I was told of two such incidences last week when talking to people about Operation Christmas Child. Volunteers pack shoe boxes with gifts and useable items and they’re shipped around the world to less fortunate children who likely have never heard the story of Jesus. Sunset Community Church in Livermore served as a drop-off point to collect shoeboxes, pack them in big cartons and then take them to Castro Valley where they were loaded on an 18-wheeler for transport to the Los Angeles area shipping center.
One church volunteer was delighted to relate the story of an Indian woman who dropped off a shoebox and mentioned she had received one as a child in India. Later chatting with pastor Darin Anderson he related a similar story about a Croatian woman who had dropped off a box there and was operating her own ministry after receiving a box as a child.
Turns out that I knew the woman, Kristina Bethea. Kris was working for Teen Esteem, a non-profit that educates students and parents about healthy life choices, when I served on the board. She left and last week I learned, as the late Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story.”
She’s now leading Monthly Miracles, an organization focused on serving homeless people and helping others keep a roof over their heads. The website tells her story about how God has placed the desire to serve less fortunate people on her heart and she was looking for the vehicle.
In 2017 she followed God’s leading and left Teen Esteem to pursue her calling. A friend told her she should meet Savannah DeLaVara of Restoring Hearts Ministries and maybe they could partner because she had been serving homeless people for four years. As the website relates, Kris told her husband before they met that the Holy Spirit was saying Savannah could want to give her ministry to Kristina.
They met on April 14, 2018 and after Kristina related her vision, Savannah said “now I know why we met.”
Savannah’s life was changing: she was getting married and moving to Southern California and struggling with what to do with her ministry. The website reads, “She asked God to confirm His will by sending a woman in love with Christ and the homeless, with a business degree and experience to take over the charity. When she met me she knew I was the exact person she prayed for: Holy Spirit was working and setting us both up to be the answer to each other's prayers while we were still strangers!”
Within a couple of weeks, they’d finalized the details and Monthly Miracles took over for Restoring Hearts. As Kristina has led the ministry, God has focused their efforts on people who fall through the cracks.
Her funding model is different: she asks people to donate $1 a month—not even enough to buy a cup of coffee these days, but a funding base that allows them to continue to meet needs.
They do monthly outreaches and a special Christmas event that will take place on Dec. 23 at Valley Communityi Church in Pleasanton. To donate or volunteer, please see www.monthlymiracles.org
If sending a shoebox to a child appeals to you, you can go online at www.samartianspurse.org and build a box online for delivery this year or participate in 2023.