How God changed my heart towards giving

For the next few months, through a series of three articles, I will try to capture how God changed my heart towards giving and changed my direction in ministry.

About 18 years ago my wife Lori started filling Shoe Boxes to ship all over the world to children who have never received a gift before. My Christian thoughts at the time was that this was nice and the right thing to do but I was busy in the working world and probably still a little into myself and our needs more than the needs for others.

Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child was the organization that my wife was providing boxes to. This organization would then distribute them to many different countries around the world. Samaritans Purse has been doing this ministry for 21 years and has distributed over 100 million shoe box gifts in over 100 countries.

My thoughts when she started was ok a few boxes can have an impact on a few kids. I was ok with this small token of giving, although she was doing it I was a part from a distance so it made me feel good. It had a very small financial impact so all was good. Little did I know God was at work in my heart through my wife’s passion for giving to others?

For the next 5 or 6 years I watched her shop, create craft ideas, pack boxes and get others involved in this ministry. Then we moved from California to Idaho. Now that I was retired and thinking of hunting, fishing, outdoors, no job, Yeah, the good life. We joined a local church and got really involved in leadership and home groups. As my Christian walk started to grow feet, God started to open my heart to His will with regards to giving. I told Lori maybe we should get more involved with Samaritan’s Purse as well.

Of course she was excited and we volunteered to open a relay center in Athol Idaho at our home. A relay center collects Shoebox’s from local churches, individuals and community organizations and delivers them to a collection facility during the week before Thanksgiving.

My thoughts were, “this is great I can commit a small amount of time and money and be serving.” Oh, and making my wife happy as well. Her passion for this ministry was growing larger and larger.

I understood the process. A child receives a box from Jesus, hears and reads the gospel message, receives salvation and shares it with their families. I understood and was excited to be a part of this process.

Then it happened. My wife had to go help her mother through a medical situation in California during, you guessed it, Collection Week (the third week in November). I was left here to manage the relay center. In the past my job was to count and place the boxes in a carton and deliver them to Spokane at the end of collection week. Now I was dealing with people that were bringing boxes to the relay center and volunteers that helped the process run smooth.

This week was a turning point for my relationship with God and my relationship with Samaritans Purse. I learned that it was not only the receiving child, family, and community that is affected by the gift but the givers are affected as well. A van pulled up from a local Baptist church and the two ladies were and had been crying. I asked them what was going on and could I pray for them. There cry was from joy. There small church of 120 people had given over 100 boxes and was filled with joy because of the spiritual bonding that took place in their fellowship. This got me; I had never thought of the giver being blessed, only the receiver. God revealed to me that although I was giving I needed the right heart to find joy in it.

Next month I will share how God has used this ministry to not only change my heart but change my direction in ministry.

God Bless you all,
In His Grip,
Cliff Hall, Area Coordinator, North Idaho Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child