OCC Canada just posted this story on it's fb page. It brought tears to my eyes.
I have had the privilege to meet Ben Silcox. His love for God is so evident in talking to him. And he has a huge heart for this ministry! Thank-you Ben for sharing this story.
“We brought you a special gift,” Ben said to Mario. “We give it to you in Jesus’ name and we want you to know that we love you.” He handed the boy a shoe box that had been filled with gifts by a special group thousands of miles away.
Mario opened the box and saw a photo of a group of smiling people. He and his mother stared at the faces. “This picture will be placed in the most special place in our home,” said Mario’s mother, Carolina. “This is a precious item.”
A few months earlier, the group in the photo was hard at work at the Samaritan’s Purse warehouse in Calgary, cutting out labels, stacking brochures, and volunteering their time for the Operation Christmas Child shoe box gift project.
The group of about 20 adults with special needs, along with their caregivers, faithfully volunteers year-round to help the project run smoothly. “They love coming and being part of the group,” says caregiver Sandra. “The shoe boxes can change even one family.”
When the group heard that Ben would be traveling to Chile to distribute shoe boxes with Operation Christmas Child, they packed their own shoe box for him to give to a 5-to-9 year-old boy. “They each chose items to include,” Ben says. “And they made sure to include their group photo so the recipient could see who loved him enough to send the box.”
A few months later and a continent away, Ben saved the special shoe box for the final distribution event of his trip, hoping to find the perfect child to receive it. “I had the box in my backpack, but before we got on the bus I removed the box to find my camera and forgot to put it back in. We got to the distribution event and I felt terrible that I’d missed my opportunity to deliver this special box.”
Ben and the distribution team began to pray, trusting that God had a plan for that shoe box.
The next day, the group traveled to a poor mining village called Santa Rosa and Ben set off with an interpreter. “We just prayed while we walked,” he says. “We knew that God had chosen a special child for this box and we needed God’s guidance to find him.”
The dirt roads were deserted and no children were in sight. They veered onto a dusty side trail and came upon a young boy, Mario, who took them to his home. Coming over a hill, Silcox encountered a demolished house with a partially rebuilt structure beside it – this was Mario’s home.
Mario’s father had been murdered by burglars three years earlier and his mother, Carolina, had been forced to send her older son away to live with relatives because she could not afford to feed him and Mario. Their home had been flattened in the 2010 Chile earthquake, and Carolina was slowly rebuilding it out of salvaged materials.
Ben handed Mario the shoe box packed by the special needs adults in Calgary. Carolina cried as Mario discovered a stuffed dog, candy, school supplies, and soap. Ben and his group prayed with the mother and son as Carolina hugged them, saying, “I know that God sent you to give that gift to Mario. God sent you for us, to remind us that He hasn’t forgotten us.”
Ben returned to Calgary to share the story of God’s amazing plan with the special needs adults. “They were very moved and excited,” he said. “We know it wasn’t a coincidence. God had this group pack that shoe box to remind Mario and his mother that despite the troubles in their lives, He is still taking care of them.”