UNREACHED

The Ripple of Giving: United in the Mission of LOVE with Operation Christmas Child

December 20, 2023 UNREACHED Season 1 Episode 13
UNREACHED
The Ripple of Giving: United in the Mission of LOVE with Operation Christmas Child
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

As the Advent season ushers in a time of giving and reflection, our latest podcast episode is a beacon of light, showcasing the boundless power of love and generosity. Joined by the inspiring David Thompson and the passionate Gracie O'Loughlin, Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child, we uncover the joy that springs from touching lives across the globe. From Gracie's Thanksgiving in Atlanta & Lower Alabama, packing shoeboxes for children in need, to David's eye-opening experiences in Ghana and Ecuador, their stories are vivid reminders of how profound an impact we can have. 

The spirit of the season truly shines through as we explore the behind-the-scenes of Operation Christmas Child. Imagine thousands of volunteers, from various walks of life, all converging with a single purpose: to deliver not just gifts, but hope and the gospel message. Gracie's tales from the packing centers to her strategic partnership efforts embody the essence of Christmas giving. And it doesn't stop there — we learn about the heartening journey of a Tanzanian girl named Agnes, whose life was transformed through a simple shoebox, igniting a chain of faith that continues to spread within her community.

Our discussion takes a meaningful turn as we examine the often overlooked need for strategic resource allocation within the Christian mission. It's a thought-provoking look at how our collective efforts can create an eternal ripple, and the call for a paradigm shift towards reaching those who have yet to hear the gospel. The episode culminates in a prayerful reflection for guidance and strength on our listeners' own paths within the kingdom's work. As Christmas draws near, we're reminded of the true power of partnership, healing, and the simplest acts of kindness — all of which have the potential to open doors to lasting faith and fulfillment.

Follow @unreachedpodcast on Instagram for more!

Dustin Elliott:

In Revelation 7, john shares his vision of heaven, with members from every tribe, tongue, people and language standing in the throne room before the Lamb. Yet today there are still over 7,000 unreached people groups around the world. For the last six years, my family and friends have been on a journey to find, vet and fund the task remaining. Come journey with us to the ends of the earth as we share the supernatural stories of God at work through the men and women he has called to reach the unreached.

Dustin Elliott:

Hello friends, welcome back to the Unreached podcast. Week 4 of Advent, the Week of Love, and I've got David Thompson back from Samaritan's Purse, operation Christmas Child, and we have Gracie O Lachlan here, who's a director of strategic partnerships, and we're so excited to wrap up Advent season. As you know, we're dropping these episodes a few days in advance of what would be each Advent week, so they're there for you to engage with and listen to. Christmas is almost here now. We're just a few days away from celebrating the birth of the King, and so DT, welcome back. And Gracie, so good to have you. Why don't you tell us a little bit, gracie, about you and your involvement with Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child?

Gracie O'Loughlin:

Well, thank you for having me. I have been serving with Operation Christmas Child for 10 years. Actually, this December will be my 10th year. I am from Boone, north Carolina, where we are based at headquarters. I told the Lord when I was born again, my senior year of high school, that I would do anything for him, that I would go to China, I would go to Africa. I just didn't want to stay in Boone because there was nothing for me in that little town.

Dustin Elliott:

And lo and behold.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

No, but now I'm really glad. You know, I remember sitting in orientation of for Samaritan's Purse 10 years ago and hearing all that the Lord has done through this ministry around the world and realizing that it was actually by staying put that he was able to send me and allow me to do the things that were in my heart. So I praise God now that I get to do what I'm doing and the work is great. We work with national partnerships like Hobby Lobby, MOPs, Mothers of Pre-Schoolers, student organizations, priority Christian colleges, multicultural partnerships, family partnerships. My team is basically out there promoting the work of the ministry and it's super fun.

Dustin Elliott:

I love that I've met so many people prayerfully hearing this, who are part of that, who have engaged with your team, who have supported, who have volunteered, who have donated their time, talent and treasure to this incredible mission of as DT has told us before, reaching 11 million children this year with the shoeboxes. Let's go, dt, how you been, buddy.

David Thompson:

Hey, great Good to be back on Clinton Dustin, thank you for having us. Thank you for helping us get the word out and encourage our volunteers and those who are learning still about the project.

Dustin Elliott:

Just the multiplication impact it has for the kingdom Love that, and you've had a few weeks of travel since we last recorded and you said you had some updates for us, so why don't you share a little bit about what you've been up to?

David Thompson:

Yeah, sure, primary opportunity I had was to go to Ghana, in Ecuador. In Ecuador, I was there with our year-round volunteers One of our bigger countries, impacting almost 400,000 kids for the sake of the gospel there and got to be with about 200 year-round volunteers who make that happen, training them on the next level strategy, specifically on ends of the year. So that was awesome to be ahold. And with Ghana, I had the opportunity to actually go out and be part of outreach events. I don't get to do that too often. I got to show some of those to Gracie and a few other on the team and I think they've been shared on Facebook and LinkedIn. And the gospel was shared so clearly, so beautifully with about 500 kids in one day. So two different outreach events and it was a long ways out there. I felt like I was definitely past some area, definitely.

Dustin Elliott:

Yeah, no, I love the reference. And, gracie, you've been in LA, but not the one in California. Right, tell us what you've been up to.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

That's correct. Well, I was serving at the Processing Center in Atlanta and we're there. Our team is deployed to the Processing Centers. We get to serve as team coaches. Floor managers at our eight different processing centers across the country host national collection. We need to go through all the shoeboxes to make sure that everything is where it needs to be before they get sent on their way around the world. But I was there during the week of Thanksgiving and so I got to have Thanksgiving with some friends in lower Alabama.

Dustin Elliott:

There we go and.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

I was known as LA, which I had no idea that was a thing.

Dustin Elliott:

Okay, so what particularly did they eat in lower Alabama at Thanksgiving that you would not have at your table traditionally in Boone, North Carolina?

Gracie O'Loughlin:

So many things. We were able to take a trip to the Pigley Wiggly where we were able to see chicken lips, chicken paws, chicken skin and chicken feet.

Dustin Elliott:

Yes, yes, use the whole bird, don't let any go. So you talked about a lot of chicken for Thanksgiving in lower Alabama. That's right. Okay, but specifically what else you were doing while you were there? Tell us a little bit about your experience down there.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

Yeah, I mean in Atlanta. This processing center is amazing. We have upwards of thousands of volunteers coming in during the week to process these shoeboxes, going through every single one, taking out inappropriate items. So you know that would be your liquids, your breakables, anything used or dirty, taking those items out. If a big gap is left in that shoebox, we want it full, so we replaced it with filler items and then we package those things up, we load them on a truck, we're praying over them and then they're going around the world. Where the shoeboxes were going when we were processing them was Cameroon, in Africa, the Ivory Coast. So we were able to be missionaries to Africa all of us last week, which was pretty cool.

Dustin Elliott:

Now, for those who have been listening and you've heard the last few weeks of Advent, and you would probably be thinking right now about Clint, as I'm looking at Clint in the studio for his story about the sucker, the large sucker that was broken up and shared with the other kids, and so we're here to tell you now that Gracie took out suckers and other liquids and other objects and replaced with appropriate ones that can cross borders and bless children safely.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

That is correct. We cannot send food. Food gets caught in customs. So sorry, clint it doesn't work.

Dustin Elliott:

It doesn't work. Well, the story still stands as a great one, and it was a heart story. It was a matter of the heart, okay, not the works. Okay, so we can all get on board with that, absolutely. I've heard about the size of this operation. It's something around 80,000 sending churches and 80 plus thousand going or kind of handing out churches in 10 different countries, doing primarily the gathering of the boxes, the distribution centers. It's just such a colossal effort. So, gracie, I'm just curious, from your seat, with the work you've done and the teams you've worked with, what do you say to the folks that are listening, that were part of this, that volunteered, that gave, that prayed, that were at their local church serving? What do you have to say for them?

Gracie O'Loughlin:

Gosh. You know, I don't think you really can come alive or live until you know what it's like to be a part of something so much bigger than yourself, and something that's so about the mission of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And there's something inherent in us that awakens to our true purpose and true destiny when we put our hands to the plow, so to speak, in whatever way that might look. And Operation Christmas Child is such an amazing tool for that. It's such a vehicle. It's an avenue to help people men, women, children even step into that call to go and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

This episode is about love, and love is not a feeling. You know. We know that as believers, love is an action, love is something you do. And what a better way to show the love of Jesus Christ than to do something, than to be something for somebody else, and especially for children living around the world, many who have never even heard the name of Jesus. And here they get this item. And yes, it's fun. Yes, it's this gift box. It's colorful. For many of these children it's the first gift they'll ever receive, but it awakens love in them. It's their encounter with love himself. That's what they're experiencing when they receive it.

Dustin Elliott:

Amen.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

And you know it's yay, great, it's fun. But those things we know, you know those gifts they're not going to, they're not going to last, but that encounter with love, that's what's eternal. And so these volunteers, you know they get to be part. They get to be part of that, they get to be part of this eternal work that's happening around the world and it's so amazingly brilliant. Only God could have done that. Only God could have thought of something like a little shoebox and getting you know, so many hundreds of thousands of people that would come together to make it happen, to volunteer and turn that fun thing into such a strategic vehicle for the gospel. So just praise God for this army of volunteers and men and women who are doing that this week and for the rest of the year, and really year round. We have volunteers serving year round, so they're amazing.

Dustin Elliott:

That was very, very well said. Thank you for that. But I do want to ask this. This isn't just about thanking everyone that's volunteered, and thank you Absolutely. That's amazing. But there's a call to action here for those who have thought about it or heard about it or haven't heard about it yet. Maybe you're learning about this opportunity and there, as you just said, there are year round volunteers and there are other opportunities to serve. Can you tell us about how someone goes about getting engaged as a person or family, business, or even as their local church?

Gracie O'Loughlin:

Absolutely. I mean, there's many. Operation Christmas Child is great because there's so many levels of involvement. A primary way that someone could get involved right now is by packing a shoebox online. So you can visit our website SamaritansPersidorg slash OCC, and there's a little tab that says get involved. And so when you go to that tab, there's ways you can volunteer, there's instructions on how to pack a shoebox, but also you can build a shoebox online right then. And so packing a shoebox, building a shoebox online, is that kind of bottom tier way to get involved.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

And then, beyond that, I mean, yeah, you can volunteer at a processing center. You can sign up on our website, you can come in and serve, you know, two hours, four hours a week. Some people serve all season. They will spend their vacation serving at a processing center, inspecting the shoeboxes. It's just amazing, the hearts of these men and women, I'm telling you, it makes me want to cry right now because they give up everything to come and serve. And then the tier above that I would say would be to serve as a year-round volunteer. You know, and there's multiple ways you can use your gifts and skills, if you're gifted, in media, church relations, prayer mobilization, community relations, student relations logistics. There's all different ways where somebody could get involved to serve year-round.

Dustin Elliott:

Well, we know that Jim Elliott quote he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose, right? So while you say they give up everything, really we give up some temporary maybe pleasures and temporary other opportunities. You know opportunity cost. But the gain on the other side, now and later, right, the gain for what happens next with that box and that key that it unlocks that door, and then the discipleship that happens after and possibly a spark or an ember that burst into a flame in a people group and people come to Christ and you start seeing disciples made. And let's go through the whole process again, right, I've taken an unreached people group to a reached people group and then them going out right Beyond their own group and taking the gospel.

Dustin Elliott:

All of that can start with this little key and you can go build a shoebox that some kid may get that ignites that flame. It's such a unique opportunity and Samaritan's Purse has done such a great job making it available and easy to do for anyone to get involved, right. So your you know your get in might be just building a box online today. Maybe get with your kids and the family and hop on the computer tonight and build a box right. I mean, what a great way to celebrate Christmas by doing something for someone else, but then that just might be a get in for somebody else who becomes. I bet you know several who have become much more committed volunteers and possibly even come on staff with other partnership ways.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

Oh, absolutely. I mean, it's so easy to graduate from one level to another because of the joy that it gives you. You know, we were just talking this week about how, really, one of the ways to walk in abundant joy is by serving, and it because it's what we were created to do. It's what Jesus said he came to serve and he's living in us and so when we're laying down our lives, we're coming into this agreement with his spirit and we're receiving the joy of the Lord, and joy strengthens. And so it's just this cool cycle of you pour out, you serve, you receive joy. The joy of the Lord strengthens you so you can pour out again. It's just this amazing cycle.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

But yeah, that's why people keep graduating from one level to the next, because they'll pack shoeboxes, they'll see the joy in it, they love it. They want to volunteer at a processing center. They do that, they love it. They want to be a full time volunteer, year round. They do that. And, yeah, many have stepped on to staff. So it is, it's such a, it's such an amazing thing to be a part of, for sure.

Dustin Elliott:

DT, take us through an actual story. You just had one we were talking about before we went live today. Take us through that story related to what Gracie's talking about.

David Thompson:

Yeah. So you know, all this serving that Gracie shared, that anyone literally anyone, across the states, canada, uk, so many places can get involved with. Well, the end result of that is a shoebox right. So simple but yet so powerful. And I was talking with our team in Tanzania and they were telling us a story that just kind of blew my mind of an outreach event that happened right at the end of a religious holiday with extreme fasting, and so this village was just amped up and they wanted to come in and celebrate the end and use it as a platform to be able to share the gospel and point people to Christ, at a time where they were just open and there was a church out in this, this village and this is in Tanzania and there were 180 kids sitting on the floor. There was an opportunity where the room just fell silent and a girl named Agnes gave a full gospel presentation, and it was. It was beautifully done.

David Thompson:

Afterwards, our team talked with Agnes and asked her you know what's the call in her life? And she described with incredible clarity her desire to share Christ with her friends and even with adults. This is a 13 year old girl in Tanzania that's taking the gospel and planting seeds at the end of a dusty road. And after the end of all that, those same kids who had never heard the gospel are now going to have the opportunity to be part of the greatest journey. It's just incredible and that's just a story that happens again and again.

David Thompson:

I was just in Ghana and saw that exact same thing happen, six hours from the Capitol, 150 kilometers, took seven hours to drive to. But when we got there, we use those same posters that were using Tanzania over in Ghana and the end result of that was just an engine roar, the laughter, the joy, the love that those kids felt. I mean, I literally felt like I was standing on a tarmac and there was a plane about to take off like a 757. It was just so loud and it lasted for like 10 minutes. It's this powerful combination of all that prayer and service, the grace she's sharing, being distilled down into this perfect little gift that is a representation of God's love. And then that end result is kids being blown away by that in a beautiful way and getting that kind of lift off for the gospel in their life.

Dustin Elliott:

You know what? I hear a lot of amazing things when I think about that story, but one of the things that that hits me hardest is, If I'm a steward of resources, that God's trusted me with right and I get that and I, prayerfully people listen to day. Right, You're living in a spirit of abundance, not a spirit of scarcity. Right, A disposition of abundance. You realize it's all God's. He's trusting us with some of it. Therefore, I need to be smart about how I give. I need to know that the gifts I'm making are going to be stewarded well, they're going to be effective, they're going to honor God, they're going to honor the gospel. And what I hear when I think about giving through Samaritan's prayers is I hear a long tradition of learning, of trying new things, of using different tools and resources to reach people in different languages and different cultures.

Dustin Elliott:

Some may very easily understand the gospel presentation verbally. By the way, just because they understand it, I mean they're going to get it. I know a lot of people in the States that have heard it plenty of times and hadn't got it yet right. So that's not. That didn't happen. Till God softens our hearts and gives us ears to hear, but the fact that you can communicate it through the posters. It reminds me of Jack Crabtree and Papa New Guinea and a lot of the way that they present the gospel to the tribe the Wantakea tribe there is. They act out, they do little skits, right, so that they can see, because this tribe has no written language, you're not going to write something down and they're going to read it. I mean, it's a whole process to communicate well, but as a steward giving through Samaritan's prayers and partnering with Samaritan's prayers to reach the nations with the gospel, I can feel very confident that my dollars are going to be well spent and well used right.

David Thompson:

Absolutely yeah. I don't think there's another way for an eternal return on investment then to give six bucks for the greatest journey. I mean, you've already probably if you're listening to these podcasts probably had the opportunity to give a shoebox and keep going. Get online, build another one, do it today, like we said earlier, pump that as well. But to give to the greatest journey might be the first time you've heard about doing that. Well, you can impact thousand kids for 6,000 bucks if that's the kind of opportunity you have. It's that simple. Whether you're a kid that could give six bucks or you're someone that wants to impact the entire nation for Christ, we have those opportunities and let's go.

Dustin Elliott:

I love that, Gracie. I bet you can tell us if we're able to make a bigger impact. If we're considering how to do year-end giving this year, for example, and we're considering how to partner for reaching the nations, maybe beyond our normal tithes to our church, how do we get involved more strategically, more big picture?

Gracie O'Loughlin:

Just to echo what DT was saying. I mean, yes, when you give to Samaritan's Purse, there's such a level of integrity that when you're giving to this ministry and to the work of this ministry, you can be very confident that your gift is going directly to fund the gospel. That's what you are giving to. You are giving to the advancement of the gospel around the world, which is pretty remarkable, in whatever shape that might take. But, yeah, you can give two boxes. There's one time gifts. You can become a monthly donor. We have a donor ministry team that works with all levels of donors around the world, something that is actually kind of neat that we've been doing lately. You can create a personal goal page for your church and you can send it out to your folks and ask them to build a shoebox online. You can set a goal for a thousand shoeboxes, for example.

Dustin Elliott:

There's a myriad of ways to get involved financially and if you're wanting to do something with a little more substance to it, like pack a shoebox online, yeah, I love that I want to ask the listeners and I'll let either of you answer this if you know the answer but what percent of every dollar goes to unreached people, groups that's given through the Christian church, I mean? I'll?

David Thompson:

bet it's like 2%, that's a really good guess.

Dustin Elliott:

It's actually less. It's actually less. It's like 1%. In fact I heard it said this way once Americans spend more on Halloween costumes for their pets than we send to getting the gospel to unreached people groups my word.

Dustin Elliott:

So, if you're hearing this, if you're hearing this, a paradigm shift is needed. We have got to shift how we allocate resources. If we're reading our Bible and we're understanding the mission of God from Genesis 12, 1 through 3, through the Great Commission text to Revelation 5 and 7, then we understand our goal is to get the gospel where it's not make disciples of all nations baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, like that's it. So if 99 cents of every dollar is going where Jesus already is, where he has already been named, where there's already churches, where there's already Bibles, where it's already here, then are we really strategically allocating our resources to finish the task remaining? So, if you're hearing this, partnering with Samaritan's person, operation Christmas Child is a paradigm shifting partnership to complete the task.

Dustin Elliott:

If the Great Commission is a call in your life and if you walk with the Lord it is, then I'm telling you guys, we got to get in the game differently, so be a smarter giver. Ask your church how they're allocating their resources. Ask what the mission department is up to. Think about how you're going to shift your giving in 2024 and for the next five and ten years, as a family, as an organization, and prioritize getting the gospel where it's not. This is the task remaining and it is the call in our lives to see it change.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

Amen, dustin, that's so good. And I think about one of my friends says all the time you can't take it with you. You're talking about our physical resources, financial resources, whatever. But I'm telling you the way that you take it with you. If there's any way to take it with you, it's by giving it. It's by giving it. That's how you take it with you.

Dustin Elliott:

No doubt about it.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

It's the inverted kingdom principles, no doubt about it.

Dustin Elliott:

I had lunch with our pastor today and we were talking about this concept. I mean one of my favorite Bradliners we call them increase your standard of giving, not only your standard of living. In that giving dollar you're not building up bigger storehouses right here, you're depositing that eternally. It's going somewhere else. In fact, I think really only thing God really says in the Bible like test me in this is, test me in giving. You can't out give God. So conceptually I don't want to park here too long but I will is this is what we need to be doing, this is the call.

Dustin Elliott:

And endowments and foundations and storing a bunch of money up and giving away interest every year, I don't think that's quite what it says. I don't think that's quite getting it, and so that's a challenge for me and my life and working in finance. Like empty those out and see if God won't refill them and let you empty them out bigger, see if there won't be a multiplication effect, right, and if you're doing it through Operation Christmas Child, these shoeboxes are going to go, kids' hearts are going to change, mom and Dad's heart is going to change, grandparents' hearts is going to and you're going to see multiplication effect there and then prayerfully, one day they'll all be in the throne room before the Lamb, every member of every tribe, tongue and nation, right. We'll be there together and you'll get to see and maybe meet and spend time worshiping with some of the folks that will never meet on this side of the grave, but that our gifts and our prayers will affect for eternity.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

That's right, you know. Oh, so good. And we like to say that the work of Operation Christmas Child inadvertently, is part of bringing back the Lord Jesus. I say inadvertently, but maybe it's not inadvertently, but because of where Jesus said the gospel will be preached in every nation as a sign and then the end shall come. And so Operation Christmas Child we know there are others, but working to reach unreached people, groups, in whatever means and whatever way, whatever door the Lord is using to do that we get to be part of this end result of the Lord Jesus coming back, which is pretty amazing because the gospel is going to be preached in every nation as a sign.

David Thompson:

Amen. Yeah, just to build on that, you know we are gathering our season plans for next year. So we have a whole process that we steward the gift boxes with, through national teams, into regions of the countries and as we've taken that message of the ends of the earth to 90 different conferences that we train the volunteer leaders at, they have identified for next year 2024 drumroll, thank you 491 unreached ends of the earth, people, groups that they're going to be going to. So that is, that's prayerful, that's, but that's a huge surge. We've been hovering more around the 99 to 150 mark most years.

David Thompson:

Wow, you know to see that that's multiplication. We talked about that all the time, right, gospel multiplication. So that's that's almost 500 out of. You know there's over, well over 7000. So that's a chunk and you know anyone listening that takes action can be a part of that.

Dustin Elliott:

Yeah, let's contextualize that just in case someone hadn't heard previous episodes or grasp this right. So Joshua project is identified roughly 17,000 people groups on earth that's kind of the operating model of the Christian church that we're going to. 10,000 or so are reached, meaning they're more than 2% Christian, which means about 7000 are unreached and about 700 are unengaged, meaning today, this day, not one single person that knows the name of Jesus, a stepped foot in that people group that still exists today. I mean I don't realize that. You know a lot people may not realize that it's what's in front of us and with the technology and the resources and the partnerships in fact that we had, the day overall you know the time is now Clinton I love to say I mean it can happen in our lifetime, it really can. Maybe that's God's plan, maybe not, but I believe it can.

Dustin Elliott:

And Samaritan's purse, by my estimation, having done this for six years with the bless Foundation and worked with amazing partners like pioneers and ethnos and GSI, like y'all, have as many or more strategic partnerships and partner churches as anybody else out there. Period, you are the tip of the spear for lack of a better term and and partnering with you is critical because you get into places, because of reputation, because of humanitarian aid, because of governmental relations, because of God's favor, that a lot of people can come in behind. So again, if you're on the same path and you're running parallel to SP, shoot them a note and let's find out how we can join forces and work together to see this task completed. It's also just so intricately the local church.

David Thompson:

The local church is already at the full extension of when God has the gospel about to go into, and Samaritan's purse works 100% through the local churches and not our staff. That is the key ingredient. We talked about that before, but everything that you talked through there doesn't opens the door, but the local church is already there. That is the Coca-Cola secret sauce to Samaritan's purse is that we don't try to do it ourselves. We do it through the believers that the Lord is already forward, stationed Right next to these places that are the hardest to reach which is incredibly strategic.

Dustin Elliott:

Right, they're, they're there, they're on the ground, they know the people, they love them.

Dustin Elliott:

Already, they have a heart for them I mean, pastor Rezira was a great example.

Dustin Elliott:

To partner with them as an is a natural solution, but you're also You're also equipping them, you're preparing them, you're teaching them how to teach, how to do the steps right, and that's critical, I think, in the West and we have commentaries on every book and every verse in the Bible, written by Tons of incredible people we have so much access to digest and, and you know, break down the information. I mean, when our pastors preach on Sunday, right, they, they have got to prepare with great material. But a lot of the churches that we're working with in other people groups this is very new there's not commentaries in their language, yet there's not the availability of the resources, and so the fact that you're translating them and getting them there, the fact that you've Made a goal of reaching a thousand unreached people groups in the next decade oh, by the way, in the next decade we're gonna celebrate some pretty big, significant historical events. I'll allow the 2000 year anniversary of the ministry life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ten years from now, right, so very interesting timing on what's coming together here and, man, what a cool partner with SP.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

So true, and you know it's just interesting. My my role particularly Gets me out there with all kinds of event partnerships and you know, I just get to see what's stirring in the, in people's hearts across the nation and I can tell you that the Lord is doing this nationwide. He is stirring this heart, this urgency for the gospel to reach unreached people groups. He is stirring this in believers hearts across the nation and it's so interesting, it's people are drawn to it, people want to talk about it, people are wanting to get involved. Because I think we're all sensing it. You know that the it's, it's near. Will it be at our lifetime? I don't know. It varied possibly could. How amazing would that be, you know? But regardless, it is soon, and very soon that we will see the King. He's coming and we feel that urgency. You know, get the gospel out, let's run, let's run that race that it is set before us.

Dustin Elliott:

Well, gracie, let me press on that point just for a second. Here you were talking, before we hit record about, about how Jesus is revealing himself in certain parts of the world. Right now we have an episode that's live with our friend, john Samara within an Isis house, who serves in the Middle East, and we talked about the earthquakes in Turkey and and these kids being pulled out of the rubble three and four days After the earthquake and they were alive and healthy. And Report after report after report by these kids where they were saying a man in white, a man in white, came to me, he gave me water, he gave me milk, he took care of me, told me he's gonna be okay.

Dustin Elliott:

All across Turkey, from different, even different people groups within the nation, the same story. And then the story hits their national media, it goes out and they say the people of the Messiah, the people, the Messiah, that's who showed up, that's who helped us, that's who showed us love. As we talk about Christmas and Advent and the week of love, gracie, how, how have you heard about Jesus revealing himself recently?

Gracie O'Loughlin:

Oh, I mean, it's just what you said. It is story upon story of Jesus himself Appearing to people. You know, to the point where there are many missionaries out there now that one of the ways that they're just opening up a conversation is by saying have you seen the man in white? Because it's just, I mean countless, countless testimonies of him doing it himself, him appearing himself to people, and it it blows my mind. But it's, you know, he's working with us where we're partnering together in this gospel and I just I can't believe that we begin to do it.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

But it's, it's his love, I mean, it is his love that's drawing people for God so loved the world that he gave Jesus. He gave his one and only begotten son that whoever should believe on him should not perish but have everlasting life. And that's what we get to be a part of. Jesus is proclaiming His own name, his own sovereignty, his own lordship around the world to people who've never even heard of him before he's showing up. We do our part, we keep going, we keep doing our part and we just keep trusting. You know what, what God is doing behind the scenes as well.

Dustin Elliott:

No doubt about it. I mean, hey, if you haven't engaged with your Bible in a little while, take another look, give that thing a read, because the end Of the story is in there. It is revealed. We know, we know how this, how this call goes down. We know what has to happen first. So we're in the age of the Gentiles, we're in the period or the era of life where we're getting the gospel to the nations, where it's not. And, david, I know you've got some stories. I know I know you've got some favorites, some OOG, dtsp, occ, faves right, that's right. What you got, what you got. Acronym, acronym day here.

David Thompson:

Well, I have one from Kenya. There's a boy that he'd been devastated from having kidney failure and it was been very tough for him to walk his body. So I'm looking at a picture of him. It's just, his life was so challenging. He came to an outreach event. The Gospel presentation was shared with him and when he got it he found something that he'd always wanted, which was a soccer ball, and he was extremely happy. At that outreach event, the Gospel presentation team from the local church prayed for him and for his healing and he did.

David Thompson:

I know we hear about the Midan and White, but we also love to hear about when Jesus heals practically. And this boy I have another picture of him where he now can walk again and he has that ball and he carries it with him everywhere he goes, even back to the local church he now attends. He went into the greatest yearning classroom and he believed in Jesus for the first time and he's become an ambassador for Christ and his neighborhood and we're thanking God for both his complete healing and just the image. Think about that little boy who couldn't walk, carrying a soccer ball around, and when I was in Ghana just in October, I saw all these kids that got these boxes later in the day out in the field with their soccer balls. They'd pumped them up. They were out there playing and we're in the middle of nowhere rejoicing to see practical examples of love. These things are just going to be powerful door openers for the rest of their lives to wanna be involved in their local church.

Dustin Elliott:

I reference this often when we are vetting the sending organizations and the missionaries that we wanna support through BLESS, and we look for just really a simple model. And it was exactly how Jesus modeled it right, and it was not addressing just the physical or just the spiritual, but Jesus, he would address both. I think of the paralytic and his friends lowering him down through the roof into the room, and everyone wanted to see Jesus simply say like, hey, stand up and walk, you're healed, like your legs, they're good now. Right, but the first thing he did is he said your sins are forgiven. And Jesus didn't always give the crowd what they wanted, but he always gave them what they needed, same with us and what he reveals to us right in due time.

Dustin Elliott:

But, man, y'all do the same thing. You get in there and you help people that really need it. Right then, in the moment, I mean real, true physical need as a big picture organization when you come right with that, you come with the gospel and we're here to tell you about living water. We're here to tell you about it, the greatest gift the world has ever known. Right, and that comes right there with that shoebox. Gracie, tell us about one of your favorite all time stories as well.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

I have so many too. I think one for me personally that I was there, for I went to this outreach event in Peru and it was this village town that was, you know way on the outskirts of Lima, and I mean such poverty, you know dirt floors. We were at a little school and it was just a concrete room. And this little girl I can still picture her perfectly in my head. She had these cute little pigtails. She was about seven and she came and while they were doing you know, the introduction and the games and everything, she came over to me and she pulled my ponytail out of my hair.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

She starts running her fingers through my hair, she starts taking out the little ponytail holder that she had in her hair and putting it in my hair and she was just playing with my hair. She couldn't stop playing with my hair and I was like, do you love playing with hair? And she did she. Just, you know, she was like I love it and she was showing me her hair. Well, we did the distribution. She gets her box. I'm like working, you know, going around the room and everything. I come back and I'm like what did you get in her box? Her shoe box had everything to do with hair Come on.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

It was brushes and just so sweet. Yeah, I mean, she had little barrettes and little ribbons and she was over the moon and it was just you know again the Lord saying I see you, I know the desires of your heart. I mean just those little tiny things that seem insignificant but it makes a child feel so thin. That's what's so incredible and it happens over and over again. I mean, that's one of millions, of millions of stories.

Dustin Elliott:

That's something we all crave, right? I mean every human at every age. We want to be seen, we want to be heard, want to be relevant, and the fact is you are. You are. Jesus knows everything about you, every hair on your head, and he loves you and created you exactly the way he did for his every good reason and purpose. And I love that. We get to see stories and hear stories like that. As we're wrapping up our fourth episode of Advent, this amazing opportunity to work with Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child, this partnership with YoungReach Podcast and anything we can do to serve, we're so grateful. And as we're wrapping and we're thinking about the future, we're thinking about the coming of the King. It's Christmas. We're just a few days away from Christmas Eve, christmas day. What do you want to say, gracie, to the listeners, to your partners around the world, the volunteers, to those thinking about partnering, anyone, anyone that's catching wind of this story. What do you want them to hear?

Gracie O'Loughlin:

Man? I think number one let's keep our eyes on Jesus as we run this race, whatever that means. If he is nudging your heart, as you've been hearing this podcast, to serve to get involved, to pack a shoebox, listen to it, be obedient to that voice, you know. But above that, even just keep our eyes on Jesus, because he's gonna ask us to get involved in this race somehow. I think Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child is an amazing place to start. Maybe you're hearing this podcast and you're like man, I wanna do something for Jesus. I haven't really been living for him. This is an amazing way to start that journey and so please get involved. Again. Our website, samaritanspurseorg slash OCC, there's a get involved tab. So many ways to volunteer, so many ways to get involved. Let's be a part of something much bigger than ourselves, because he's coming back. We get to see him so soon. Let's be about our father's business.

Dustin Elliott:

David, you've been a great partner in this. I wanna thank you. I also wanna thank everybody at Samaritan's Purse All of the help. You've had. Several folks behind the scenes, I know. Y'all just built a brand new podcast studio. I'm excited to see what y'all decided to put out in future years and what kind of content y'all decided to create. Clint and I are here for a consultation if needed. But, David, what do you wanna say to everybody?

David Thompson:

Yeah well, I love this podcast and so enjoyed it. Too much for me to say for every day is to live the strength in the church and to extend the witness of the gospel where it's yet to come, and I think that that is the heart that you all have and I think that motivates our partnership and just getting a touch on it from stories and scripture, getting it to hear how everyone can be involved. You know, if you're looking for a way to strengthen the church globally, we want your partnership and if you want to be part of taking the gospel where it has never been preached, join us. This is the opportunity, truly an opportunity in our lifetime that is worth investing your time and your prayers, and so we're grateful.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

Thank you so much for having us. You all are awesome. I appreciate you getting this word out there. This podcast is great.

Dustin Elliott:

As tradition on the Unreach podcast, we love to ask our guests to pray for the listeners, pray for everybody that's getting a chance to hear this, and so would you wrap our Advent season up together with a prayer.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

Yes, let's pray, father. We just come to you in the name and through the blood of Jesus. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord, we just can't say it enough. Thank you for what you did for us, thank you for this perfect Lamb of God that you gave for the sins of the world. That those of us who choose to believe and put our trust in you, jesus, might have everlasting life. We are so thankful and we just give you all the praise, jesus. We pray that your name would be glorified and exalted in all the earth.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

And, lord, I do lift up those, father God, who have been listening to this podcast, father, those who have been tuning in, those who are listening right now, father, I pray that you would grant them to be strengthened with might by the power of your Holy Spirit, lord, that you would begin to prick their heart in an even greater way, father God, for the work of the kingdom, what you are calling them to do specifically, lord, I pray, father God, that they would see and know clearly what your will is for their lives.

Gracie O'Loughlin:

And, father, that they would run the race that is set before them. And, lord, if there's anyone listening to my voice that doesn't know you. We pray, lord Jesus, how that you would draw them, how that they would confess, dear Jesus, that you are their Lord and their Savior and Father. We're just careful to give you all the glory. As we walk through, lord, in these end days, as we walk through the places where you've called us to serve Father, we just thank you for the strength and the grace, lord, to just keep on going. Father, we're so thankful, we're so grateful, we can't wait to see what you're going to do and we just give you all the praise, lord, in Jesus' name Amen.

Dustin Elliott:

Amen and Merry Christmas. Thank you for listening to Unreached. Our sincere desire is that what you've heard today will cause you to see the mission of God differently and you're rolling it more clearly. If this adds value for you, and we hope it does, would you please rate and review the podcast wherever you listen. Also, share with your family, your friends, your church, your life group, small group, d group, wherever you do life, and if you want to connect with us, find us on Instagram at unreachedpodcast, or email us at unreachedpodcastgmailcom. You, you, you, you, you.

Journey to Reach the Unreached
Volunteering With Operation Christmas Child
Getting Involved in Operation Christmas Child
Shifting Paradigms in Resource Allocation
Partnership in Gospel and Healing Stories
Power of Prayer and Christian Journey