Alex Nsengimana of Operation Christmas Child will speak at a Magnolia church on September 12.

Supporters of Operation Christmas Child in the Magnolia area will have the chance to hear first-hand from a young man who was helped by the program.

Full Faith Community Baptist Church, 926 Ellen, will host Alex Nsengimana at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, September 12.

Growing up in the midst of an unstable government in the African nation of Rwanda, Nsengimana experienced the nation’s genocide that began in 1994. The tribal warfare led to the deaths of about 500,000 people, and possibly more than 1 million.

At the height of the unrest, the genocide claimed the lives of Nsengimana’s caregivers. Fleeing for his life, Nsengimana escaped gunmen and eventually arrived at an orphanage that was his home for years.

He received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox one year after arriving at the orphanage and remembers being excited to have a gift to call his own. The shoebox gift sowed seeds of hope and love that he desperately needed. He realized that God had a specific plan for his life. Nsengimana now serves with Operation Christmas Child, “paying forward” the hope and love he received through the shoebox gift.

The Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child collects shoebox gifts -- filled with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items -- and delivers them to children in need around the world to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way. For many of these children, the gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.

Shoebox gifts are collected in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Spain, New Zealand and Japan. Nearly 500,000 volunteers worldwide -- with more than 150,000 of those in the U.S. -- are involved in collecting, shipping and distributing shoebox gifts.

Many Magnolia and South Arkansas churches take part in Operation Christmas Child.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Samaritan’s Purse currently works in more than 100 countries to provide aid to victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty and famine.

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