FBC Rutledge aims for nearly 1-to-4 ratio of attendance, Christmas shoe boxescomment (0)
November 14, 2013
By Anna Keller
When Fran Christian retired and moved back to her childhood hometown of Rutledge, she didn’t even know what Operation Christmas Child (OCC) was. But seven years ago, when she found out her church — First Baptist Church, Rutledge — was looking for a new OCC director, she went ahead and volunteered to help address the need.
“I went online and found out about the program,” Christian said. “Then, after the first year, I was able to visit the distribution center in Atlanta, and everything totally changed. It just fired me up.”
And it’s truly been remarkable how much Christian and members of the Alabama-Crenshaw Baptist Association church have been able to accomplish during the past few years.
First, Rutledge, is one of hundreds of Alabama Baptist churches that participate in OCC.
OCC is a missions outreach fueled by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian humanitarian organization that targets people in need as part of their outreach. OCC donors pack shoe boxes with everything from school supplies to toiletries to small toy items and send them to Samaritan’s Purse to be distributed across the globe as needed.
Though Christian’s church averages about 30 in attendance each Sunday, they’ve donated 100 OCC boxes each year for the past five years. And in 2013, Christian said, they’re aiming for 115.
“I’ve told (fellow church members), ‘We think that Rutledge, Alabama, is so small and we can’t do anything, and what I want to get through to y’all is to know that we all can be missionaries,’” she said. “Every box that you help fill is a [missions] trip to whatever child receives it.”
Christian keeps a close eye on sales in the area and passes along those updates to church members. She even has the information added to the church bulletin and starts making announcements about OCC as early as August each year.
She gathers all the items and, once they have enough to pack at least 50 boxes, hosts a “packing party” in the fellowship hall. Anyone who’s interested can come and help load the boxes with goodies and prepare them to be shipped to recipients. In addition to the gift items, each box contains a letter from the church letting the child who receives the box know that a group of people in Alabama loves them and that God loves them too.
Ruth Morgan, a member of First, Rutledge, has been donating to OCC for as long as the church has participated in the program, and said she feels proud to be able to help children who don’t have access to as much as Americans do.
“We saw photos showing the kids smiling when they got things in the shoebox,” Morgan said. “That made me feel really good that I can ... be a part of this.”
Morgan has even enlisted the help of her daughter, who lives in Florida, and now donates to the church’s annual OCC drive.
For more information on OCC, visit www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/.