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Shoebox distribution in Kenya jumpstarts journey to Christ for a boy and his mom

June 13, 2017 • Kenya
Clinton and Mary, his mom, smile in front of their new church home.
Clinton and Mary, his mom, smile in front of their new church home.

An East African family experienced the kindness of Christians and then embraced Christ Himself, leaving Islam behind.

Clinton Mutumba was surprised when he was not beaten by the Sunday school teachers at the Kenyan church where his friend had invited him. At the nearby mosque where his mother Mary would drag him weekly, the instructors caned his legs when he mispronounced the Koran’s Arabic verses.

The boy’s journey from the mosque to the church was near miraculous. It began one day when he simply told his mother Mary that he did not want to go back to his Islamic religious classes.

“Where will you go?” she asked him.

“I want to go to church,” he told her. “The Lord will tell me where.”

Mary recounts being surprised by this response, but she agreed to his request.

Clinton stands at the gates of the church where he received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

Clinton stands at the gates of the church where he received an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

Soon after, a friend invited Clinton to attend his evangelical church.

“Each of us were supposed to invite a friend [to a special event],” his friend told him.

Clinton said yes—realizing the Lord was telling him where to go.

When Clinton joined his friend at church, he received a free gift-filled shoebox from Operation Christmas Child, a present that had traveled by sea all the way from the United States to Kenya—a fact he would later learn and tell his mother.

A Journey from Islam to Christ

“We moved from my hometown to Meru and all the people in our neighborhood were Muslim, so we became Muslim,” Mary recounts. She was a single mother moving with her son to a strange new place, and she was seeking a community that would help her. It turned out to be different than she’d expected.

Islam is a growing force in Kenya, especially along the coast and also along the northern border with Somalia, a Muslim stronghold. Meru, five hours north of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, is a major hub and common destination for transplanted Somalis.

Rosemary Kiligo in Meru, Kenya, is one of many dedicated leaders taking children through The Greatest Journey this year.

Rosemary Kiligo in Meru, Kenya, is one of many dedicated leaders taking children through The Greatest Journey this year.

But the area also has an evangelical Christian presence. And through Operation Christmas Child and The Greatest Journey, we are providing resources and training to help local churches effectively proclaim the Gospel.

The Mutumbas are a compelling story of the Gospel’s power as spread through the words and deeds of Christ’s people.

Mary and Clinton worshipped separately for months after the shoebox distribution—mother at the mosque, son at the church. All the while Clinton was attending weekly classes of The Greatest Journey, a 12-lesson discipleship program designed by Samaritan’s Purse for shoebox recipients. He was learning a different version of the story of Jesus from what he’d been taught in the Koran and by the imam. He was learning that Jesus wasn’t just a prophet the Muslims called “Isa” but that He was actually much greater than that. Clinton came to trust Him as God’s Son, his Lord and Savior.

Each week he’d return home and tell his mother what he’d learned during class. Each week she became more curious. “Who are these people who didn’t even know him who gave him a gift and are taking time to teach him?” More important, she became curious about the Jesus who compelled them to do this.

Love Like No Other

So, Mary attended worship services at the church with her son one Sunday last year. She began to learn about the same Jesus whose people had shown so much love to her son.

“I just had to meet these people who gave him this box,” Mary said. “And I had to find out who would send a box full of gifts from another continent and not know where it is going to show love to people they would never meet.

“This kind of love does not exist in Islam. I knew these must be God’s people.”

Weeks later she joined her son in embracing that love as she received Christ. Soon after she was baptized.

“I decided since that time that I would serve the Lord,” Mary said. “That love I received, I want to express that same love to other people.”

Learn more about packing shoeboxes

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Operation Christmas ChildPlease donate $10 for every shoebox you prepare. Your donations will help cover project costs, including shipping (make one combined donation for multiple shoeboxes). Consider making an additional donation to help Samaritan's Purse go beyond the shoebox and expand assistance to children, their families, and their communities. Samaritan's Purse does not provide receipts for the value of gift items included in a shoebox.

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