WILMINGTON—Barbara Lanctot of Wilmington prayed 50 years ago to serve God by ministering to children in Africa, and this June her prayer was answered as she traveled to Tanzania with a group of volunteers to distribute Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to children in and around the capital city of Arusha.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham.
The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world and together with the local church to share the Good News of Jesus Christ worldwide.
Lanctot, who serves as area coordinator for the South Central Ohio team of Operation Christmas Child volunteers, considered it a privilege to meet these precious children and personally hand them a simple shoebox gift filled with toys, school supplies and hygiene items. For many, this was the first gift they ever received.
The neighborhoods her team visited were some of the “poorest of the poor,” according to local pastors.
“There was no electricity or plumbing,” said Lanctot. “Many homes did not have window panes or doors. At one distribution event, the temperature was only 50 degrees and some children didn’t have warm clothes.”
Parents do their best there to provide warm clothes; however, they don’t have much money. One mother told Lanctot, “I have to decide between food, clothing or school supplies. It’s hard. Because of these gifts, all of my children can attend school. I’m praising God for sending you here from America to our humble neighborhood. Please continue to pray for us as we will be praising God for you.”
A simple shoebox gift, or as the Tanzanian parents called them, an “enormous” gift, brings smiles, laughter, joy and hope to millions of children, families and communities each year. Each gift is a tangible example of God’s love.
Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 168 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories. Anyone can be part of the ministry by packing a shoebox.
During Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection Week Nov. 18 – 25, local residents can drop off gift-filled shoeboxes at multiple locations across southwest Ohio. Fayette Bible Church, 1315 Dayton Ave. in Washington Court House, is one of these locations.
For more information on how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, contact Barb Lanctot at 937-218-1964 or visit samaritanspurse.org/occ.