WILD PEACH VILLAGE, Texas (Christian Examiner) – If the 25 members of Grace Baptist Church in a village southwest of Houston thought packing 500 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in 2014 was a challenge, they were skeptical when their pastor Mark Brumbelow and his wife Cherry proposed the goal of 2,000 for 2015.
"It is no bigger of a deal to God to fill 2,000 boxes than it was to fill 500," Mark said.
The couple's commitment to the Operation Christmas Child project started in 2013, when their congregation provided 43 boxes, more than twice as many as usual, they told Samaritan's Purse. Then they drove to Dallas to volunteer at the processing center where the region's boxes were prepared for shipment.
On the drive home, Cherry felt called to pack 500 boxes.
"That'd be nice!" Mark remembers thinking, although he believed the task was impossible. "But if you want us to do it," he prayed to the Lord, "we'll do the best we can, and get as far as we can in that direction. I just think you're asking too much of us."
Then the Lord accomplished a miracle. Cherry obtained the 500 boxes by making periodic trips to a local shoe store, and the congregation and family filled the boxes throughout the year. But the church still needed to collect a $7 donation per box to cover the cost of shipping.
The boxes are filled with age-appropriate toys, hygiene items like toothpaste and toothbrushes, and school supplies. They are shipped around the world and carry with them prayers and the good news of Jesus.
At the last minute, God provided more funds than needed through the regular generosity of the congregation and a donation from a visitor. The church sent the extra money to cover the cost of gifts given to Operation Christmas Child without the requested $7 shipping amount.
After volunteering again at the processing center, the Brumbelows heard their new call: 2,000 boxes.
"I believe the highest form of worship we give to God is when we offer up to Him what we've sacrificially given," Mark said.
FOR THE KIDS
The church worked all year long to accomplish the goal, which was fulfilled this past Saturday, Nov. 7. Church members arrived for a packing party, and when they were done, the boxes lined the church's walls, aisles, and floors.
Cherry and the church members laid hands on the boxes. She prayed, "Give these boxes to the boys and girls they're just right for. We pray for every child, every community that will be impacted by these boxes."
Far from impacting the church's finances, the project has yielded greater financial security and increased giving to other ministry opportunities.
This year, the church's shipping goal of over $14,000 was met by a gift from someone outside the church, in addition to the funds raised by members.
"We haven't done anything special, but seek to obey God and what He's told us to do," Mark said. "There's nothing special about Grace Baptist Church or its preacher. But I tell you there's something mighty special about the God that we serve."
The church members have responded to the call to obedience in giving and learned the joy of serving others.
Church member Charlie Meazles, a Korean War veteran, said, "I do it for the kids everywhere. I hope they come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior."
Learn about the impact of Operation Christmas Child and how to pack a box on their website.