Hello dear church! My name is Victoria Hays and I’m a wife and a mother to 3 sweet girls and 2 foster kids. My husband and I live in Torrance, CA, but before I married my husband I lived in Belarus, a former USSR country in Eastern Europe. I wanted to share with you a testimony of God’s goodness of how He brought me to be a follower of Christ and a daughter of the Almighty. You may have heard how our church is participating in Operation Christmas Child. I want to contribute to the excitement of getting ready by sharing my story!
My family growing up didn’t have much. My mom worked really hard on 2 jobs while my dad went through periods of alcoholism. I grew up in a family that didn’t live by God’s standards, but God had a plan to bring me to His family (as well as some of my family members). When I was an elementary child, my family hit rock bottom. We couldn’t afford to buy pens for school so we would refill the ink in the old pens. My classmates knew that I was from a poor family and they made fun of me constantly. One time a teacher asked me to get better pens because she had trouble reading my homework (the ink was too light). I left class crying that day. The weather was getting colder, I kept outgrowing my gloves and socks.
One day a friend told my mom that a church was giving out gift boxes for kids, and naturally our family qualified. The friend brought these boxes to school and distributed them among the teachers. That was the first time I saw God miraculously reaching down to come to our aid. The box that I got was probably from Germany and had all sorts of useful things. I got new pens and color pencils, cool erasers and pencil sharpeners. There were notebooks and even new gloves and socks that fit me! The next day I went to school no longer feeling ashamed of my cheap school supplies but proud because somebody somewhere in the world loved me and sent me a love message from far away. After that year I received a few more boxes before I aged out.
Since that Christmas, the church started encouraging people to come pick boxes up strictly at church. The superstition in Belarus teaches people that if they enter a protestant church, it could be dangerous and might cost them their life (as if it was some crazy sect). Some people seriously believe that baptists are a cult that sacrifices chickens. By receiving free gifts for local kids, people brave entering the church building to find out that it’s not a sect but a Bible studying congregation. The church where I eventually began my spiritual growth would put on a Gospel centered show for the kids that come at Christmas and give out Operation Christmas child boxes.
For years after that first box arrived I kept the shoebox above my wardrobe, partially because I needed a box to store my childhood treasures and partially to remind myself that I was loved by God and by somebody who was God’s helper.
Lighthouse Church! Let’s be that someone for a child this Christmas.
Now because of my experience, my whole family is excited to send these boxes every year. I start crocheting beanies in the summer and buy school supplies on sale at the back-to-school sale even though it’s way too early. My whole family is supportive and excited to help out, adults and kids, everybody packs 2 boxes each year. These are simple ways to tell the kids that they are loved by a family they never met and ultimately loved by God.