10 December 2012
Jesus House sends 8,000 Christmas shoeboxes to Liberia
Jesus House Church in Brent Cross, London, filled a container of 8,000 gift-filled shoeboxes for needy children in Liberia, in only their first year of taking part in Operation Christmas Child.
A large team of volunteers danced and worshipped while loading the shoeboxes.
A long line was formed with people, of all ages and from all walks of life, passing the boxes to each other and onto the container until it was completely full.
"I read about Operation Christmas Child in our church magazine and thought it would be great for Jesus House Church to get involved," said Sola Irukwu, head of church social responsibility at Jesus House.
"We originally thought we'd do 5,000 shoeboxes, but we were told that 8,000 boxes would fill a container; I thought it would be great if we could do that."
Sola, whose husband Agu is senior pastor at Jesus House and a member of the Alliance's One People Commission, added:"The response here at Jesus House has been amazing. Wrapping and packing 8,000 boxes has been a collective effort of all the different groups that make up Jesus House – the kids, the women's ministry, the men who have driven all over London and beyond as far as Evesham picking up shoeboxes, and numerous donations from members in cash and kind. For most of us it was a life-changing experience."
Simon Barrington, UK executive director for Samaritan's Purse, who was there to help load the shoeboxes was overwhelmed by the response of the church.
He said: "It's absolutely incredible that from one church in their first year of being involved in Operation Christmas Child they've really caught the vision for the programme of making a difference for children who otherwise wouldn't have got a present. But they've also caught the understanding that this is about showing God's love to children in need in countries across the world."
Simon explained how these gifts will make a huge difference to children who are still feeling the impact of many years of civil war that ended in Liberia in 2004.
"Children became child soldiers and lost their mothers and fathers; many today are malnourished," Simon said. "So the children there are in desperate need and wouldn't be used to opening presents at any time of year let alone at Christmas.These presents will go to children aged between four and 14 and when they open them around Christmas time you can just imagine the joy and the excitement."
Over the past 22 years, through Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan's Purse has delivered 94 million shoeboxes to needy children in over 100 countries.Simon is calling on everyone to help them reach this year's historic milestone of delivering their 100 millionth shoebox:
While the general deadline for dropping of shoeboxes has now passed there's good news for people too busy to wrap and pack shoeboxes; through Shoebox World, now in its third year, busy folk, or those who are unable to get out, can create and send their shoebox/es online.
Online shoeboxes can be created from £11 and Shoebox World will be taking orders from anyone living in the UK, or those with UK credit cards living abroad, up to and including Christmas Day.