formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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November 15, 2016 These boxes change lives

The Liberty Gazette
November 15, 2016
Ely Air Lines
by Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

The boxy little airplane banks 45-degree to the right, heading somewhere important, symbolizing so much more than its little airplane self - travel by truck, canoe, even human feet to reach remote villages. Millions of boxes packed with joy and love wing their way to children around the globe.

This is national collection week. It takes little time to pack a shoe box. It takes little money to fill it with items to which you probably never give a second thought. This week you and we can take that little time, spend that little money, and fill a little box with something that will send a message of hope and love. You can even do it online.

Operation Christmas Child shoe box stories will make your heart smile. We’d like to share one in the hope that you will be moved to read more, soaking in the proof that your arms can be His, reaching around the world.

Retold, from Alina was five years old when she received a shoe box, at first confused that someone who didn’t know her would send a gift. There were ponytail holders, a toothbrush, socks, candy, and a pair of plastic princess shoes. She loved pink and says that although the shoes were too big, she wore them and showed them to everyone. In the box was also a photograph of a little girl the same age as Alina.

She was wearing a tiara that matched the shoes I received. Her gift to me became so personal—I felt like I connected with her.

Before I received the shoe box, I was really discouraged because of the way I was treated for my faith in Jesus. A lot of my teachers lowered my grades for no other reason than they didn’t like me. One time, my teacher grabbed my sweater and pushed me against the wall, demanding, “Where is your Jesus now?”

I remember that so vividly. At that moment I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where is He? Why is He allowing this to happen?” It felt like God was very distant, very far away from me.

The shoe box was a representation of His love to a five-year-old girl. I no longer felt like Jesus had abandoned me.

The box was an act of kindness that represented hope, comfort, and the fact that God is watching over me. My perception of God changed. He became a personal Father to me.

After I received the shoe box, the persecution I experienced for my faith in Him didn’t stop. But my reaction to it was different because of the way God had revealed Himself to me. No longer did it feel like He was looking down at me from far away—He was walking right beside me.

She writes that 13 years later, she remembers what it was like to receive a shoe box - like God was there, with her gift, and now inspiring her to “tell children, especially orphans, the Good News of Jesus and to help them feel His love.”

Alina and her family came to America and she now volunteers at a collection center that receives what she calls, “a tangible representation of Jesus’ love for me and millions of kids around the world. These boxes change lives.”

First Baptist Church in Dayton is one of the drop zones, and you can find others, along with more stories at

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