But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14 KJV.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40 KJV
When the opportunity to go to Belize to deliver shoe boxes was announced at church I knew God was answering a long time prayer. I have always wanted to go on a foreign mission trip, but never before had I felt God’s impression on my heart and mind that it was the right opportunity. This time there was no doubt, as God made it clear to me He wanted me to share in the blessing we would not only give but receive.
The whole process started way back in the summer. Being a rookie international traveler I had to get a passport. Then there came the financial aspect. Airfare, lodging food and such. Thankfully we have a great Director of Missions that got all this together. That meant I could concentrate on the part of the process I know well, collecting “the guts” for the shoe boxes.
I have done this several times before on a small and large-scale. My wife shakes her head every time I come home with a bounty of items that I have eyed in a bargain rack at some local retail outlet. If you read my writing you may have heard about the shopping cart full of bunnies I brought home after Easter in 2008, the one that led to a family of five joining the church we attended after hearing about our missions work. There is more than one way to witness!
The church we serve in now is smaller, but was so excited for the four members that signed up to make the trip. They were also excited to supply shoe boxes and the items to fill others. We set a modest goal of fifty boxes, but as my wife will also tell you I never pay attention to meeting goals, only exceeding them when it comes to shoe boxes.
To make this longer story short, we did exceed, by 100%. Our 100 combined with another 660 or so from other churches in our association of churches to mean over 760 boxes were in place in Belize when we arrived December 8th. The saying is it takes a village to raise a child, well it takes a large team to get the shoe boxes packed, collected, delivered and sorted for delivery.
Our eleven person mission team connected with Terry and Samantha Stinson, the missionaries on the ground in Belize and began to sort these as soon as we landed on Saturday. If you do shoe boxes you know they are identified as a boy or girl box as well as within three specific age ranges. There was also another brief check of the contents to assure nothing objectionable missed any earlier look.
One of the members of our team mused about how many time she had touched the boxes, one of the “hazards” of this ministry. It is not a burden you understand, just a very manual process. We handled these boxes several times in, sorting, loading, unloading and distributing them to their final recipient.
On Sunday and Monday we finally got the chance to witness the joy of kids opening the shoe boxes in person and it did not disappoint. The things you must understand is that the children receiving these shoe boxes don’t usually have a bounty under their Christmas tree. The same modest collection of items would likely be met with sour faces and stinking attitudes by children in the United States, but in Belize these were like gold.
The kids savor every item in their box, holding each as they show their smiles. Some of them will present each individual item for you to acknowledge, set them out of the box and then put them all back, only to do it again. They also show their friend beside them and seem so excited for their friend at the treasures they hold too. They call out the names of each item, wanting someone to see what they have. It is such a wonderful way to observe the Christmas spirit of giving.
Of the 700 plus boxes our team distributed, most were given to parents to hand to their children. You see it would be easy to just drop into Belize or any country and get your heart filled up with all the excitement, allow yourself to puff up with pride and come home. But what are you doing for the families you impact? By sharing this with the parents they get the blessing of their child’s smiles and appreciation that they provide for their Christmas gift. For so many families there just is not enough extra money to collect items the kids desire. We are to minister to others in a way that builds them up and this is a great way.
Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
The whole time we were in Belize we had to make conversions in the currency since Belize dollars are worth only half what US dollars are. I think the blessing conversion must have been closer to 4:1, because I feel like I got so much more blessing than I gave. It was Luke 6:38 in practice.
One day during our trip Plus TV of Belize caught up with us to do a story about our missions work. I will include the YouTube link here in case you are interested. Samantha that is talking lives in Belize full time with her husband Terry and represents Kingsway Baptist Church of nearby (to me) Bristol, VA.
I am so glad God gave me this opportunity to see how it is done in person. The experience will help plan for the 2013 campaign. When will it start? It started the moment we transferred our last shoe box from our bus to the last parents. At least for me. I am kind of obsessed that way!