Edward Graham, the grandson of the late evangelist Billy Graham, says shoeboxes filled with gifts are reaching more children and unreached people with the Gospel than the massive global evangelistic events his grandfather held over decades.
“More kids have heard about Christ through these shoebox distributions than ever heard about Christ in stadiums with my grandfather,” said Graham, vice president of programs and government relations at Operation Christmas Child, regarding the evangelistic opportunity shoebox gifts are creating around the world for the Gospel to spread like wildfire.
Some might underestimate the impact of packing gift boxes during the holidays, but Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, has provided an open door for people to be a part of evangelism efforts around the world. Operation Christmas Child participants fill shoe sized gift boxes that are sent to over 160 nations, including 50 hard to reach areas.
In the spring of 2016, Samaritan’s Purse held an outreach event for the Himba people, an unreached people group in the village of Opuwo which sits on the border of Angola and Namibia in Africa. Later that fall, a ministry partner, Pastor Rizera, traveled the long distance across cow paths and over six dry river beds to bring Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts and the Gospel message to the Himba children.
The Himba tribe consists of 50,000 semi-nomadic people who live in a region across Southern Angola to Northern Namibia. Before the shoebox distribution, the people of Ombaka mostly practiced ancestral worship and were resistant to the Gospel message, with less than 3% of people professing to be Christian. Following an Operation Christmas Child outreach event that hosted 130 children in the village, 46 children and six young adults wanted to continue to learn more about Jesus.