With the celebration of Christmas just four days away, no doubt most of us moms are busy placing the final touches on the upcoming holiday. I know I can’t help myself from getting caught up in the excitement of it all–the anticipation of sitting around that beautifully lit tree, exchanging gifts, and watching the joy spread wide across my children’s faces. I rejoice in the time spent with family, the magnificence of the holiday itself, and the birth of our Savior.
Christmas is such a magical time of year, isn’t it?
However, this past October–as I sat in a crowded conference room with over 450 bloggers and authors, and as a young man took to the stage– I received one of the best gifts I could ever have been given. Yes—a Christmas present in October of all things.
In 1994, Alex Nsengimana was just five years old when his country of Rwanda was torn apart by genocide. After witnessing the brutal deaths of his grandmother and uncle at the hand of his neighbor, this young boy was sent to live in an orphanage. Miraculously, his life had been spared, but what followed immediately after, were days of desperation and suffering…days without hope.
But a door was opening.
You see, just one week before Christmas, Alex received a gift from Operation Christmas Child. It was a shoebox filled with items for the young boy to play with. It was a gift that not only brought excitement and a smile to his face, but also provided hope to a young boy who had been through so much. It was then that he realized someone out there cared. And it was right there, through that box filled with goodies, where Alex reunited with God.
And it changed everything. It changed his life.
“When I received my shoebox, I was reminded of God’s love for me and the hope that I had in Him,” Alex said. “So I hope and I pray that will be the case for these kids, that whatever they’re going through in their lives, they can be reminded that someone out there loves them. But the most important thing of all is that Jesus Christ loves them and cares about them.”
Now twenty-five years-old, Alex ministers to other children through Operation Christmas Child. He speaks of forgiveness and the compassion of Christ. He shares love and spreads joy. And all it took was one gift–one selfless act of a stranger to change this young man’s life… to restore his hope…to ignite his faith.
Friends, Alex’s message, his testimony, and his words left our crowd in tears that fall afternoon. We were so moved by what we had heard, what we had witnessed, and the difference that one act of love could make in another’s life.
And it was simply beautiful. It was inspiring. It was a gift.
This Christmas, as you sit around that tree and enjoy your family, remember the story of Alex, and his message of hope. Remember that the real and true gifts are the blessings we can bestow upon another, the memories in which we share, and the miracle of this life we’ve been given.
The gift is in the giving.
It’s in spreading goodwill to another and sharing the love of Christ.
And Jesus. It’s about the beautiful, amazing, miraculous gift of our Savior.
Merry Christmas, friends.
To find out more about Alex, his story, and Operation Christmas Child, click here: