Franklin Graham Gives New Meaning To The Phrase "Fashion Forward"
Mark Your Calendars - National Collection of Shoeboxes For Operation Christmas Child between November 14-21
Matching my purse to my shoes isn’t anything new to me or most women. But Izabella McMillon has taken that ordinary task one step further and into the 'extraordinary'. Izabella matches her purse to millions of shoeboxes every day through an incredible program called
Having become an official ministry under Franklin Graham and his International Relief Organization Samaritan’s Purse in 1993, Operation Christmas Child makes children believe in miracles where very few exist. Not only does it deliver millions of gift-filled shoeboxes to countless children throughout the world every Christmas but it helps to restore faith in humanity and Jesus Christ for both the gifters and giftees as well as numerous others who assist in the program. Certainly, the apple did not fall far from the tree when it came to the work Franklin Graham chose to embrace throughout his life. Just goes to show you the influence we, parents, still have on our kids, whether your name is Reverend Billy Graham or not.
For Izabella, who currently leads the Spokesperson team for Operation Christmas Child, the impact of this program on her youth can be seen in her strong commitment to help build awareness around it today, as an adult. The value of the little shoebox that she received in war torn Romania so long ago has helped her walk miles. She’s, now, walking them so that others may realize that “the true significance of any shoebox is less about the shoes and more about the path you choose to take in "life, love, and faith.”
Learn more through Izabella McMillon’s interview below:
What is your personal mantra?
Do in life what God calls me to do -- that which leads others to him.
Share with us a bit about your personal background.
I grew up in Romania, under Communism. My parents worked very hard to raise me and my brother, both of whom were the first to go to college. I’ve been a teacher and now work full-time for Operation Christmas Child.
How did you come to learn about Operation Christmas Child?
In 2004, I began working at a small Christian School in South Carolina. The prinicpal at the school asked me to look into Operation Christmas Child to expand the ministry at the school. I had received one of the shoe boxes in Romania. I began to weep, remembering what my shoe box had meant to me. We adopted the program in the school I worked for. I later became a Spokesperson for Operation Christmas Child.
How are you involved now?
I now lead the team of Spokespeople who speak on behalf of the program and ministry.
How large is the program and how many countries does it serve? How many people are involved it making it happen in your estimate?
We’ve been distributing shoeboxes since 1993 to anywhere between 109-150 countries. We’ve delivered 135 million shoeboxes since the beginning. Beyond the United States, we have ten other countries packing, including Canada, Australia, Austria, Germany, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK.
How many shoe boxes do you expect to collect this year?
What is so special about this program?
Hearing the stories from the people who received these shoeboxes as children is amazing.
Does this program make any money or does all the money collected through the labels go back into the program?
No. It’s a nonprofit. We do ask people who make a donation, covering the cost of delivering these shoeboxes. The cost is to cover the delivery of one shoebox is $7. When we give the kids their shoeboxes, they are also receive a booklet “The Greatest Gift”, in their own language. It carries the message that comes with the box, sharing the words of Jesus Christ and lifelong faith.
If you had to describe Franklin Graham in one word, what would it be?
Genuine. The gospel is his heart.
What do you say to someone when they say, “You can’t save the world?”
I would say that they are absolutely right, but we know the one that can. The only thing we can do on our end is to help him!
When all is said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
That no matter what, I chose to serve the Lord and stand up for him.
A twelve-week discipleship program follows the receipt of these boxes through the local pastors. 7.5 million kids have gone through this program, with many of them never forgetting the logo of Operation Christmas Child or the impact receiving a shoebox had on their futures. Had I known this before today, I would have put all of my discarded shoeboxes to good use through Operation Christmas Child. As it is, I recently bought a new pair of running shoes, giving my six year-old and I a new project for Christmas 2016. We packed a shoebox. And I promise you, it won’t be the last. (Doesn’t hurt that it is a great way of adding to our family’s green initiative as well, now does it?)
Many Thanks To Izabella McMillon and Operation Christmas Child For Making This Interview Possible