Operation Christmas Child

The Middle East

Thank you for bringing joy to a child living in the Middle East!

Your shoebox gift was one of 31,919 sent to the Middle East from the UK in 2019. We thank God for the thousands of children that have received shoeboxes here since Operation Christmas Child began distributions.

Your shoebox gift is also helping build goodwill between peoples of different faiths. It was part of a distribution that local church groups made to children of all religious backgrounds in their community. However while political and religious sensitivities continue within the Middle East and for the safety of our ministry partners living in restricted areas, they have asked us not to disclose details about the specific country your shoebox was sent to. Instead we’ve shared some general insights from our partners working in hard-to-reach areas, along with some of our favourite photos and stories to date from other countries around the world.

Stories From Hard-To-Reach Areas

Country names have been removed and individual’s names changed for security reasons

Light Amidst Darkness

In a village that has witnessed and suffered from the atrocities of war and violence for many years, considered by social observers as a barometer for armed conflict between the government and Muslim rebels, Operation Christmas Child partners are reaching out to bring joy to children in the most difficult of circumstances. Unresolved land disputes, the experience of discrimination among different ethnic groups, and inadequate access of basic services make life very tough for those living there.  Many lives have been lost and many development opportunities have been missed because of this on-going conflict situation. Families live in the shadows of fear and terror and are understandably cautious of others they do not know. One sweet little girl was initially hesitant to join the outreach event initially but her curiosity got the better of her.  She surveyed the visitors with a sceptical look, but when she was handed a red and green shoebox they saw the tiny movement of her lips that then brought her to smile as she experienced the joy of a gift packed with love just for her.  The ministry team are starting to build relationships with the local community and many are becoming open to hearing more about Jesus.

 

Veena’s First Gift

Veena is a thirteen-year-old girl who lost her father when she was seven. Her mother is frequently unwell with seizures and is often unable to work, leaving Veena to take care of her mother and the household.  When Veena received her shoebox gift box she was overjoyed! It was a great encouragement to her as she had never received a gift from her father, mother or any relative or friends. Veena’s gift was a tangible expression of God’s love sent especially for her, a reminder that she is loved and not forgotten. Veena’s now attends a local Sunday school and is keen to learn more about Jesus. Although life is still tough for her, she is much happier and is now part of a wider church family who love and support her.

 

Justin’s Story: Grateful For The Gift

 

A Picture Of Hope

Samira received a shoebox gift at an Operation Christmas Child distribution event when she was nine-years-old. Among the many things she found in the box was a yellow camera that brought her great happiness.

Nineteen years later she felt compelled to write about the gift that she received when she was young. “This camera that I found in the shoebox when I was 9 was a sign that something special will happen one day” she says. She had a difficult childhood but she felt the love of God through this special gift. Samira is now a professional photographer. She feels it was a sign from God that after all those years she will become a photographer. The shoebox touched her life in a way and reminded her of God’s blessing and love over her life.

 

A Practical Gift

When Ali was 8 years old his father passed away in an accident. He attends school but the facilities are poor and he must travel each day. Ali has a bicycle but it is damaged in bad repair.

He was very excited to receive an Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift and delighted with what he found inside:

“I received a tool kit. My bicycle is damaged and God seeing my plight has given me this gift. I have not expected this gift. This is the first time I am receiving the gift box. I am very thankful to the one who sent it. I am praying for them. Kindly pray for me, my mother and my studies. Thank you.”

 

Yuliya’s Puppy Dog

 

A Mother & Son’s Joy!

Selima is an Operation Christmas Child volunteer and the mother of 3 children. She became a Christian 22 years ago, when her son was diagnosed with an incurable disease. She said, “I decided to become a volunteer, after I saw the joy in the eyes of my sick son when he received a gift box. That encouraged me to become one of the those who bring joy to other children.”

“Most of the people here in this remote district, live on a small salary (which they often receive with a few months delay) or a pension (£30 a month). They feed on what they grow in their own small gardens. Those few rich, who have their own land, grow cotton. For many it is very difficult to equip their child for school – stationery and textbooks are expensive. The boxes that children receive is a tremendous blessing – there is everything they need for school – pens, notebooks and more.”

Local Ministry Partners pray and ask the Lord to show them those children in particular need.

“Timothy was one of those children.” said Selima. “He needed joy so much. He was never so happy before he received his gift box. For him it was not a mere gift, it was much more – joy and happiness.”

His mother Fatima said, “My son is disabled and he doesn’t have all the joys that other children have. Most of the time he spends in his wheelchair. He often cries because of pain. When he hears his siblings shout and laugh when playing, he gets even more upset. I was praying that my son would learn to rejoice”.

Fatima grows fruits and vegetables on their small plot of land and her husband is a migrant worker abroad. Recently she decided to celebrate her son’s birthday. She prepared a table. Suddenly, somebody knocked at the door. It was their community nurse and two women Fatima had not met before. They had colourful boxes and they asked if they could give them to her children. They handed one to Timothy and told him that God loved him.

Fatima said, “It was a miracle that they came on my son’s birthday! It was not just a gift, but something very special that made my son smile. I never saw him so happy. I cried and rejoiced with him and thanked the Heavens and the people who sent him that gift. Timothy smiled all day and did not let go of his present and even put it next to his pillow when he went to bed.”

Dania's Story

Our Local Partners

One local partner shared that:

“Both children and adults felt God’s love and were filled with joy. They were thankful and happy. Distribution of the gift boxes helped our church to build stronger relationships with the community.”

Another international representative described the power of these simple shoebox gifts in their region:

“In the very restricted environments, we can’t have local believers out being vocal about their faith. A shoebox becomes a key to a closed door. I desire to be involved in the work of love. In the remote areas where people have nothing, where people are dirt poor, this box gives them hope. This is love. True love. This opens the eyes of the people. Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness but have the light that leads to life (John 8:12).’ Through Operation Christmas Child, God has given us the opportunity to penetrate the darkest places in this world.”

Thank You

Thank you so much for packing a shoebox gift and sending love and hope to a child in need. Your generosity makes such a difference!