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Special Edition: Operation Christmas Child

Dear Friend,

For the past 25 years I’ve had the opportunity to hand out Operation Christmas Child (OCC) shoebox gifts to precious children in some of the darkest corners of our world. I wish you could be there to see their smiles and hear them squealing with delight as they open their shoeboxes packed by people just like you.

Many of these children have never received a Christmas present before. Some were not raised in churches and have never celebrated Jesus’ birthday. As we bring them gifts, God gives us abundant opportunities to introduce them to His greatest gift, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Just a few months ago I was in the Dominican Republic with several of my grandchildren to, hand out OCC shoebox gifts to boys and girls in impoverished communities that are plagued by drugs and prostitution. In places like this where children are at risk, the local church can be a beacon and a refuge, and the Gospel promises them “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Churches around the world are the foundation of OCC. They collect and hand out the majority of shoebox gifts. When Samaritan’s Purse ships shoeboxes into a country, local churches organise outreach events where they invite children from throughout their community. In this way, each and every shoebox represents an opportunity to share the hope of the Gospel of Christ.

As we handed out shoebox gifts in the Dominican Republic, I worked with a translator to share the wonderful story of Christmas and tell the children how much God loves them. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). When we invited them to respond to the Gospel, dozens of boys and girls bowed their heads and prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.
Along with the shoeboxes, we handed out Gospel booklets in Spanish so that the children could go home, read more about Jesus, and share the story with family and friends. Samaritan’s Purse offers these booklets in more than 70 languages, to help children around the world understand the true meaning of Christmas.

After churches hand out OCC shoebox gifts, many of them invite children to enrol in The Greatest Journey, a series of Bible lessons developed by Samaritan’s Purse and taught by trained local volunteers to help children grow in their faith and share Christ with others. When the children graduate, we present them with their very own Bible.

Through these Gospel presentations, God is transforming millions of young lives in over 100 countries. Let me tell you about a 14-year-old boy named Sopea in Cambodia, which is one of the countries where Samaritan’s Purse delivers OCC gifts from Australia and New Zealand. Sopea said his shoebox was the first gift he has ever received. “Mum and Dad, I got books, I got shoes, I got pens and crayons, so I can continue my studies in school!” he said excitedly. Then he enrolled in The Greatest Journey. “I realised I was called by God to serve my friends,” he said. Now he assists his Sunday School teacher and invites others to join him in The Greatest Journey.

We are thankful for everyone who packs shoebox gifts for OCC, prays for the children who will receive them, and supports The Greatest Journey. In addition to Australia and New Zealand, we collect gift boxes in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, and Japan. Since 1993, God has enabled us to reach 157 million children worldwide with these shoebox gifts and the Gospel message. This year, we are trusting Him for 11 million gifts.

We praise God that 6.9 million boys and girls have made life-changing decisions for Christ through The Greatest Journey. As they grow up, pray that they will always be ambassadors for Christ, and ask God to use them to transform their communities and their world.

We work in more than 100 countries around the world, responding to disasters, supporting missionary hospitals, supplying good education for children, facilitating safe births for mothers, helping people to feed themselves by teaching parents to grow nutritious food, providing safe drinking water for whole communities, and helping in Jesus’ Name wherever God leads us.

Sincerely,

Franklin Graham
President,
Samaritan’s Purse

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