Empty shoe boxes have become useful vessels for sharing the love of God to children in remote parts of PNG’s Central Papua Conference.
Since 2016, more than 800 shoe boxes have being filled with Bibles, song books, study guides, stationery, toys, shoes, dresses and other items needed for a child’s spiritual growth.
Known as Shine Boxes, they are filled with love and compassion by children worshipping at Adventist churches in Port Moresby for their friends who live in remote villages where it’s difficult to access these types of faith-building supplies. The children in the city decorate the shoe boxes in colourful wrapping paper and stickers before filling them up with the items.
Of the total number of boxes, 279 were given out to children in Barai, Rigo district, while another 257 boxes were given to children along the Kokoda Track and the Efogi district. Another batch of 132 was distributed to children in Maria in the hinterlands of Rigo. Shine Boxes were also given to 143 children in the Catholic-dominated village of Inauaia in the Kairuku district. About 660 Bibles were distributed with the boxes.
The Shine Boxes are part of the SHINE (Serve Him In Everything) Project, an initiative of the Conference’s Children’s Ministries Department. Introduced in 2014, the project teaches children to serve God through giving.
Ruthy Batu, the Conference’s Children’s Ministries director, is passionate about seeing children develop an attitude of mission and service and says that the SHINE project is a realisation of her dreams. “I want children to start learning how to care for others. They will learn to do service for God through giving,” she said.
This year, the recipients of the Shine Boxes and their leaders wanted to experience the blessing of generosity for themselves. Taking the initiative, they decided to help their friends in the city via their rural skills; planting vegetable gardens and catching fish for a feeding program in Port Moresby. The food was given to safe houses that take care of children and women escaping violence and abuse. Some food was also given to families of students studying theology at Pacific Adventist University.
"I want children to start learning how to care for others. They will learn to do service for God through giving."
On the evening of June 4, the children, with help from older folk, took to the streets of Port Moresby city with food packs to feed the homeless. Blankets, towels and water bottles were also given out that night. They found and fed the needy at bus stops and drains. Another group visited the Port Moresby General Hospital where they gave food to sick children and their guardians.
Mrs Batu is thankful to God for allowing the children and their parents to reach out to others. “I was overwhelmed to see what SHINE is all about: Serve Him In Everything. People have grasped the idea. They are empowered to do it. We did this project on a bigger scale. We got families involved and now they are able to do it on their own,” she said.
“Elders and pastors were involved this year and I am thankful that they are now able to organise their local churches. We want to ensure all local churches are involved in the program in future.