Hardinsburg – When it came time to collect shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, Hardinsburg Baptist Church gave its pastor a serious case of the blues.
Pastor Paul Gibson threw down a unique challenge to the church: collect more than 400 shoeboxes, and I’ll turn up to preach one Sunday morning dressed head-to-toe in blue. That’s no small commitment for Gibson, a dyed-in-the-wool Western Kentucky University fan who once served as the manager for the Hilltopper’s mens basketball team. He also served for two years as campus missionary to the University of Louisville.
“I’m not anti-UK, just definitely pro-Topper and pro-Cardinal,” said Gibson.
Members of Hardinsburg Baptist Church tackled the challenge with enthusiasm. By Nov. 17, the Breckinridge County congregation – and even some family and friends from across the state – had filled up a total of 582 boxes, blowing away the goal by 182 boxes and topping last year’s collection of 252 boxes by a significant margin.
True (blue) to his word, Gibson made his appearance decked out in the signature hue of the University of Kentucky Wildcats.
While the congregation had great fun teasing Gibson about the challenge, the mood turned serious when it came time to dedicate the boxes.
“People were in tears as they brought the boxes forward. They were moved, and so was I, at the overwhelming response from the church and community. People were shocked that we collected so many. Was truly an inspiring moment! And that’s just the beginning of describing the impact,” said Gibson.
The real impact will begin when each box is delivered, along with a presentation of the Gospel, to a child somewhere in the world, said Gibson.
The impact is being felt now closer to home, too. Families have been attracted to the church by the project, including several for baptism. (WR)