Sunday, August 1, 2010
Lead Me to the Cross - It's Operation Christmas Child time!!!!!!
(sharing my testimony with volunteers at Charlotte, NC processing center)
I was born in a small country of Belarus, located near Russia. In 1986, when I was two years old, Chernobyl happened. The nuclear explosion contaminated with radiation the land and the lives of many people. From the words of my grandmother (I was too young to remember anything), my parent were out of town the day the accident happened. It was a sunny day with a demonstration being held down town of my city of Mogilev. While adults were participating in a parade, us, children, were playing outside at a kindergarten. Because my grandmother was a doctor, she was one of the first people to be notified of the nuclear explosion. She rushed to get me from the kindergarten and informed the teacher to keep children inside. For the next several days I stayed home under my grandmother’s watch. One of the major side effects of the radiation is thyroid cancer. I am blessed and as far as I know my health was not affected by this tragedy. To keep things on a brighter side, I joke that I glow from time to time, but it is because I love the Lord. In fact because of the accident, God has opened many doors in my life and I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination.
When I was 6 years old, my mama took me to a church, whose doors just opened. For the next 10 years the church played an important part in my life. It was during these years that I prayed and prayed for my family. Growing up my daddy drank, which often resulted in my parents arguing. It also lead me to spend a lot of time on my knees praying, crying and begging God to restore my family. Let me pause for a second and let you know that I have the world’s greatest dad, who has a heart of gold. And my mom, well she is just the greatest mama I could have asked for. Needless to say, God has blessed me very much with my family, it just my daddy had the chains of alcohol wrapped around him. What made this matter most difficult is that neither my mom nor my dad knew the Lord then nor know Him today. I would covet your prayers if you can lift them up in your prayer today.
Prayer is a powerful tool, yet often as a child I felt that God was silent to my prayer and wondered if He was even listening to my cries. Today I know that He cares so much that He even bottles my tears. In Psalm 56:8 it says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each on in your book.” Isn’t it amazing to know that God cares about us that much?! I sure do find comfort in this verse.
As time passed, the Lord reminded of His comfort, when one day my classmates and I were instructed to go to our classroom. The bright and beautifully wrapped shoe boxes, sponsored by the Samaritan's Purse, were all piled in the corner of the classroom. The joy of receiving a gift from overseas made us all very happy. We could not wait to pick out our own box and see what goodies we received. For the next day, week and what felt like a month we all asked each other, “What did you get? And what did you get?” More than any toy or school supply, every single child wanted to receive a letter in his or her shoe box. Unfortunately only 1 or 2 children in my class received a letter and we were all so jealous that we could not write and thank the family for the gift.
I am sure you are all wondering what I have received in my shoe box! Drum roll please….
Well. I hate to disappoint you, but I can not remember. My mom remembers toys, colorful pens and pencils, but all the content of my box have been completely wiped out from my memory. I joke that if I knew that God was going to use me ten years later to share my testimony, I would have written it down. But I did not know and did not write it down. As I wondered why didn’t God allow me to retain in my memory all the goodies that I received, and one day He revealed to me as I was sharing my testimony with a congregation in small town in Arkansas. When it was time to tell the congregation about me not remembering the content of thebox, I froze. And right then, right there, the Lord has revealed it to me the truth. The reason that I do not remember all the items is because they were not that important.
Now let me explain to you why the toys, candy and school supplies were not important before you quit reading. Candy won’t fill up a tummy of a hungry child in Africa for years; toys may comfort a broken heart of a child in Russia for only days. Pens will be lost and broken. BUT the message of Jesus Christ that the shoe box carries, gives the eternal hope that is found in my Savior to a child! God is so much bigger than any shoe box and He uses a simple shoe box to answer some children’s prayers and to remind others that He loves them so much. As I look back in my life and wonder what the shoe box meant to me, the Lord brings me to Joshua 1:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The days that I prayed as a child and wondered if God was listening, He gently reminded me through a stranger’s kindness that He was there when I wept and He was there when I rejoiced. He did not leave my side. This makes me want to SHOUT and praise His name!!! I don’t know the family who packed my shoe box, but I sure am thankful for their obedience of gving me the gift.
A year after I received a shoe box, God opened the door for me to come to the US to attend high school. A loving family in South Carolina opened their hearts and their home for me to finish high school. During the youth trip in high school, I came to have a personal relationship with the Lord. After my high school graduation, I went on to majoring in international business at the University of South Carolina thinking that I will be a CEO one day living in a New York City. Today I am happy to report that I am not a CEO and I do not live in a New York City. In fact, the Lord has molded me during my college years and shortly after my graduation I went on a mission trip to Kenya for one month. Two weeks after the mission trip I married a man of dreams, whom I am happily married now for three years.
In a fall the Lord blesses me beyond my imagination by keeping me busy as I travel to different churches and share my testimony. I always meet the most wonderful people and always blessed by their desire to serve the Lord through the Operation Christmas Child. If you ever participated or will participate in this project, Thank You for blessing me and all the children around the world through a simple gift of a shoe box.
But before I let you go, we need your help!!! Would you share this story with someone today? If you have a blog, will you link up and share with your readers? If you have a tweeter, will you tweet? If you have a Sunday school class, will you share it? If you have a friend, will you e-mail it? The goal is to involve as many people as possible in this wonderful project, so many more children around the world can experience the blessing of a simple shoe box. At the end God will get all the glory, honor and praise!
If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Blessing a child with one shoe box at a time,