Small country church exceeds expectations in giving for shoebox ministry

A small country church, which averages around 40 in attendance, surpassed its goal of filling 600 shoeboxes this year for Operation Christmas Child by almost 350 boxes.

Oak Grove Baptist, near Batesburg, began filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child more than 20 years ago. Samaritan’s Purse sponsors the program through which donated shoeboxes filled with gifts and toys are distributed to children in desperate situations around the world.

Through the years, the number of shoeboxes has fluctuated, but only reached a high of 80 boxes. Then, in 2020, Pastor Bill Watkins challenged the church to set a goal to fill 300 shoeboxes.

Because this was the largest goal they had ever set, the congregation trusted the Lord to provide, and He gave provisions for 400 boxes. An anonymous donor then paid the shipping costs.

In 2021, the church topped that mark by 143, collecting 543 boxes. Again, an anonymous donation covered shipping costs. The church’s budget also blossomed that year.

This year, enough items were collected to fill 600 boxes. But the Lord had even greater plans.

With the help of friends and family, they collected enough items to fill 947 boxes, passing their goal by nearly 60 percent, and tripling the original challenge given three Christmases earlier. The church also received gifts to pay shipping costs again.

As the old hymn says, “Little is much when God is in it.” By sharing their testimony of God’s goodness and provision, Oak Grove’s members pray to be an encouragement to other churches, large or small, to trust the Lord’s leading.