In the form of gift filled shoe boxes, packed and donated by individuals from Australia and New Zealand, Samaritan’s Purse Australia through its Operation Christmas Child project, equips indigenous Christian leaders, through SE Asia/Pacific, with a simple but powerful tool to bring hope to children in need.
The sick and those in poverty, orphans and victims of war, children from minority and rural areas are amongst those that receive. These simple shoe box gifts are a powerful reminder to children that they are loved and valued and can help provide an link for lasting relationships to be formed that will result in other practical and spiritual needs being met.
An example of this is in Papua New Guinea where our primary partner, The Living Light Four Square Gospel Church has used Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes to establish deep ongoing relationships with communities in need. Since 2005, they have been able provide clean drinking water to villages, establish medical and nutritional outreaches, begin children’s programs and plant new churches as a direct result of using these shoe boxes.
Each country has a National Leadership Team of trusted Christian leaders who provide in-country management, planning and oversight of the project, and process all applications from communities and churches within their country. These men and women are respected and trusted Christian leaders who have a strong record of caring for people’s needs. Their understanding of the uniqueness of their culture and needs in the community is vital to ensuring we are making a difference in the lives of those who need it most. The indigenous pastors and children’s workers from local churches visit orphanages, hospitals, prisons, slums and churches to personally deliver each child their box.
Through a strong and committed investment into engaging with indigenous leaders who have a solid understanding as to the ‘real’ needs in their communities, Samaritan’s Purse has built a great network of church’s and local partners. Each of these partners act on a volunteer basis.
Generally distributions start in December and finish around mid-February. The time required to deliver each box depends on where the distribution takes place. As our desire is to reach children in the greatest need, many times this requires our indigenous partners to travel by trucks, 4-wheel-drives, canoes or boats and even walking up steep terrain to remote villages.
No, the program is designed to be a tool that helps to position indigenous partners as the agents of change in their community. Our heart is to see relationships established that open up opportunities to meet physical and spiritual needs in the communities.
The shoe boxes carried in the right hands represent an initial bridge to these relationships and therefore shoe boxes are not distributed to the same children each year. In fact each child only receives a box once, making that shoe box even more unique and special.
You can fuel a boat to transport shoe boxes to a distant community for AU$75 (NZ$92). Simply make a tax-deductible donation in this year’s ‘Gifts of the Samaritan’ Gift Catalogue.