Operation Christmas Child
Shoebox Gifts Bring Joy to Namibia
20 September 2023
For most of us the story of Creation is familiar, but for remote communities in Mongolia it’s the first time they’re hearing it.
On the backs of elephants, through jungles, and over distant mountains, many faithful and dedicated Operation Christmas Child volunteers joyfully deliver gift-filled shoeboxes to every corner of the globe.
DOZENS OF CHILDREN GRADUATE FROM THE GREATEST JOURNEY PROGRAM IN COLOMBIA, RECEIVING A CERTIFICATE AND A COPY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT IN SPANISH.
These gifts provide local churches in remote locations unique opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a tangible manner during Operation Christmas Child outreach events. Churches then are able to follow up through The Greatest Journey, a 12-lesson discipleship program that provides children with a deeper understanding of the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, and how to follow Jesus and share Him with others.
In much of Central and South America, the Gospel might be talked about but it’s not well understood. Ancestral beliefs colour the Latin American culture blurring the line between truth and heresy. To help break this stronghold, The Greatest Journey, known in Spanish as “La Gran Aventura,” goes beyond the shoebox gift to teach children the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Taught by trained local teachers, the course equips thousands of boys and girls in Latin America to reach their families and communities for Jesus Christ.
A young girl named Dayla from Peru used the message she heard through The Greatest Journey to reach her family. In one of the lessons, participants write prayer requests on a piece of paper, which they liken to “storms” they want Jesus to calm. Dayla approached the teacher and asked her to write: “Dear God, I ask you to make my mom and dad come to your church with me. I don’t like to come alone with my grandmother.” She crumbled the paper, put it in the box, and began to pray earnestly and intently. Through a child’s prayer, God brought Dayla’s family to church with her.
BOYS AND GIRLS THROUGHOUT CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA ARE HEARING THE GOSPEL AND LEARNING DAY BY DAY HOW TO FOLLOW JESUS CHRIST IN LIVES OF FAITH.
For Juan, a 12-year-old boy from a small town in southern Colombia, a simple soccer ball from an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift revealed the love of God. Now instead of using old fabric assembled into a makeshift ball, Juan kicks a real soccer ball and uses it to share God’s grace to all his friends and family. He tells them where he received the ball as well as the Bible stories he is learning through The Greatest Journey. As a result, Juan’s mother has heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and now attends church with her son.
For 12 weeks Ernesto attended the local church, learning more about Jesus and strengthening his faith through The Greatest Journey program. On the way to graduation, his shoes broke and without any other option Ernesto ran to his graduation barefoot. That was until two boys on the street let him borrow a pair of shoes. After graduating with shoes five sizes too big, some of his fellow graduates bought him a new pair. Little did they know that Ernesto was abandoned by his parents and lived with his grandparents who could not afford shoes. Simple acts of kindness show the impact the Gospel of Jesus Christ has on these young children.
MORE THAN EVANGELISM, SAMARITAN’S PURSE WORKS THROUGH THE LOCAL CHURCH TO FORM A NEW GENERATION OF BOLD BELIEVERS OF JESUS CHRIST.
In La Paz, Bolivia, Pamela, 10, received a T-shirt, a doll, a pair of shoes, and much more inside her gift-filled shoebox. Beyond the temporal gifts, however, Pamela was able to hear about the everlasting promises of God.
“After receiving the gift, I passed a discipleship course of 12 assignments, in which I remember having learned some topics such as creation (in which God created everything), helping my neighbor, and that I must trust in the Lord Jesus,” Pamela said. “At the end of the discipleship, they gave me a certificate and a beautiful Bible, and I really liked it. I will continue reading it.”
CLOSING THEIR EYES TO PRAY, YOUNG CHILDREN IN PERU ARE TAUGHT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNICATION WITH GOD THROUGH THE GREATEST JOURNEY PROGRAM.
For children like Dayla, Juan, Ernesto, and Pamela, a humble shoebox gift opened the door for a relationship with Jesus Christ, but it was the lessons taught from The Greatest Journey program that sparked a flame for the advancement of His Gospel in their respective communities. Jesus said in John 8:31, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” God is using Samaritan’s Purse to give children who are otherwise overlooked an opportunity to be disciples of Jesus Christ with an eternal purpose.