“But Mom, I wanted to help you.” His voice was quiet; on the verge of shaky. I could picture the trembling lip. His words were coated in disappointment.

Every year I try to involve our boys in packing Christmas Shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Millions of these boxes are packed each year with toys, books, hygiene products, and school supplies, and then sent overseas to children in poverty. Children who have never had a new toy. Or a toothbrush. Or a hug. Or hope.

I had planned on taking our four-year-old, Zeke, and two-year-old, Ellis, to the store to pick out items for these kids. I imagined that this year Zeke might begin to understand the idea of poverty, and the importance of loving these kids through these gifts.

But then life happened. And I Amazon Primed our Operation Christmas Child supplies.


The day we were supposed to go pack our items into boxes with our church group, we were all sick with head colds. And so I simply dropped our bag of items off at church. We were driving home from delivering our items when he spoke it from the backseat. “I wanted to help with the boxes.”

My husband looked over at me. “You should pack a few more with him.”

And so my boy and I made a trip to the store together and gathered items to pack boxes for three more boys.

This morning I had planned on packing those boxes with Zeke and Ellis. But first, I played a few videos on the Operation Christmas Child website for them. They watched as children of all ages, colors, and backgrounds beamed ear to ear as they opened their Christmas boxes.


As we watched those videos together, we talked about joy. And poverty. And sadness. And Jesus’ love. And hope.

And when Zeke saw the raggedy old tents that the children were living in, he turned to me and said, “Mama, we need to go make them a house.”

This is when I clutched my two boys near, and I broke down.

“We need to get more things for them, Mama. We need to help them.” he told me.

And you can bet that we threw our shoes on and rushed off to target to do just that.


While I was trying to teach my boys the importance of meeting people in their need and loving them to Jesus, they ended up teaching me something big, too. They showed me that while we still have more to give—then we need to give it. Why stop at convenience?

While there is still a need, and we are able, then we have a job to do. “A mission!” as my boys put it.

“This is a great day!” Zeke told me as we drove to gather more supplies. And then once they were all packed, my boy and I prayed over the boxes together, and the little boys and girls who would receive them. He and I drove to a drop off location, and delivered our boxes. And as he walked out of the church, empty handed, there were no tears. In fact, he was beaming.

He walked away proud, exclaiming one thing: “Wow!”

Last year I read a book compiled of stories from kids who have received these boxes over the years. And it changed my life. Because it ends up that these boxes are about much, much more than giving toys to kids. When those children are handed that box, they are also handed the Gospel. Each child, after receiving their box, goes through a discipleship program. They learn who Jesus is, and that He loves them, and that He has met their greatest need, for a Savior.

Little boys and girls across the globe are finding hope. And it does not stop there. One shoe box has the potential of impacting whole communities. Families are coming to Christ. Villages are transforming. Communities are finding hope. Eternity is shifting.

And right in the midst of it all—my boys are being deeply impacted as well. Not all of us have the opportunity to go and hand these boxes directly into children’s hands. But we do have the opportunity to witness how the act of giving these boxes can transform our own child.


God is using this ministry to impact the world and lead millions of people to Christ—and it is not too late to allow your child the opportunity to be a part of it.

National Collection Week Is Coming Up! (Updated: November 13 – 20, 2017). Here is how to get involved.

1. Click here to learn how to pack a shoe box

2. Click here to find a drop off location near you

3. Watch  some of these videos with your child, and talk about the importance of loving people and telling them about Jesus.

4. Pray with your children over the boxes and the children who will receive them.

5. Watch what God does in your own child’s heart.

In the midst of a season tainted by consumerism, we have an incredible opportunity to involve our children in God’s great mission. One shoe box at a time. The world can be changed. And your child can be forever changed, too.


Eryn Lynum is a speaker and the author of 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting. (Bethany House Publishers, 2018) She lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and three boys, where they spend their time hiking, camping, and exploring the Rocky Mountains. She loves to travel and share at conferences, churches, and writers’ groups. Every opportunity she gets, she is out exploring God’s creation with her family.