Franklin Graham Update October

The Lord uses shoebox gifts to bless children around the world and prepare them to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.

GOOD NEWS, GREAT JOY: The Lord uses shoebox gifts to bless children around the world and prepare them to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.

'I felt the love of Jesus
through the shoebox!'

Dear Friend,

As we look forward to celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Operation Christmas Child is also marking a birthday. This year marks 30 years since Samaritan's Purse began collecting shoeboxes filled with gifts for hurting children around the world.

Samaritan's Purse Volunteers tarping a roof
In 1993, a man in England asked us to collect Christmas gifts for children in war-torn Bosnia. I called a church in Charlotte, where Pastor Ross Rhoads invited his congregation to fill shoeboxes with children's gifts, and they overwhelmed us with 11 thousand boxes—so many that the church ran out of room to store them. I'll never forget Ross telling me, "Franklin, this is obviously something the Lord has blessed."

From the start, Operation Christmas Child has always been dedicated to sharing the Gospel, and the Lord has blessed us with an abundance of gift boxes—209 million over 30 years.

Around the world, a whole generation of children have grown up after coming to know Jesus through Operation Christmas Child. Let me tell you about a couple of examples.

Decades ago, a 13-year-old boy named Manar in a Middle Eastern country opened a shoebox and could not believe how many gifts were packed inside. "The toy store came to me!" he said. "I felt the love of Jesus through the shoebox. It taught me how God is great, that God thought about me and sent me that gift."

All these years later, Manar has kept several of his dearest gifts, including a stuffed bear in a red sweater, a monkey-shaped keychain, and an Etch-a-Sketch that he called "my iPad." He'll never forget the letter he found inside the box that said: "Jesus loves you and I'm praying for you."

Today, Manar is a doctor who has settled in the United States and coordinates shoebox collections at his church—demonstrating God's love to hurting and impoverished children around the world.

If you have been packing shoebox gifts for years, maybe you packed the gifts that warmed the heart of Manar. Or if this is your first time getting involved in Operation Christmas Child, know that you will be blessing the life of a child. Now is the time to get started, as our National Collection Week will be the week before Thanksgiving, Nov. 13-20. Have fun!

A pastor in Madagascar at Grace Vale Baptist Church
It is always exciting to hear how the Lord uses shoebox gifts to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. On the island of Madagascar, a retiring pastor heard God calling him to one final mission—bringing the Gospel to 15 notorious villages that are home to bandits. Government authorities do not dare go there. One village ran off their pastor seven years ago and burned down the church building.

Working through village schools, the pastor brought in hundreds of shoebox gifts and boldy shared the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord and Savior. He knew the risk of being violently rejected, yet 75 percent of the crowd—adults as well as children—responded "yes" to Jesus. In another village, people asked for a church, and a young pastor has answered the call to live in these villages and disciple new believers.

Children with Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

The spirit of evil was so heavy that children used to play games by throwing rocks at each other. Now, they play together with soccer balls and other toys from their shoeboxes. Many were excited to get school supplies so they can get an education. The pastor asked us to thank you for gifts that will transform a generation of the Bara people.

As the Lord provides, we are planning to ship 11 million shoebox gifts this year. Praise God, we've come a long way from 11 thousand that first year. On behalf of children around the world, thank you for your prayers and generosity.

ON THE GROUND: Izabella McMillon received an Operation Christmas Child gift-filled shoebox when she was a 13-year-old living in communist Romania. Izabella, who now works for Samaritan’s Purse as the Speakers Bureau Manager for Operation Christmas Child, shares with Kristy about her experience growing up in a communist country and how her faith was sealed through a shoebox.

Retired Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp and Doug and Julia Givens with Franklin Graham.

STRONG FELLOWSHIP: Retired Lt. Gen. Robert Van Antwerp (left) has been a strong supporter of Operation Heal Our Patriots, and couples like Doug and Julia Givens welcomed the opportunity to talk to him about what God is doing in their lives.

Wounded Veterans Find Hope in Christ

Julia and Andy Butterworth, Danielle Hodges, and John and Tala Hunt
FROM IRAQ TO ALASKA: Julia and Andy Butterworth, Danielle Hodges, and John and Tala Hunt.
Twenty years after they were separated on the battlefield in Iraq, three Army National Guard buddies were reunited in Alaska through Operation Heal Our Patriots, our ministry to wounded veterans and their spouses.

Sgt. Andy Butterworth was serving in Iraq in 2005 when insurgents fired a rocket-powered grenade at the Bradley Fighting Vehicle he was driving and blew off the turret. Miraculously, all nine people inside survived, but Butterworth and his lieutenant each had a leg blown off by the explosion. Andy was evacuated to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he learned to walk with a prosthetic leg.

Julia and Andy Butterworth, Danielle Hodges, and John and Tala Hunt
FROM IRAQ TO ALASKA: Julia and Andy Butterworth, Danielle Hodges, and John and Tala Hunt.

Staff Sgt. John Hunt had the grim duty of retrieving the wrecked vehicle and cleaning out the remains. Neither of them knew what had become of the other—until they were reunited on their way to participate in Operation Heal Our Patriots, our ministry to wounded veterans and their spouses.

At our lodge, they discovered that one of our workers, Danielle Hodges, was also a sergeant major from their unit. "God brought us here at the right time, with the right people, for all the right things," John said.

Julia and Andy Butterworth, Danielle Hodges, and John and Tala Hunt

Andy accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior during the week he spent in Alaska. John said he had given his heart to Jesus when he was a teenager, but he had never been baptized before he came to Alaska. They were baptized along with their wives.

We praise God for another successful season at Operation Heal Our Patriots. This summer, we were able to serve 180 couples—more than ever before—and we saw 93 souls saved, 105 baptisms, and 98 couples renewed their marriage vows.

Many of our veterans and their spouses are still dealing with emotional and physical wounds suffered as they defended our nation. One wife confessed that she was planning suicide before coming to Alaska, where she learned—through the witness of one of our fishing guides—how she could have peace with God and reconciliation with her husband.

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Our 12th Alaska season is complete, but the ministry of Operation Heal Our Patriots continues year-round, as Samaritan's Purse chaplains work with these couples to help them connect with churches and grow closer to Christ. Please keep our veterans and active service personnel in your prayers.

Thank you for your support of the work of Samaritan's Purse. Our work depends on the prayers, generosity, and service of people like you. May God bless you.

Franklin Graham

Ways to Help

Ways You Can Help


As you pack shoebox gifts, remember that the most important thing you can put into a shoebox is your prayer for the child who will open it. Please continue to pray for wounded veterans and their spouses as they work to strengthen their marriages. Ask God to open doors for Samaritan's Purse to work in places that have been resistant to the Gospel.

Operation Christmas Child
National Collection Week is Nov. 13-20 at thousands of locations across the U.S. Visit if you have questions about how to pack a shoebox, where to drop off your gifts, or if you need to print out labels for your box (boy or girl, ages 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14). Please include a donation of at least $10 per box to cover shipping and other processing costs.
The Greatest Journey®
The Greatest Journey® is a 12-lesson discipleship program developed by Samaritan's Purse and offered through local churches that hand out shoebox gifts. A gift of $6 per child ($90 for a class of 15) provides discipleship booklets, teacher training, translations into 83 languages, and a New Testament for each graduate.
Operation Heal Our Patriots®
Samaritan's Purse offers Operation Heal Our Patriots free of charge to wounded veterans and their spouses, with deep gratitude for their service to our nation. Your gift will help fund this ministry—including transportation, lodging, activities in Alaska, and ongoing family care.
Where Most Needed
Samaritan's Purse works in more than 100 nations to save lives, relieve suffering, and share the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your gift to "Where Most Needed" equips us with the resources— including personnel, materials, supporting services, and equipment to fulfill our mission of relief and evangelism.