Children in hard-to-reach areas enjoy receiving Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts!

Hard-to-Reach Areas

Many children who live in nations that are difficult to reach with the Gospel are able to hear about Jesus Christ through specially packed shoebox gifts designated for hard-to-reach areas. In restricted areas, these shoeboxes provide a platform for local believers to share Christ in a safe and culturally sensitive way, and allow ease of entry through customs.

Shoebox gifts collected in 2018 will be delivered to over 1 million children living in hard-to-reach areas in 29 countries. Many of these will be shoeboxes that were built online. For the safety of our ministry partners living in these restricted areas, we cannot divulge the names of the countries.

One of our international representatives described the power of these simple gifts:

“In the very restricted environments, a shoebox becomes a key to a closed door. I desire to be involved in the work of love. In the remote areas where people have nothing, where people are dirt poor, this box gives them hope. This is love. True love. This opens the eyes of the people. Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness but have the light that leads to life (John 8:12).’ Through Operation Christmas Child, God has given us the opportunity to penetrate the darkest places in this world and share the Gospel.”

God’s Love Changes Hearts

The following story shows the impact of shoeboxes delivered to children in hard-to-reach areas.

Khalid’s* father is an alcoholic who used to beat him and withhold food from him. His mother didn’t speak up about the abuse because his father hurt her as well. As a result, Khalid became very shy. He loved to sit alone in a dark room. Upset with his family, he said, “My house was a hell.”

When a pastor and his wife came to their village with Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts, Khalid did not want to go and receive one, but his mother insisted. Before giving out the boxes, the pastor told the children, “God loves you.” This was the first time Khalid heard that he was loved by anyone. He was surprised that children far away had packed a shoebox just for him to show him God’s love.

“On that night, I was very happy. Even though my father doesn’t like me, God [does],” Khalid said.

Khalid began participating in our follow-up discipleship program offered to many shoebox recipients.

“In one of the classes, I gave my life to the Lord because He died for me,” Khalid said.

His mother and sister immediately noticed a change in him. He was more joyful than they had ever seen him before.

Khalid began learning Bible stories from the pastor, and today he teaches Sunday school. The pastor said, “He became my right hand—on behalf of me he even leads meetings.”

Seeing the change in Khalid, his mother and sister have become believers and now attend church.

Khalid said, “I am very thankful to Operation Christmas Child. I do not know who sent me that box, but that gift brought me thus far…Since Jesus gave His life to me, I want to introduce this loving God to all children in my village and other places. Every second of my life, I want to serve Him.”

*Name changed to protect identity.

Stories from Hard-to-Reach Areas

Country names have been removed for security reasons

#shoeboxstories: Dania and a Radio
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Showing Love and Truth
A shoebox recipient writes, “I am a person who thought that there is no one who cares for me and loves me. I was wrong because there is One who loves me a lot and who sacrificed Himself and His whole life for me so I could walk His path, know His truth, and live the life which He provided. Lord, You gave me a gift in which I got all the things I had not expected such as The Holy Bible, games, soaps, crayons, and drawing books. I was needing but not expecting to get these things from anyone. Thank you a lot, Lord. Thank you so much!”

From a Shoebox to a Savior
“My name is Ahsan. I belong to a poor family. My father is a security guard. I am in grade 7. I was so pleased when I got a shoebox. After a few weeks my Bible teacher gave all the students The Greatest Journey. Praise God, I have completed all the 12 lessons. During this course, my teacher gave invitation to all the kids to confess and accept Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. At that moment, I accepted Him into my heart. I like lesson number 12 in which I learned how to help others. After few days I found an old lady who was looking for someone to help her cross a very busy road. Because I had learned to help others, I helped her across. I promised my teacher that I will continue to help others.”

New Churches Where There Were None
An Operation Christmas Child volunteer in a hard-to-reach country has a huge heart for 81 villages nearby. Shoebox gift distributions have allowed him to start seven new house churches where no church existed before. They are now implementing The Greatest Journey to grow the churches. In this country there are 1,604 villages, and 1,546 of them do not have any Christian fellowships or churches. His heart is to see that change.

Without Operation Christmas Child, there would be no excuse to show up in the village, but with the gifts it changes everything. The Samaritan’s Purse project also sustains new churches. As soon as the they experience persecution from other villagers, they put on a small distribution and it changes the tide of negativity to “Oh, these people aren’t so bad.” Operation Christmas Child is really an opener and sustainer of fellowships!

Arthur’s Story
Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts were distributed to school children in a war-ridden country. Forty children from the school signed up to receive Operation Christmas Child’s follow-up evangelism lessons. One morning, 26 of the students who had signed up for the discipleship program were held hostage with many other children after masked gunmen stormed into the building during a three-day siege. 186 children died and Arthur was one of them. His grieving mother later learned that Arthur had written in his discipleship program lesson book that very morning that he had received Jesus into his heart as his Savior.

Sister of Shoebox Recipient Accepts Christ
In a remote area where the Christian population doesn’t exceed more than 2 percent, one eight year old boy wanted to show his dedication to his religion by not opening his shoebox gift. Later, he spat at one of our ministry partners. The next day the ministry partner went to the young boy’s house and visited with his family and shared the Gospel with them. The boys teenage sister was surprised that someone would take the time to visit. She listened intently to the Gospel story and amazingly asked to be a Christian.

Teenage Girl Accepts Christ and Shares with Family
A teenage girl came to Christ in a very restricted country as a result of a relationship with a local believer who had given her a shoebox gift. She shared her newfound hope with her mother and sister, who later also accepted Christ. All three are now teaching others about the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Help local believers in some of the world’s most restricted countries open the doors to share God’s love by building a shoebox gift online.

Good News. Great Joy.

Operation Christmas Child  has delivered the good news of Jesus Christ to children in more than 150 countries & territories since 1993. 

Watch children’s reactions as they receive their shoebox gifts


Prayer Requests from Ministry Partners in Hard-to-Reach Areas

  • For the safety of local believers living in areas where Christian activities are illegal
  • For the ministry partners who serve in these sensitive areas
  • That shoebox gifts would pass easily through customs and get into the hands of the children

Questions about Follow Your Box? Click here for answers.