Shoebox gifts from Operation Christmas Child become Gospel opportunities that can transform lives for eternity
The bright white building is an oasis on the scrubby desert outskirts of southern Guadalajara. Golden sunlight filters through leafy trees into multiple courtyards, and vibrantly colored paint brightens winding hallways that are decorated with children’s artwork.
This is Fundación Emmanuel, where Hilario Morales shelters kids who have been abandoned and given up hope. He gives them a home, provides an education, and shows them the love of Jesus through his tender care and encouragement.
Hilario grew up on the streets of Mexico, lost and lonely, with a heart filled with fear and hatred. Then God used a man named Reynaldo—who volunteers with Operation Christmas Child in Mexico—to rescue him from a life of hopelessness by introducing him to the saving power of Jesus Christ and helping him grow in his faith.
Now God is using Hilario as a mentor to disciple young people at Fundación Emmanuel, who in turn pass on their faith to others.
Operation Christmas Child is a big part of Hilario’s ministry to the boys and girls in the home and surrounding neighborhood. Through shoebox gifts, he shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the love of God with kids in areas that are fraught with extreme violence, drug use, prostitution, and gang activity.
“There are kids that have a hole in their hearts, and they start to fill it with all of these evil things,” he said. “When we give out the shoeboxes there starts to be a hope in them, and they start to fill it with the love of God.”
Veronica Miranda is one of the kids whose life has been transformed. She and her sister and brother were rescued from an abusive past and taken to a safe new home at Fundación Emmanuel.
Hilario showed her God’s love—love that included a shoebox gift—and she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior when she was 12.
In the four years since her salvation, she has become a leader at the orphanage. She passes on her faith as a teacher of The Greatest Journey, the Samaritan’s Purse program that teaches children who receive Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to know and follow our Lord and Savior.
“I want these kids to learn that there’s Someone that’s going to love them, Someone that’s never going to leave them,” Veronica said. “One day they can teach other kids about God, and make this a generation that will change.”
Each year, individuals, families, churches, and groups lovingly pack millions of shoebox gifts for Operation Christmas Child. The gifts are shipped overseas, where they become Gospel opportunities. In the hands of ministry partners like Hilario, the shoeboxes become tools to tell children about God’s greatest gift, Jesus Christ, and lives are changed for eternity.