At 13 years old, Yuri Lopez had every reason to doubt God. She had no home, no family, no future. But just as Yuri was ready to give up completely, God used a shoebox to bring her hope!
Yuri Lopez grew up as an orphan in Honduras. Even now, she can still remember the day at 2 years old when she was separated from her siblings, which included her twin sister.
“It was so hard,” Yuri recalls. “There was no electricity, there was no water.”
Throughout her childhood, Yuri lived in 14 different orphanages.
“I remember experiencing hope for the very first time,” she said. “It was my first Christmas present.”
The shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child are filled with things like small toys, hygiene items, and school supplies. These items may seem small to us, but they mean the world to the children receiving them. And while passing out the shoeboxes, local believers share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with children.
The Operation Christmas Child shoebox Yuri Lopez received at 6 years old was something to let her know she had a Heavenly Father who loved and cared for her. And it had a huge impact — not just on the day she got it but for the rest of her life!
Jesus Loves You
While Yuri enjoyed the toys and trinkets that came in her shoebox, there was something inside she treasured above all else. It was a photo of the little girl who packed the box, along with a note she’d written. It read, “Jesus loves you and I love you, too.”
God was the One who made sure the shoebox with that note made it to Yuri, who desperately needed to hear the powerful message it carried. And He used it more than once to speak directly to the young girl’s heart.
By the time Yuri Lopez was 13 years old, the orphanage where she lived could no longer afford to send her and her peers to school. Instead, they put Yuri to work in the kitchen, where it seemed she was doomed to remain for the rest of her life.
The news crushed Yuri. She took off into the surrounding mountains, armed only with her shoebox from all those years ago.
The Note That Changed Yuri Lopez’s Life
There, she directed her anger at God, asking Him why
“I was just angry,” she explains. “Angry at God for the life that I was living because I felt hopeless.”
In her desperation, Yuri asked God to show Himself to her — to prove He was real. Then, she opened the Operation Christmas Child shoebox she’d received all those years ago. The first thing she saw was the note from the little girl reading, “Jesus loves you and I love you, too.”
In that moment, Yuri Lopez knew without a shadow of a doubt God had never left her. And she fully accepted Christ into her heart, trusting He had a bigger plan for her life regardless of how her circumstances looked.
“I knew that He had a goal for my life,” she said. “And even though it was really hard, He was revealing little by little His plan for my life.”
The reminder of Jesus’ love that Yuri found in her shoebox gave her the strength to keep going. And eventually, God brought her to the United States. Not only did He bless her with an adoptive family, but God used Yuri’s passion for soccer to earn her a college scholarship. It’s a passion Yuri continues to use to serve children and spread the Gospel.
WATCH: Yuri Lopez Shares Her Incredible Story
Can you imagine how different Yuri’s story might be if she hadn’t received a shoebox through Operation Christmas Child? And hers is only one of thousands upon thousands of stories of how Operation Christmas Child is spreading the Gospel and changing lives.
Operation Christmas Child has been operating since 1993. In that time, over 168 million children in more than 100 countries have received gift-filled shoeboxes. And the impact these boxes have on the kids who receive them is extraordinary.
If you’d like to help Samaritan’s Purse show God’s love in a tangible way to children all around the world, please consider filling a shoebox at home, attending a packing event, or utilizing virtual packing.
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Feature Image Credit: Samaritan’s Purse