GOOD NEWS. GREAT JOY.
Your shoebox gift was one of 39,830 that have been delivered to children in SERBIA. We thank God for the thousands of children that have received shoeboxes here since Operation Christmas Child began distributions. While we are not able to provide pictures or information on the specific child who received your individual shoebox, we hope you will be inspired by the stories and photos below.
COUNTRY INFORMATION: Serbia was formerly the political and cultural centre of Yugoslavia. It is now a landlocked country in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula in Central South-eastern Europe.
Parts of Serbia were hit hard by flooding in 2014, with thousands of people having to leave their homes and having their livelihoods destroyed. Samaritan’s Purse contributed to the humanitarian response, enabling local OCC church partners to offer essential assistance to affected families.
POPULATION: 7.3m, 15% under the age of 15.
Goran has been heading up the National Leadership Team for Operation Christmas Child in Serbia for three years now. When asked about his motivation he said “If we want to overcome the problems of our country, we must secure the future of the children.” Goran seeks to serve his community and share God’s love with them. He explained how a simple shoebox can create a connection with the children and give them the opportunity to develop lasting relationships. Our German partners recently visited Goran’s team and recounted their experience “The joy and hope in the eyes of the children are real. It is not a single moment. It is the beginning of many moments when they feel loved and wanted. And from the sum of moments comes a new self-understanding, a new confidence in life and in the future.”
Our Serbian partners recount a particularly memorable shoebox outreach event at a Centre for Asylum Seekers. “It was heart breaking to see the pain, sorrow, grief, uncertainty, fear, and despair in their eyes, but it was also heart-warming to see the joy, happiness, and genuine thankfulness from the children’s eyes when we opened the big brown boxes containing the colourful presents for them. The children excitedly helped the team leader open the boxes. At this point, the language barrier disappeared and all of a sudden we all spoke smiles, handshakes, hand gestures and tearful eyes. They patiently listened to what the team leader shared with them, learning about God’s love and the hope He has for them in the midst of their despair. One girl got a big shoebox, so heavy she couldn’t carry it by herself! A volunteer helped her open it and when she saw a toy owl and sweets, she beamed with joy!”
Photo credit Geschenke der Hoffnung/Maurice Ressel
Shoebox Joy in Serbia:
National Leadership Teams
Operation Christmas Child invests in building National Leadership Teams made up of trained local volunteers and staff within over 100 countries. These teams then work alongside many Regional Leadership teams who in turn train local church leaders and teachers. In Serbia 3 teams are working with 162 ministry partners (teams of volunteers in local churches) to make Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey possible each year!
THE GREATEST JOURNEY
Each shoebox gift delivered by Operation Christmas Child is a tangible expression of God’s amazing love. But a shoebox is just the beginning. After receiving a shoebox gift, children have the opportunity to enrol in The Greatest Journey – 12 fun and interactive Bible lessons, where they get the chance to discover who Jesus is and how to begin their own journey of faith. At the end of the course they get to experience a graduation ceremony where they receive a New Testament in their own language.
The Greatest Journey is taught by local volunteers who have been trained to deliver the programme. It is offered free of charge, without obligation and with the consent of the child’s parent or guardian. Over 1,170 children in Serbia have enrolled in this programme since it started.
You can be a part of helping us “go and make disciples of all nations” as Jesus commanded. Sign up for a monthly gift of £5, and each year you will give 12 children study materials, a New Testament, and the opportunity to share their faith with family and friends.