Shoebox Gifts Open Doors Among the Unreached in Asia
Animals, trees, and hand-crafted idols … each is worshipped reverently by different unreached people groups within one Asian country. Families have remained in bondage to these dark beliefs for generations, but light is beginning to shine. We give thanks for how the one true living God is working through Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to draw children and their families to Himself!
Better than Animals
In one people group, most of the men milk dairy animals for a living. These animals are considered sacred.
Two of their young boys stood by the roadside at 5:30 each morning to sell their precious commodity—milk—as well as bread to passersby. The meager sales of these staples helped to support the boys and their families.
“How can I share the Gospel with these precious ones?” thought Samira* when she first met them. She and her husband are the only Christian family in the area and have started a house church in effort to introduce their neighbors to the Savior. Samira often prayed, “God, please make a way for me to share Jesus with these two boys.”
“God, please make a way for me to share Jesus with these two boys.”
The Lord answered by introducing her to Samaritan’s Purse and our Operation Christmas Child project. When she handed the boys a shoebox packed full of gifts and also told them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, their faces lit up and they got very excited!
Samira then invited the boys to participate in The Greatest Journey, the follow-up discipleship program designed specifically for shoebox recipients. The next day, they asked, “We have many friends, can we invite them?” Samira agreed and the boys brought 28 others to go through the lessons with her!
One of the two boys who received a shoebox gift now regularly attends Samira’s church and brings visitors with him. She hopes that as she continues to teach the children, they will come to know Jesus and His great love for them.
Leaving Trees to Embrace The Cross
Deep in a forest lives a second unreached people group that worships trees and spirits. They offer sacrifices to the forest goddess in hopes that she will protect them. In the past, they even sacrificed their children and animals to appease these spirits. This people group remains closed to outsiders and kicks out any among them who dare believe in any other religion.
Pastors from nearby areas have attempted to share Jesus with the adults of this group in the past, but with no success. When they discovered they could reach out to the children through Operation Christmas Child, they went to great lengths to bring them the Gospel. They traveled three hours by car or motorcycle, crossed a river in a small boat, and then went another mile on foot—all while carrying cartons of shoebox gifts!
One of the volunteers named Pastor David shared the Gospel with children at an outreach event. He explained that Christ died on a tree to take away their sins by the power of His blood.
When the boys and girls received their shoebox gifts, they were ecstatic because they had never seen toys before!
“The toys will get spoiled,” said Pastor David, “but the love of Jesus will always remain fresh and you can experience it forever!”
Of the 50 boys and girls who received shoebox gifts, 18 committed to attending The Greatest Journey classes. Some of these children accepted Christ at the outreach event, and still more did so during the 12 follow-up discipleship lessons.
“God is really working in reaching the children of this group,” said Pastor David. “He is also working in the hearts of the parents. This opportunity is an answer to many prayers over this unreached people group. Operation Christmas Child is empowering the ministry partners, the local pastors, to move forward in ministry.”
“This opportunity is an answer to many prayers over this unreached people group. Operation Christmas Child is empowering the ministry partners, the local pastors, to move forward in ministry.”
Operation Christmas Child will continue to help local churches nearby reach out to this unreached people group until a sustainable Christian presence is established in the forest.
Encouraging Them to Give Up Idols
Largely rejected by society, members of a third unreached people group worship the handcrafted idols that fill their community. Family strife runs high and they live in extreme poverty. Their children are increasingly addicted to alcohol, tobacco, and street fighting.
Aarna* regularly catches a tuk-tuk or motorbike to travel two hours along the bumpy trail to this unreached people group. She tried for years to share the Gospel with them, but she had been unable to make any real connection with the community until Operation Christmas Child helped provide a breakthrough!
The entire village came to the outreach event to see what was going on, and there heard the Gospel clearly presented! The children never dreamed they would receive gifts as good as those they found in their shoeboxes. For many of them, it was the first time they’d received a gift of any kind.
“No one has ever come here to give gifts and host a special event for the children. We had so many opportunities to share the love of Jesus.”
“No one has ever come here to give gifts and host a special event for the children. We had so many opportunities to share the love of Jesus,” said Aarna.
Moms and dads were overjoyed with what their children received. “They want to listen to your teachings,” the parents said to the Operation Christmas Child volunteers. “What you’re doing is good.”
Village elders also affirmed them. “These pastors and teachers are motivating our children. The youth are very happy with what you are doing,” they said. “Whenever you want, you can come to our community!”
Aarna rejoices at this open door for the Gospel and looks forward to hosting The Greatest Journey discipleship classes here in the future. She said, “The Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts helped many more children hear the Name of Jesus!”
Join us in praying that many children and their families will come to know the love of Jesus Christ among these diverse unreached people groups in Asia.
*Names changed for security