Each Christmas our church has a massive drive to fill shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse to distribute to children around the world. In these shoeboxes we place small toys, school supplies, personal hygiene items and other similar things. My wife, Kelly, recently read about an 8-year-old girl who had never received a gift before getting a Christmas shoebox.
Every year Kelly and I not only give Christmas gifts to our kids, but also fill a Christmas shoebox for each of our five children. These are given to the church’s shoebox drive. Samaritan’s Purse allows those giving a shoebox to track online where our boxes are eventually delivered. Kelly recently learned this year our shoeboxes went to Haiti, Benin and Ukraine. We were especially excited to hear at least one shoebox was sent to Ukraine.
During Kelly’s research on the deliveries, she came across a very moving story. Shoeboxes sent to a church in Moldova did not arrive in time to be distributed last Christmas. This has worked out surprisingly well because Ukrainian refugee children are now staying at that church. Had these boxes been delivered “as scheduled” they would have been lost in the chaos of war, but now are providing a small bright spot in a displaced child’s chaotic life.
I am convinced God had a plan for these boxes to arrive in Moldova when they did. The church’s pastor explained that giving these traumatized children a shoebox helps calm stress and anxiety for both them and their parents. Every shoebox communicates someone cared enough to give this child something to smile about. According to Samaritan’s Purse, getting these fun gifts right now helps create a happier environment and lets refugee families temporarily forget what they are being forced to endure. Once parents and children are safe, in a warm shelter, and have a good meal, this church also shares the story of Jesus’ love.
It is remarkable how these boxes arrived late but came at just the right time to help overwhelmed families when they most needed encouragement. The prophet Jeremiah encouraged God’s people when he penned these words during a trying time, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)
What looked like bad timing in Moldova is currently being used for good. I do not know what is going badly in your life, but I am convinced God is always at work around us. None of us ever fully grasps all God is doing during personal, national or international tragedies like those currently happening in Ukraine, but rest assured, God is at work even when you and I cannot see it.