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Charleston Southern University > CSU News > Christmas in a shoebox

Christmas in a Shoebox

Marketing & Communication // 11.14.18

Yuliya Shubina

Yuliya Shubina told CSU students how a series of unexplainable events related to an Operation Christmas Child shoebox changed her life.

She grew up in Central Asia in a closed country formerly part of Russia – in a country where it was illegal to be a Christian or to possess a Bible. As a child she and her sister had a few toys, including dolls with scary eyes.

During a brief time in her childhood her government allowed foreigners and missionaries into the country. Her father worked for several missionary families. In 2001, Samaritan’s Purse received permission to enter her country despite the tensions after 9-11 and the fact that the airplane was so big it had to receive permission to land at a military base.

Samaritan’s Purse sent two boxes home with her father for his daughters. Shubina was nine years old and couldn’t understand how a stranger in the U.S. would send something to bless her. When she opened her box, the first item on top was a soft stuffed puppy. That stuffed puppy is now 17 years old, and Shubina still has it. She and her sister shared the puppy, loaned it to their cousins for a week at a time and let friends play with it. “I hope you get a glimpse of how special it was to a neighborhood of children,” she said. 

Taped to the bottom of Shubina’s shoebox was a letter from Katie, the girl who packed the box. She had written, "I am praying for you. God loves you." Shubina carried those words in her heart for years. She and Katie became pen pals. The most important part of the friendship to Shubina was Katie ending every letter saying she was praying for Shubina.

Shubina’s family eventually moved to Russia, and she came to America to study as a high school student. Her American father explained to her how to become a Christian and that it was more than attending church and reading the Bible. She said, “All those seeds planted in my heart came together.”

After she graduated from college, she began working for Samaritan’s Purse. She was able to meet Katie and her family in 2015. “It was a jaw dropping moment, one of the most exciting weekends in my life,” said Shubina. She found out Katie’s mom prayed that their box would go to a closed country. Shubina said, “God orchestrated that the box would end up with me. Today when I look back and trace all those seeds, God used something so simple to reach me.”

Shubina urged CSU students to pack shoeboxes at the annual Packing Party, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. in Lightsey Chapel.  She said, “Far more than school supplies, it is a vehicle for the local church to share the gospel.” Bring items for the boxes and stay to pack boxes. CSU hopes to pack 2,000 boxes in one night.

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