The Greatest Journey: Frequently Asked Questions

The Greatest Journey FAQs

Can you explain the purpose of The Greatest Journey Bible Discovery programme and how it works alongside Operation Christmas Child?

The Greatest Journey consists of 12 fun and interactive Bible based lessons delivered through local churches to children who receive Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. It is offered in the children’s native language as a follow-up to shoebox distributions.

Local teachers are trained to lead children through the course and equipped with the knowledge to continue children’s ministry once the programme is complete. A graduation ceremony and certificate is offered to children who complete all 12 lessons. It is hoped that every graduate will receive a copy of a New Testament at the graduation event in their own language.

Who developed The Greatest Journey?

The Greatest Journey was developed as a response to a global need for a non-Western biblical children’s curriculum, in partnership with some of the world’s leading children’s curriculum experts. Development was conducted by Samaritan’s Purse in partnership with Logosdor and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Development included representatives from various continents and input was collected from 30 countries.

How does The Greatest Journey impact the local church?

The Greatest Journey equips the local church with training and resources to connect personally with children in their community and to help them find their own faith in Jesus Christ. It provides biblical resources the church may not otherwise afford and emphasises the value of children’s ministry. Children who participate often want to continue attending the church, sometimes bringing their families with them.

Samaritan’s Purse equips local churches around the world with training and materials to teach The Greatest Journey.

How long has The Greatest Journey been a part of Operation Christmas Child?

The Greatest Journey curriculum development was launched in 2008. The first classes were successfully launched in 2009-10 in Latin America. Samaritan’s Purse continues to introduce the programme to new countries each year as funding and capacity grows. Since 2009, over 5.1 million children have graduated and 371,000 teachers have been trained. It is now taught in 109 countries in over 70 languages.

If a child receives a shoebox gift, are they automatically enrolled in The Greatest Journey programme?

Not every child who receives a shoebox has the opportunity to participate in The Greatest Journey - we estimate that 75% of the children given a shoebox are eligible to participate. The Greatest Journey is offered free of charge, without obligation and only with the consent of the child’s parent or guardian.

Some countries where shoeboxes are distributed have strict regulations on the distribution of evangelical literature, thus keeping us from offering The Greatest Journey in such countries. There are also children who are at a non-literate age (2-4 yrs) or who are “oral learners” that will not participate.

The Greatest Journey curriculum is offered in countries where there is leadership capacity, open environments and a willingness to participate. Currently, Samaritan’s Purse does not have the necessary funding to offer the curriculum to every eligible child. We are in the process of building the operational capacity for this as well.

How long does it take for the children to complete the lessons?

The Greatest Journey curriculum is a 12-lesson course. Our local partners are taking several different approaches to this design. Most are offering one lesson a week.

Do illiterate children have the opportunity to participate in The Greatest Journey?

Illiterate children are not necessarily excluded from participating in The Greatest Journey. The curriculum intentionally includes artwork that helps teachers tell the biblical stories to low-literate or non-literate children. Although the educational level aims for 8-12 year old children, teachers are trained and the lessons are built to be usable even with children who have difficulty reading.

How much does the programme cost per child?

Just £5 ensures the child is led by trained local teachers, as well as providing all the fun study materials they need, as well as a copy of the New Testament in their own language so they can continue their own journey after graduation.

Who teaches the lessons?

Local churches identify and encourage members and teachers to volunteer to attend training and disciple children through The Greatest Journey. An average class is around 30 students and could take place in Sunday School settings, after-school clubs, children’s camps or a school classroom.

What happens after the children complete the programme?

We celebrate! At the end of each course, the teacher puts together a celebration for the children and their families. Each child receives a certificate recognising his or her accomplishment. In most cases, the graduate is given a New Testament.  The churches are trained to use these events as outreach opportunies to build relationship with the children’s’ families.

What impact can The Greatest Journey have on communities?

The Greatest Journey serves as a catalytic resource for many local churches to proclaim Jesus Christ and study Scripture through discipleship relationships. It often serves as a platform to encourage and train local churches to witness of Christ in their communities. In some cases churches have used this in coordination with their church planting strategies. The Greatest Journey is an investment not only in the children themselves, but also in the teachers and the local churches that can learn, grow and continue to know and serve Christ with the momentum that has been gained.

Children hear the Gospel and believe, but does it last?

It is the intent of Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey to connect children to the Word of God and to local churches. We want them to have a personal and ongoing relationship with another believer, in order to receive God’s Word and learn more about what it means to follow Christ.  This is the work of the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word. Local churches can proclaim, instruct and disciple the children and this is why it is important for Samaritan’s Purse to equip the church to build personal relationships with the children.

In the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20): The seeds of evangelism are scattered.  Some seeds sprout quickly and are choked by weeds, others wither under the sun because they lack roots, and others are eaten by birds. Yet some fall on fertile soil and produce a harvest of up to 100 times.

Operation Christmas Child is investing in the fertile soil. Once seeds (shoebox gifts) are scattered, they may take root, mature, and multiply their harvest.  This emphasises the critical role of discipleship and The Greatest Journey is that tool for nurturing the harvest.

How can I support The Greatest Journey?

It costs £5 to provide a child the opportunity to participate in The Greatest Journey, to receive discipleship materials (including a certificate) and New Testament in their language. Donors can provide funding for one child to participate, equip a church, or even sponsor a country.