, boys and girls are invited to enroll in The Greatest Journey, our 12-lesson discipleship program where children learn what it means to faithfully follow Christ and share their faith with others.
Samaritan’s Purse is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity. All contributions designated for specific projects shall be applied to those projects, and we may assess up to 10 percent to be used for administering the gift. Occasionally, we receive more contributions for a given project than can be wisely applied to that project. When that happens, we use these funds to meet a similar pressing need.
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