When Yuliya Shubina received a shoe box through Operation Christmas Child, she was living in Central Asia with her family and had never heard of Jesus Christ. Just nine years old at the time, she became curious about the North Carolina return address and the generous sender who gave her toys, jewelry, hair accessories, school supplies, and bubble gum-flavored toothpaste. Shubina sent a thank you letter to the address and became pen pals with the sender, a girl just a few years older than she.
Shubina moved to America when she was a junior in high school. During that year, she became a Christian and built several valuable relationships. When she created a Facebook account, she reconnected with her childhood pen pal and was delighted to learn that their homes in the U.S. were only a short distance apart. The girls finally had the chance to meet face-to-face! During their visit they shared a conversation about how God had worked in their lives over the course of the 10 years since the shoe box was delivered.
Meeting the face behind her shoe box was the first of many incredible experiences Shubina would have in the U.S. While in high school, she volunteered at the Operation Christmas Child Processing Center in Denver, Colo. and prepared boxes for children all over the world. As graduation approached, she began researching Christian colleges in America. Only four offered her desired major — Liberty University was one of them. Unsure if she could afford tuition, she put her faith in God and moved to Lynchburg, Va. Immediately, God made it evident that she belonged here, as payment after payment was miraculously provided.
While working toward her Bachelor of Arts in Government degree, specializing in International Relations, Shubina has made the most of her Liberty experience. She is currently serving in a leadership role as a Resident Assistant (RA), and has benefitted in many ways from being surrounded by a dynamic spiritual atmosphere. “I'm constantly challenged in my faith by friends and by the things I get to experience here, like weekly Convocations,” she said.
Shubina was recently invited to share her story at a conference hosted by Operation Christmas Child. A door was opened that day, and now she is an official spokesperson for the organization. In her position, Shubina tours the U.S. speaking to audiences from personal experience about the feeling a child gets when they open a shoe box, and the lifelong effect a small gesture can have. Her goal is to let people know how much hope one gift can give to children around the world.
Shubina also speaks out on campus and encourages others to get involved, passionately reassuring them that their efforts are worthwhile. Liberty’s Office of Student Leadership works every year with prayer leaders from each residence hall as well as The Liberty Champion and Rivermont Baptist Church to collect boxes. A holiday tradition at Liberty, Operation Christmas Child gives students the opportunity to make a global impact right here on campus.
Operation Christmas Child is a nonprofit organization operated by Samaritans Purse. Since 1993, they have donated shoe boxes full of toys, school supplies, hygiene items, and nonperishable food to children in more than 130 countries. Their 2012 holiday season goal is to surpass 100 million shoe boxes donated since their founding, sharing the love of Christ with more children than ever, all over the world.