Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shoebox Discipleship

My wife and I are participating in "Operation Christmas Child" this year through our local church. You have probably heard of this program, done by Franklin Graham's Samaritans Purse organization, wherein you fill up a shoebox with small gifts for a child. The boxes are distributed all over the world s Christmas gifts for needy kids. Our box probably won't look as nice as the one in the picture (from the Samaritan's Purse website)!

What you may not know is that the program is Not Just Shoeboxes: Operation Christmas Child Focuses on Discipleship, according to Ben Peays at the Gospel Coalition.
I was particularly encouraged today to learn that OCC is doing more. In addition to the shoeboxes, they now focus on continuing discipleship for these children through local churches. They have introduced The Greatest Journey as a teacher-led discipleship program aimed at helping kids better understand the gospel and mature into faithful followers of Christ. This is more than just a short pamphlet. It is includes a New Testament and a full-color, 12-lesson study guide (preview) focusing on who Jesus Christ is, what it means to follow him, and how the gospel changes a person’s life. This material has already been printed in 28 languages, and right now more than 30,000 teachers in 50 countries are being trained to walk children through the program (gallery) as a part of their local church.

While the shoebox is a great introduction or touching point for many kids—even serving as a remarkable barrier-breaker for bringing Christianity into some difficult-to-reach areas of the world—I believe this discipleship program will be an amazing addition to this evangelistic effort.