Another year of the Samaritans Purse’s “Operation Christmas Child” shoe boxes wrapped up November 19th and the boxes were turned into the collection centre which then forwards all the boxes on to the processing center, where they are inspected and prepared for shipping by trained volunteers.
Operation Christmas Child is a hands-on project that brings joy and hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoeboxes packed by Canadians. It is one way to remind children suffering as a result of war, poverty, famine, disease, and disaster that they are loved and not forgotten. Every year, millions of children around the world receive gifts of joy and hope through a thought filled box packed with love by someone for the Operation Christmas Child, which is a project of the Samaritans Purse.
Operation Christmas Child was started in 1990. In 1993, Operation Christmas Child grew and was adopted by Samaritan’s Purse, a non-denominational Christian organization run by Franklin Graham. The Operation Christmas Child provides an opportunity for people of all ages to be involved in a simple, hands-on project of Samaritan’s Purse that focuses on the true meaning of Christmas – Jesus Christ – God’s greatest gift. To date, Operation Christmas Child has collected and distributed over 135 million shoebox gifts worldwide. In 2016, Canadians donated 664,525 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes for hurting children around the world. Each shoe box is filled with school supplies, Picture books, hygiene items, wash cloths, candy, small musical instruments, clothing, hair clips, jewellery, socks, Stuffed animals and toys are distributed to hurting children around the world regardless of gender, race, religion, or age. Many of these children are living in circumstances of war, poverty, disease, and natural disaster and have never before received a gift. When culturally appropriate, copies of a book entitled The Greatest Gift of All, which has been translated into 130 different languages, are offered to children after the shoe box has already been distributed.
Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes from Canada have been disturbed to various countries over the years including; Afghanistan, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Syria, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
After the processing center the shoe boxes are loaded into a sea container, and shipped overseas where it is received in the destination country by a team of Operation Christmas Child volunteers called a National Leadership Team. From the port of entry, many methods of transportation, such as airplane, canoe, helicopter, truck, donkey, camel, etc., may be used to get the shoe box to its final destination. The shoe box is given to a child at an event organized by a local church in cooperation with the National Leadership Team. Church members go into their community and invite children to the event. At the event, if culturally appropriate, a pastor or teacher will share the message of salvation through Jesus Christ, often using music and drama. Every child then receives a shoe box as an unconditional gift regardless of race, religion, or gender. A child is not required to accept anything or make a confession of faith to receive a shoe box. Each child is also offered a copy of The Greatest Gift, a colourful booklet that tells the Good News of Jesus Christ.
In the weeks following the shoe box distribution, the local church follows up with the children who received a shoe box and invites them to be part of The Greatest Journey, a 12-lesson Bible Study Program. Upon graduation from The Greatest Journey, many of the children receive a New Testament Bible to help them grow in their faith.
Since 2009, millions of children around the world have learned what it means to faithfully follow Jesus Christ through The Greatest Journey. As a result, lives are being changed for eternity and new churches are springing up in communities across the globe.
We praise the Lord for making The Greatest Journey one of the largest discipleship programs in the world today. But there are many more boys and girls we still urgently need to reach with the truth of God’s Word.
Through this project of Operation Christmas Child, those who participate give a child a special gift on so many levels. By simply packing a shoe box, we open the door to change a child’s life for eternity. This is an effective way to begin to show others what Christmas is all about. Through this act of kindness in packing a shoe box for a child those participating are embracing the true spirit of the season and giving Christmas away to another person. My hope is that the spirit of giving will continue not only during the season of Christmas but each and everyday of the year. For more information on Operational Christmas Child go to www.samaritanspurse.ca/shoebox. You can also go to www. samaritanspurse.ca to find other projects that Samaritans Purse are involved with.
Operation Christmas Child was started in 1990. In 1993, Operation Christmas Child grew and was adopted by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization run by Franklin Graham.