Operation Christmas Child Beyond the Box

You would never think that a shoebox, filled with a few school supplies, maybe a T-shirt or a toy, could change a child’s life. Operation Christmas Child is the world’s largest Christmas project, using gift-filled shoeboxes to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children around the world. Since 1993, Samaritan’s Purse has collected and delivered more than 135 million boxes to children in over 150 countries. Items you buy at a dollar store could be the answers to prayer for a child in a war-torn country. Such is the story of Dania Yadago.

The Message of the Box

In our country, most of us don’t have an idea of what going to bed without a meal or not having any of the things we’ve grown accustomed to, like clothes, toothpaste or a pencil, feels like, but Dania Yadago does. She was born in the Middle East in a country where the majority of the population were non-Christians. After Dania and her brother were born, her family moved to a different country, still in the Middle East, and that is where Dania received her shoebox.

Dania’s family’s circumstances were very tough, and her dad worked two jobs, but it was very difficult to make a living, since her family wasn’t citizens of that country. The place they lived in was very small, with only two bare rooms having only a few pieces of clothes on the floor to sit on or sleep in. Sharing everything from soap to toothpaste, Dania and her brother also shared school supplies. Going to bed without food was common. Anything Dania had had been passed down to her from others, and she longed to have “things” of her own. Even though the family had few tangible things, they had faith, and Dania’s parents encouraged her to bring their needs to God in prayer…Dania prayed to have a few items she could call her own and for her family to have a radio, for entertainment. One day at the family’s church, Operation Christmas Child arrived with shoeboxes full of a girl’s answers to prayer.

“My shoebox was beautiful and colorful, and it left me speechless when I opened it. Everything in the box was brand new; exactly what I wanted, too! It was full of pencils, erasers, hair clips, soap, toothpaste, washcloth, a beanie baby, activity book, notebook, candy canes and crayons. My favorite thing was what I called the ‘never-ending lollipop,’ taking days to eat. In the excitement of opening the shoebox, we found another surprise waiting for us. We were shocked as we found another box inside that shoebox. My dad opened that box and found a radio,” recalled Dania. But the impact on the family’s life wasn’t about the radio at all. . . .

For Dania and her family, the Operation Christmas Child shoebox was a clear sign that God was in control of their lives. “We knew that God answers prayers and that His plan was much better than our plan. Out of all the shoeboxes sent to the millions of children, that one made its way to us when we most needed, with exactly what we needed. To this day, when I need something, I know and trust that God will definitely provide,” Dania said. But Dania’s family’s story was just beginning….

“After receiving my shoebox, my family returned to our native country to witness to people about the gospel of Jesus Christ; because of that we were harshly treated and left the country due to war and persecution. We left everything behind and fled as refugees, hoping to find a country to take us in. After 14 months, the United States accepted our application and we were able to come here and start our life. Two months after arriving here, a lady from my new church asked me if I wanted to go and pack shoeboxes for children at a processing center in Charlotte, NC. I agreed to go, not knowing it was Operation Christmas Child. In fact, I had no idea that my box and others came from the USA! When I saw the Operation Christmas Child logo on the place we arrived, I jumped up and down with excitement and said to the lady I was with, ‘Wow, this is how it all happens??!!!’ I explained how my family and I had gotten a box a few years before and as I packed, I took a little longer because I wanted each one to be perfect, so the child receiving it would have the same joy that I had when I opened mine,” commented Dania. Five years later, Operation Christmas Child contacted Dania, and she now travels and speaks on behalf of Operation Christmas Child.

Today, Dania is a senior at Salem College, finishing up her undergraduate degree in Education. As she looks back on the day her box arrived, it’s hard to believe so much came in that one little box, not just things, but so much more, like the answer to prayers, hope for a better life and an understanding that God is sovereign and that He can use something as ordinary as a shoebox to do extraordinary things in the life of one girl and her family.

For more information on how you can help Operation Christmas Child, visit www.samaritanspurse.org or e-mail Cindy Miller at cindymsmiller@gmail.com. National Collection Week for the shoeboxes is November 14th–21st, 2016.    

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