Operation Christmas Child to send gift-filled shoeboxes to Rwandan children
How does one respond when coming face to face with someone who killed members of your family? Where does someone find the strength and grace needed to forgive the perpetrator of such evil?
This was the challenging dilemma confronting 24-year-old Alex Nsengimana when he visited the Kigali prison last year to meet the man who had taken the lives of those closest to him during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Alex's journey to forgive this man started with a simple, gift-filled shoebox he had received as an orphan in 1995 boy through Operation Christmas Child, a campaign run by the charity Samaritan's Purse in the UK.
Alex's healing process came full circle, when he returned to Rwanda last year to deliver shoebox gifts through Operation Christmas Child.
"While there I didn't expect to be able to meet the man who killed my uncle, but when the Lord orchestrated that during my trip, I began to feel as though I could see the destination at the end of the road.
"Saying the words, 'I forgive you,' to this man brought to the surface many painful memories. But I am now left with the peace that only Christ can give, and I will spend my life sharing with others how they can receive His peace and forgiveness."
Over the past 23 years, through the global efforts of Operation Christmas Child, 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes have been delivered to needy children, like Alex, in 156 countries around the world.
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Samaritan's Purse is calling on churches, schools and other organisations across the UK to help another million children begin that journey towards hope through Operation Christmas Child this year.
For the first time, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide in 2014, a container filled with gift-filled shoeboxes from donors in the UK will be sent to Rwanda.
To make it easier for organisers to get hold of shoeboxes, Operation Christmas Child can now provide decorative 'GO' boxes, available flat-packed in cases of 100. These boxes can not only be used by individuals finding it difficult to find shoeboxes, but they can also be shared with their friends, families and work colleagues – anyone who has a heart for children!
To find out how you can be part of this year's Operation Christmas Child campaign go to: www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/alex
Watch a video of Alex's powerful story of forgiveness here: