- Ryan Faricelli
Spreading God's Love
General Assembly is made possible through the generosity of sponsors like Operation Christmas Child.
Operation Christmas Child collects shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items for children in need around the world, bringing tangible expressions of God’s love to those in need.
The program began in the summer of 1993 when Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham received a call from a man in England asking if he’d be willing to fill shoeboxes with gifts for children in war-torn Bosnia.
Franklin asked his friend, the late Pastor Ross Rhoads of Calvary Church of Charlotte, to see if he could help with the need. Pastor Rhoads demonstrated for his congregation how to fill a shoebox with simple gifts and encouraged them to include a letter to the child as well. Within weeks, the church had 11,000 shoeboxes lining their hallways. With additional gifts from Canada, Samaritan’s Purse sent 28,000 shoebox gifts to children in the Balkans that Christmas.
Every year since, Samaritan’s Purse has collected shoebox gifts filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items for children around the world. Since 1993, more than 198 million children in more than 170 countries and territories have received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.
Tens of thousands of volunteers from local churches around the world partner with Operation Christmas Child to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ at festive outreach events where children are surprised with these shoebox gifts.
Seeking to follow Jesus’ command to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19), Operation Christmas Child has trained more than 1.5 million volunteers from these congregations to teach The Greatest Journey, their dynamic follow-up discipleship course for shoebox recipients.
Since 2009, 30.9 million children have enrolled in this 12-lesson program to learn how to follow Christ and share Him with others. More than 14.9 million of these boys and girls have made a decision to accept Jesus as their Savior during the course. Many are now praying for and sharing their faith with family and friends. As a result of this ever-expanding witness, new churches are starting and communities are being transformed!
This whole process is made possible by caring individuals who pack shoeboxes full of quality gifts for children in need.
If your church would like to join the 80,000 short-term volunteers who serve in more than 4,000 drop-off locations that operate across the country every year during National Collection Week (the third week in November), can find information online to help them select and train a Project Leader and register.
If you are attending General Assembly, you can find Operation Christmas Child in the Exhibit Hall. For those of you at home, you can visit their website at https://samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child