What can God do with a shoebox?

Da Bebe in her traditional pagna dress.

By Elizabeth Greenlee

With National Collections Week for Operation Christmas Child around the corner, I thought this would be the perfect time to share this beautiful story of how God’s love and gospel is being spread here in Togo through these shoeboxes!  I have been praying for so long for God to give me the opportunity to go on a distribution to see how these boxes are impacting people’s lives first hand or to see a distribution first hand while here in Togo.

Yesterday God answered my prayer in a way I hadn’t considered, He allowed me to meet this sweet Christian woman whose daughter received a shoebox about three years ago. Here is their story and a little gift for all those shoebox packers and volunteers with this ministry:

Today three missionary ladies, who are serving together with us at the hospital, and I went to Kpalime (pronounced Paleemay) a town about 35 minutes south of our hospital and mission station.  Saturdays are market days there, which means vendors come out and set up their booths full of fruits, vegetables, fabric (oh how I adore the fabric selection here!), tupperware,  pots and pans, clothes, school supplies, and so many things I’m not quite sure what they all are. They even sell knitted hats, which they do wear by the way. So if you ever worry about packing a winter hat in your shoebox, don’t. They actually get cold here and wear winter coats and hats!!

Shopping here takes a long time as you weave through long narrow streets and alleyways filled with vendors looking for the best looking fruit and veggies for the best price or any other supplies you might chance across. If you see it today you need to buy it today because it most likely won’t be there next week.  Between the crazy and sometimes noxious smells, loud noise, moto traffic coming in and out of the market streets, the hot sun and humidity, and constantly having to be on guard and aware of your surroundings, these market days can be physically and mentally exhausting! Despite all of chaos, it is still such a fun way to venture out into the community and meet so many different people, some who have come to the hospital before and are now a part of this amazing ministry here in Togo.

After a long day of trying to find all the supplies I needed for the week, we came across this tiny fabric booth that just caught my eye.  It had the sweetest flower-patterned fabric that I thought my seamstress could turn into an adorable little play dress for Maeve, who, by the way, needs more skirts than you’d expect since she plays so hard and gets them so dirty and stained in this red clay mud here. I wouldn’t have it any other way though. She is happy as a clam and enjoying her life here which does this mama’s heart good!

After purchasing a pagna of fabric (which is about 2 yards and costs roughly $3.50) my friend Christine looked over and got all excited and started speaking with the Togolese woman working at the fabric booth.  She introduced me to her and said “this woman has an incredible story I need to share with you!” After talking with this sweet woman with an incredibly contagious laugh and smile, I learned that her daughter had received a shoebox about 3 years ago!

I couldn’t believe it! God gave me a little gift here and an answer to my prayer!

Her name was Da Bebe and her daughter’s name is Sharon. Sharon is 13 years-old now, and had received a shoebox at the age of 10.  What makes this story particularly praiseworthy is that Da Bebe is a Christian woman who God is using in incredible ways to minister to the people in her community.

She runs a pregnancy crisis center for young moms and pregnant woman, all in the name of Jesus.

When she was pregnant with Sharon she had many complications due to diabetes and was eventually sent to our hospital up in Tsiko where she stayed for two months.  Sharon was born prematurely and, at under 2 pounds, was the smallest baby ever born in the hospital!  Sharon was named after the missionary nurse who still works here and teaches at a nursing school co-located with the hospital. Sharon, the nurse, had cared for the mother and baby over those scary couple of months in the hospital.

And here’s where OCC comes in. At the age of 10 Sharon received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox from her local church.  She told her mom she wanted to open it back home and share it with the neighborhood children.  So she gathered the local kids and did just that!  Afterwards Sharon started inviting children to come to her home and listen to bible stories.

Three years later what started as a small gathering turned into a large gathering of over 110 kids coming to play and hear God’s word!  It also gave root and new vigor to a children’s camp ministry there, which had been previously interrupted due to a lack Togolese teachers willing and able to run it! Hundreds of kids are coming to Christ every year as a result of the work that God did through a single shoe box and this miracle baby born at our own Hopital Baptiste Biblique! 

One Response to “What can God do with a shoebox?”

  1.   Jeannie Skillman Says:

    This is such an exciting affirmation of the hope OCC shoeboxes put in all of our lives. We all know in our hearts the good work the shoeboxes have in placing Jesus in the hearts of people who might not otherwise have heard about Christianity. To know that Elizabeth, who works tirelessly on this project, was able to hear first hand what an impact one shoebox had on so many is exhilarating.

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