POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. — More than 200 years ago the Brothers Grimm published a collection of fairy tales including one about a poor shoemaker who was almost out of food to eat and leather to make shoes. However, during the night, little elves slipped into the shoemaker’s home and worked furiously to make incredibly beautiful and serviceable shoes that permitted the shoemaker to prosper. It is a beautiful Christmas story of goodness and grace.
Macland Baptist Church has its own variety of helpful elves that make Christmas special for children across the Atlantic Ocean. The senior adults of the church, known as the Goodtimers, have been intricately involved in preparing boxes for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child. Georgia Baptist churches across the state participate annually in the effort to provide gifts for children around the world as a way of sharing the love of Jesus.
Ed McMullen, one of the church’s faithful lay leaders and husband of Margaret, who has orchestrated the “Shoebox” ministry, explained, “Last year the Goodtimers prepared 2,800 boxes for children around the world. Our goal was to do 4,000 boxes this year. Margaret has been leading this effort the last two years. This week we completed our packing with over 30 seniors working for over four hours. Our grand total for this year is 5,078 boxes.
“God had bigger plans for us than we could have ever imagined. He already knows the children who will be receiving each box. I am so thankful for our church’s response to this Christmas ministry and for their response to Margaret’s vision and leadership on this project.
“Every senior who works on the boxes feels like they are on a mission trip. Most of them can’t physically or financially go on a mission venture overseas, but they can send boxes to deprived children in other countries; and according to Samaritan’s Purse statistics, four kids pray to receive Christ for every ten boxes distributed. However, they are inspired by the knowledge that each box represents a Gospel opportunity and every child who receives a box will hear about Jesus.”
One of the Goodtimers commented, “I am so glad to be able to participate in the preparation of the Christmas Boxes. If I weren’t involved in this, I would be just sitting at home reading a book or watching television. Every time I put an eraser on a pencil or pack a box, I envision a needy child who has never received any kind of gift opening her box and bursting with glee as she assesses her treasures .”
McMullen continued, “Imagine our senior adults putting larger erasers on 30,468 pencils, deflating 1,500 soccer balls and wrapping them, unwrapping 10,000 toothbrushes and preparing them for shipping, cutting. tags off 3,000 stuffed animals, etc. We were able to do only 1,500 soccer balls because of the cost. Margaret found a soccer ball bundle including a ball, pump, and a needle for about $6.00 each.
“There have been seniors who are unable to come to the church who have been involved with this endeavor. Margaret and I take items by their homes, and they work on them there; then we return and pick them up when they have finished their part of the project. This made it possible for about 95 percent of our seniors to be involved in the project.”
Pastor Michael Boatfield added, “I would estimate that about 80 percent of those who worship on Sunday morning have been involved in this monumental effort with the senior leading the way.”
McMullen avowed, “While the senior adults have been indispensable to the success of this effort, we have had our children and youth contribute time and energy to this project as well. The youth helped us assemble the boxes at one of the workdays, and the children wrote notes to the recipients of the boxes. We have even had members of other churches come to help us.”
To illustrate the commitment of the Macland church to the Samaritan’s Purse Christmas endeavor, there were women who contributed 200 hand-made knitted hats. Some who participated carved out 300 wooden cars made from scrap wood.
The commitment of these benevolent Baptist elves is amazing. Some came to the church to make their contribution every week and some came twice a week, all working four hours at a time. McMullen indicated that the seniors likely worked for thousands of hours to complete their assignments. It was described as a life-changing experience for many. The only complaint was having to shut down the work each day and go home.
Macland Baptist Church has touched the lives of over 4,200 children and youth through Pastor Boatfield’s ministry to football teams and the Christmas Boxes of Samaritan’s Purse. Every football player and every person who gets a Christmas Box hears the Gospel. The members of this Powder Springs church believe that through their concentrated efforts, God is not only saving the lost but reviving their church.