Children on a remote island in the Pacific receive shoebox gifts and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The small island of Enubirr has no electrical power and no airport. Located in the central Pacific between the Philippines and Hawaii, Enubirr is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and home to just over 1,000 people. Most residents work on the neighboring island of Roi-Namur, which is leased to the U.S. government as a military base. Four churches dot the island—though, sadly, many lack a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In early December 2020, a team of four set sail for Enubirr aboard Cloud Nine, a 57-foot ketch filled with 30 cartons of Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts. For six-and-a-half hours, the boat rocked across the sea until the team had traversed the necessary 40 miles with their precious cargo.
On Cloud Nine were Scott and Katie, a husband-wife missionary team to the Marshall Islands, as well Jim, a Fijian, and Frank, a Marshallese. Once they landed on Enubirr, they were joined by volunteers as well as four representatives from local churches who would host an Operation Christmas Child outreach event.
Kids Embrace the Gospel
Even though it was 85 degrees and extremely humid, 293 children gathered under a covered patio and waited patiently for the action to begin while parents huddled around the edges.
“We had a time of prayer prior to the event,” Katie said. “As we prayed, we just had this feeling to expect something amazing, so we were excited to get started.”
The team began with some Marshallese songs and then performed a skit before presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the eager crowd using colorful posters supplied by Samaritan’s Purse. Next, the shoebox gifts were handed out, along with The Greatest Gift Gospel booklets.
One boy at the festive event was Randy, a 12-year-old boy who loves to play soccer. He desperately wanted a soccer ball of his own. But the most popular sports throughout the Marshall Islands are basketball and volleyball. His mother had diligently searched for a soccer ball to buy for him, but she was unable to find one. But God knew the desire of Randy’s heart. When he lifted the lid of his shoebox, Randy was thrilled to find a soccer ball and pump of his very own!
“One of the local pastors, Antonio, said that this shoebox, for many, is the first gift that these kids have received that is just theirs,” Scott said. “They don’t have to share—that is a big deal!”
But as delighted as the outreach team was to see the children enjoying their gifts, they were even more excited and thankful to God for the spiritual fruit that came a short time later. “At the end of the program,” Katie said, “we did an altar call where 131 kids accepted Christ!”
Samaritan’s Purse has provided the churches on Enubirr with resources to teach The Greatest Journey discipleship course, which is specifically designed for shoebox recipients. The four congregations are excited to use and distribute the materials—especially the Bibles that are given to children when they graduate from the 12-lesson course.
“I strongly believe in the power of the message that The Greatest Gift offers and the followup of The Greatest Journey,” Katie said. “Operation Christmas Child is not just a ‘give a gift’ kind of program; it offers the gift of salvation, which we have seen over and over again impacts a whole community. We even had adults come up to us afterward and tell us how much they appreciated the message.”
Katie and her team are excited about what God will do in Enubirr in the months ahead. “We are praying that we hear stories about transformation in the youth over the next year due to The Greatest Journey,” she said, “and what the kids can learn by having a true relationship with Jesus.”
200 Islands and Counting
Life in the Pacific can be gorgeous yet austere.
“What I really want people to understand is that many of the islands in the Marshall Islands are ones you cannot reach without a boat,” Katie said. “People live very remotely and isolated. They have supply ships that come and visit them sometimes three times a year to pick up their copra and handicrafts and they then trade the money they make for rice and canned food that they cannot get on their own island.”
In 2019, Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham launched a Pacific Islands Initiative to bring shoebox gifts and the Gospel to remote places like Enubirr. So far, more than 120,000 children on more than 200 islands have received a shoebox packed full of toys, school supplies, and hygiene items—and the opportunity to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ!
What Katie witnessed in Enubirr is true of people on islands throughout the Pacific: “They live without many things and are still overjoyed to have visitors come and share the Gospel.”
Please pray for Christ’s light to shine brightly on these islands through Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts, given in Jesus’ Name.