It Started with a Shoebox Gift: Children Share Christ with Their Friends in Botswana

October 24, 2019 • Botswana

Young people are becoming powerful Gospel witnesses in their rural communities.

Operation Christmas Child

Peniel, 11, wants to be a doctor when she’s older so she can help people who are suffering. “I want to help people because I don’t want anyone in the hospital to die like my grandpa did. In the hospital. My father cried forever.”

Peniel, left, and her friend Tsholofelo are best friends now. Tsholofelo helped Peniel learn about God's love for her.

Tsholofelo and Peniel, at right, are best friends now. Tsholofelo helped Peniel learn about God’s saving love.

Helping others was not high on Peniel’s priority list a couple years ago, but now her perspective has radically changed.

“I was not kind to people. I liked to beat them. I liked to hurt other children, like my sisters. I was always hurting them, including my mom,” Peniel said. “But now the best thing I like is to make my mom proud. Now I’m doing things that Jesus likes—helping others, sharing the Scriptures with them, reading the Bible.”

Peniel says her heart was convicted when her soft-spoken friend Tsholofelo boldly told her more than a year ago: “You don’t really know Jesus. I have seen you. You go to church but you don’t really listen. I want you to become Jesus’ follower.”

Tsholofelo then started to share from John 3:16. In response, Peniel turned from her sin and turned to Christ. “I received Jesus. I went home and I started to pray. I prayed ‘Thank you for sending Tsholofelo.’ I started to love Jesus.”

Reborn, Transformed, and Telling Others

Tsholofelo did not grow up knowing Jesus Christ; the rest of her family follows local folk religion. Tsholofelo first heard about the Lord after receiving an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift a couple of years ago from a local church.

Both Tsholofelo and Peniel share the Gospel with their friends, and their friends are receiving Christ.

Both Tsholofelo and Peniel share the Gospel with their friends, and their friends are receiving Christ.

In the box she found pencils, some pens, a pair of shoes, a doll, and a yellow teddy bear. She also heard and received the Gospel. She couldn’t help but share the life-changing experience with her friends.

Since that day, Tsholofelo, an otherwise shy girl, has enjoyed telling others about Jesus. At home she will read the Bible and share the Gospel with her family who, she is hopeful, will one day become Christians. At school she also takes opportunities to read the Bible to her class.

Like Tsholofelo, Peniel has become a bold witness for Christ. She shared her testimony with her friend Laone and Laone received the Lord.

“I told my friend about Jesus after Tsholofelo told me,” Peniel said. “I wanted her to follow Jesus. I wanted her to go to heaven.”

In rural Botswana, the power of multiplication—friends who share Christ with friends who then share Christ and on and on—has begun to play itself out in lives and villages, starting with Tsholofelo—the quietest, unlikeliest of Gospel preachers.

“Jesus has changed my life,” Tsholofelo said. “He is the most important person in my life, and I want to share Him with others.”

You can bless children around the world by prayerfully packing shoeboxes full of toys, school supplies, and hygiene items.

Learn how to pack a shoebox today!

Operation Christmas Child Through Operation Christmas Child, Samaritan’s Purse is sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with millions of boys and girls in more than 100 countries each year. Many of these children have never before received a present or heard the true meaning of Christmas—until they open a gift-filled shoebox from a person like you. Some people are not able to give the $10 per shoebox we request for shipping and related costs. By adopting a shoebox, you can partner with them to deliver the Gospel and help "bring salvation to the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47, ESV).

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Adopt a Shoebox: $10 | Adopt a Carton of 15 Boxes: $150