WADSWORTH, OHIO — Kristel and Matt Stone praise God for the thousands of Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts they have been able to pack at their Ohio farm over the years with help from family and friends. They are grateful that, through these gifts, boys and girls in need around the world are hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Kristel and Matt Stone:
My grandparents moved here from Kentucky when my dad was two. My family’s been here ever since. I grew up milking cows and grain farming, feeding cattle. A few years later, we were asked if we were interested in buying the farm and taking it over, and we did.
My favorite time of year is when I can sit in the tractor seat, and it’s my time alone with the Lord. It’s that surrendering and trusting in that He’s going to do what He’s going to do. He’s going to bring the rain when we need it. He’s going to bring the sunshine when we need it. There’s just something about that surrender that I crave and cherish.
It feels like you can see God’s hand on the farm in every aspect, just through planting, through caring for the animals, through the land, through looking out our front window and just seeing God’s handiwork. To me, it’s a really clear picture of how God works.
I saw my mom’s heart change when she got to deliver a box to a child in need. I think, she saw the Gospel come alive in a very real and tangible way to her, and it touched her heart. There’s something different about mom after that. Her life, as she aged, became less and less about her and more about others. In the spring of 2015, my mom was diagnosed with a rare cancer, and she was given about 10 months to live, and she lived, pretty much, 10 months to the day. And one of her dying wishes was, she said, “I just want this mission to continue, and if it is on your heart, please continue it on.”
The first year that we did Operation Christmas Child, after Jenny passed, and we just invited friends and family, people that loved the mission because Jenny had planted the seed, we did 1,084 boxes that year. We were just overwhelmed with the amount of people that showed up. We did it in the barn, where Jenny, for years, had been saying, “I would love to do, like, a food pantry out of the barn or Operation Christmas Child out of the barn,” And we’re, like, “Have you looked at that barn?” Like, you can’t do anything in that barn.
Yeah. And God put it on our hearts to clean that barn out and do it, and people showed up, and it is just a testimony to what God does when you say yes.
The love that they poured out just to be there in support of what we had gone through over the past year, I remember we came in and sat on the couch, and we were almost speechless in a way, but that overwhelming peace both brought tears to our eyes.
I saw this opportunity that first year, when God showed up in that big way, to just keep inviting people and keep opening the doors. And I will share this mission about Operation Christmas Child with you and tell you about where this box will go and what difference it will make. And in the meantime, I get to show them what Jesus has done in my life because I learned how serving, laying my life down is where all the transformation begins. I am completely sold out and passionate about opening my home, opening the barn to anyone that wants to come and help and share in this mission with.
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet the needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children in need around the world. Through this project, Samaritan’s Purse partners with the local church worldwide to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and make disciples of the nations.
CONTACT: Kaitlyn Lahm, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Global News Alliance, Great Joy in Ohio Through Operation Christmas Child
- Samaritan’s Purse, Official Website