Samaritan’s Purse continues its long-term investment in the Caribbean island nation of Grenada through Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts and our follow-up discipleship program, The Greatest Journey.

Saint Andrew in Grenada is locally known as the “Big Parish” because it is the largest of the six parishes on the West Indies island and is the only one that shares a border with the other five. It is also called the nation’s breadbasket, due to its rich agricultural history. Most of the island’s diverse crops are grown here and most of the country’s farmers live in the region. But despite the area’s vast resources, poverty abounds, as does crime, drug use, gambling, and single-parent homes.

“Many of the children who live here are emotionally and socially neglected,” said Dian Ambrose, an Operation Christmas Child volunteer serving with The Lord’s House, a local church. “Most of them are motherless or fatherless.”

But joy reigned one sweltering Saturday morning earlier this year in Saint Andrew’s La Fillete community as 60 boys and girls sat beneath the cool shade of three tents in an open-air park. They were all smiles and giggles, having each just opened a shoebox stuffed with goodies.

“This is the best day ever,” shouted young Joshua from his front-row seat, as he lifted the lid on his box. Peering inside, he discovered a pair of toy binoculars, a wooden train, some school supplies, and other treasures. He couldn’t decide which one he liked best. “My favourite thing is everything in the box!”

Dian said having Operation Christmas Child in Saint Andrew is extremely important for the children. “There’s not much of a future for these kids if no one is focusing on them,” she said. “I love seeing them having fun and being appreciated. And being taught about the free salvation in Christ is heart building and transformative. Also, the gifts will make a big impact on their minds and help them remember this event for a lifetime. But what I’m most excited about is beginning The Greatest Journey with them tomorrow.”

The Greatest Journey is a 12-lesson discipleship course for shoebox recipients. With the help of a trained volunteer teacher, participants read Bible stories to learn more about who Jesus is and how they can have a personal relationship with Him and share Him with family and friends.

Saturating Every Parish with the Gospel

Similar outreach events are being conducted throughout Saint Andrew as part of a seven-year plan to hand out shoebox gifts and share the Gospel with children in every parish, plus on the nearby islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Each year, a different parish will receive boxes. When the process is complete, the cycle will begin anew.

“We want to saturate every parish with the Gospel. That’s why we’re going one parish at a time,” said Francine Foster, the national discipleship coordinator for Grenada.

“Grenada has a youthful population with over 60 percent under the age of 35, so it is imperative that the Gospel gets to the young people in a way they can understand. We are believing God for massive multiplication in Grenada.”

To reach as many children as possible, Francine and our ministry partners went door-to-door to meet with parents and invite boys and girls to the outreach events. Connecting with parents is key, Francine said.

John Brathwaite, pastor of Grand Bacolet Bible Holiness Church, where an outreach was recently held, agrees. He believes the gift boxes will open doors for future ministry with the parents.

“Reaching children here is very challenging,” he said. “Their parents are often a stumbling block. But now when their child comes home with a box filled with gifts and they see the kindness shown to their child, then it will make an impression. As the Scripture says, ‘the goodness of God leads you to repentance’” (Romans 2:4).

Empowering Local Churches

Vanessa Rachae, the local team coordinator, encourages those who pack shoeboxes in the United States and other sending countries to see beyond just the gifts and view each box as an opportunity to share Christ’s love with a child. This can lead to reaching entire communities with the Gospel.

“Shoeboxes empower the local churches to expand their reach in their communities,” she said. “They create an open door right into the homes.”

And it all begins with a simple shoebox packed, not only with toys, but with prayer.

“Prayer is so important to reach the children of Grenada,” Francine said. “We can’t imagine what God can do when one child hears the Gospel.”

Please pray for our teams as they share the Good News of Jesus Christ with children in Grenada and that many of the boys and girls will invite Christ to be their Lord and Saviour.

Gift a Child The Greatest Journey

Give a shoebox recipient the opportunity to attend The Greatest Journey, our 12-lesson discipleship program by donating just $10.