VALLEJO - On occasion there are churches that do things over the top.
When it comes to Operation Christmas Child, Vallejo International Baptist Church does exactly that. With average attendance of 55, including children, members of VIBC put together 722 shoeboxes full of love and Christmas gifts for children around the world. People in the church have become experts at looking for bargains throughout the year, and stockpile their finds. One family put together 90 boxes this year.
It's amazing to watch people arrive at church on collection Sunday and see their cars and vans packed to the roof, on the floor, and the trunk totally full. The boxes are brought in and stacked against the sanctuary walls. Some years the church has to make two rows because the wall space is filled.
Operation Christmas Child Relay Center
Not only does VIBC collect boxes from their own church, they also serve as one of several "relay centers" in Solano County. Various churches, organizations and individuals drop off their filled shoeboxes during the national collection week. As the shoeboxes are received, they are first prayed over, then counted and packed into shipping cartons. This year a total of 2,104 shoeboxes passed through the VIBC relay center.
The shipping cartons are delivered to the regional collection center in Vacaville, and are loaded onto tractor-trailers. Those then head to Orange County to one of the processing centers for the West Coast.
Volunteering at the Southern California Processing Center on Thanksgiving weekend
This is not the last time VIBC members see the boxes. Every Thanksgiving weekend, a large group volunteers a few days at the processing center. This year, 28 spent their Thanksgiving weekend serving.
At the processing center, each shoebox is inspected for inappropriate items such as things that will melt, leak or break, which could damage the boxes during transport. The volunteers ensure that each shoebox is filled with gift items appropriate for a boy or girl in several age categories.
Every step of the way, the boxes are prayed over as they are then shipped to their destination. VIBC shares OCC's belief that prayer is the most important thing that goes with each shoebox. This year, the shoeboxes processed from the West Coast are going to children in the Philippines, Peru, Nepal and Indonesia.
Organized by Samaritan's Purse in 1993, more than 113 million gift-filled shoeboxes have been collected and delivered to children in more than 150 countries through Operation Christmas Child. The mission of OCC is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Local ministry partners distribute the shoeboxes to the children.
Boxes distributed and gospel shared
In many places, a discipleship program called "The Greatest Journey" is offered to children after they receive their shoebox gifts. Through the program, ministry partners establish long-term, caring relationships with children and families by sharing the love of Christ.
Sunbeam Arcilla is OCC coordinator for Vallejo International. As a year-round volunteer, she plans and implements OCC-related activities in the church and the relay center. One of her main goals is to keep the ministry going throughout the year and get more people to participate.
For more information visit www.samaritanspurse.org.