We’ve all heard about Operation Christmas Child and the 146 million children who have received those shoe boxes. How many of us, though, have actually heard from a child who opened one? CSU’s chapel service provided not one, but two of those recipients to tell what it meant to open that box with wings on it.
Nadezhda Ivanova is a CSU sophomore from Bulgaria. She received a shoe box at the age of three. Her parents were missionaries. “We didn’t have a lot,” she told the chapel audience, “but God spoke to me through that shoe box.” Ivanova has never forgotten the love expressed in that box from people she didn’t know. She still remembers the joy of opening it and laughingly admits that, “I was even excited to get a tube of toothpaste.”
Dania Yadago was born in the Middle East. Living in poverty, she and her brother often went to bed without any food. “All of our clothes were used, often I’d get my brother’s clothes,” Dania revealed to the CSU students. Her mom constantly told Dania to pray and to trust God.
As a young girl, she remembers all the children gathering in church where there were big, brown boxes on the stage. Each child’s name was called and each child was given a shoe box. Her mom required Dania to wait until she got home to open it. When she finally was able to look inside, “Everything was new! I always got used stuff,” she now exclaims. Her box included a slinky, decorated pencils and a Beanie Baby. “There was also a small bar of soap and it made the entire box smell good.”
Her family had been praying to receive a radio so that they could hear the latest news from their native country. As she felt around the box, she discovered another smaller box. Inside was a small radio.
With the millions of children who opened boxes that year in more than 100 countries, “How did I get the box with a radio in it?”
Dania now works for Operation Christmas Child and every time she packs a box, she knows that “every box represents a face.” That box made Dania feel special. It also confirmed for her that God has a reason and a purpose for what he has planned for us.
Charleston Southern students will pack an estimated 2000 such boxes in a campus-wide effort to support Operation Christmas Child. Each box will contain simple gifts, plus the gospel. Who knows the impact it might make on the young child who opens it.