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  • Josh Anderson

Exploring a World Packed With Friends

Since 2015, Worship Director Erin Deuel has been invited to lead worship on several international trips with Operation Christmas Child. It's a meaningful way she can serve others. It's also a unique way God has invited her to connect with people from different cultures and nations.

Photo credit: one of the teenage girls who received a shoebox and REALLY wanted to take a picture.

When I was in the 5th grade I wanted to be a missionary. And then I wanted to be a veterinarian. And then I wanted to be a music teacher. And then halfway through college, I wanted to be a missionary again.

I knew God was calling me into vocational ministry, and I had absolutely no idea what that would look like. But there, even as a kid, God placed a desire in me to connect with people across different cultures and nations.

God Knows Why

In 2011, I joined staff at theHeart leading worship. God proved He knows me way better than I know myself when He called me into this role. Not only have I been able to serve the very community that has shaped my life and my faith for the last 10 years, but He has also been faithful to provide opportunities, through my role here at theHeart, for me to serve around the world as well.

For four years in a row, I’ve had the opportunity to partner with local organization Operation Christmas Child to lead worship for some of their volunteer teams and staff on Vision Trips in five different countries: Colombia (2015), Zambia (2016), Rwanda (2017), and this year, in Ukraine and Uganda.

I grew up packing shoeboxes and have continued to into my adult years (including with theHeart). I can’t begin to describe what an honor it’s been to get to see the joy received on the other side of the box.

It’s also a great privilege to see the local church in action in these countries: from the incredible people on the National Leadership Teams who volunteer much of their time to connecting churches in their countries with invaluable resources that Operation Christmas Child provides, to the pastors and the Sunday school teachers and the community workers who are passionate about seeing their communities experience the love of Christ and seeing them transformed by the the Gospel through discipleship.

Leading Through Worship

My role on these trips is to open and close our days with worship. There is something powerful that happens when, with intentionality, we commit our days and the work of our hands to Him. Praise has the power to shift our perspective.

As individuals, when we make the decision and the effort to turn all our attention towards Him (and in worship we do that–mind and heart, emotionally and physically through song or dance or posture), we position ourselves and invite Truth to give us a holy perspective.

Everything can be seen through a new lens. And when we commit to do it together–WOW. We are unified in spirit and in truth, we are stronger as a body, and the earth starts to look a little more like heaven.

Serving With a Camera

After my first two trips, I wanted to find more ways to serve the Operation Christmas Child volunteers in the time that I’m with them, and I found I could do that through photography. By being intentional with taking photos of them and for them, I’ve found that it allows the volunteers to be fully present during outreach events and to make the most of the small amount of time they have with those they are serving.

I hope you enjoy some of my favorite photos from the trips to Ukraine and Uganda. 📷


Pack the hope of the world into a tiny shoebox.

Through Love In Action, an initiative that connects us with our community, we partner with organizations to serve others here in the High Country and around the world. In support of Operation Christmas Child, theHeart hosts an annual shoebox packing campaign. Watch for more information coming this fall.

Join our mailing list if you'd like to be notified of opportunities to put your love into action:

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