Find out how Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts allow children to discover who Jesus is, learn how to follow Him and to share their faith with others.
‘I want every child to know there is a God who loves them.’
Franklin Graham, President, Samaritan’s Purse
Local churches around the world share the good news of new life and hope in Jesus with children in multiple ways as they open their shoebox gift.
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In addition to telling the Christmas story of Jesus to children before they receive their shoebox gift, local churches offer them The Greatest Gift, a story book that shares Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. Narrated by Jesus’ special follower John, the booklet tells 11 Bible stories and invites children to discover Jesus Christ. Children take this home to share with family and friends. It is used in more than 80 languages.
Complete with colourful illustrations, this Gospel story booklet introduces boys and girls to Jesus and shows them how to follow Him. Some children find this piece to be their favourite part of attending a shoebox outreach event.
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Local Christians are taught to host a successful shoebox outreach event through the Ministry Partner Guide, a 36-page resource that outlines how to organise a distribution, share the good news of Jesus and invite children to participate in a follow-up Bible discovery programme called The Greatest Journey.
This resource is full of colourful pictures and Bible verses to help them tell the children about Jesus in a loving way that respects local culture. After this presentation, boys and girls receive their shoebox gift which may be their first gift ever. They hold in their hands a tangible expression of God’s love. More than 75,000 of these shoebox outreach events take place every year.
A step-by-step suggested presentation of the Gospel appears in the Ministry Partner Guide along with a series of two-panel posters that illustrate the Bible’s story of new life and hope in Jesus. This guide encourages local churches to present the Good News clearly and consistently during Operation Christmas Child outreach events.
Many boys and girls are invited to participate in The Greatest Journey programme.
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Through 12 fun and interactive lessons taught by teachers within their communities and churches, children will discover who Jesus is, the hope He brings and the importance of sharing their faith in Christ with family and friends. More than 14.9 million children have enrolled in this programme since 2009.
This colourful 12-lesson resource equips the student to follow along with the story, memorise verses, and do activities in class or as homework.
This in-depth manual helps instructors apply Bible stories to their students’ lives to encourage the boys and girls to re-tell them to others. With the help of this resource, The Greatest Journey teachers are taught to be good storytellers who ask questions of children to keep them engaged. This method allows those in mainly oral cultures to participate and equips teachers to continue discipleship lessons with their students long after they complete the workbook.
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After completing The Greatest Journey, children attend a graduation celebration and receive a certificate.
Most importantly, they are given a Bible that includes the New Testament and selected Old Testament stories along with a dictionary of biblical terms and a map of Bible lands. Complete with illustrations, it is often the first Bible that the child or their family will own.
Family and friends who attend the ceremony hear the good news of Jesus Christ and students share publicly what they have learnt. This reinforces the changes family and friends have seen in their loved ones’ lives, and often they too come to faith in Christ.
In addition to receiving a certificate, The Greatest Journey graduates receive a New Testament in their own language. This may be the first copy of the Bible they or their family have ever owned.
Children who complete all 12 lessons receive a certificate at graduation. This official memento of their accomplishment is a treasured keepsake for many.
As those who receive shoeboxes and The Greatest Journey students share their faith with others, these friends can also discover Jesus and pass the good news on to even more people.
Since 2009, more than 6.9 million children have reported deciding to follow Jesus while taking The Greatest Journey. These children, as well as those who hear about Jesus at shoebox outreach events, share their faith with friends and family—who in turn share it with others.
Pastor Waisea Liwaiono hosted an Operation Christmas Child outreach in Vunika, a rural community in Fiji that had no church. He then invited the children to attend The Greatest Journey Bible discovery course. As the students gathered for Bible lessons, their parents grew curious and began attending too. The local witchdoctor became a believer and offered his property as a place for the new church to meet. Today 80 people attend regularly, and five additional churches have been started in surrounding villages!
National Leadership Teams consist of year-round volunteers from various church groups and denominations. They work together to reach all the children in their country with the good news of Jesus Christ. With this approach, local Christians who know the culture and language best are given relevant resources and a solid biblical foundation so that they can communicate effectively within their own communities.
To ensure quality in our outreach events and The Greatest Journey courses, our National Leadership teams train Master Trainers who then train Trainers, who in turn, train local teachers.
From the shoebox packers who pray for the boys and girls who will receive their gifts to the local teachers who pray for the children who attend The Greatest Journey classes, prayer is key to the work of Operation Christmas Child.