Campus wide

Beyond the box

By Jan Joslin | April 23, 2020

After a February trip to Trinidad and Tobago with Operation Christmas Child, Laurie Diel said, “The box is actually a small part of what they do.”

Diel, executive administrative assistant for the vice president of student life, was invited to go on the vision trip to the Caribbean to see how boxes are distributed. Operation Christmas Child (OCC) has 180 million communities in the world they are trying to reach with the gospel via a shoebox. They hope to give one box to each child in these communities. The earliest OCC will go back into a community to distribute boxes is four years, but many communities will never be visited again.

Children are invited to a special event and don’t know they will be receiving a box. After a program of puppets, songs and a gospel presentation, the children are given the boxes and told to open them on the count of three. 

After the box event, children are invited to come back to participate in The Greatest Journey, a 12-week discipleship course that is similar to Vacation Bible School, with scripture memory and stories. If the children attend all 12 sessions, they are able to participate in graduation. 

Diel said, “The volunteers that are on the ground in these countries full time are the real heroes.” Each teacher is trained by OCC to make sure the gospel is shared the same way in every country. In 2019-2020, more than 7,000 teachers in the Caribbean received six weeks of training in sharing the gospel. During that same time, 264,449 boxes were delivered to the region, and 133,362 children enrolled in The Greatest Journey.

Laurie Diel represents Charleston Southern University at a trip for Operation Christmas Child

CSU has been asked to be an OCC priority Christian college, meaning more CSU students will be able to go on vision and OCC mission trips and have internship opportunities. 

OCC’s mission is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way. Diel said, “The gospel is shared so many times from that one box. Children tell their families and friends. It’s a big circle. One box leads to a child participating in The Greatest Journey, and many times that child comes back to help lead younger children through The Greatest Journey. And the circle of discipleship goes on and on.”

Learn how you can participate in helping CSU pack more than 5,000 boxes this year! Go to

Article originally published in CSU Magazine, Spring 2020.

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