Operation Christmas Child 2023 Special Report | Samaritans Purse Skip to main content
girl smiles with shoebox

Operation Christmas Child 2023 Special Report

God continues to be faithful to use Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey to open doors for Gospel outreach in places that have never heard about the eternal hope of Christ. Boys and girls worldwide are coming to faith in Jesus and sharing the Good News with family and friends. As they do, communities are being transformed by God's love, and churches are being started.

Franklin Graham shares a toy with a child










This ministry would not be possible without the thousands of volunteers and church partners who faithfully serve the Lord and are committed to bringing the Gospel to children and families. We are thankful for their dedication to serving in Jesus' Name and to helping boys and girls experience the peace and joy of Christ.

“To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations.”


Kids with their shoeboxes




“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”







Over the past 30 years, the Lord has used Samaritan's Purse to deliver more than 220 million shoebox gifts. When Franklin Graham agreed to fill shoeboxes for children in war-torn Bosnia in 1993, he had no idea how God would grow the project. These last three decades are a testimony to His faithfulness and the commitment of our church and volunteer network around the world.

God is using Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to create opportunities for a Gospel witness in Kazakh communities in Mongolia. The Kazakh minority group is about 20 percent of the country's population and most have not heard about Jesus.

Serik* is a Kazakh pastor who has seen how shoebox gift outreach events equip his congregation to reach their community in ways that are having a lasting effect for Christ's Kingdom. Parents often want to know why someone would give their child such a special present—and church members then tell them about God's love.

*Name changed






In a remote region of southern Madagascar, parents are giving their children wooden rifles to play with and training them at a young age to perpetuate the hostility that has raged for generations.

During one outreach event, many in the crowd—which included parents—raised their hands indicating that they wanted to receive Christ as their Saviour. Pastor Soja is now helping to start new churches in several villages that were once hostile to the Gospel.

Pastor Soja preaching

Pastor Soja is a local Christian leader who is working with Operation Christmas Child ministry partners in the area to introduce the eternal hope of the Gospel.


“Make disciples of all the nations.”


Anne had never worked with children, and she wondered why God had called her to teach The Greatest Journey in a slum community of the Philippines. But she received training from our local Operation Christmas Child team, and as the weeks went on, she came to treasure her time teaching the boys and girls.

Anne and members of her church had wanted to reach the slum area for a while but they weren't sure where to start. Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey provided the pathway they needed.

The children enjoyed The Greatest Journey so much that Anne and the other teachers started a weekly worship and Bible study for them in the pastor's home. Even children who didn't participate in The Greatest Journey are coming to the weekly gathering.



More than 40 million boys and girls have been enrolled on Greatest Journey since 2009. Many of these young disciples are now adults who are Bible teachers in their communities.

Lashon, 21, came to faith during The Greatest Journey when she was 14. She now teaches Sunday School and The Greatest Journey and helps lead outreach events at her church in a remote village in Honduras. Lashon has seen the Gospel transform the lives of children and teenagers in her community. While they were once focused on drinking and partying, many are now active in church because they accepted Christ during The Greatest Journey.

Lashon smiles for the camera with a Ministry Guide in hand





“Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights.”

JAMES 1:17

Elena and her daughter fled to Poland to escape the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Elena was scared, but she trusted God and prayed that He would provide for them. One of the ways God answered her prayer was through an Operation Christmas Child outreach event. Her daughter not only received a box full of special gifts but she also enrolled in The Greatest Journey. Elena was grateful for the love shown to her daughter and for the joy she experienced during a difficult time.







Two friends cried for joy when they opened their shoebox gifts and saw lots of school supplies. They had been praying that God would provide these items, since their families couldn't afford to buy them. Their parents thanked God, and prayed with the team in the Philippines who had organised the outreach event. Both families are now attending church and learning more about the Lord and His Word.



A 7-year-old refugee in South Asia had wanted a football and a spinning top toy for a long time but he knew his parents couldn't afford them. His family struggled to have enough money to buy food. He was thrilled to find both items in his shoebox. “What I saw in that box meant that God cares and answers prayers,” he said.

In eastern Europe, a young boy had also been longing for specific items—a football and football shirt. When he opened his shoebox gift, he started jumping for joy because his box contained, among many special things, those exact items.



Zain's favourite shoebox item was his sunglasses. "As I put them on, something remarkable happened. The world transformed before my eyes. The once harsh and glaring sunlight now appeared subdued and gentle. I felt like I was looking at the world through a new lens—literally and metaphorically. For a moment, I forgot about the challenges me and my family were facing. The sunglasses became a symbol of hope, a reminder that even in the difficult circumstances, there is always a room for joy and beauty.” Zain formed a friendship with people at the local church, and he and many of his family and friends eventually came to faith through this one simple gift.

People praying for the shoeboxes

“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.”



Shoebox packers are helping to deliver great joy and the Good News of Jesus Christ to boys and girls around the world. Every shoebox gift lovingly packed in Jesus' Name is a tangible expression of His love to a child in desperate need.

The Tar family have been packing shoebox gifts for over 20 years. It all started when Kay packed a shoebox with her son Harrison through school, and they decided to make it a family tradition. 

Before long Kay and her daughter Violetta began looking for ways to pack more shoebox gifts. They purchased 20 preprinted boxes and planned to use them over a few years but ended up filling all 20 boxes that year! 

The following year, they ordered 50 boxes and made a long list of suggested items to look out for. Throughout the year, their family and friends donated all sorts of lovely items ready to pack in November. They also got the local community involved, with the Girl Guides making small items like friendship bracelets and keyrings for the shoeboxes and stallholders at local fetes donating items. 

Kay said, “It gives us such pleasure to have all the boxes filled to the brim and dropped off at our collection point each year. We love to think about a child receiving the shoebox. One small moment can make a huge difference to someone’s life and future.”

In 2023, the Tar family packed an amazing 100 shoebox gifts and they are already planning this year’s boxes, which will be for the 10-14 age category. 

10-year-old Archie has been packing shoebox gifts with his Great Nan since he was 4 years old. Each year they pack two shoebox gifts, but last year after seeing a video of the children opening their gifts, he felt compelled to do more. He set himself the ambitious target of packing 20 shoebox gifts and began fundraising to achieve his goal. He organised a sponsored 15km walk and rallied the support of his school, friends, family and community. Three hours, 53 minutes, and 22,000 steps later, Archie had completed his walk and raised £468! 

Archie chose to pack several gifts for each category and some extra for his own age group. He carefully worked out his budget and spent a whole day shopping for all the items. This was then followed by a week of wrapping and packing, making sure each child got a special box made with love. 

In January, Archie was excited to hear his shoeboxes were bringing joy to children in Moldova, Belarus, and the Balkans. 

Archie and his mum

Archie’s mother said “It’s certainly been a beautiful experience, and Archie is so happy to know that his kindness has been spread across the globe. He is already planning what he can do for 2024. Packing shoeboxes has been a part of our family for decades, and this year has been the most exciting year.”   

If you visit Jenny’s home in Gloucester, you’ll be in no doubt about her love for all things Operation Christmas Child! Boxes of school supplies, toys, personal care items and accessories line the walls, along with beautifully wrapped shoeboxes ready to fill.

Jenny runs a local Facebook group and encourages her community to drop off boxes, quality crafts, and other shoebox items year-round. She then works with three local churches to pack these gifts together at packing parties. Last year they packed around 400 shoebox gifts at the parties and 1,284 shoeboxes overall.

Jenny said, “Every shoebox represents a child feeling loved and an opportunity for them to hear about Jesus, and that spurs me on to pack even more gifts.” 

Jenny is also the Collections Coordinator for Gloucestershire and organises picking up all the shoeboxes from drop-off locations in the area. She arranges for them to be taken to the National Ministry Centre in Coventry or the pop-up processing centre in Cardiff, where she also volunteers. Last year Gloucestershire collected a fantastic 3,525 shoebox gifts! 

“I am part of a brilliant team of volunteers locally, and it is a privilege and joy to be a small part of such an amazing ministry,” said Jenny.

When 87-year-old Pat Lawrie was a child during the war, she remembers not knowing whether she would get any Christmas presents. It’s a feeling that she hasn’t forgotten and one that drives her to pack shoebox gifts for children in difficult circumstances around the world. 

Pat has run an Operation Christmas Child Drop-off Location for several years now and is passionate about packing shoebox gifts. She loves meeting people from the community and hearing their stories, including one 5-year-old girl who packed a shoebox using all her saved-up pocket money.

Pat also organises her church’s packing party (Christ Church United Reformed Church in Westgate-on-Sea) and keeps them updated with the latest news by following our Facebook page. 

Pat said, “As long as we've got breath in our lungs, we can spread God’s love and joy to precious children around the world through packing shoebox gifts.”

Pat Lawrie holding shoebox

Pat Jones of Woodside Methodist Church has been passionate about packing shoeboxes for over 20 years and diligently fills at least 100 shoeboxes each year. Every time Pat goes shopping, she is on the hunt for shoebox bargains, and her husband, Bill, has become a seasoned shoebox wrapper. 

Last year the couple held two packing parties at their church and invited people from the Dudley and Netherton circuit to come and help fill the boxes. Some local churches also gave donations to support the project and buy additional items. Once the shoeboxes were packed, they held a special service to dedicate the gifts in prayer before they were collected to be taken to the National Ministry Centre in Coventry. 


pile of colourful shoebox gifts


2023 was a particularly special year for Pat, as she was nominated to attend the King’s Garden Party for her charitable contributions. While she and Bill were waiting outside the palace gates, they even managed to recruit some more shoebox packers. It turned out the lady they were speaking to ran a craft blog and later sent two large boxes filled with all kinds of lovely gifts to go in the shoeboxes!


Pat and Bill Jones

Operation Christmas Child would not be possible without the volunteers who prepare shoeboxes for international shipment at our processing centres.

Operation Christmas Child Processing Centre in Coventry United Kingdom

Sue Hooks has served as a processing centre volunteer for more than 20 years and used to run the Cambridge processing centre. 

Sue said, “It is a pleasure to serve and pack shoebox gifts, knowing that each one shows a child that someone cares for them and brings them closer to Jesus.”


Sue and her team processing gifts

Caption: Sue (far left) with some of her team from Cambridge, serving at the National Ministry Centre in Coventry.


In 2023, Sue was also a Project Leader in Cottenham and, with her team, raised funds to pack hundreds of shoeboxes at a packing party. 

“It’s a great way to involve our community and enable all age groups to take part in the ministry. We have lots of fun packing the gifts and we know the children will experience great joy opening them.  As we select gifts for each shoebox, we can pray for the child who will receive it.”


Many shoebox recipients are hearing about God's love for the first time and their lives are being transformed.

boy exploring shoebox gift



“Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.”


boy with shoebox gift

Can sponsor the costs of sending one shoebox gift to a child in need.


Could help with processing and shipping two shoebox gifts to children in need. 


Can provide local churches with training and resources to distribute shoebox gifts at outreach events.