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‘I told my mother I loved her’

Children in the Cambodian village crowd around to hear a teenager read stories from her colourful book titled The Greatest Journey. They squeeze in and scoot up close, barely giving her any room to recline in an old blue hammock.

Thida is a natural. The 13-year-old reads to the children as if she’d been familiar with the Bible for years instead of a few months. Not a hint of nerves creeps into the voice of the sweet, poised young storyteller, who captivates her audience with a smile that beckons them to draw near and experience her joy.

A year ago, however, Thida could not have been described as a joyful, caring child who loved Jesus. Her family would have labelled her quite differently. Thida would be the first to admit there’s been a massive shift in her life.

Thida’s heart began to change when she received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift. Not long after, she was invited to participate in The Greatest Journey, the 12-lesson Samaritan’s Purse discipleship program for children who receive shoebox gifts.

During lesson five, everything began to change. The story of Zacchaeus grabbed Thida’s attention as she learnt that he was not a good man but upon meeting Jesus, he repented. Thida decided to trust Jesus and also repented, and now her life has been transformed.

Every day, Thida’s mother works until 7pm in a garment factory. She works very hard to support her family and give her children a good future, but Thida did not respect her parents. When Thida committed her life to God, she began to change; she started to help with her siblings and began to respect her parents. On her mother’s birthday, Thida says, ‘I told my mother I loved her’—it was the first time she had ever said those words.

Today, Thida loves to share the Gospel with her family and friends and what she learned during The Greatest Journey.

A child’s life has been forever changed because of a shoebox. Thida’s mum Sok says, ‘Thank you so much to everyone who packed the box, for your love, concern and care.

Please consider donating to the work of Operation Christmas Child below.

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