SHINNSTON, W.Va. – Guest speaker Alex Nsengimana spoke about being 7-years-old surviving through the Rwandan genocide in 1994 to the First Baptist Church in Shinnston on Sunday.

Nsengimana talked about how he was lucky to even be here after slipping on a cowpatty that saved his life from gun fire.

“I never thought sliding on a cowpatty would save my life, but here we are,” said Nsengimana.

As Nsengimana’s testimony went on, he discussed how he thought the world turned their backs on Rwanda, but by receiving a shoebox gift from Operation Christmas Child in 1995, he received the glimpse of hope he needed and showed they were loved.

“When I opened this shoe box gift, it brought me so much joy and planted a seed of hope and love in my life, I realized how God used that shoebox gift to remind me I was loved,” said Alex Nsengimana. “The shoebox gift was full of toys, hygiene items, school supplies, things as a 7-year-old living in an orphanage I really needed.”

Nsengimana said he still remembers the sight and sounds of laughter and joy when he received the shoebox gift.

“I still remember playing with the toy cars, the bouncy balls and laughing while having a fun moment with all my brothers and sisters.”

He said his favorite candy in the shoebox, that he most vividly remembers, was a red and white piece of candy. About half-way through it, he realized the candy cane he just enjoyed still had the wrapper on it.

“The candy cane tastes better without the wrapper on it.”

He told a story about how they had no idea what Smarties the candy was and thought it was a medicine at first, as most medicine like Tylenol was wrapped up in a similar wrapper from the local pharmacy in Rwanda. He also remembered how the soap smelled and said he sometimes goes to the store looking for that same smell.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, has delivered 198-Million shoebox gifts around the world to more than 170 countries and territories.

“I share my testimony to encourage another person to pack one more box, because one more box like this equals one more child like me who gets to be reminded how much they are loved,” Nsengimana said.

For more information on how to pack a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, click here. Those interested in volunteering to help Operation Christmas Child can click here.

The Operation Christmas Child website can be found here.