Coming together as One

Everybody can be great because anybody can serve…. you only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. — Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Millions of lives have been touched through Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse. Shoeboxes full of toys, pencils, crayons, toothbrushes, flashlights, and lots of other fun and useful things are packed and collected. They then begin their journey to children all over the world.

For Edouard Ndecky, the ministry means more. He received his own special shoebox as a child in his home country of Dakar, Senegal. Years later, he packed and prayed over a shoebox that was destined for another little boy far away. Then, he had the opportunity to deliver the shoeboxes.

“Coming from a country that receives shoeboxes every year from different places around the world, seeing how the shoeboxes impact the lives of kids in my country, and seeing how they transform families is special for me,” he said. “Now that I am in the United States, it is important for me to show people here how their kindness and generosity gives a smile and hope to kids far away.”

That’s where the idea for I Am One was born. Ndecky reached out to friends Scott Wortham, youth pastor of Remlap First Baptist, and Aimee Wilson to brainstorm. Within a few days and after a lot of prayer, the three finalized plans for a platform to draw middle and high school students from all across Blount County together, as one, for an afternoon of worship, sharing, praying, and packing a shoebox.

“This event is a way to help our youth see they are more than students, musicians, or athletes. They are first followers of Christ. They can have an impact on others now. They can impact lives not just here in Blount County, but through Operation Christmas Child, they can impact lives all over the world,” Ndecky said.

I Am One will take place in the parking lot of Lester Memorial United Methodist Church starting at 3 p.m. Sunday, October 24. Ndecky, Wortham, and Wilson invite youth from every school and community to go shop for toys and necessities to fill your shoebox, come be a part of a special day, wear your school colors, and even bring your instrument if you play. If you can, bring $10, too. It takes $9 to ship each box around the world and the extra $1 will go to a local non-profit that serves children right here at home.

“If you can’t bring anything at all, that is ok. Don’t let it stop you from coming. We want you to come as  you are to worship with us,” Ndecky said.

Lester Memorial is graciously providing the shoeboxes. Packing will move into the fellowship hall if it’s raining.

In conclusion, N’decky said, “We are a community. Beautiful things happen when youth come together, especially when they come together from different schools, from different backgrounds different families, different churches. Their diversity makes them great and whether they realize it, kids are watching them and kids want to be like them. Let this be a way to show those kids what it looks like to serve God and serve others.

“You cannot imagine the impact these shoeboxes have. They represent love and hope. This isn’t about packing as many boxes as we can. We’re not racing. It’s not about numbers, it’s about the one. Your box, you, will change one child’s life. We will think about that one and we will pray for that one. So if 10 people come, those 10 will each pack a shoebox. If 100 youth from all across the county come, we will pack 100. I hope you will come for this special after so you can how great the impact can be multiplied when we come together as ONE community.”

For more information message them on Motivated.’s Facebook page.