A local Guyanese pastor uses Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ
A church is a light in a world of darkness. This is especially true for churches that have been impacted by Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in Guyana. The Operation Christmas Child National Leadership Team in Guyana works tirelessly to take shoeboxes to churches and communities all over the country, and it has become an integral part of evangelism efforts for local pastor Michael Sammy.
“It is a great evangelist instrument,” Pastor Sammy said. “The shoebox itself does not have the power, but it is a tremendous aid in showing [children and families] how Jesus loves them.”
Pastor Sammy leads Elim Timehri Christian Fellowship near the Demerara River, the largest river in Guyana. Opened in 2004, the church has at least 300 members. Though he continues to build his own congregation, he also focuses on church planting and evangelism through Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
Impacting Communities for Christ
One church impacted by Pastor Sammy and his evangelistic efforts is Swan Christian Fellowship. A small established church in an impoverished indigenous Amerindian community, its attendance increased 10 percent after a recent shoebox distribution.
The impact does not stop there. The church continues to minister to the people by distributing groceries, clothing, and shoes. They are also in the process of building a kitchen that will provide meals to the children and other locals all in the Name of Jesus Christ.
One local shoebox recipient is 11-year-old Donessa. One of 10 children, her life and family have changed significantly since she received her shoebox.
“I learned more memory verses, and I learned to read the Bible,” she said.
Her favorite Bible verse is Revelation 3:20, which she can recite from memory, and she even wants to become a missionary. But the biggest change she has seen is in the life of her mother.
“She stopped quarreling with everyone,” Donessa said with a small smile. “She makes me read my Bible.”
Operation Christmas Child is not just helping churches grow, but it has also been crucial to the establishment of churches as well.
Increasing the Harvest
Ideal Christian Center is a church plant started three months ago in another Amerindian community by Pastor Sammy and his church after a recent shoebox distribution. It takes 30 minutes for most villagers in the rural community to get down to the local stream for water or for the children to walk to school.
This new group of believers worships under a tarp held up by wood sticks and seating provided by 30 white plastic chairs. It’s a modest beginning, but the Gospel is spreading like fire throughout the community. At a recent crusade, 19 people gave their lives to Christ.
For Pastor Nathalie, working in this community been a challenge at times, but it has also brought immense joy.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” she said. “It gives you a great thrill, doing the work of God, experiencing a glimpse of what the apostles experienced.”
“It gives you a great thrill, doing the work of God…”
She is assisted by members of Pastor Sammy’s church, including young adults Elvin, Samuel, and Anese, a woman who received a shoebox herself as a child. Everyone is dedicated to building Ideal Christian Center into a thriving church.Build a Shoebox Online
“In this community, there were a lot of churches that came before,” Pastor Nathalie said. “But the majority of the people have not received Jesus despite these churches being here. Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child were influential to breaking the ice.”
As the church continues to grow, the young shoebox recipients delve deeper into the Word.
Fifteen-year-old Aaliyah continues to read The Greatest Gift booklet that she received with her box.
“I enjoy it, and I read it to my brother,” she said.
It is the Gospel message that continues to impact the children and their families.
“They are still here, and that is what encourages me to keep going,” Pastor Nathalie said. “You are not laboring in vain; you’re seeing the results of your work.”