Shoebox gifts bring Good News and Great Joy to The Gambia

January 24, 2020 • The Gambia
God is using Operation Christmas Child to transform lives, families, and communities in The Gambia through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God is using Operation Christmas Child to transform lives, families, and communities in The Gambia through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bringing great joy and the Good News of Jesus to the children of The Gambia through shoebox gifts.

About The Gambia

This boy loved the recorder that was in his shoebox.

This boy loved the recorder that was in his shoebox.

A little less than twice the size of Prince Edward Island, The Gambia occupies a sliver of land on the west coast of Africa. It’s surrounded on three sides by Senegal and, at its heart, flows the mighty Gambia River.

Despite its small size, The Gambia has a population of more than two million people crowded along the river’s banks, of which more than 770,000 are children. Many of them live with very little and face a life of few opportunities.

Into these situations, a simple shoebox gift like the one you packed can be a powerful, life-transforming message of hope.

“Jesus’ love to our daughter…”

When nine-year-old Aja arrived at an outreach event hosted by a Gambian church, she didn’t know what to expect. Coming from a Muslim family, Aja did not usually attend events hosted by Christians—but it was a special day.

Aja and the other children participated in fun activities and heard a pastor tell the story of Jesus Christ. Before the event finished, there was one final surprise as each child, including Aja, received a shoebox gift.

This little girl loved the items that were lovingly packed in her shoebox.

This little girl loved the items that were lovingly packed in her shoebox.

Aja lifted the lid of her box and gazed in wonder at the contents—a pair of shoes, a beautiful skirt and blouse, and many other items. Full of joy, Aja rushed home to show her mother and father, who were amazed. That day was Aja’s birthday, but her parents had no money to get her a gift.

Overwhelmed by the gift-filled shoebox, lovingly-packed by a Canadian like you, Aja’s parents returned to the church to thank them. “Please kindly extend our appreciation to your friend [in Canada] for extending Jesus’ love to our daughter, to God be the glory,” they said.

They allowed Aja to keep returning to the church to attend The Greatest Journey, where she learned about Jesus and received Him into her heart.

Operation Christmas Child delivered shoebox gifts in The Gambia for the first time in 2017.

The Greatest Journey

In the weeks following a shoebox outreach event, churches that partner with Operation Christmas Child invite children to participate in The Greatest Journey. Through this 12-lesson follow-up discipleship program, children learn to faithfully follow Christ and share Him with others.

In 2017, the first children in The Gambia participated in The Greatest Journey. Since then, thousands have heard the Gospel and been discipled.

The Greatest Journey—our discipleship program for shoebox recipients—teaches children all over the world more about God's love for them and how to share this Good News with their friends and family.

The Greatest Journey—our discipleship program for shoebox recipients—teaches children all over the world more about God’s love for them and how to share this Good News with their friends and family.

The Greatest Journey in The Gambia

  • 380 local Greatest Journey teachers trained
  • 5,969 children enrolled
  • 2,122 children reported decisions for Christ
  • 1,608 children committed to praying for and sharing their faith with friends and family

Planting churches

The Greatest Gift booklet, delivered alongside shoebox gifts, reminds children how much Jesus loves them! It's often used as a tool to help kids share the Good News with their friends and families.

The Greatest Gift booklet, delivered alongside shoebox gifts, reminds children how much Jesus loves them! It’s often used as a tool to help kids share the Good News with their friends and families.

Just over four per cent of The Gambia’s population is Christian. About 95 per cent follow Islam. Though churches may be few, God is working through them and The Greatest Journey in mighty ways.

In the village of Jabang, on the western side of The Gambia, a church was planted after the distribution of Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.

The outreach event took place under a tree. As a pastor shared the Gospel with the children, several adults were also listening and decided to receive Jesus Christ. They were so full of joy that they gave land to the pastor to establish a church. Praise God!

Through your shoebox gifts and The Greatest Journey, churches are being planted across The Gambia and children are coming to know Jesus, who said,  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12, ESV).

As you continue to pack shoeboxes and pray, God will work through you to reach many more. Remember, you can pack shoeboxes online year-round.

Ways you can pray for The Gambia:

  • Pray for the churches partnering with Operation Christmas Child as they are trained and prepare to host outreach events and distribute shoeboxes.
  • Pray for the training of The Greatest Journey teachers.
  • Pray for children to experience Christ’s love and for their hearts to be open to the Gospel.

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