Narelle here. I’d like to welcome my dear friend, Marie Barendrecht, to our blog today. Marie (far right in the photo) has recently returned from a Discovery Trip with Samaritan’s Purse in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
Narelle: What drives your passion for Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child?
Marie: I grew up in Namibia and South Africa, and I’ve seen extreme poverty up close. The kids in receiving countries of Operation Christmas Child boxes are very poor, and the shoe boxes open doors for Samaritan’s Purse church partners to plant churches and provide clean water systems, sanitation, health training and emergency relief. Every country has different needs and Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches to enable the local people to work in their community.
Narelle: Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a small country to the north of Australia. Tell us about the children you met in PNG and their living conditions.
Marie: In Port Moresby, the children live in settlements, which are tin shacks with poor sanitation and limited access to running water (see photo above). There are so many orphaned and abandoned children in the settlements (see photo below).
I visited a Moale Feeding Program and we fed more than 800 children in one day.
In the remote villages, the kids are often taken care of by extended family (tribal system) and are much better off than the kids in the settlements in Port Moresby.
I met some children who received Operation Christmas Child boxes 2 years ago, and one girl had the most beautiful handwriting. She’s so thankful for the Operation Christmas Child project because she received stationery in her shoe box (see photo on the left).
Narelle: What was the highlight of your trip?
Marie: We’re on the truck, travelling to remote villages with Operation Christmas Child boxes. There’s this one village that were always friendly but previously wouldn’t allow Pastor Magi to enter their village. We stopped at this village, and got permission to enter with Operation Christmas Child boxes.
Before we left, the village elders exchanged phone numbers with Pastor Magi, wanting a church to be planted in their village. I was amazed to see God working, and seeing these people wanting to learn more about Jesus. Below is a photo of Pastor Magi giving an Operation Christmas Child box to a young boy.
Narelle: How have your experiences in PNG impacted your faith?
Marie: It has strengthened my faith and my desire to do missionary work. It’s taught me that we need to be passionate as Christians. The Christians I met in PNG are so happy to be Christians and share their faith. We need to not be ashamed of our faith and be more active in reaching people for God.
Narelle: Tell us about the work you’ll be doing for Operation Christmas Child in 2010.
Marie: My goal for 2010 is to share my experiences in PNG with as many people as possible. The Operation Christmas Child boxes do work – they are a tool for the local Pastor’s to use in their community to reach people for God. I’d like to see as many boxes as possible put together in my local area and I also speak to community groups, churches, and schools promoting the work of Samaritan’s Purse.
Narelle: Marie, thanks so much for sharing some of your experiences from your amazing trip to PNG. I’m so inspired by hearing all your stories and seeing your photos from PNG. If you’d like to learn more about the work of Samaritan’s Purse and their Operation Christmas Child project, please visit their website.