What does it mean to ‘step into someone else’s shoes’? We’ve been asking our Kidz Church children to do just that this term. We’ve been watching video clips of a family living in Uganda to see what life is like for them. And as Pastor Tom, his wife, and 12 children have shown us where they live, how they collect and prepare their food and water, what their church is like, and what they like to do for fun, our children in Australia have been able to step into their shoes, even if just for a moment.
We’ve seen a lot of differences between life in Uganda and life in Australia. The children walk to a well to collect water for the family. The water needs to be boiled before they drink it so they don’t get sick. They have no electricity so everything they eat is cooked over a fire. Meals take a long time to prepare. Their homes are made up of a group of small huts, mostly with dirt floors, mud walls, and thatched roofs. And they sleep under malaria nets so that they don’t get bitten and infected.
The videos have sparked lots of conversations amongst our children and leaders, including questions like: ‘Do you ever worry that your water will make you sick?’ ‘If you had to spend time every day collecting water, what might you have to give up doing during that time?’ ‘Can you imagine being scared of something as small as a mosquito?’
But the children have also noticed a lot of similarities between the children in Uganda and themselves. The kids in Uganda like to play soccer and netball. They sing and dance and play with their brothers and sisters. They go to church with their family and friends.
We have discovered that though we are different, we are also very similar. And although we are a long, long way from Uganda or Cambodia or Vietnam or Papua New Guinea, we are all called to love each other.
A key Scripture for this series has been Matthew 22:37-39: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus tells us to love and care for others, just as we love and care for ourselves.
This is why I love Operation Christmas Child so much; it challenges our kids to do just that—to show real, practical, life-changing love to others.
In just a few short weeks our Kidz Church children will be packing shoeboxes with gifts that will bless children overseas who have very little. If you have been gathering shoebox items for our children to pack, now is the time to bring them in. We would love all items by Sunday the 9th of September (just 2 weeks away!) as we are packing on the following Sunday (16th September).
Items can include: something to cuddle, something to play with, something to wear, something for school, something for hygiene, and something special. Parents, can I encourage you to take your child/ren to the shops and let them choose some items for the boxes. This allows them to be part of the process and they will discover the joy of giving.
It’s our prayer that through this teaching series, Step into My Shoes, and through their involvement in Operation Christmas Child, our children’s hearts will be stirred and filled with great compassion and love for others. And that their desire to share the good news of God’s love with others would grow.