Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It's Almost OCC Harvest Time!

Tractors, combines, grain trucks, dust, burning field stubble's harvest time where I live! “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 ESV)
I see lots of farmers in the fields and it is almost time for us to start harvesting the shoeboxes we have been praying for all year. We have collected items, listened to full-circle speakers, went to kick-off events and anticipated the harvest all year! Aren't you thankful we serve a Lord of the harvest? We should continue to rejoice over our anticipated collections and bathe these precious Gospel Opportunities in prayer. “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress...they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.” (Psalm 107:1, 28, 37 ESV). I can't wait to see our yield!

Prayer has a huge impact on our harvest efforts. From packing to distribution, the process of delivering Gospel opportunities through simple shoebox gifts to children around the globe is bathed in prayer. We are asking you to continue to pray for Operation Christmas Child as the year is quickly rolling on by. Pray for:
  1. Packing parties that are starting to be planned by many churches and groups. Lift these up in prayer, that they will be successful and that they will hit their goals or even immeasurably more than expected by their year around collection efforts. 
  2. Also pray for our leadership teams as they continue to make preparations for relay and collection centers. 
  3. Pray for our world goal of 11 MILLION Gospel Opportunities - 11 million shoeboxes means at least 11 million children receive "The Greatest Gift" in their own language! 
  4. Pray for the USA goal of 8.6 Million - that's right, our sending country is responsible for 8.6 of the 11 Million!!! 
  5. Pray for our Mid-South goal (Arkansas, Kentucky, & Tennessee) have set a goal of 737,000 to do our part! 
  6. Our Northeast Arkansas OCC Team has set a goal of 10,200 for this season! The church I attend has set a goal of 200. If we each have a goal we are striving to achieve it with God's help we can do so much for His honor & glory! 
  7. Pray for the processing centers: I'm excited to announce that the Processing Center (PC) Prayer Walk Ministry that was introduced in 2014 will return this 2015 processing season. Prayer Walks will ensure that each facility and the shoeboxes processed are covered in prayer as the gifts are prepared to leave the facilities on their way to the waiting arms of children! While we all aren't able to go to PC and pray in 2 hour shifts, we can pray by ourselves or with the prayer warriors where we live. As we prepare for this upcoming processing season, we look forward to the wondrous ways in which God will bless the work of our hands and do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine! 
  8. Last, Give thanks to God for our partnership with Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE) for the past 5 years to encourage churches to pack shoeboxes through the “Shoebox Challenge.” In 2014, OCC and HFE challenged local churches once again to participate and earn complimentary park tickets to be used in the 2015 season. Overall, some 2,550 churches that took part in the challenge generating 748,141 shoebox gifts. This represented an increase of 109% from the previous year! We are pleased to announce the Shoebox Challenge will continue in 2015, with the goal of 1 million shoeboxes. The 3 parks that participate are: Silver Dollar City Branson, MO, New Port Aquarium Newport, KY, and Dollywood Pigeon Forge, TN.
As I think of all there is to do with collections it can seem a little stressful and overwhelming but Kristian Stanfill's singing "Always" comes to my mind:
"My foes are many, they rise against me, but I will hold my ground. I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm. My help is on the way, my help is on the way. Troubles surround me, chaos abounding. My soul will rest in You. I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm. My help is on the way, my help is on the way. Oh, my God, He will not delay. My refuge and strength always. I will not fear, His promise is true. My God will come through always, always. I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord....My refuge and strength always, always!"

Aren't you thankful We can rest knowing Help is on the way and that we serve an On Time God who is our Refuge and Strength ALWAYS! Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”

Have and blessed rest of the week & keep praying for OCC,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sin Separates!

We have been studying Genesis in Sunday School for the past month and one thing that keeps popping in my mind is...Sin separates! It separated Adam and Eve from God walking with them in the cool of the the day and from living in Eden. It separated Jonah from the people of Nineveh to the point of him being in the belly of a giant fish. It separated the whole world from Noah and his family when earth was flooded. My D6 Forward Sunday School teacher's book made some great points this past week:
"One of sins's consequences is isolation. It pulls us away from God and others. It causes us to withdraw because of guilt, shame, and fear of being found out or called out. Sin is a deception that tries to make us think we can lead successful, godly lives on our own, in our own time, and in our own way. However, this lie only separates us from those who love us and who want what is best for us."
Sin hinders relationships with others and with our Holy God. It leads us to lie, deny, and make excuses. Sin can lead to more sin and that causes separation. Are you feeling separated from friends or loved ones? Do you have unconfessed sin that is separating you? Are your friends or family living in unconfessed sin and it's causing separation? If so, repent or pray for your family to repent, daily until they do. Being tempted isn't a sin, it's when we give in to that temptation that sin occurs. To resist, we must follow Christ's example and overcome it with The Word of God. Pray for strength, literally run away from sin if you have to, say no and allow your Christian friends and family to hold you accountable instead of separating yourself from them. Temptation presents us with a choice: will we obey God or succumb to Satan's trickery? As soon as we leave God out of our plans, we place ourselves above Him, thinking we know best, and that's exactly what Satan wants us to do. People usually choose wrong things because they are convinced that those wrong things are good for them. Our own sins don't usually appear ugly to us, and "pleasant or fun sins" are the hardest to avoid. One of the realities of sin is that its effects spreads. Eve sinned and then brought Adam down into sin. We do the same sometimes. When we do wrong, we try to remove our guilt by involving someone else. We need to recognize and confess our sins before we are tempted to pollute and bring others down around us. The effects of sin makes us feel guilty and embarrassed and so sometimes we run from God and those that love us and hold us accountable instead of repenting. A guilty conscience is a warning signal from God placed inside of us through the Holy Spirit to bring us to repentance. The worst thing we can do is get rid of our guilty feelings without eliminating the cause of those feelings. Then we are getting comfortable with the sin, instead of repenting. That is like taking pain pills instead of fixing what's causing the pain. Guilt can make us aware we need to repent and seek forgiveness so we can correct wrongdoings and get back in fellowship with God and those we love. So is sin separating you today? Jesus is the definitive solution to our sin! He paid the price for our forgiveness, we just need to sincerely ask.

Sin will take us farther than we want to go, keep us longer than we want to stay, and cost us more than we want to pay! We can't prevent temptation from coming, but we can cling to knowing that there is a way of escape. Sin may be crouching at the door but we can always choose to do right.

Genesis 4:7 says "if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

What triggers me to sin? What triggers you to sin?...anger, jealousy, greed, boredom, envy, hatred? It's desire is you and me, we must overcome it! Ask God for strength to overcome temptations today. Gods greatest desire is a restored relationship with us. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

1 John 2:16-17 “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."

Don't allow sin to separate you today...cling to the promise that God is faithful to not let you be tempted beyond what you can withstand with Christ's Strength and Power!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

OCC Prayer, Slovakia, & Pastor Saeed

This week will you pray for Slovakia.  It is a locked central European state south of Poland. Only 1% of the over 5 million population is Evangelical Christian.  There are 20 different people groups that speak 13 different languages.  
1.    Pray that the ministry partners will understand the Operation Christmas Child vision.  
2.    Pray that mission agencies and local churches cooperate to the best effect, with joy and humility. 
3.    Pray for those reaching out to them, for love that will overcome all barriers and stereotypes.

1.    Pray for Pastor Saeed Abedine.  It's been nearly three years since Pastor Saeed, an American citizen, was imprisoned in Iran for his faith in Jesus Christ. His wife Nagmeh, who lives in the U.S. with their two young children, is calling for Christians worldwide to join her in a prayer vigil at noon on September 26—the third anniversary of his imprisonment.  Pastor Saeed has been repeatedly beaten and denied medical care, yet he continues to be a beacon for the Gospel among his fellow prisoners. Please pray for his health and that he will be released soon.  Please remember Pastor Saeed, his family, and persecuted believers around the globe. We can be assured that our God hears the prayers of His people: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).

1.    Pray for wisdom to recruit, select and lead new and/or transitioning volunteers. 
2.    Pray for provision of resources to reach God-sided goals for the current year!  Our Mid-south shoebox goal is 737,500 boxes.   
3.    Pray for the Collection and Relay Center Coordinators as they prepare for collection week. 
4.    Pray for Media relations volunteers that they will find favor with newspapers, TV, and radio. 
5.    Pray for Church and Community relations volunteers as they share about OCC.  
6.    Pray for the Full-Circle Tours as they continue.

SHOEBOX SIMULCAST PRAYERS September 22 @ 6:30pm, 24 @6:30pm, and 25th @11:30am.  Our Shoebox Simulcast series is THIS WEEK! We would love each of you to BATHE these three simulcasts in prayer. We want you, our prayer army, to mobilize and build a wall of protection around these simulcasts set for TODAY, the 24th and 25th.
We hope to reach a very big audience to get people inspired to advocate for our shoebox recipients and cast the vision for The Greatest Journey. We believe the enemy hates this and will do anything possible to stop this ministry from moving forward. We ask you to pray and pray specifically over these three dates and times listed above. We ask you to spend devoted time asking God to do great and mighty things through these simulcasts to get more people packing shoeboxes!

You can pray specifically seven ways:
1.    That technology will work excellently for each of the simulcasts. That all people who want to join in will not be hindered or frustrated by using Skype. That our staff will have no issues with our systems, our programs, or our sound. That all participating can hear clearly and fully and see their screen to follow along.
2.    That people will make a concerted effort to join in and be fully attentive. That no hindrance or scheme will keep those intended from being available to participate.
3.    That our OCC Connect volunteers will be better equipped, well-versed, and encouraged by new updates and concrete their knowledge in the basics of OCC.
4.    That our project leaders would learn new ways to implement OCC in their churches, community groups, and prayer groups. That they would be inspired to reach even more children and advocate more passionately for the children of the world.
5.    That individuals who have packed boxes will be encouraged to go deeper with OCC and learn more about how to get further involved.
6.    That church leaders and staff would truly grasp the depth of this project and the worldwide disciple-making movement that it is.
7.    For our goal of 737,000 shoeboxes to come from TN, AR, and KY in these next few months. We ask for God to do it and to do it marvelously! “For you are great and do marvelous deeds; You alone are God!” Psalm 86:10 NIV

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sweet Hour of Prayer & Romania

Aren't you so thankful that we can go to our Heavenly Father for a sweet time of prayer! As the old hymn says "I'll cast on Him my every care and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer." Prayer is essential to give us the strength, guidance, knowledge, and protection as we go into spiritual warfare every day. I am so thankful that my prayers are heard and answered.  He always hears and He always answers. Ask Him to guide you in whatever you need then wait, expectantly, for Him to answer you in your sweet hour of prayer. 

This week join Operation Christmas Child in praying for Romania.  5.4% of Romanians are Evangelical Christian. There are 23 different spoken languages in Romania. Stories of the hundreds of thousands of orphans and abandoned children in the 1990s broke the hearts of many. While this is still a great need, churches and missions do an increasingly good job caring for these young people, praise the Lord! The relevance of Christianity to youth is a challenge – this is more an issue of church culture and tradition than openness. Churched youth are often dedicated and effective in ministry. Unfortunately, most church programs are not attractive to unbelieving young people. Pray for effective programs and pastors who are willing and able to mobilize the youth into ministry, an area of ministry surprisingly lacking until now.

1. Pray for the regional volunteer leadership team. Pray they are able to find solutions to the challenges they are facing.
2. Pray The Greatest Journey discipleship program will have a great impact in Romania.
3. Pray for the children who have graduated from the program this year.

Give thanks to God for Alina and her story. We are thankful that she is now living in the USA instead of Romania and that God is using her story to touch lives!

NEA Requests:
1. Our 2015 goal of 10,200 - it's shoebox time!!!! Pray we will do abundantly more this year, in Jesus' Name!  National Collection Week is November 16-23.

2. All of the year-around volunteers to be rooted and strengthened as the season is quickly approaching.

3. Pray for the churches that are participating in packing shoeboxes, that they will have success and see good fruit in their efforts!

4. Hobby Lobby will be promoting OCC in their 700 stores nation-wide Labor Day through National Collection Week. Pray for God to multiply this effort.

5. Upward Sports is sending OCC promotional communication to the 625 churches that have a Fall Upward League.  Pray for this to multiply Gospel Opportunities (Shoeboxes).

6. War Room will send an OCC crafted and dedicated eblast to 7 million to promote National Collection Week. When the War Room releases on DVD, it will include at least one OCC/TGJ bonus feature. War Room was the #2 movie at the box office opening weekend and #1 the following (Labor Day) weekend. Praise God for the power of prayer!

7. Lifeway and 5 other bookstores will have Go Boxes and "How to Pack Your Shoebox Gift” brochures, and Jesus Loves Me musical lambs for purchase as a shoebox items this year!  Pray this produces abundantly more shoeboxes than we can imagine!

"But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!" (Psalm 66:19, 20 ESV)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Operation Christmas Child, Montenegro, & Poland

This week we are asking you to pray for Montenegro and Poland.  Montenegro is located on the Adriatic Sea, east of Italy. Most ethnic minorities have little or no interaction with the Good News of the Gospel Message. Poland is east of Germany on the Baltic Sea. Less than 1% of the population is evangelical Christian. Poland has 24 different people groups and 13 are unreached. 

1. Pray for the people groups:  Pray for sensitive and loving outreach to the Bosniaks, who may number up to 11% of the population and will be almost exclusively Muslim.  The Albanians, among whom there are no evangelical churches or groups of believers! And to the Romani, officially only 0.5% of the population but likely significantly more. As in other Balkan nations, they are poorer, often despised and are proving more open to the gospel than most ethnic groups.
2. Pray the children who were saved will be able to regularly attend church and grow spiritually. Pray especially for the children who come from non-Christian families.
3. Pray for wisdom as the team plans for next year’s distributions and works to reach new children and their families.

1. Pray God inspires more people to pray and fast for OCC. 
2. Pray God will provide more Prayer Coordinators to serve in the various regions of Poland.
3. Pray God calls the right people to serve as The Greatest Journey discipleship program teachers.
4. Pray for the children and families who have already heard the Gospel.
5. Pray for the unreached people groups of Poland, the largest groups unreached are the: The Jews, Turks, Tatar, Karaite, and the south Asians of Poland. 

1. Pray for Alina Massey and all her speaking engagements. Pray God uses her testimony to inspire people to pack more boxes to bring about more Salvations and Discipleship. 
2. Pray for our 2015 goal of 10,200 - it's shoebox time!!!! Pray we will do abundantly more this year, in Jesus' Name! 
3. Pray that all of us that are year-around volunteers to be rooted and strengthened as the season is quickly approaching. 

“Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:2-4 ESV

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fruit, Harvest & OCC

Picking apples Monday night with my husband made me start thinking about homemade apple pies, fruit, and harvest.  As Christians we should always be producing fruit and be ready for harvest also.  Christian Fruit comes from pursuing a steadfast relationship with Jesus. There’s no other way. Too much doing and not enough abiding make our lives weak and our fruit weak. A consistent diligent pursuit of abiding in Christ will produce lasting fruit.  As you spend some time abiding in Christ and His Word, will you pray for OCC. 
Join us in praying for a great harvest of sweet fruit this 2015 collection season that will reap many Gospel Opportunities (shoeboxes) which will bring about many more children going through The Greatest Journey and accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior!   

Without abiding there is no fruit.
Without prayer there is no abiding.
Without prayer there is no fruit.
Prayer produces fruit! 

Also, OCC is excited to announce partnership with the Kendrick Brother’s Production of their new Christian film, War Room – a family-friendly movie that explores the transformational role of discipleship and prayer in our lives. The movie opened August 28. For more about the movie (official trailer, theatres and showtimes, etc.) visit  
    •Pray this new partnership will be an encouragement to the OCC family and to children around the world.

OCC International Prayer Requests for September are: 
1. Wisdom to recruit, select and lead new and/or transitioning volunteer leadership team members.
2. Provision of resources to reach their God-sized goals for the current year.

Specifically this week pray for Bosnia-Herzegovina and Moldova. 

Bosnia-Herzegovina's requests are: 
1. Pray every member of the team will quickly adjust to their roles and will put into practice what they learned at the international volunteer training in Greece.
2. Pray the team will follow God’s leading to prepare well for the upcoming shoebox season and for wisdom in decisions that need to be made.
3. Please pray for the teachers and children that will be involved in The Greatest Journey discipleship program. Pray many more children will complete the program this year!

Moldova's requests are:
1. Pray for the upcoming national volunteer training in September. Pray that all of the invited participants will be able to come together and have a blessed, productive time.
2. Pray for the children. Pray the seed of God’s Word will bear fruit in their lives.

NEA OCC requests are: 
1. Saturday, September 12th, be praying for Alina as she is traveling and doing her "full-circle" speaking! 2. Pray for a good attendance at all her events! 
3. Pray for reaching our NEA goal of 10,200, and for each group/church/county's specific goals also. 
4. Pray for the churches that are participating in packing shoeboxes for the 1st time this year, that they will have success and see good fruit in their efforts! 

Thank You very much for your dedication to prayer for Operation Christmas Child. 

“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ"
Colossians 4:2-3a NKJV