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What a difference a gift makes

Charlie Butts   ( Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Two decades ago a young boy in Honduras received his first present ever -- a brightly wrapped shoe box. Its contents changed his life.

Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse, is under way again this year, and the ministry outreach reports that millions of Americans have packed shoe boxes with Christmas gifts for youngsters overseas.

Operation Christmas ChildRenan Perdono, a native of Honduras, was one of 15 children in the family although five died at a young age. All lived in abject poverty -- no electricity or running water, a dirt floor in their home -- and he didn't have shoes until he was 13 years old.

Renan tells OneNewsNow he wanted to go to school, but was told there was no money for the necessary school supplies, such as a pencil and notebook. But he was ten years old, Operation Christmas Child arrived in his village.

"Somebody handed me a box and I remember just staring at the box -- and the missionary asked me What's wrong, and I was like Nothing's wrong. That was my first present ever in my life," he shares.

"See, we never celebrated Christmas. We never celebrated birthdays because we didn't have any money -- and I didn't want to open [the box] because it was wrapped up so pretty and I didn't want to break it."

But he did open the box, and a few the items he found inside transformed his life.

"I saw a pencil and a notebook -- and I was like, I'm going to school now. I was 10 years old and I couldn't go to school because of that, and that box, it blessed my life. It changed my life because that was the first present ever to me and it was the first present coming into my house and I know that it changed the life of my family too."

Perdono, who resides in Pearl, Mississippi, is now 30 years old and a committed Christian because one American reached out to provide a Christmas gift.

Samaritan's Purse is packing its 100 millionth Operation Christmas Child shoe box this week. Renan and other representatives were in Tupelo, Mississippi, Tuesday at the headquarters of the American Family Association/American Family Radio.

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