In 2016 Operation Christmas Child UK delivered 882,647 shoebox gifts to 17 countries in Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. This was all made possible because people like you, with generous hearts, cared enough to pack a shoebox with simple, but special gifts. We thank God for the millions of children that have received shoeboxes since Operation Christmas Child began distributions. We hope you will be inspired by the following story, images and video clips of children who recently received a shoebox gift just like yours.
A Story from Zambia: Judith’s Grandchildren
After an Operation Christmas Child outreach event in Zambia, children ran around outside the church playing, laughing, and showing off the gifts they received in their shoebox. The church in this Zambian village had attracted quite a crowd, and people stood across the dusty street trying to get a peek at the excitement.
But Judith, who’d brought some of her grandchildren to the church to receive a shoebox gift (left to right: Lillian, William, Memory, Patricia & Emmanuel), quietly wiped away tears with her black scarf and struggled to find her voice. For all the joy surrounding her, Judith couldn’t hide her sorrow as she talked with our team about the hardships of raising her grandchildren in the impoverished village. Times are hard for the family, the rent for Judith’s home, like that of most homes in her community, continues to soar to rates that will soon be unbearable.
Twelve-year-old Emmanuel, Judith’s oldest grandchild, came to live with his grandmother after his parents divorced eight years ago. Judith hasn’t seen Emmanuel’s father, her son, since he left town after the divorce. It’s a story our National Leadership Team members have heard all too often. Poverty and financial struggles lead to divorce, which leads to orphaned children because parents cannot take care of them. Some parents leave their children behind when they move to other villages to find work. These children often end up with a family or adult in the village who can barely provide for their own needs. Sickness and disease, including HIV/AIDS, have also contributed to orphaned children in Zambia. About five percent of Zambia’s population, or 600,000 children, are orphans.
Judith’s grandchildren are among the 299,000 children in Zambia who received shoeboxes this year from Operation Christmas Child globally. For many it’s a rare treat to receive presents because their families are so poor. Judith’s grandchildren were delighted with their shoebox gifts and Emmanuel said his favourite item was his new torch.
Judith said, “I praise God for the gifts my grandchildren received.”
Some of our Favourite Photos from OCC UK Receiving Countries:
Our 2016 UK shoebox destinations were: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Central Asia, Estonia, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Middle East, Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Swaziland, Ukraine and Zambia.Read More Inspirational Stories
Since Operation Christmas Child began, globally over 146 million shoebox gifts have been collected and delivered to children in more than 150 countries around the world. Here is a sweet thank you clip from Guyana:
Globally, Operation Christmas Child invests in building National Leadership Teams, of which at the end of 2015 there were 94. These teams are made up of 484 trained local volunteers and staff within over 100 countries. They work alongside 150 Regional Leadership teams comprising over 4,000 volunteers who in turn trained over 51,000 leaders in local churches to make the programme possible each year. Watch the video below to reveal our 2016 global shoebox total:
The Greatest Journey
Each shoebox gift delivered by Operation Christmas Child is a tangible expression of God’s amazing love. But a shoebox is just the beginning. After receiving a shoebox gift, children have the opportunity to enrol in The Greatest Journey – 12 fun and interactive Bible lessons, where they get the chance to discover who Jesus is and how to begin their own journey of faith. At the end of the course they get to experience a graduation ceremony where they receive a New Testament in their own language.
The Greatest Journey is taught by local volunteers who have been trained to deliver the programme. It is offered free of charge, without obligation and with the consent of the child’s parent or guardian.
You can be a part of helping us “go and make disciples of all nations” as Jesus commanded. Sign up for a monthly gift of £5, and each year you will give 12 children study materials, a New Testament, and the opportunity to share their faith with family and friends.