By Vicki Stamps
ST. LOUIS—Operation Christmas Child calls them “full circle stories.” They are the children who receive a shoe box and they are then put in a position to help collect more shoe boxes for other children.
College student Letisha Shelton, member of First Baptist Church, Oakville, is a full-circle story. Her father is Palestinian and she was living in Jordan with her family when she received the box.
“I was excited,” Shelton said. “We heard we were going to get presents, but we didn’t know what they were for. I was grateful someone cared enough to take the time to pack a box.”
Shelton was invited to the Countdown event at the end of September to speak to 150 project leaders at a church in St. Louis. She told them that she received the box as a fifth grader.
“I was taken into the gym with about 200 other children,” Shelton said. “They gave me a box and a book that talked about Jesus. It was that book that made me begin to ask questions about how to become a Christian. When I returned to the States, I asked my grandma if it was that easy.”
Shelton’s pastor at Oakville, John Hessel, was glad to hear that she shared her witness with the group.
“Letisha is a tremendous young lady of courage, talent and faith.”
Hessel first became aware of Shelton last year when she came to him and asked if she could share with the congregation.
“She shared her childhood,” Hessel said. “Her story simply ignited our members. Suddenly those boxes became more personal. She told them how she received the Gospel tract and it had a major impact on her life.”
Shelton remembers that first testimony, too.
“The church was beginning to get ready to collect the boxes and they had pictures and a video. When I saw that video, I thought they might really like to hear from someone who received a box.”
Hessel reported that Shelton developed relationships in the church and all ages benefited from her encouragement to pack boxes.
“Her testimony brought the height of interest to our folks. All ages became interested in helping with the shoe boxes.”
Shelton is glad more of the young people are getting involved with packing boxes.
“It is important for kids to pack boxes for kids,” she said. “In America, most parents and grandparents get caught up in the presents and with Santa. They don’t focus on giving.”
Shelton is giving her talents to help her church. In May, she will graduate from St. Louis Community College at Meramec with a degree in graphic design.
“I’ve been able to help Oakville with promotional materials,” she said. “They seem real excited to have some of my designs to help promote the church.”
Hessel said the congregation loves her and they are blessed to have her as a giving member.
“She is a vibrant young Christian and she seeks to serve the Lord in a number of ways.”