Edward Graham, the grandson of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, praised Operation Christmas Child for reaching more kids and unreached people with the Gospel than any other global outreach program.
Each year, people from all over the country pack shoe sized gift boxes with toys and other practical items as a part of Operation Christmas Child — a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse. The boxes are then sent to more than 160 nations all over the world and hand-delivered to children in need.
Along with their shoebox gift, children also receive a copy of The Greatest Gift, a colorful presentation of the Gospel in their own language. Local pastors also present the message of Christ in other fun and exciting ways.
Edward Graham said, “more kids have heard about Christ through these shoebox distributions than ever heard about Christ in stadiums with my grandfather.” This isn’t an indictment against his grandfather’s efforts but an expression of how effective the shoebox ministry has become.
After children receive their shoeboxes, they are invited to enroll in a 12-lesson discipleship program called The Greatest Journey. Through this mentorship program, children not only learn how to faithfully follow Christ, they also develop skills that help them share their faith with others.
In 2016, Operation Christmas Child delivered shoebox gifts to Himba children in a village in Africa. This tribe includes approximately 50,000 semi-nomadic people who regularly practice ancestral worship.
Of the 130 children in the village who received a shoebox, 46 of them, including six adults, wanted to continue learning about Jesus and the salvation he offers.
“A kid doesn’t care, a kid goes out and lives their faith and they’ve been so bold. I saw that in Mexico and that’s happening here with the Himba. These are unreached people groups, kids that have never… hear[d] the Gospel,” Graham said.
“God is using something simple as a… shoebox full of toys to pierce the heart of darkness. I love that and I’m so excited about it.”
The Christian Post recently reported that villagers have established a church building where roughly 100 Himba come together to worship on a regular basis. This was only possible through the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse and the power of God.
“That village is very proud of their church and where they worship the Lord,” Graham shared. “And they want other villages, they want their neighbors to see, and they go out and they share that news and that message and the Gospel. It’s so encouraging for me to see.”