Special Report 2021

In 2021, Samaritan’s Purse continued to declare God’s glory in more than 100 countries and territories through Operation Christmas Child—including among many unreached people groups at the very ends of the earth. We praise God that more than 9.1 million shoebox gifts were distributed to children in need at over 81,000 outreach events!

“Every shoebox represents an opportunity to reach one more child with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

—Franklin Graham
Franklin Graham

Declare His glory among the nations...
Psalm 96:3

These girls in Ecuador rejoiced to receive cuddly toy animals inside their shoebox gifts.

Reaching the Unreached

In Gabon, the Baka people live on the margins of society and have typically been outside the reach of the Gospel. But that began to change when shoeboxes were given out in a remote village. All 354 children in the community turned out for the festive outreach event—and all the adults, too! Everyone listened carefully as they heard the Gospel for the first time and discovered how much God loved them. At the end of the presentation, all of the children—and all of the adults—prayed to receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour! The village chief, who also gave his life to Christ, was so impressed with the event that he set aside some land for a church to be built. Praise God!

Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20 NLT

More than 2.5 million children in Togo have received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift since Samaritan’s Purse began distributing them there in 1998.
For many boys and girls around the world, their shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.

Going to the ends of the earth

If Enubirr isn’t the end of the earth, it’s close. The tiny island, located between the Philippines and Hawaii, is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and home to just over 1,000 people. The atoll has no electricity and no airport. But that didn’t stop four ministry partners from transporting cartons of shoebox gifts on a 57-foot ketch to the island and distributing them to the area’s 293 children. After the Gospel was shared, 131 boys and girls responded by inviting Jesus into their hearts!

Over in Palau, a ministry team travelled three hours by boat through rough waters to reach the 15 children who live on the remote island of Kayangel, the country’s northern most state. Just over 50 people call Kayangel home, but God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). When the shoeboxes were given out and the Gospel was shared, many of the locals put their faith in Christ.

To date, over 283,000 children on more than 960 inhabited Pacific islands have received shoebox gifts and have been given the opportunity to respond to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem...
Acts 1:8

These children in Palau are among hundreds of thousands in the Pacific to receive a gift-filled shoebox from Samaritan’s Purse.
A simple “wow” toy can go a long way in expressing God’s love to a child.

One Child at a Time

Each shoebox is a Gospel opportunity that can be used by God to change a child’s life for eternity—and change the course of many other lives as well.

The shoebox that 8-year-old Génesis was given in her native Ecuador was the first gift she had ever received. But as delighted as she was with her new doll and other fun toys, Génesis was even happier to learn how much God loved her and readily gave her life to Jesus. She then shared the Good News with her parents.

At my home, we talked about God, and Jesus saved my mum who was sick with COVID,” she said. “I asked God for her healing and her salvation, and both of my parents were saved.” Génesis, 8 years old

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them...
Matthew 19:14

These boys from Ecuador enjoyed the fun outreach event at Iglesia Dios de Paz where they received their shoebox gift and heard the Gospel clearly presented.
Children often can’t wait to open their shoebox gifts and explore all the fun treasures inside!

Overcoming Challenges

COVID-19 presented many challenges this year, but our National Leadership Teams across the globe prayed and found creative solutions to bring Good News and great joy to boys and girls.

In Bulgaria, many children dig through rubbish dumps to find food or items they can sell. So, our ministry partners there decided to meet the kids where they were and gave out shoeboxes at a refuse site. Over 40 boys and girls were delighted to receive new toys, hygiene items, and school supplies. They also heard the Gospel and many of them committed their lives to Jesus.

In other places, like Montenegro, where only small gatherings were permitted, our ministry partners and volunteers went door-to-door to visit families in their homes. “This gave us an opportunity to build a bridge with the children and their parents,” one partner said. “We spent one to two hours with each family talking about the Gospel. They were amazed that somebody remembered them during this hard time with the virus and that people from the outside world packed shoeboxes for them.”

...‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled.’
Luke 14:23

Shoeboxes are a blessing to children who live in some of the poorest places in the world.
Shoebox gifts often provide items, such as toys and school supplies, that families cannot afford to buy.

The Greatest Journey

Earlier, we told you how an entire village among the Baka people in Gabon gave their lives to Christ after hearing the Gospel for the first time. But that’s not the end of the story.

Everyone in the community was so eager to learn more about Jesus that they wanted to immediately begin The Greatest Journey, the 12-lesson Bible course for shoebox recipients. Several teachers then led hundreds of villagers through the first lesson. But at the end of it, they all wanted to continue. They were so hungry to learn more about God’s love that they insisted on going through all 12 lessons in just a few days!

In Kenya, a boy shared The Greatest Journey materials with his parents and four siblings. All of them gave their lives to Jesus! “A big thanks to my Greatest Journey teachers and to those who donated the books,” he said. “The 12 lessons transformed me, my family, and my friends. I promise I will keep on sharing the Gospel as the Bible commands. I want the world to hear about and know Christ.”

Since 2009, more than 30 million children have enrolled in The Greatest Journey with over 15 million making a decision for Christ!

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Children read a Bible story in The Greatest Journey student workbook.
These girls in Fiji delight to read about God’s Greatest Gift, His Son, Jesus Christ.

A Community of Volunteers & Supporters

Operation Christmas Child is made possible by a multitude of volunteers and supporters. It’s their faithful prayers and support that keep the project moving forward year after year.

In Glasgow, Destiny Church opened their doors to run a pop-up Processing Centre for shoebox gifts from all over Scotland. They were delighted to process and send over 10,000 shoebox gifts to bless children in Bosnia. Volunteer Vanessa was part of loading the lorry and said, “I loved assisting with Operation Christmas Child this year. I’ve packed a shoebox before, but this year I got to see the project from start to finish. It was a very rewarding experience. I saw first hand the strength of community, the love for children and the joy of Jesus in action. I can’t wait until next year!”

Rotherham based hairdresser and project leader Liz Ventura organised 15 churches, faith schools and local businesses to pack over 1,000 shoebox gifts, which was nearly 250 more than 2020!

In Preston, we enjoyed welcoming 19 students from the Lancaster University Hong Kong Society at our pop-up processing centre. The enthusiastic group were part of a team that helped speed 10,611 boxes on their way to Central Asia. Meanwhile, in Cardiff several members of Cardiff Rugby also joined us to lend a hand and load a lorry bound for Central Asia.

In Gloucestershire, local volunteers were full of creative ideas to get the community involved, from packing parties, coffee mornings and fundraising walks to a promotional day at a local supermarket and a pop-up ‘pack a shoebox’ stand at the Upton show. Their amazing efforts brought joy to both their community and the precious children receiving their gift-filled shoeboxes.

UK volunteer Sharon has been serving with Samaritan’s Purse in Albania, supporting Afghan evacuee families through a primary care medical clinic, distributing needed items for babies and young children, and offering trauma healing support. While there, Sharon also had the opportunity to take part in an Operation Christmas Child outreach event and said, “I recently had the privilege of attending an Operation Christmas Child outreach event for 600 children who had come to Albania with their families as evacuees on flights out of Kabul, Afghanistan. The local church was hosting the event at the complex where they were all staying. The children were told they were going to receive a special gift from the United Kingdom. As I helped the volunteers from the local church distribute the shoeboxes, the look on the children’s faces was pure joy and astonishment. All the trauma and anxiety of recent times seemed to drift away. Once they had their gifts, they ran to their parents to show them while clinging tightly to that shoebox. Both the parents and the children were very happy.”

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1 Peter 4:10

Dedicated volunteers at our Cardiff pop-up Processing Centre.
Young volunteers packing some of the 31,956 Shoebox Online gifts donated by the UK in 2021.

The Impossible Made Possible

We praise God that in 2021 over 4 million children were discipled through The Greatest Journey, where over 2.3 million made decisions for Christ. In addition, over 10.5 million gifts were packed, collected, and processed to bless even more boys and girls in 2022!

Time and again, we saw God work wonders to open doors for ministry and open hearts to receive His love. As one Regional Team Leader said: “With Operation Christmas Child, God upsets social habits, overturns traditions and customs, and acquires a people for Himself. Through this ministry, the impossible becomes possible by virtue of God.” Amen!

…with God all things are possible.
Matthew 19:26

Boys and girls in Togo listen as the Gospel is presented by an Operation Christmas Child ministry partner.
A girl is overjoyed when she opens her shoebox and discovers some fun items inside.

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