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FBCL serves as Operation Christmas Child relay center

With the Christmas season in full swing now, the time for buying and sending gifts is upon us.

While we here in America are blessed to be able to wake up on Christmas morning with a plentiful amount of gifts, many children around the world do not see these same blessings.

Through the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child, people worldwide are able to pack Christmas boxes and send them to children in other countries who otherwise may never have the chance to have a merry Christmas.

“I have given gifts through the years by doing the boxes, and my mother passed away last February. She had always worked with Operation Christmas Child,” said Shelia Butler of First Baptist Church of Luverne (FBCL).

“After her death when I was going through some of her things, I found a shoebox that she had already prepared, and I turned it in. That just made me know that I wanted to be apart of it, so I could continue my mother’s legacy.”

This year, FBCL served as the relay center for Operation Christmas Child boxes in Crenshaw County, and the group was able to take in a total of 1,314 boxes.

“We were very pleased. We had some people who were not able to participate or maybe didn’t get the information in time, so we’re hoping we can have more next year,” Butler said.

“But we were pleased with the outpouring of gifts for the children. It was just brought to our attention that they needed a new service area, so our women’s group and pastor, Clay Crum, decided that was something we’d like to do to make sure that the children receive their gifts.”

Butler credits members of the FBCL Women’s Missionary Organization, Jewel Killough, Ann Taylor and Rosalyn Brown, as the main advocates for the idea of their church becoming the relay center.

“It went wonderfully. It was our first year and there are things we hope we can do better next year, and hopefully we can get a lot more people involved,” Butler said of their first year as the relay center.

After the boxes are collected from across Crenshaw County, they are organized, packed up and taken to Troy and then to the packing and distribution warehouse in Atlanta.

“It helps spread the gospel. Not only is it a shoebox ministry, but when the boxes are delivered, it’s a follow-up ministry by witnessing to them and trying to bring more children and families to Christ,” Butler said.

“I just think if we follow the Great Commission, then it’s our job to spread the gospel. This is just a manner that we feel like we can do it and reach those children. If you reach the children, you reach the parents in most situations. The good news of Jesus Christ needs to go forward.”